[Jan Mevold, Mevold Studio]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
Family portrait by Bells Photography
When asked to design a 20x22 poolside structure with storage, architectural designer, Jan Mevold of Mevold Studio, knew it was time to get creative. Located in a well-established North Fargo neighborhood, the McDonald family had already conquered phase one, a complete renovation on the inside of their older home. Phase two would mean heading outside for a backyard overhaul that would meet their young family's needs and offer a unique change of scenery. See how Mevold took on the small-scale challenge and designed an all-in-one space for entertaining guests, storage, poolside chilling and year-round grilling.
Swim & Store
Jill and JP McDonald had lived in their North Fargo home for nearly four years before they began re-designing their backyard space. The new design needed to compliment the interior's contemporary overhaul, offer a sleek, spa-like environment, and create a cohesive flow between the spaces. While Mevold relied on his 15 years of architectural design expertise to reimagine their existing space, Dwight Kubler and Rick Zviroski of Anglerz Construction completed the construction, and JP McDonald managed the overall project.
"I've known them for a long time, and when JP called he was looking for ideas for a smaller 20x20 storage shed. After a discussion about their family's needs, it evolved into a slightly larger pool house with storage," said Mevold. "JP loves design, so he asked me to come up with what I would ideally want to do. This happened to be the first design I showed him; he really liked it and decided this was the one. Even though it was small, the project was pretty detailed and used a lot of custom, special-order materials, so it took a bit longer than usual, around four months," said Mevold.
Diving into the Design
With busy careers in the medical sales field and two young children, their backyard had to become their at-home, vacation destination. "The pool house was based on the idea that they wanted to spend more time outside, and give the kids a place to hang out. They didn't want kids coming from the pool and going in and out of the house to use the bathroom, so a small pool house made sense," said Mevold.
The new structure would encompass a back storage area, compost toilet, side grilling station, wood burning pizza oven and front counter with a custom, crank-out window and pass through. Inside offers an air-conditioned and heated living space with a working kitchen, lounge area, and upstairs loft with queen bed.
Durable finishes like galvanized steel countertops and insulated, commercial vinyl floors with a concrete look, are a perfect pairing with the unique skateboard panel, black walls. "JP is very passionate and detailed when it comes to design," said Mevold. Instead of typical sheetrock for walls, JP McDonald found sustainable, black skateboard panels called Richlite from a Northwest manufacturer. "It's recycled paper that's been pressed together; it's pretty much bulletproof and it doesn't absorb water; a super sustainable product," said JP McDonald.
Admittedly not the easiest to work with, the material cuts fine with a saw blade, but it needed to have pre-drilled holes before screws could be attached. This was a product JP McDonald had seen in some of the newer dental offices he visits for work. In fact, many of the structure's unique details are inspired by the couple's travels, seeing cutting-edge materials used in restaurants, hotels and offices.
One of the most unique features of the pool house is a custom-fabricated, crank-out window made by P2 Industries. The open-air concept brings the outside in and creates a fun pass-through for serving food and drinks while lounging at the bar.
Swim or Skate
For their in-ground salt-water pool, the McDonalds chose a solid fiberglass insert and super high-efficiency boiler. "You don't have to take the water out of the pool, once it's filled, it's filled forever, said JP McDonald. "It's very economical to heat, only around $100 per month, so we keep it warm through Halloween."
"We can actually make the pool an ice-skating rink during the winter months," said Jill McDonald. The pool is equipped with an automatic cover which holds in heat and helps keep it clean all year long. For added safety, the McDonalds opted for an ultra-durable cover strong enough to walk across when closed.
Grillin' & Chillin'
"They grill in every season, even when it's raining," said Mevold. "They entertain a lot, so the idea was to have a covered roof so they would be able to enjoy it as much as possible. There's an outdoor, galvanized steel counter with a large crank-out window so you can sit up there, watch TV and if you're inside, the space is great for entertaining."
"Our kids go out there year round, every day," said JP McDonald. "We have a nest camera so we can see what they're doing, but let them have their own little space to hang out with friends," explained Jill McDonald. "I love the fact that it's a gathering place for friends or family - it offers a completely different feel and vibe than other homes in this area; modern, sleek and spa-like."
The exterior, with concrete by Opp Construction and landscaping by Baker Nursery, is surrounded by paver stones and features a contemporary mix of warm cedar elements, LP panels and industrial corrugated metal. Although an appealing aesthetic, the corrugated metal is also purposeful, protecting the structure from high grill temps and grease. Across the way, connected to the house, the covered patio features remote-controlled metric screens that can go up or down at the touch of a button.
To complete the pool house and storage shed, Mevold designed a separate exterior entrance to the bathroom. Since the bathroom is at the back of the pool house in the storage side and is not heated or cooled, the homeowner opted for a portable, compost toilet system to avoid the extra cost of plumbing and heating this portion of the structure.
When Mevold posted photos of this project online, many people were stunned at what could be designed in a mere 20x22 space. "They could not believe how small the dimensions were. It started a lot of conversations from others wanting to do a small storage shed, but many of those people were thinking a 40x30 with living space," said Mevold. "You can see what we were able to do with 20x22, so to me, 40x30 is huge; it's just all how you use the space."
About Mevold Studio: Jan Mevold
Mevold has been architecturally designing homes for 15 years, and has been on his own with Mevold Studio in Fargo for the past three-and-a-half years. Half Taiwanese and half Norwegian, he attended high school in East Africa in Ethiopia and eventually moved to Fargo to study Architecture at NDSU, where he met his wife. "After four kids, we're here to stay now," said Mevold. "I design around three lake homes a year, then about six homes in the Fargo area and three or four in the Midwest regions."
"As an architectural designer, I appreciate all different styles, especially mixing different styles together. When people come to me with a challenging project that incorporates different styles, I get excited because it's something new."
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