Story by Desirae Putnam
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
When homeowners talk about renovating, they usually discuss knocking down a few walls, adding a gourmet kitchen, or how wonderful an open concept will be to entertain family and friends. They talk about the budget, paint colors, lighting, and furniture. Walking into Mike Hills’ 1967 Fargo 2-story the first time last summer led to another important conversation. Maybe the most important conversation. Who is going to bring this home to life?
Shortly after moving to Fargo from Minneapolis, Hills completely gutted his new home without a formal game plan beyond demo. Fortunately, his neighbor had years of contractor experience and ties to the residential building industry.
“Amon Engberg and I worked together on a renovation about five years prior in a nearby neighborhood. He has a meticulous affection for details so I was absolutely delighted to hear from him,”
Opening up the Spaces + Adding in the Details
Sitting on a corner lot just off of University, this location presented quick access in an established neighborhood. “I chose the house because of the backyard, mature trees, and older style,” says Hills. The foursquare nod offered details like a step up to the kitchen and original hardwood floors. But the chopped-up layout made the space feel smaller than it actually was. Opening up the walls allowed natural light to flow from one end to the other. Painting the millwork and cabinetry a full-bodied white, the walls a soft taupe, and the doors a warm grey added depth. Subtle, neutral tones also layered in through the quartz countertops and rift-cut white oak accents.
Teamwork Creates Magic
This vision was executed by over 30 local tradesmen and women. Assembling a team was about more than completing the work on time and on budget. While those were definitely important considerations, finding people who cared about creating the space as much as those living in it was vital to the design concept.
“As the interior designer on this project, it was my responsibility to be curious and connected,” states Putnam. “To understand how each space can serve its purpose physically, energetically, and psychologically. To unearth solutions to tight door swings, interesting millwork reveals, and capturing the most storage. To sprinkle in features like the spice ledge on the raised backsplash. To decide if the flooring goes in before or after kitchen cabinetry.”
Design experience doesn’t prepare you for every hiccup but it does pave a path to anticipate many before they arise. That experience coupled with the opportunity to gather some of the top local experts and creatives in the industry brought this home to life. Every hand in the project - neighbor to installer - inspired and elevated this residence from a blank canvas into a modern haven.
Midwest Nest Magazine features home designs in its monthly print and online publication.
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