[Rocking Horse Farm, Fargo]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Architecture & portraits photos by Dennis Krull, 5foot20 Design Studio
Aerial photos by Jared Eischen from Jared Eischen Cinematography
When Ken and Jan Promersberger first began developing Rocking Horse Farm's progressive farmstead concept four years ago, they set their sights on achieving an architectural standard that would benefit both the neighborhood's aesthetic and the homeowner's property value. Through a simple design review process of architectural brainstorming, every home is given a dose of character with customizable curb appeal. With every build, Rocking Horse Farm gifts homeowners the tools to take their design to the next level.
Just like our city's most treasured, historic neighborhoods, you won't find a single cookie-cutter home in this neighborhood either. Rocking Horse Farm is rural concept living with an architectural twist. Although a few of the homes utilize the same builder or floorplan, you'd never guess it from the distinctly different exteriors.
While staying within the boundaries of the builder's floorplan, every homeowner accesses professional feedback, drawings, and creative ideas from an architect, at no additional cost. While some were skeptics of the neighborhood's required "design review" at the beginning, the Promersbergers held strong to their vision, watching their farmstead-inspired neighborhood quickly grow.
"When Rocking Horse Farm first started, we were working with just one architect, Chris Hawley. Today we utilize two different architects to uniquely cater to homeowners based on their general design sense," added Shaniah Kaiser, Rocking Horse Farm’s Marketing Manager. "We wanted to make sure the homes at Rocking Horse Farm didn't fall into a pattern when it came to exterior design." One of the architects, Scott Meland, has extensive experience in traditional design, while the other, Jan Mevold, works with homeowners who are looking for a more contemporary or modern design.
The Ultimate Design Process
Working closely with the builders, the architectural process has become one of the neighborhood's best assets. While some choose an available floor plan from a builder, then utilize the complimentary architectural input for the exterior, others choose to work with an architect for the entire build. Illustrations of the process show how the neighborhood can have the same builder and even the same floorplan, but create an exterior with a completely unique look.
"They look at the inspiration photos and make suggestions to the initial drawings as a way to bridge the gap between the floor plan and the homeowners' unique style," explained Kaiser. "Before the architect offers suggestions, the homeowner is asked if they want to stick to the original budget or if they have some wiggle room to add to the exterior treatment." For homeowners who don't want to increase their budget, the architect will work with what is available to adjust materials, window positions, colors, and unique elements to achieve something fresh and new without adding expense.
The Thorp Residence
Jon Thorp not only lives in Rocking Horse Farm with his wife Jennifer and their two children, he also works for Ken and Jan Promersberger's marketing firm, The Promersberger Company, located just a short walk away in the neighborhood's red barn office complex The architecture aspect was a major selling point for them both, but they also love the neighborhood picnics, berry and pumpkin patches, apple trees, parks and flower gardens. Their home, built by Urban Prairie Homes, is a prime example of how homes here can use the same floorplan, in the same development, but achieve a true one-of-a-kind look.
Their Design Process
While the Thorps were able to find a builder and choose a floor plan, when it came to the style, they liked nearly everything from farmhouse to ultra-modern. Like many homeowners, they were more comfortable choosing a tried and true floorplan they could customize, but when it came to the exterior, they were unsure how to proceed. "The architect, Jan Mevold, allowed us to achieve more than we ever had in mind," said Jon Thorp.
"Since our style was a mix of Jen's modern and my modern-traditional, we felt we needed the architect's input. Jan was able to provide drawings that got us there much quicker, sometimes getting back to us with a new drawing in an hour," said Thorp. "The only thing we altered was swapping out some of the black siding to add more white. We showed him a lot of pictures of houses we liked, and one of the things Jen brought into the mix was the red door and red patch on the back of the house - she likes the splash of color. The architect brought in materials like corrugated metal, something we hadn't thought about. Doing these little tweaks with the builder and architect made it feel like it was really our house."
The Smith Residence
Kelsey and Phil Smith have lived in the neighborhood since 2017, coming from a neighborhood more conducive to cookie-cutter homes. "I'm from small-town North Dakota and a farm kid at heart, so we loved the location and the openness of the development. When we met with the realtor, Jenny (Schuster) and Urban Prairie's, Joe Richards, they talked about the concept of not having all the houses look the same, which was really refreshing," said Kelsey Smith. "The houses have so much character and the neighborhood just really stood out to us. It feels removed from the craziness of Fargo, and even driving into it, it just has a different feel to it. The position of the houses was well-thought-out, and we love the pond, trails, and park; the neighborhood just keeps getting better."
Their Design Process
The Smiths loved the clean lines of the Urban Prairie houses they'd seen prior and were looking for just a few characteristics that would make their home stand out. "I loved grey, and the black windows were a great differentiating factor," said Smith. "We've kind of chosen a transitional style; not too traditional, but not too modern - a happy medium. I think they did a great job of finding that balance for us. I loved the black garage doors and that was something that I had not seen before. I like the contrast of the grey, black, and white - then having more of that prominent white border."
"It was an extremely easy process; I was very impressed. We had a few inspiration pictures, and Joe was awesome to work with, acting as the in-between for us and the architect. What we had explained to Joe was very well-interpreted and the designs came back really quickly. We only made one adjustment to the columns. They even embraced my teal door, which I was very excited about."
The Fisk Residence
Jeff and Tina Fisk have lived in their home in The Cottages at Rocking Horse Farm since November of last year. Moving from a larger home, they wanted a slab-on-grade design with an HOA that would handle lawn care and snow removal. "We always wanted to get to more of a cottage-like home because we have another home in Arizona," said Tina Fisk. "We needed something smaller, but we also really wanted a nice backyard. This lot was really attractive to us because of the playgrounds for the grandkids."
Their Design Process
Referencing the illustration, the Fisk residence shows how materials, windows, and unique elements can provide for two unique homes with the same floorplan. "We liked that there was a process that we went through to make sure that all of the houses would look different and unique," said Jeff Fisk. "It's something that really drew us to the neighborhood." Inside, the floorplan was designed with Urban Prairie Homes to be similar to the Fisk's Arizona home.
"The process has been above and beyond what we thought it would be," said Tina Fisk. "When we started, we really questioned how we were going to pick what we wanted our house to look like. Jeff said he wanted a brown house, and I wasn't so sure, but I liked the idea of black windows and cream trim. We began looking online and I found some images, then connected with our builder and our realtor, Jenny Schuster, and they made the process so fun. Jenny did such a good job, and Joe (Richards) at Urban Prairie Homes, was amazing to work with."
"We submitted the design to Rocking Horse Farm for the review process and the only thing we had to adjust was the covered patio. But, I'm glad it got changed because we're so happy with how it turned out. I didn't feel restricted by anything. The architect worked really well with our builder and we got everything we wanted and more!"
The Cook Residence
In 2018, Jennifer and Andrew Cook made the move from their 1949 home in North Fargo, in search of a larger lot and less traffic. "Coming from a small town in North Dakota, the idea and concept of an urban farm community really appealed to me," said Jennifer Cook. "We were a little nervous because this was the first house we'd ever built." The couple had admired Chris Hawley's architectural work and thought of the review process as a great opportunity to infuse his design into their vision.
Their Design Process
The Cook home is one of the more drastic examples of what the design review process can do. The architect reviewed their inspiration images which showed a preference for modern farmhouse styles. To infuse that style into the overall home design, the architect made many exterior changes, but did not need to change the floorplan or amenities. The Cooks approved most of the design changes, but to stay within budget, they opted to omit the pergola and change out the style of the garage doors. The review board also suggested the home be all white, but this was one area that Jennifer Cook did not want to budge on.
"My favorite color is blue, and I knew I wanted something a little bit different than the typical white farmhouse," said Cook. "We worked with our builder, Krueger Construction, to come up with an idea that would incorporate a lot of windows and board and batten. We loved what they had come up with, but then the changes came back from the design review board and we fell in love with it even more. They made the process really easy and I would encourage anyone to do this. I think it's just so advantageous to have that architectural eye."
The Johnson Residence
Darlene and Deane moved into their home in March of 2019, becoming the first people to reside in The Cottages at Rocking Horse Farm. They had relocated from the Sioux Falls area just a couple of years prior and were accustomed to living on three acres. "We knew we weren't going to find something like that in town, but we still wanted something open. When our realtor showed us this corner lot, we were sold," said Darlene Johnson. "I really appreciate their design concept; in some neighborhoods, they have the cookie-cutter houses, where you might see three of the same houses in a row. When I go out for walks, I love seeing the different designs and the new ones that are being built."
Their Design Process
"We had never built a house, so I was a little nervous going into it. We talked to our realtor from Park Co., Kevin Fisher, and he said he knew of a builder that had worked for someone else and was just starting to build his own homes, Erik Johnson of Build North. They already had a slab-on-grade, one level plan, so they let us take a look and tweak it so it would fit our needs." Darlene's husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's, so the entire house was designed to be handicap accessible, transitioning for any future needs he may have.
When working with the exterior's ideas, the couple was open to suggestions but opted to make subtle adjustments. "One of the first ideas had a decorative gable, but that was really the only thing I wanted to change," said Johnson. "Erik suggested we look at other options like the decorative beams and we really liked that idea. Rocking Horse Farm was really open to our ideas, and the whole process was pretty easy and painless, taking less than a week to finalize. We're very pleased with how it turned out!"
The Final Word
"Although architectural drawings are provided, they are not the final word," said Kaiser. "Some assume that Rocking Horse Farm locks homeowners into the architectural renderings, but if the homeowner doesn't like the suggested design, it's literally back to the drawing board. Most people want their own signature home, but don't know how to get there. This process gives everyone a way to have their own unique home look, while also sticking with a home layout already being offered by a builder. Rocking Horse Farm simply wants to achieve unique homes."
For more information, contact:
Rocking Horse Farm
PARK CO. REALTORS
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