[Melanie & James Iverson, Mosaic Design + Build]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography, lower level photography by Elisabeth Eden
Before photos provided by Melanie Iverson and Dan Francis Photography
As the founders of Mosaic Design + Build, Melanie & James Iverson are a dynamic duo who have perfected the art of restoring home, both for their clients and themselves. Roughly a year after we started following the Iverson's own North Fargo remodel, we were invited back to see their progress. Inside is a testament to their creativity, with savvy solutions to overhaul their dark and dated new home, one room at a time. See how the Iverson's tapped their talents using timeless textures and bold jewel tones to create their own eclectic fusion of Mid-century and Bohemian beauty.
Rebuilding Heart & Home
The Iverson's have become experts in rebuilding the broken, professionally and personally. In their remarkable journey to bring their life and family back together, they remarried and rediscovered their destiny - a career path they were both passionate about. With Melanie as the interior designer and James as the project manager, the pieces quickly fell into place and they began to fuse their talents into something uniquely beautiful, hence the name "Mosaic". Today, they're on a mission to redefine space and bring new life and purpose to their client's homes.
"With Mosaic, we do any size renovations, residential and commercial. We'll do the al a carte paint job or flooring project," said Melanie Iverson. "Not everyone needs a full remodel, sometimes they just need to paint a wall. Right now, we're working on large-scale projects for clients; finishing a basement and starting the design for a brand new kitchen on the main level, like our own. We're also working on a pool house, and a theater room with a she shed connected to it. Building and design is what we do full time, so working on our house has been a lot of work, and most of it has been done at night or on weekends."
Problem #1: The Lower Level Den & Stairwells
"The day after we closed on the house, James started demolition on the lower-level den, so that's where we began our renovation. It had that old, 70s-style paneling and James gutted it entirely off of the walls and fireplace," said Melanie Iverson. "The room's original fireplace also needed updating, it was very old and almost too yellow for what I was trying to achieve."
Solution #1: Lower Level & Stair Reveal
To recreate the entire lower level, James installed new sheetrock, repainted, added shiplap to the mantel and stairwell, then tore out the carpet and installed new flooring. Melanie white-washed the brick to offset the yellowed, dated look. "With our kids, Carter, 13 and Graycie, 12, we decided we needed totally waterproof surfaces, so James installed a COREtec, luxury vinyl plank flooring on the stairway, hall, main level and den."
On the fireplace, the live-edge mantelpiece from Dakota Timber Company, is wood sourced from Fargo's boulevard trees. Beyond the bold, emerald green wall, you'll find an array of art, some she inherited from her mother-in-law, others pieces that she painted herself. The art on the fireplace is painted by local artist Sadie Rose entitled 'Endless.' "I like to surround myself with really interesting pieces. Most of the time, in each room, I find something that I hate so much that I think I will love it - something that really pushes my own boundaries. That happens to be the zebra chair. It's so ugly, I just love it," laughed Melanie Iverson.
To create a unified design with character, the Iversons opted to pull the fireplace's white shiplap up through the stairwells. With the exception of the home's accent walls, this Pro White was used in three coats on the walls, shiplap, ceilings, baseboard and trim throughout the home.
Problem #2: The Foyer
The Iverson's entry had an inconveniently located coat closet which blocked the flow into the house and made them feel as if they were entering a dark hallway.
Solution #2: Foyer Reveal
To open up the space and brighten the entry, they removed the coat closet, making it an extension of the Tricorne Black wall with simple bench seating. Melanie revealed that alpacas remind her of the humor and promises of God. "I’m fascinated by the alpaca and the joy and peace I feel when I look at that print. I've taken a lot of art classes, so before I bought that piece, I had done a small painting of an alpaca which is now downstairs," laughed Melanie Iverson.
Problem #3: The Kitchen & Dining Room
Completely walled off from the family room, the home's dark and outdated kitchen was not a place the Iverson's wanted to gather. The adjacent dining room was ample, but lacked a proper focal point and needed updated lighting. The dining room chairs and table had been through seven moves with the Iversons, so it was time to recreate its appeal.
Solution #3: Kitchen
First on the Iverson's list was to remove the obtrusive wall, creating an open living space. Unfortunately the wall was load bearing, so they needed to put an LVL in the floor and a pillar going up to properly support the new opening. Within the new pillar, they were able to make room to run updated electrical and also create an interesting focal point in brick.
For the new counter unifying the living room and kitchen, Melanie chose to stain a rich, black walnut that James and one of his friends custom-cut to fit the stove. With the remaining cutout, James was able to create another feature - walnut floating shelves."When I first started designing this space, I was going to put the sink on this island, but I decided that I didn't want all of my dirty dishes to congregate where people are gathered," said Melanie Iverson. "We want people to spend time here while we cook, then throw the mess behind us."
Adding a vibrant focal point off the black walnut island is an emerald subway tile by Bedrosians. "I'm really inspired by Justina Blakeney - she wrote a book called Modern Bohemian. The Jungalow is her brand. It's very West Coast and that would be the coast I lean to with my design. She had a kitchen that had this great texture with green - I've always been drawn to it," said Melanie Iverson.
"I was really nervous about doing the green tile, so I first painted the backsplash emerald because I was worried it was too extra, maybe too much. But, the more we talked about it, I realized that this is me. We have nine months of snow here, so I need green. I thought a lot about what it would look like in a couple of years and if people would wonder what I was thinking, but then I realized that I didn't care," said Melanie Iverson. "This is my house and I want to love it. I do put a lot of thought into design, considering resale, pattern and texture - so, it's not on a whim, it's a very thought-out decision. I've loved emerald green for years, and we wanted to make sure that the eye keeps moving and thinking with all the different textures - it is really intentional to have a variety of textures, in a variety of colors."
While the island lighting was replaced with fixtures from West Elm, they installed new American Woodmark cabinetry, accented with sleek finger pulls in champagne bronze. For the perimeter countertop, Melanie chose a contrasting white quartz, with the goal to make the center island feel more like a piece of furniture.
Solution #3: Dining Room
Starting with a deep, Tricorne Black wall which extends to the foyer, the dining room was given a global makeover with gold-framed wall art and a coastal jute lighting fixture. Opting to treasure the table that's been with them through seven homes, Melanie refinished it, then reupholstered the seats in a fun, black and white cheetah/Dalmatian print. "I like mixing and matching; doing spaces with vintage and modern and finding the balance between the two," said Melanie Iverson.
Problem #4: The Living Room
When the Iverson's moved in, their entire living room was painted in dark tones, lacked proper lighting, and felt completely disconnected from the rest of the home. Although the ceiling beams were a feature that attracted them, they needed an upgrade from the outdated veneer finish.
Solution #4: Living Room Reveal
By tearing down the wall dividing the main floor, the Iverson's living room was given a new lease on life. James took on the project of installing and staining new wood beams, as well as hand painting and shiplapping the entire ceiling. "I think paying attention to our ceiling details, really elevated our house and made it feel so much bigger," said Melanie Iverson.
Just like the kitchen, the living room was given an electrical upgrade which gave them the capability to do overhead lights. With a new, brighter space, Melanie was given the opportunity to purchase artwork from a corporate office that was moving; falling in love with the art's warm, jewel tones.
To complement her West Elm and Room & Board sofas, Melanie found two ottomans at a thrift store and cleverly recovered them with an old, vintage rug she'd purchased off an online market from a Kilim rug collector. "There were so many places the rug was torn, that there was truly no saving her. I measured out the rug and to my delight I was able to cut it around the holes and tears. I loved working on the ottoman for the space and what's fun is that literally no one in the entire world has an exact replica of these," said Melanie Iverson.
While Melanie Iverson sourced some of her decorative pillows at Target, West Elm, and Room & Board, three of the printed ones are part of a line that she's currently launching via Mosaic's future home and decor line. Last February, she traveled to Thailand and volunteered at Agape Home - a place that specializes in taking care of children, zero to 18 who are dying of AIDS and HIV. During her visit, she was introduced to the idea of a partnership combining the textile sewing talents of the older children and mothers to curate a line of pillows, with the focus on raising money for Agape Home's residents.
Problem #5: The Sunroom
Just beyond the kitchen is one of the jewels of the Iverson's North Fargo home, the spa room. Although an impressive design, at closer inspection, it needed a mass of repairs as well as minor cosmetic changes.
Solution #5: Sunroom Reveal
With fun architectural details in pine and brick, the Iversons have restored the room, repainted the walls, and gave it a cosmetic upgrade, taking it from mint green mayhem to modern bohemian.
Problem #6: The Pool/Backyard
A definite selling point was the well-established, North Fargo neighborhood with fully-grown trees. The beautiful backyard already had a usable pool, but the Iversons knew it needed some work to be the space their family needed.
Solution #6: Pool/Backyard Reveal
To rework the pool system, the Iverson's hired My Aquatic Services to replace the liner and transition it from a chlorine pool to a salt water pool, adding an energy-efficient heater that would have them swimming through fall. "It was a little more upfront, but it's absolutely worth the investment," said Melanie Iverson. "We were spending so much money on chemicals, and now I rarely have to deal with that. I also love the new liner, it has a mosaic texture that shimmers in the sun."
To suit their family, they've designed designated places for roasting s'mores, having coffee, grilling, and most importantly to them, a place to play cards in the warm glow of cafe lights while the kids swim. Melanie found a maintenance-free, metal picnic table at Hom Furniture that was large enough for the entire family, plus a few friends. With the addition of her own artwork, a classic umbrella and patterned pillows from her new line, the outdoor space is every bit as beautiful as it is comfortable.
The Iverson's Style Files
"I like the straight lines of Mid-century design, but sometimes that style alone can feel cold, so my goal in our house was to add a lot of texture like the brick and shiplap with pops of bold colors and patterns. I think the Bohemian design does that well, like the jewel-toned colors together and global print on the ottoman covers," explained Melanie Iverson. "It's something that I wouldn't see everywhere, and I love that. I think that each piece should be uniquely ours. Sometimes people are so concerned about resale that they will not 'live' in their own homes. You should love your space, your home - it's the most intimate space you will ever invite someone into. In my home, I want to create an atmosphere where people feel free to be themselves and they don't want to leave. As a designer, I want to be ahead of the game and focus on ideas that might not even be trending yet."
"It's easy to please the masses, but I really admire that she's willing to take on those design risks, and take that leap of faith. But, when it comes to Mel, I do think it's a calculated risk," said James Iverson. "That's what I've always appreciated about her design - there is always something that seems to be forward-thinking as opposed to what's currently popular."
"I wanted our home to feel architecturally interesting and I feel like when we added all of those different elements, your eye keeps moving and you keep rediscovering textures. When I need a change, I shop my house. I'll take a painting and move it around the house, just for something fresh to look at," explained Melanie Iverson.
Designer vs. Contractor
[On the Horizon]
Mosaic Design + Build + Paint + Decor...
As a beneficial addition to Mosaic's business, James is branching out to include a custom painting division to serve both commercial and residential clients. On the design side, Melanie is anticipating the launch of her line, Mosaic Home + Decor with Agape Home's hand-made pillows at The Market by Eco Chic (formerly Junk Market), September 20 and 21st. Any purchase of a handmade, fair trade pillow will go on to benefit the women and children who live at Agape Home in Thailand. "I love that the pillows give back and help support this beautiful community of women and children that are often some of the most unloved and unwanted," said Melanie Iverson.
Agape Home already had a sewing room available to residents, so the pillows will be handcrafted by women often recovering from being trafficked, who are dying of HIV, along with older, graduated children in the home who want to gain skills in a trade. Many of the residents will not survive their condition, but according to Melanie, Agape Home is a safe haven where they can gracefully live out their last days, while amongst those who will properly care for them.
Find the Finishes:
Learn more about Agape Home - Chiang Mai, Thailand:
For more information, contact:
Mosaic Design + Build
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