Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

Culture, Entertaining, Home Design, Fargo, Interior Design, DIY

Holiday Dreams – Homes for the Holidays Tour

Words by Trever Hill Photography by J. Alan Paul Photography Tag along as we tour the Horace home of Rachel and Shawn Weyer. With just one step into the foyer,…

Words by Trever Hill
Photography by J. Alan Paul Photography

Tag along as we tour the Horace home of Rachel and Shawn Weyer. With just one step into the foyer, you’ll quickly see why I think this home’s ambiance is the epitome of holiday elegance. Working with the Weyer’s stunning white palette and contrasting, gloss black doors, creating holiday magic was a cinch. In just a few short days and a little donated design time, I got the honor of decking their halls with gorgeous decor by Downtown Fargo store, McNeal & Friends.

Minimalistic Magic
I didn’t want to go too over-the-top with holiday design for the Weyers. I really wanted it to be true to their minimalistic style. I had to make sure it was tastefully done and nicely appointed. Even though it was for a charitable event, I wanted them to love it.

The Weyers have a gorgeous kitchen, so I decided to play off of the stand-out features, creating a silver, sprayed feather arrangement with spruce greens, ribbon and pine cones extending down to the silver pendants. I used the Weyer’s silver, claw foot platter and hammered flatware along with a few of my selected pieces from McNeal & Friends, like the Juliska and Jered’s Pottery bowls. The Kate Spade champagne bucket is a bit of an illusion; it’s actually a purse that’s made to look like an ice bucket, but I loved how it merged with the design and created some unique interest.


On the foyer console, I thought these handmade holiday homes and hand-blown, Simon Pearce trees from McNeal & Friends were the perfect fit for the home’s elegant style.

The Weyers just painted the powder room a rich tone called Peppercorn. It’s just beautiful, so I used it as my inspiration and found the feather art piece with the gold leaf inlay that I thought really complimented the room, along with the bronze-gold acorns and wreath from McNeal & Friends.

I wanted the dining space to have a lot of white accents and appear really crisp. I loved the chrome chandelier in this room. Throughout the home, you’ll notice that I mix metals of all tones for the holiday decor. I used a flocked tree from the homeowners and kept the ornaments and table decor very monochromatic with different shades and textures of white. The table is done with pewter Juliska and Jarrod’s Pottery over a wreath-stacked charger with hand-blown glass bulbs in white as a centerpiece.

Fun Fact: As spotted on Snapchat, Kourtney Kardashian had the same hand-blown ornaments on her Christmas tree.

In the family room, I used painted tumbleweed to accent the top of the built-ins, along with an array of metal accents, handmade holiday houses, crystals and oversized ornaments. Behind the sofa, I chose marble polar bears and Simon Pearce trees to set a winter wonderland scene. In this space, I chose an array of metal accents, furs, bowls and holiday throw pillows. To coordinate with the rug the homeowners already had, I then chose a sleek, cowhide that was perfect for creating a cozy space near the fire.

The Weyer’s bedroom rug has just a touch of pale turquoise in it, so I decided to play off of that for the room’s holiday design. I wrapped ribbon around their chandelier and used fishing wire to hang one of the painted tumbleweeds. Then, I simply added holiday accent pillows, an upside-down corner tree and wreath featuring that same turquoise from the rug.

With their impressive foyer, I thought it was an interesting statement to be able to look up onto the second-story banister and see a bit of holiday in an unexpected space. I actually found the tumbleweed blowing across the road on my way back from Medora last week. I drove my car into the ditch and grabbed five tumbleweeds, with a plan to paint and glitter them for use throughout the home. I actually whipped this arrangement together in about a minute. That is the same wreath I had left over from the dining room. I decided to bend it over and placed the painted tumbleweed on top of it. I also tore one of the sprigs apart and incorporated them into the banister design.

Upstairs, the Weyers have a hint of dusty pink, mohair side chairs and an exquisite daybed from McNeal & Friends that I used as the room’s inspiration. The daybed is part of the higher-end division of Uttermost which typically only sells to boutiques or designers since it’s minimally produced. I’ve never been hired to do design work for them, but I just saw this piece at market and thought it would be a perfect fit for their home. To draw more attention to the daybed, I added a smaller tree, dusty pink scarf throw blanket, wool poinsettia and a mix of neutral pillows. Behind the daybed, I gave the snowflake panels a quick makeover with some dusty pink ribbon. The tree features the same glass bulbs in white and beautiful, handmade doves from McNeal & Friends.

The Design Process
The design process is typically a four-day project, which includes meeting with the homeowner at the house, selecting the items and getting each element installed. It is quite a process, especially on a more expansive home like this one. I love to participate in the Homes for the Holidays Tour because it’s a way that I can give back, so they can give back to a good cause in our community. That’s the major reason why I’ve done this for quite a few years now – it’s a really rewarding event to be part of.

About Homes for the Holidays
“One of the things I love the most about Homes for the Holidays is the tradition that it has become for the F-M community,” said co-chair Brenna Naseer. “Alpha Gamma Delta’s first Homes for the Holidays was in 1986 and the community has really embraced it for these three decades. We have people on the tour that tell us that they have been attending this event for 20 plus years. Elly Peterson and I have served as co-chairs for Homes for the Holidays for three years now. We are so proud to be able to carry on the legacy of what so many women have done before us. The event is 100 percent volunteer-run and is truly a collaboration between our local alum chapter, our collegiate members, our participating designers and the wonderful homeowners that make it possible.”

Trever Hill Design

McNeal & Friends
506 Broadway North, Fargo


No Comments on Holiday Dreams – Homes for the Holidays Tour

Progressive Architecture Tour

Words by Susan Hozak-Cardinal Photography by Dan Francis Photography Leave it to the art community to create an event pairing food, wine and a tour of three amazing homes, all…

Words by Susan Hozak-Cardinal
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

Leave it to the art community to create an event pairing food, wine and a tour of three amazing homes, all in the same night. The 2nd annual Progressive Architecture Tour from Plains Art Museum took place on September 23 and walked guests through three homes of area architects and owners to share their stories and insights about the making of their dream homes.

The Crew
I, along with my husband Jason Cardinal, photographer Dan Francis and contributors Trever Hill and Jesse Masterson, were ecstatic to join a small group of 42 people touring three notable homes. It was a day and evening full of excitement, questions, and the chance to meet and mingle with the homeowners and architects. All proceeds raised from the event went to help support the PlainsArt4All initiative to keep the museum’ general admission free.

If you missed out on the tour, no need to fret. Grab yourself a snack and glass of wine and join me as we tour three homes with three different courses.

Progressive Architecture Tour: House #1
Owners | Sunny Clark and Marc Wilson
Architects | DandE Lab, Malini Srivastava and Mike Christenson
Course #1: Hors d’oeuvres | Luna, Chef Ryan Nitschke

The first home we visited was the Horizon Home in Moorhead. When we arrived, we were greeted by Sandy Thompson. Thompson is the Development Director at the Plains Art Museum, and he and his staff did a wonderful job of organizing the tour for everyone to enjoy. Thompson encouraged the crew to enjoy the hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Ryan Nitschke from Luna while touring the home. Towards the end of the hour, we would all gather together to hear from the home owners and architects.

Let the Tour Begin
Off we went. We loved the clean lines of this house. We also loved the simplicity of the home in that everything seemed to have a purpose. No space was wasted space. Yet, it was so bright and inviting too. Every room and layout of the house made more sense after hearing from the owners on their story towards the building of their energy efficient masterpiece.


Marc Wilson, Homeowner
“Like with any budget, we had to think about things that mattered to us and things that didn’t matter to us. We looked through Dwell Magazine for ideas. We knew we wanted a sheltered effect in the backyard. We knew that we didn’t care about big spaces like big bathrooms and that we did want a nice sized kitchen and living area. We also wanted to be environmentally friendly and playful at the same time.”

Owners Sunny Clark and Marc Wilson found the perfect fit with architects Malini Srivastava and Mike Christenson from Design and Energy Laboratory, LLC (DandE Lab). DandE Lab provides affordable, high-performance, energy-efficient architectural design and won the 2014 AIA North Dakota Honor Award for Residential Architecture for the work done on the Horizon House. Energy efficiency, no waste, and leaving the smallest carbon footprint were top priorities of this project.


Mike Christenson, Architect
“When we got together to talk about this project, we all just seemed to click. This was a very enjoyable project to work on and we made a lasting friendship.”

Malini Srivastava, Architect
“What was really interesting about this project was that the conversation was about having a spatial quality but not a big house. So the connotation was about how it would feel, and so the answers weren’t obvious, but we knew we would get there. Marc and Sunny had a list, and together we developed a design concept around it. They were willing to experiment and go on an adventure.”

Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency
One example of moving forward on being energy efficient, yet cost effective, is with the windows. Windows that are high performance are usually very expensive. Through the company, they were able to use rejected high performance windows that were not used in other projects because of size or color.

“My idea of being green comes from multiple things – less material, less energy, being resource conservative,” said Srivastava. “Windows can be weakest part of the equation in trying to get the home air tight. We would continually test before we finish to make sure the house was as air tight as we wanted it to be before moving forward.”

“Travis (VanDoren) was an amazing builder. We can’t even tell when the wind blows,” said Clark. “We look outside and see the trees moving but everything inside is so quiet.”

Clark also explained how they purposely decided not to put an air conditioner in the home. They experimented on how to keep house cool in summertime by opening windows at night, letting fresh air in, and shutting it down during the day. There is radiant heat as well – no ducts, no forced air. This was one of many aspects where Clark and Wilson had to juggle with priorities. Another was with the size of their master bath. They didn’t feel like they needed a large master bath in comparison to having a larger kitchen and living area, where most of their daily family activities happen. They were also able to cut down on costs by doing some of the finishing work themselves, such as making the cabinets and the doors.

The Ever-Changing Process
Although Srivastava jokes about how slow the designing process took in order to get to where everyone wanted to be, Clark and Wilson didn’t think that at all. In fact, they felt like it was Christmas every time they got to meet with Srivastava and Christenson to make decisions on each phase.

“Marc and Sunny were as much of design process as we were. We did drawings as multiple options as a way to figure out where we are going,” said Srivastava.”As architects, we do work that lasts a long time. It’s easy to make mistakes and hard to know when it’s right so we have to take time to use models and drawings as a way of having conversations with the homeowners.”

Progressive Architecture Tour: House #2
Owners | Sarah and Chris Hawley
Architect | Chris Hawley Architects
Course #2: Salad | Mosaic Foods, Chef Eric Watson

The second home on tour was Casa Hawley, home to Chris and Sarah Hawley. When we arrived at the home, Thompson explained to us that he and Chris Hawley worked together on creating this tour for the Plains Art Museum and will be teaming up for future tours. At Casa Hawley, the group enjoyed a salad by Chef Eric Watson from Mosaic Foods, and roamed around once more, taking in the thoughtful architecture, art and home.

Architect and Homeowner
This home was unique to the others on tour because Chris Hawley was both the architects and homeowner. Hawley explained that his wife and family were living in an 880 square-foot house and thought, enough was enough, they needed a bigger space. They thought about building a new home but that changed when Chris Hawley noticed an “ugly house” for sale that was built in 1968.

Chris Hawley, Architect & Homeowner
“That has got to be the ugliest house. Who would be dumb enough to buy it? These were my first thoughts. But during the second weekend of looking at the house, I told my friend, you know what, there is something there. The neighborhood is right, the space if right, and there is something about the quality of the construction.”

Sarah Hawley, Homeowner
“Chris did a sketch within an hour. He has such a vision and I tend to trust him with most things. When he showed me the sketch, I loved it. I love modern and that is definitely our style. As soon as I saw that sketch, I knew that he could pull it off.”

And the adventure begins…

During the Q & A with Chris and Sarah Hawley, we learned about some challenges they faced during the remodel and what steered them towards certain aspects of the home. Chris Hawley said that one thing they went back and forth on was the kitchen. They were deciding if the kitchen would just be opened up partially, but decided to make it big and open, warm and entertaining. “The kitchen island made sense for us and how we live,” explained Chris Hawley. ” If we need formal dining, we use the screen porch for that. We live on the end of this table. We live very informally.”


And then there was a water mishap when it rained during the process of changing the roof. “It became challenging for the family. Yes, it was stressful with the flooding, but we made the most of it. What can you do? I said, let’s play ping pong. I’m a pretty good sport,”laughed Sarah Hawley.


Reflection of Us
Even with the challenges involved, the finished product of Phase One was a success. You can still see some of the original parts of the house with the pink and avocado bathrooms. So far, the house has a very polished and modern look, but the basement, Phase Two, will have a dramatically different look. It will be more industrial with exposed concrete and a family game room. But like the home above, it will be a reflection of Chris and Sarah Hawley and their family.

Chris Hawley, Architect & Homeowner:
” I’m a minimalist and like reusing things. The table is from wood from an old restaurant in Minot and with repurposed spikes from that project as well. This house is a reflection of us. There is art from my brother or friends, each with personal stories that are near and dear to us.”


Progressive Architecture Tour: House #3

Owners | Rondi and Keith McGovern | Fargo
Architect | Chris Hawley Architects/Interior Remodel
Entree | VIP Room, Chef Anthony Bachman
Dessert | Nichole’s Fine Pastry, Pastry Chef Nichole Hensen

The final home on the tour was what Fargoan’s refer to as, The Fargo Laundry Building, home to Rondi and Keith McGovern. When we arrived, we divided into two tour groups. My group went with Keith McGovern and the other group with Rondi McGovern and Chris Hawley. Keith McGovern assured us we were in the group that would get a thorough run down of the place and he was right. There was just so many fascinating and story-filled parts to this home that I am going to have to just share a few with you.

Wait…what? A Laundry Building?

Keith explained to us that after going through three floods, he wanted to move somewhere where he didn’t have to worry about that again. So while he and his realtor were hard at work looking for a house, Keith McGovern suddenly came across an old laundry building for sale. He immediately called up his realtor, Dave Noah, and said, “I can fix anything. Call those guys, I want to buy that building.”

Our tour started in the large garage/shop portion of the building, the same area that Keith McGovern had first looked at as well. “When I walked into this room, I decided that I wanted to buy this building,” Keith McGovern said. We were now in the original room where Leef Cleaners received laundry in 2,000-pound totes. This place use to have washing machines, all sorts of pipes, with lint and soap scum everywhere. This all required a massive cleanup but has now transformed beautifully into a shop, and garage complete with a mudroom and gear room.


Keith McGovern, Homeowner:
“I have to give credit to our governor, Doug Burgum. When he came over and I told him my plan, he said, if you are really going to do this, you need to call this guy, he’s an architect. His name is Chris Hawley.”

Chris Hawley, Architect:
“Keith gave me a call Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. and wanted to see some drawings the next day. After seeing the first sketch, I had until Friday and stayed up all night Thursday and those are the two drawings I came up with, and what is cool about it is that it didn’t change much.”

From Drawing to Reality

“I can’t stand CAD and I let Chris know that,” said Keith McGovern. “Chris is an amazing artist so he drew everything for me. We ended up with these drawings and then the building itself.”

The Basement
The laundry building use to be its own self-contained building in 1923. It had its own water treatment, power plant, and fire system. In the east wall, a train would drop off coal which would then be shoveled into a huge boiler. The McGovern’s transformed this basement area into a gym which they now refer to as “The Pit”.

The Pit
“This is the cross-fit gym where the kids work out, and this is the normal gym or Rondi’s gym,” said Keith McGovern. “Her gym area used to be offices for Leef Cleaners.”

Grand Staircase
The staircase was hard to get approved because there are no legs and Keith wanted to be historically correct. The staircase actually bolts together and they assembled it on-site.

Indoor/Outdoor Patio Magic
Keith McGovern led us into a brick room and surprised the crowd with what would undoubtedly be one of the most unique rooms in the city. He explained that he wanted an indoor patio that was essentially, outdoors. A moment later, concrete blocks started to move and a rustic garage door opened to reveal a heated, indoor, swim spa. This area was originally the site where trucks backed up to doors that were operated by heavy, concrete blocks. To preserve the history of the building, Keith McGovern kept the original doors and replicated the massive, concrete counterweights.

Happily Ever After
During the Q&A portion after dinner, we found out that Keith and Rondi McGovern were once prom king and queen. With such an extensive project, the touring crowd wondered if there were any design battles between the “royal court”, and also what it was about Fargo that made them want to keep their roots firmly planted.

“Rondi’s family brought us here and the wonderful people of Fargo kept us here,” said Keith McGovern. “We were really in sync in how Rondi and I functioned on this project. For the structural and mechanical areas, Chris and I worked together. Certain rooms were Rondi’s so I had no say in those,” he joked. “Rondi did save the day by telling me not to frost the windows in the bar area. That would have made a big difference if we did and you couldn’t see outside. Rondi was with me the whole way, and with Chris’s hard work, we were able to pull this all together.”

The Tour Concludes
Through the Progressive Architecture Tour, organized by the Plains Art Museum, we were able to see three incredible homes in different stages of development and thought-process. What most people can only imagine from the street, this tour group, comprised of architectural admirers and dreamers, got an up-close and personal glimpse inside their doors and greatest design ambitions. Although each home and family revealed a different lifestyle, they all shared one commonality. Amidst an array of challenges, they had a vision and a dream to create a space that felt like their version of home.

With Gratitude
To all of the homeowners and architects, thank you for sharing your story, your personal space and your unique vision. To the chef’s who created each sumptuous course along the way, thank you for sharing your talents.

For more information about the Progressive Architecture Tour, contact:
Plains Art Museum
Sandy Thompson, Director of Development
704 First Avenue North, Fargo, N.D.

No Comments on Progressive Architecture Tour

A Twist on Tradition

Words by Shayla Knutson Photography by Zach Davis Photography Thanksgiving is not too far away, and that means it’s time to start menu and table- setting prep. Thanksgiving is about…

Words by Shayla Knutson

Photography by Zach Davis Photography

Thanksgiving is not too far away, and that means it’s time to start menu and table- setting prep. Thanksgiving is about tradition and we all have our go-to recipes, but sometimes a little refresh is in order. With a small twist on tradition, those classic cranberries, stuffing, turkey and green beans will reach a whole new level of tastefulness. For some, it is hard to stray from the typical Thanksgiving menu, but this menu is simply taking a different approach to classic dishes. Perhaps finding a new family favorite dish is simply adding a small twist on traditional dishes.

If you are hosting and/or cooking, there are subtle changes that you can make to traditional family recipes that will keep things new and exciting. Traditions will always be important during holidays, but I think the way to keep everyone from falling asleep, is to spice things up a bit, whether you inject a little whimsy into the menu, or just experiment with new foods and flavor combinations. I especially love it when an experimental recipe transforms into its own tradition. That’s the way it was with my green bean casserole. It’s now demanded at every Thanksgiving.

This menu of sides and dessert provides traditional Thanksgiving fare, but sprinkles in a few variations for good measure. I’m a strong believer in classic dishes, but there’s definitely room for creativity. I guarantee you’ll earn a major applause at the Thanksgiving table.

Table Setting
Floral: Love Always Floral
Half of the success of a dinner party is the presentation. Fall provides great, natural elements you can incorporate into your table design ideas (e.g. wood, greenery, pumpkins). Thanksgiving is also a great excuse to give your table a fun new makeover. A new tablecloth, runner, or throw blanket will give your Thanksgiving table-setting a fresh new look. From there you can add many natural items combined with items around the house to create a beautiful, layered Thanksgiving table.


I love mixing fun colors along with textures. I used a wool throw blanket instead of a table runner to keep it less expensive. I love blending sophisticated plates and glasses with organic wood pieces, greenery, and florals.

Don’t forget to incorporate the reason for the season in your Thanksgiving dinner plans. One tradition in my home that will never change is having each person at the table tell something he or she is thankful for. For this, offer small pieces of paper to everyone and have them write down what they are most thankful for and share after dinner.



I recently just developed an appreciation for a good cranberry sauce and realized that sweet and savory anything together is an incredible combo. This cranberry sauce is unique with the addition of cognac and walnuts.


This stuffing is very classic but with a small twist of using bagels instead of bread.

Green Bean Casserole
I love a good green bean casserole but hate using canned vegetables and processed fried onions. This recipe came about when my husband became gluten-free and could not have those addicting processed fried onion toppings.

I am a lover of a good pumpkin pie…but switching it out is always good.

The mashed potatoes have a hint of something new with the addition of ranch and greek yogurt.


Get the Recipes

Apple Crisp
For Apples:
• 1 C sugar
• 1 T g/f flour
• 1 t salt
• 1 T cinnamon
• 5 C apples
Cut apples into ¼ “ slices. Mix ingredients in large bowl and place in 9X13 pan or 6 ramekins.

For topping:
• 1 C brown sugar
• 1 ½ C g/f flour
• 1 C butter
• 1 C g/f oats
Cream together sugar and butter. Add oats and flour. Crumble on top of apples.
Bake for 50 minutes.

Bagel Stuffing
• 1 C onion
• 2 C celery
• 1 C butter
• 2 ⅔ t salt
• ⅔ t pepper
• 2 ⅔ t poultry seasoning
• 1 t fresh thyme
• 1 t fresh sage
• 6 plain white bagels

A day before, cube bagels to dry out. Chop the onion and celery very fine. In a pan, melt the butter then add celery, onion, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, thyme, and sage. Mix in the dried bagels and stuff turkey.

Fresh Cranberries
• 1 pkg (12oz) fresh cranberries
• ¾ C sugar
• ½ C orange juice
• ¼ C triple-sec (or orange-flavored liqueur)
• ¼ t ground allspice
• ¼ t ground cloves
• ¼ t ginger
• 1 T grated orange peel
• ½ C chopped walnuts, toasted

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, liqueur and spices until boiling. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer, stirring frequently until cranberries begin to pop and mixture has thickened slightly approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in orange peel and toasted walnuts

Fresh Green Bean Casserole
• 1 ½ lbs chopped green beans
• ½ C onion chopped + 1 ½ C onion thinly sliced
• 1 12oz Pacific brand cream of mushroom soup
• 1 t salt
• ½ t pepper
• 1 T Worcestershire sauce
• 1 T minced garlic
• ¼ C milk
• ¼ C + 1 T cornstarch
• ½ C oil for frying onions
Steam the chopped green beans for six minutes. Remove and place in a bowl. Add the cream of mushroom soup, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, milk, ½ cup chopped onion, and 1 T cornstarch. Mix in a bowl and pour into a medium-size sauté pan. Turn the heat on to medium-high and let simmer covered for eight minutes.

For the crunchy onion topping: take the 1 ½ cup thinly sliced onions and toss them in ¼ cup of cornstarch. Drizzle several tablespoons of avocado oil into a sauté pan on high heat and pan fry the onion slices. Place on paper towel to get rid of excess oil. Remove lid from green bean mixture and add the crunchy onions. Simmer to thicken for 3 to 4 minutes.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole
• 4 lbs new baby potatoes
• ½ C plain greek yogurt
• ½ C butter
• 2 T dry ranch
• 1 ½ C cheddar cheese
• 10 slices cooked bacon
• 1 t salt
• ½ t pepper
• ¼ C milk
• ¼ C scallions chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash and cut potatoes into large chunks.
Place potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until fork tender, approximately 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, return to pot with butter. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in milk, greek yogurt, bacon, dry ranch, salt, pepper and one cup of shredded cheese and mash until desired consistency. Lightly spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place the potato mixture in baking dish. Top with remaining ½ cup cheese and scallions. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

To see more of my Sweetly Simple recipes, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @sweetlysimplelife.

No Comments on A Twist on Tradition

Fall into Festive Dining

Words by Trever Hill Photography by M.Schleif Photography This month, I challenged myself to create a Fall-inspired tablescape, amidst the vibrant colors of the historic Ivers building in Downtown Fargo….

Words by Trever Hill
Photography by M.Schleif Photography

This month, I challenged myself to create a Fall-inspired tablescape, amidst the vibrant colors of the historic Ivers building in Downtown Fargo. In a setting like this, there was no shortage of inspiration. To complete the tablescape, I gathered a couple of dear friends that I’m thankful for and asked them to be my guest in a bit of festive, Fall dining.

Be Our Guest
To create the perfect Fall ambiance, friends Teresa O’Day and Erin Hafliger helped me set the scene. The Ivers building is an iconic one that is locally known for its stunning seasonal colors. Vines extend almost the entire expanse of the North side, so when the season’s colors emerge, the building is illuminated with vibrant tones. This is the place that came to mind when thinking of a dream location to create a table for two.

Seasonal Inspiration
I started with just a few items: the velvet pumpkins and stemware from McNeal & Friends. From there, I began filling in other elements to coordinate with those two items.

I added a pop of floral with the large arrangement by John Richard, found at Northern Home Furniture. This line is known for having a very realistic floral look. After that, raw elements like aged wood pieces, dried oranges, rough-edged pottery-style plates, as well as the rusted metal pieces, gave the design some depth and interest.

Oranges are typically not something I would think of for Fall decor, but I saw these dried versions at Eco Chic Boutique and the tone melded perfectly with our pumpkins. Finally, I needed something fun for the guests to take home. This is where I incorporated Fall-themed favors from both Eco Chic Boutique and Mint & Basil.

Fall Favors
November is a time to be thankful for those around us, so I like to make sure guests are surprised with a special gift at each setting. I love including fun, little items like these hand-cast ceramic turkeys from Eco Chic Boutique. These are an inexpensive way to gift your guests, at just over two dollars a place setting. I also included a beautiful, black-wrapped soap from Mint & Basil with a dried flower that coordinated perfectly with our Fall tablescape. They come in an array of flower choices and scents, so you can almost always find one to coordinate with your setting.

Wine & Dine
For the wine display, I used this glass and rusted-metal cage. The shape and size were perfect, especially when I used a vintage, wood wine holder for the bottom. Lately, I’ve been using a lot of wood trays and bowls from O’Day Cache. Cindy O’Day is well-known for traveling all over the world to find authentic, aged-wood pieces for her store. She even labels many of them so patrons can see how old each piece is. Some of the wood I’ve used for the tablescape is roughly 150 years-old. Pieces like this create some extra interest and sometimes have a great backstory to share with guests.

Plush Pumpkins
I am in love with the original Plush Pumpkin collection out of St. Paul, Minnesota. I found these handstitched pumpkins and acorns at McNeal & Friends. They are made with the highest quality velvet and use real, handpicked pumpkin stems and acorn tops. They also come in a variety of rich color tones to go with any decor.

To display these beautiful pumpkins, I found the perfect, farmhouse-style, tin tray that would then serve as my centerpiece. I loved the contrast of the raw metal and rich velvet next to each other.


Plated Perfection
The raw edge of these pottery-style dishes really caught my eye at Mint & Basil. I go there often for unique items for gifting, but this time I came across their beautiful stoneware. I loved how organic and raw they looked, especially in the neutral tone.
Ruffled, linen sleeves from Burlap Rustic Chic Boutique mixed with cast-iron flatware completed the look.


Shop Around:
Table – Garisson drop-leaf table, Currey & Company
Chairs – Jeffan, McNeal & Friends
Ceramic turkeys – Eco Chic Boutique
Tin tray – Scheels Home & Hardware
Floral with vase – John Richard, Northern Home Furniture & Design
Rusted metal and glass-panel cage – O’Day Cache
Dehydrated oranges – Eco Chic Boutique
Vintage, wood wine holder – O’ Day Cache
Cast-iron flatware – Michael Aram, McNeal & Friends
Linen flatware sleeves – set of four, Burlap Rustic Chic Boutique
Stoneware dishes – Mint & Basil
Stemware – Juliska, McNeal & Friends
Raffia bow & feathered napkin rings – McNeal & Friends
Plush Pumpkins and acorns – McNeal & Friends
Linen table runner -McNeal & Friends
Soap & dried flower favors – Mint & Basil
Tree trunk charger – Mint and Basil
Jute charger – McNeal & Friends
Iron handle, glass cloche – Europe2You, McNeal & Friends

I like to shop at a variety of local stores to really get that pulled-together look. Yes, I could do it all from one store, but I like the result of shopping around. Even though most of the stores go to the same market, they all pour through millions of items to make sure their products coordinate with their store’s unique look. So, it’s really nice to pull those different pieces together and finish the tablescape with a fun, eclectic look.

Trever Hill Design

No Comments on Fall into Festive Dining

Live, Laugh, Love – A Night of Wine, Wishes and Pizza

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by AB Images Have you ever been to a live auction and wondered what it would be like to attend one of the elite dinners…

Words by Tracy Nicholson

Photography by AB Images

Have you ever been to a live auction and wondered what it would be like to attend one of the elite dinners that are often up for bid? This Fall, we were invited to the beautiful, Sheyenne River home of Vonda and Jim Leiner to get a glimpse inside their authentic, Italian, wood-burning pizza party. This event was donated by the Leiners on behalf of Make-A-Wish, North Dakota at the 2017 Wine & Wishes event held this past Spring. Casting the winning bid, Angela and Joe Kolling had a reason for supporting this cause that was close to home. In 2009, their own daughter Morgan was once the recipient of a Wish. Driven to show continued support for other children with life-threatening illnesses, the Kollings gathered friends and family in a celebration of life, love and pizza.


Inviting seven of their closest friends to the dinner, the Kollings know too well the need for Wishes to be granted. Donating a dinner like this one can mean raising anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, all going towards granting children’s Wishes throughout the state.

The Power of a Wish
“It’s been eight years since we went on our Wish trip for Morgan and we have not missed a Make-A-Wish event since,” said Angela Kolling. “Make-A-Wish was wonderful in making sure that her wish happened. We had a setback the week before she was going on her trip and so they were good about making sure plans were changed to accommodate Morgan, and honestly, Make-A-Wish is one of the best organizations out there. It truly gives kids that are going through this, something to smile about and gives their family that little break and reprieve. Whether it’s a trip, a new bedroom or a new swing set; whatever the wish may be, they make sure it happens for that child and make each wish special.

After their daughter’s Wish was granted, the Kollings vowed to keep giving back. The group of friends they invited to the Leiner’s house comes every year to the Make-A-Wish event to show their support. “It’s nice to be able to share the night with them,” said Angela Kolling. “I think Make-A-Wish would agree, there’s no gift that’s too small. But, even just to get the awareness out there of the organization and what they do. You don’t have to give, you can also donate your time or help with the wishes, it’s not just about spending money.”


Donating an Experience

Co-hosting for the night’s dinner was Brad and Jennifer Dahl. Brad Dahl has been on the Make-A-Wish board for the past 12 years and he and his wife were the two that proposed the pizza party idea to Jim and Vonda Leiner. In past years, typically executive chefs had donated dinners, but the Dahl’s knew firsthand that the Leiners could create an experience that people would love to bid on. “This is more of an experience,” said Jennifer Dahl. “The food’s going to fabulous, I know that for a fact. It’s a beautiful home, there’s a set up to have a bonfire as well. This is a treat because we’ve been out here or a lot of pizza parties and there’s usually 10 to 20 people. It’s really fun and you can make your own or they’ll make one for you. Jim and Vonda have ruined pizza for us,” laughed Jennifer Dahl. “Once you eat their pizza, you don’t want to go anywhere else.”

Made-from-Scratch Wishes
To create an authentic, Italian experience for the Kollings and their guests, Jim and Vonda Leiner spent nearly 12 hours preparing and sauteeing every type of pizza ingredient imaginable. Jim Leiner made the pizza crust dough from scratch, planning for 16 pizzas.

To make the most of the experience, guests were invited to either create their own concoction or follow one of the Leiner’s favorite recipes they cleverly displayed on restaurant order pads.

“One of the pizzas that really throws people is our bratwurst and sauerkraut with mustard sauce. Also, the shrimp pizza is a signature that not many people have had,” said Vonda Leiner. “The shrimp pizza has a secret base, it’s something that Jim creates as he’s sautéing for the sausage, onions and garlic. This time he did more of a beurre blanc, so it has more of a lemon taste to it.”

“This peach one is our salad pizza and a favorite of ours, we got it from Muddy Waters, that was a restaurant in Minneapolis. There’s Parmesan, Mozzarella, Blue Cheese, Prosciutto, peaches, pears, toasted walnuts and arugula. Then we just drizzle it with balsamic vinegar,” said Jim Leiner.

For another popular pie, the Leiners use bacon grease as the base, Pecorino Romano, Parmesan cheese and a little Mozzarella. “If you look at different recipes, you can pretty much use any kind of cheese and pepper,” said Vonda Leiner. “It’s called Cacio e Pepe which translates to cheese and pepper in Italian. We’re planning a trip to Italy next year for our 30th wedding anniversary, so Jim’s actually learning how to speak Italian. Right now he’s about 40 percent fluent, he can read and write in Italian. I only know a few words, but he’s able to listen to it all day while he’s working, so he’s actually pretty good.”

Woodfire Whimsy
The Leiners wanted an authentic, woodfire pizza oven that could only be found in Italy. Jim Leiner, a long-time cabinet builder for Wood Specialists in Fargo, N.D., Installed the pizza oven, beautiful cabinetry and stone surround. The couple typically reserved pizza parties for the winter, and for good reason. Their authentic pizza oven gets up to around 800 degrees, sufficiently heating up the house.

“We roll the dough out, then place on cornmeal so it doesn’t stick,” explained Vonda Leiner. “The only other secret is not to add too much sauce to the very edge. Each pizza takes about three minutes in the brick oven.”


Tour the Leiner’s Home

Before guests arrived, Vonda Leiner gave us a tour of their stunning home. For new guests to the Leiner’s home, the experience starts at the street with a picturesque walk through a dreamy landscape framed with cafe lights, finally leading to their front porch, where Frank Sinatra is crooning through the speakers near the entrance.

Inside, it’s easy to feel as if one’s been transported to another, more exotic location; maybe a gorgeous Italian villa, a beautiful resort in the mountains or your favorite restaurant in Napa Valley. Vonda Leiner’s flair for design and detail is in every nook and cranny of their gorgeous home. She doesn’t follow the standard rules of design, and it’s utter perfection. In fact, she doesn’t follow trends, and her style cannot be defined in one word. Some would say it’s an eclectic mix of French country, vintage, industrial, contemporary, Italian and everything in-between. To combine all of these styles seamlessly, with family heirlooms, flea market finds and handmade items is a skill all on its own. Each room is a reflection of the Leiner’s 32 years together. One walk through the home and guests feel as if they’ve gotten a glimpse of their personality, their life, and their loves.

“Her home is beautiful,” said Make-A-Wish mom, Angela Kolling. “It’s nice to be able to come into someone else’s home and experience a different style of dinner. We’ve had dinners through Make-A- Wish where they come to your home as well. So, this had a nice appeal, to be able to go into a different house and be with our friends and family, those that are close to us.”

Seasonal Decor with a Spin
The Leiner’s table is set for Fall perfection. “We just hung the branch over the table last winter for Christmas and then we had antique icicles and snowflakes that hung off of it,” said Vonda Leiner. “After Christmas, we decided to keep it, we liked the architectural look and we didn’t want two more light fixtures in here because of the large kitchen pendants.”

“So, this was an old farm table, but in 2010, I almost started our whole house on fire with a mix of candles, wood, pine cones and fresh greenery,” laughed Vonda Leiner. “It had huge burn marks down the center and I couldn’t find a table to replace it so, we just tried to think of another way.”As a solution, Jim Leiner had a stainless steel top fabricated to fit the lower legs, lending the space a mix of farmhouse, industrial appeal.

An efficient self-taught designer, Vonda Leiner doesn’t decorate for one specific holiday, she decorates for the longer haul, focusing on the seasons. Her Fall decor for the dinner is a seasonal style which will easily last through Thanksgiving. “I’m not a big orange fan, but the white pumpkins are a must,” said Vonda Leiner. If you’re wondering about Christmas, she doesn’t like taking the decor down in four weeks, so Vonda Leiner opts for Winter-inspired decor to last through the next season.

DIY Masterpiece
After sheet-rock, Jim and Vonda Leiner are known to take over the project and physically do all of the home’s finishes themselves. Putting to good use Jim Leiner’s 30-plus years as a cabinet-maker at Wood Specialists, they were able to build their cabinets themselves and have him do all of the custom rock work, tile and almost every finish.

The Leiner’s master suite is an ode to love and family. Vintage photos of their great-grandparents represent both sides of their family, along with pieces from their past.


Organic Outdoors
Just off of the master suite, Jim Leiner built a swoon-worthy three-season porch with sliding doors to accommodate the seasons. A slightly more contemporary look at first glance, a second glance reveals an eclectic mix of vintage and flea market finds with a stunning view of the patio and woods beyond their home.

Outside on the patio, Jim Leiner cut 400-pound tree trunks to brace their table top. The table top alone is an impressive 1,200 to 1,300 pounds. The white handrail on the deck was found at an antique store and was originally from a hotel in Minneapolis.

“We’ve been here for 12 years. We wanted to keep the backyard rustic and we wanted it to feel like when you come out here, that you’re in Itasca or someplace like that,” said Vonda Leiner. “We’re just going to put down a little grass and those yellow, weed flowers that you see on the side of the road. We just want it to look really natural.”


Supporting a Wish

To understand the purpose behind events like the one Jim and Vonda Leiner generously donated, just ask Brad Dahl, a longstanding board member, and wish-granting volunteer. “The best part of being involved with Make-A-Wish is putting smiles on kid’s faces. We’ve got close to 50 kids that get Wishes granted in North Dakota. We have to raise money, the kids get a wish and we don’t want to have to deny it. It would be nice if this number would decrease, that means the kids aren’t getting sick with life-threatening illnesses. If someone wants to get involved with helping, any ideas are listened to by our executive director, Billi Jo Zielinski. When we had this idea, we went to her and she said, “Absolutely.” We didn’t know how it was going to turn out if anyone would even bid on it, but we ended up having a couple of different people that bid on it. Every little bit counts.”


“It’s great that people do things like this, it’s a great setting and something that’s really attractive to bid on at the event,” said Joe Kolling. “It’s something different and a lot of fun for a night out. To come to an event like the Make-A-Wish fundraiser, you don’t need to spend $2,000, you can go and spend $25 and still make a huge impact. It’s a fun night to go whether you win something nice or just donate a small amount. It makes an impact and it’s worth going no matter how much you can offer. Going to an event like this is a big eye-opener for someone who hasn’t been through it. The lasting impact that Make-A-Wish has on these families, I can’t describe it. To go to the event at least helps give some kind of perspective on what they do.”

“Joe and Angela’s daughter, Morgan, received her wish to go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in April of 2009,” said Make-A-Wish North Dakota President and CEO, Billi Jo Zielinski. “After the trip, Morgan began coloring pictures and selling them to raise money for Make-A-Wish. From notecards to live auction prints, she has posthumously raised over $30,000 for other wish kids in North Dakota.”

“We could not grant the wishes to almost 50 children each year without the generosity of people like the Leiners, Dahls and Kollings,” said Make-A-Wish North Dakota President and CEO Billi Jo Zielinski. “Donated experiences like this go beyond just a moment at an event. They transform lives, one wish at a time. One of the Kolling family’s favorite mottos is “live, laugh, love” and you can bid on Morgan’s art piece with this motto, hear other wish children stories and enjoy wine from Happy Harry’s at next year’s Wine & Wishes event on Friday, April 6, 2018 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo.”

To donate time or help support a Wish, contact:

Billi Jo Zielinski
President and CEO
Make-A-Wish® North Dakota
4143 26th Avenue South, Suite 104, Fargo N.D.

No Comments on Live, Laugh, Love – A Night of Wine, Wishes and Pizza

Lost River Treasure

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Family photo by Mandey Marie Photography Just over the Horace bridge to the west of the Sheyenne River, is 220 acres…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Family photo by Mandey Marie Photography

Just over the Horace bridge to the west of the Sheyenne River, is 220 acres of land that has been treasured by the Samuelson family for six generations. Nestled on the riverbank, the Samuelson’s 1889 homestead is part of the landscape that includes an abandoned river bed which is nothing short of postcard perfection. Jack and Rachel (Samuelson) Dwyer moved into the original homestead in 2009 after purchasing the home and part of the land from Rachel Dwyer’s grandmother, Sherry Samuelson. Like many family members before them, the Dwyers and their four kids eventually outgrew the home. Wanting to ensure the family’s legacy for years to come, the Samuelson family and the Dwyer family came up with a plan to keep the land in the family and also build the dream home their growing family desired.

Lost River Development Abundant trees and river views are just a couple of the reasons why the Samuelson family held tight to this coveted land. When Sherry Samuelson considered selling the land in 2015, Jack Dwyer, a lawyer who specializes in real estate and water law, delved in to see what they could do to preserve the land they had grown to love. Wanting to respect the Samuelson family heritage, he and Sherry Samuelson developed a plan that would give the Dwyers the space they needed and for the first time, allow other families to build their own legacy on the land.

“Sherry and I talked about it and we came up with a plan together to keep it in the family, and to develop it together,” said Jack Dwyer. “I would do the work and Sherry and her kids would maintain the ownership and try to create generational wealth and turn this change into a positive thing. The fact that three out of four of Sherry’s kids don’t get to enjoy the land, helped make the decision that financially it would be the right move for the family to develop it.” Samuelson saw it as a great idea. “I hope I do get to see all of it done. We have a lot of great memories here,” said Samuelson.

Close to Home
Unlike most development plans, this one would be a bit more sentimental. This new neighborhood consisting of 120 lots, needed to honor the Samuelson family and every street and park needed to be what they wanted for their own kids that would be raised on the land. “With the design, we worked very, very hard laying out the subdivision in a way that we can be proud of,” said Jack Dwyer. “We decided to create community space with walking trails and park space that’s centered in the development. The park will include a hockey rink, skating pad, warming house, shelter, and eventually two big playgrounds. There’s also a gazebo, soccer field, tennis court, youth baseball field and basketball court in the works.”


With the new layout of the subdivision, Jack Dwyer and Sherry Samuelson opted to create lots for all families, designating space for entry-level homes, mid and luxury homes. Lots are protected by the Sheyenne River diversion and range from $19,900 to $174,900. Currently, 30 lots in the first phase are sold with an additional 40 lots optioned to custom builders.

From Classic 1889 to Modern Day Mid-Century
For the Dwyers, they felt honored to be able to move onto the original homestead back in 2009. ” It’s a very special spot and really the best setting,” said Jack Dwyer. “We’ve always said that we have the best yard in Fargo.” “We haven’t had the greatest house and we didn’t have a garage or closets in the original homestead, but we had the best patio and really the most beautiful setting,” said Rachel Dwyer. “For years, we were trying to figure out a way to maybe make enough money to buy the whole place, and keep it forever,” said Jack Dwyer.

Building new was not the first plan the Dwyers had discussed. They had initially looked into remodeling the original house, so they had an architect draw up a floor plan which would then fix the original brick foundation. “Our bids came back basically what we spent on the new house, and we’d still be left with a house with mouse droppings in the wall, poor insulation and no ductwork,” said Jack Dwyer.

Despite a few setbacks from age and wear, the Dwyers were very happy with the home for many years. “We do love it, and we put a lot of energy and care into the original home. We put in new flooring, wall coverings and windows,” said Rachel Dwyer. “ It was kind of funny because my mom had done the same thing here in the early 90s. So, each person that lived here put their own twist on the house. With three kids it was starting to feel tight, but then when we had our fourth child and it got hard to find places for everything. I really was starting to yearn for my kids to have a nice, big place to play, but also a space for them to relax.”


History in the Making
Edward and Louisa Samuelson bought the original homestead in April of 1891. After Edward passed away in the early 1930s, Louisa Samuelson lost the land to a bank in a mortgage foreclosure in 1943. Edward and Louisa’s son and Rachel Dwyer’s great-grandfather Didrick Samuelson, who worked for the Horace Post Office for over 40 years, and his wife Mamie, were able to save up enough money to purchase the land back from the bank in 1948 and keep the land in the family.

“I remember the first time I came across that bridge, I thought, am I going to another country?” laughed Sherry Samuelson. “Uncle John who once lived here, I don’t think he had ever been further than Minnesota, and that was only a couple of times. Other than that, he didn’t go off of the farm.”

Didrick and Mamie Samuelson sold the land to their son Edward Samuelson and his wife Sherry Samuelson in 1965, who placed the land into a trust. For Sherry and Edward Samuelson, they would live in the upstairs of the 1889 home, a space that had been renovated into an apartment for prior family members. Her in-laws then resided on the main level of the home. Sherry Samuelson had often thought of Edward’s parents as her own. After raising two children in the upstairs apartment, anticipation of a third had them moving to a larger home in Fargo.

After Edward and Sherry were divorced in 1978, she decided she could not take the farm away from him, so she suggested he keep the acreage. When a neighboring 50 acres of wooded land came up for sale in 1997, Sherry purchased the additional acreage. Sherry Samuelson eventually purchased the Samuelson land from her ex-husband Edward Samuelson in 2006, and she purchased an additional 60-acre tract from another neighboring landowner in 2006. In the end, with a goal to keep the land in their children’s lives, Sherry Samuelson would end up the owner of 220 acres of untouched nature and the original farmstead.

The Lost River Route

In this area where the original house stands, there will soon be a cul-de-sac with larger lots. The original homestead will be taken out, but the barn will remain, leaving a small piece of the Samuelson legacy for future homeowners to enjoy.

On a walk to the riverbank, Jack Dwyer showed us his favorite spots, including the land he bow hunts on and a canoe landing where he often fishes. Phase two, which is not yet begun, will likely include the picturesque, untouched land beyond the clearing. Taking us into the meadow past the cul-de-sac, Jack Dwyer explains that this is the abandoned riverbed where water once ran through, hence the name of the development, Lost River.

Building a New Heritage

Just past Lost River road, down a street named after Rachel Dwyer’s great grandpa Didrick Samuelson, the Dwyers have completed the build of their new home. For the design of their dream home, the Dwyers worked with Jason Carpenter of Carpenter Homes. Going for a transitional design, they chose to intermingle craftsman quality with mid-century modern appeal. Even Rachel’s grandma, Sherry Samuelson was in agreement. “I was really pleased when Jack and Rachel built this, they’ve done such a good job,” said Samuelson. “I thought of building out here, but oh, I’d get carried away,” she laughed.

Throughout the home, the Dwyers opted do their own design, choosing much of their furniture from Scan Design in Fargo, N.D. “We just chose the things that we have always liked. We had planned to go to the cities to buy much of the furniture from Room & Board, but once we went into Scan Design, we found everything we needed and decided not to leave town. They had so many great pieces.” They also searched high and low for an oil-brushed, white oak flooring they had seen on Houzz, finally spotting the elusive flooring in the JW Kitchens showroom.


“In all of the really modern houses you see white walls,” said Rachel Dwyer. “But, we wanted it to stand out against our white cabinets and white trim, so we did Egret White (Sherwin Williams) so there’s some subtle contrast. Our perfect trim is no trim, but that’s not really an option. Our builder loves craftsman trim, so his perfect trim is as much trim as possible, so we found this to be a pretty likable balance. It frames everything out nicely, but it doesn’t have that typical strong, top molding like craftsman does.”

“We were really inspired by mid-century modern and Scandinavian style,” said Rachel Dwyer of their new home. “When we looked through Houzz, we were always drawn to walnut and also a glossy white. We ended up having Poss Custom Cabinets do all of the cabinets in a white slab with a European overlay and walnut trim. Everywhere except the kitchen, we did walnut with our built-ins.” Sharing the same design preference, Rachel Dwyer and her grandmother both love contemporary styling. “I had a home in Seattle and I told Rachel, her hardware in the kitchen is the same as I had in my Seattle home,” said Sherry Samuelson.


For the unique countertop, the Dwyers worked with Northern Stone. “They were great to work with,” said Rachel Dwyer. “We chose a lightly-leathered granite, so it has a matte look without having the ridges.” Coordinating perfectly, the backsplash is a wider subway tile, stacked, also in a matte finish.

For the powder room, Rachel Dwyer chose mid-century modern lighting, penny round floor tile and a stunning tulip wall covering with Scandinavian flair. “We even borrowed some pieces like that vase from my grandmother, she has very modern taste, so it’s fun to bring those into our new home,” said Rachel Dwyer. “I think I got my love of modern design from her.”

Find the Finishes
Homebuilder- Carpenter Homes
Powder room wall covering – Scandinavian Tulips, Wayfair
Lighting – Wayfair
Powder room and kitchen backsplash tile – Imperial Flooring
Kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, family room floating shelves – Poss Custom Cabinets
Quartz powder room sink and kitchen countertop – Northern Stone
White Oak flooring – JW Kitchens
Appliances – Rigel’s
Island stools – Scan Design
Dining table lighting – Lowe’s
Exterior landscape design – Boyle Landscape Architects
Linear fireplace – Hebron Brick
Fireplace tile – Imperial Flooring
Sofa, desk, dining table, rugs, chair, artwork & coffee table – Scan Design
Office artwork – Rando


For the exterior, the Dwyers chose privacy fencing on the side, then open-style fencing on the back to preserve the view to the river. “Peter Boyle of Boyle Landscape Architects actually transplanted flowers from the original homestead, so a lot of them are my great grandmother’s flowers, ” said Rachel Dwyer.

“One of Jason’s ideas to customize this house was to bump out the platform outside of the base of the house in the stairwell. It really did change the look of the house on the exterior,” said Rachel Dwyer. “Jason called us while we were in France in June and said, you know with your high pitched roof, why don’t we put a bonus room up there. There was already an artificial window for exterior appeal, so we thought let’s bump it out over here and make it a playroom, then bump the other wall out and create another bedroom. That’s when we decided not to finish the basement. With our boys sharing a room, our older son can move up to the third level when he’s ready.”

Homebuilder- Carpenter Homes
Exterior landscape design – Boyle Landscape Architects
Irrigation – Aqua Lawn Sprinkler Systems
Siding – LP Smart Siding


The Dwyers second level consists of a master suite, laundry room, kids bathroom, and three kid’s rooms with spacious walk-in-closets.

The Dwyers found the laundry room’s quartz countertop as a remnant at Northern Stone. “We just lucked out at getting the exact size we needed,” said Rachel Dwyer. They even managed to salvage some of the wood flooring from the old homestead remodel, gathering enough to cover the laundry floor.

Upstairs in the kid’s bathroom, they leaned towards contemporary with a walnut linen divider and double under-mount sinks in quartz. “Since there’s no closet here and I didn’t want to lose space, I had Poss custom design a space for rolled towels,” said Rachel Dwyer.

Find the Finishes
Flooring, shower tile and penny round tile – Imperial Flooring
Lighting – Wayfair
Quartz vanity counters – Northern Stone
Master bedroom – Bamboo furniture, Scan Design
Custom glass shower door – Red River Glazing

Saving a bird’s-eye of the river for their master suite, the Dwyers bedroom is completed with Scandinavian bamboo and contemporary stylings.

Mod lighting sets a mid-century tone for the Dwyers master bath.
Inside their spa-inspired shower, they chose a black penny-round tile complimented by a stunning, wood-look tile from Imperial Flooring.


“It’s so special that our kids are the sixth generation to live on this land. The new house is just a really functional space for us and we’re still here on the family homestead.”
Rachel Dwyer

While Jack Dwyer has his own law firm, Dwyer Law, Rachel Dwyer has a 14-year career teaching French in West Fargo and currently at Sheyenne High School. They’ve been married for 11 years and have four children, Jesse 8, Dahlia 6, Mikey 3 and Sophie 1.

For information on Lost River Development, contact:
Jack Dwyer

No Comments on Lost River Treasure

Epic Masterpiece

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography A stand-out home on the HBA’s Fall Parade of Homes, this Epic Homes masterpiece, located in The Wilds subdivision, is a…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

A stand-out home on the HBA’s Fall Parade of Homes, this Epic Homes masterpiece, located in The Wilds subdivision, is a must-see if you’re in the market for a new home. Epic Homes may be newer to the area, but they’ve quickly made a name for themselves with top-notch craftsmanship and a unique spin on finishes. Mix in a partnership with architect Jan Mevold of Mevold Studios and they’ve got themselves a recipe for success. After originally building custom homes in Western North Dakota, see how this young team is now spreading their wings on the other side of the state.

The Wilds
Located in The Wilds subdivision of West Fargo, this transitional, craftsman-style home resides on a massive, 16,600 square-foot lot with oversized front porch and extensive, covered patio in the back.

The Team
Epic Homes started as Venture Building Company with the owner, Parker Pladson, just over seven years ago, but it wasn’t until this year that all four of the team members began their Fargo partnership and rebranding to Epic Homes. Pladson is the owner and one of the project managers but wears many hats in running all aspects of the business. Taylor Belk is another project manager who was one of the first to join Pladson and help integrate the expansion to Fargo. Tom Seifert joined the team this Spring and manages the sales and marketing for Epic Homes. Another team member they consider pivotal to their building process is architect Jan Mevold, of Mevold Studios. Mevold and Belk are NDSU graduates, while Seifert graduated from University of Mary and Pladson from Dickinson State.

Design: Exterior Vs. Interior
“One thing we try to do is bring the outside look of the house inside,” said Belk. “So, whether it’s modern, farmhouse, contemporary or craftsmen, we try to carry that style through to the inside. That’s a major reason why we work with Jan Mevold, he can help if we have an idea of what we want the inside to look like, he can help carry that to the outside.”

Expanding the Front Porch
At first arrival of this home, one important feature proves a pivotal detail in the design and enjoyment of their homes. “We believe in putting larger front porches on our homes,” said Belk. “It brings the attention back to the front of the house. If you look at older homes that are still around, one big thing that you’ll notice is a lot of large front porches. In some of the newer neighborhoods, we feel they really lack that. Every house we do, we have at least a 200 square-foot front porch.”

“The first reason we do bigger front porches is because of the weather, and mainly snow in this part of the country, ” said architect Jan Mevold. “We also never want a garage to overpower the house. In neighborhoods today, garages are huge. Also, if you have a big, covered front porch, people are going to sit out there and you’ll share it with your friends and see your neighbors as they pass by. It’s much more welcoming.”

“Even with the exterior and our LP Smart Siding, we don’t believe in skimping or cutting corners ever, which gives us a better quality product with fewer issues dealing with our climate,” said Seifert. “The nice thing about LP is that it does give you that wood grain and plank look, it allows us to do more architectural features on the outside of the house with a lot of color options,” explained Belk. “There’s also whole-house audio that includes the front porch and back covered porch that can be run through your phone.”


Epic Interior Design

Architectural Elements + Mevold Studio
“I’ve known Taylor and Parker for a long time, so when I decided to come to Fargo they wanted to do a spec home,” said Mevold. “So, we worked together on the design of this house and had a lot of conversations about how to make a home different. For a spec home, you don’t have a client, so we wanted to create something that was different than other homes. The architectural bones were important to us because that’s something the homeowner can’t easily change. We needed to create something that would be timeless. We also wanted to take advantage of the location, this is a nice size lot with a really nice backyard, so we wanted to do great window placement and high ceilings.”

“As far as the architectural elements, this stone on the mantel is the same stone we used on the outside. So, you have a lot of big pieces, which I think is kind of missing sometimes in a space where the outside is very masculine but the inside is very feminine,” said Mevold. “We try to balance the two together.”

“It’s hard to explain until you see it, but what Jan does for our clients is being able to show a King size bed to-scale in the master bedroom or if they drive a certain vehicle, we can put that to scale in the garage. This way they can see how much room they’re actually getting. The average person isn’t going to know until they’re living in the house that they should have made that one room bigger. We just don’t run into those issues as often as some builders. We can really show them from the beginning what it looks like.” The team can even offer 3-D renderings so homeowners can see the space before it’s built.

Inside the home, the Epic Homes team, along with Mevold Studio, designed a stunning space with 2,100 square-feet on the main level. In the primary living area, vaulted ceilings reach an impressive 20-feet with beautiful Alder ceiling beams. A stone hearth is at the center of the space, accented by floating shelves and custom-painted built-ins. For Epic Homes, everything from the stain color to the painted built-ins is completely custom.

In this space, Alder beams are stained to match the floating shelves, mantel and stair railing. Don’t bother trying to search for the paint color on the lower built-ins, this is a custom color created specifically for Epic Homes. They’ve also carried this paint color through to the kitchen island. “Even with stain, we don’t just find a stain color that works, everything’s custom made for the home,” said Pladson. Even the stair railing leading to the lower-level, is specially fabricated in a unique, thatched design.

Grey is the New White
An uncommon design choice, the team steered away from the typical white trim, instead opting for a tone called Mindful Grey. “That’s just one of the design details we really enjoyed. It’s something different that carries through all of the design and architectural elements,” explained Seifert. “We go through an extensive finishing process to ensure that the color looks good and you can’t see any nail holes. It’s actually painted in place.”

This gorgeous kitchen starts with varying ceiling heights creating a double-vault at 13.5 feet. A custom painted island in the same hue as the mantel built-ins create a stylish presence with Quartz countertops and a farmhouse sink. Sleek, white cabinetry with top, crown moldings pair perfectly with the grey glass, subway tile backsplash.
The kitchen amenities include high-end appliances with double oven, an island dishwasher and lower microwave. “The island is 10 feet wide. One thing that we do when we put the sink in the countertop, we make the width of the island larger so you can actually use the area behind the sink,” explained Mevold.

Pantry Perfection
If you haven’t yet spotted the pantry, that’s exactly what the Epic Homes’ team wanted. “This idea just came from wanting to incorporate a pantry but design it in a way that no one else does, so we came up with this idea. We found some pictures of things that were similar and then just figured out how to make it work,” explained Pladson. “But, we wanted to incorporate it in a way that made it look like it’s part of the cabinetry. “With it being closed, you’d never even notice that it was there.”

To complete the hidden pantry door, Epic Homes started with an interior door and worked closely with Clearwater Custom Cabinets to place actual cabinetry on the face of it. To give it a seamless look, they wrapped the whole area with cabinetry so that it looks like another cabinet door with drawers. It easily pushes open with a chalk ledge underneath the built-in chalkboard. Inside, the team made sure to create a space that’s ready for a full-size, standing freezer and even an additional fridge.

“We do sub everything out when we build a home, and the reason we do that is that we find the people that are the best at what they do,” said Belk. “To build this hidden pantry door, it took a few meetings with Clearwater Custom Cabinets to figure out the best way to open and close the door, and how are we going to make the door match the cabinets. It was just a collaboration of us installing the door during framing, pulling it out, bringing it to the cabinet shop and going through a couple of different options on how to lay out the doors and chalkboard, then re-install it. We like to be able to take images that clients bring us and figure out a way to do it.”

Made for Life

The main level includes a separate laundry room with custom cabinetry and quartz countertops. For the walls, the team took a different approach with grey shiplap, creating looser lines for a more interesting, rustic look.

In the Mudroom, Epic Homes designed a drop zone for coats, shoes and a separate space for mail and media storage. Custom five-panel doors give the home a unique transitional look between craftsman and contemporary.

Epic Homes doesn’t skimp on their guest bedrooms. Larger than average windows and closets bigger than most master closets, make this a guest bedroom everyone will want to stay in. To gain valuable, natural light, Epic Homes often includes windows in the closets as well.

The Master Suite features a raised, box ceiling with crown molding around the perimeter and optional accent lighting that can change hues. For this room, they chose a cleaner shiplap in white and their signature, grey trim. A sliding barn door in Alder leads to the impressive master closet and master bath.

Another custom color created by Epic Homes is featured on the master bath’s painted vanities with furniture-style legs and double sinks. The bath also features audio, a wood-look ceramic tile floor, custom-designed, tile shower and separate toilet room.

Crafting Backyard Bliss
Epic Homes doesn’t just believe in large front porches, their excitement for enjoying the outdoors is just as impressive in the backyard. Creating a beautiful, covered patio with custom beams and stonework is all just part of the foundation. “Our raised porch areas are actually incorporated into the foundation of the home,” said Pladson. “It’s a unique feature and we love doing it because you truly get a maintenance-free porch. Whereas even a deck, relative costs are close in price. With this, you can shovel it, you can set a hot tub on it and there are no weight restrictions. It’s never going to move.”

In the Details
If the Epic Homes’ team sees something they like, they figure out how to do it and incorporate it into their homes in a unique way. “With all of us so young, none of us are really set in our ways,” said Pladson. “We actually always looking for something different and better ways to do things versus thinking we know every way that something needs to be done, which I think gives us a huge competitive advantage. As a team, we do the lighting choice and finishes ourselves. I love the design part of it, interior-wise so I work with the designer on everything in here.”


One thing the team does is poll their Facebook followers, giving them design choices and asking which they prefer. This gives them insight into current trends and what homeowners are looking for. “People vote on it and they really take that info and incorporate it into the interior space,” said Mevold. “A lot of the images people seemed to like, had more of that masculine feel, it wasn’t just feminine styling.”

At Epic Homes, their minimum standards are far from the minimum. “Cabinets are always soft close and we even will have special knives made so we can get a truly custom design on the door panels,” said Belk. “For the garage, we automatically start at 26 to 27 feet in depth. So, even if you have a full-size truck with a crew cab or a suburban, you’re still going to have ample walking space around your vehicle. We really think about what you actually need in a house and not just build it according to someone’s minimum expectations. There are certain measurements that we rely on Jan for, like the distance between the island and the outer cabinets to make sure the walkways are big enough and the space fits what’s in it.”

Anything but Cookie-Cutter
Epic Homes is anything but cookie-cutter. “We don’t have a set number of floorplans to choose from, clients come in with some ideas and we take it from there creating their dream home,” said Seifert. “We work with Jan exclusively and won’t build a home without him. We also won’t build the same house twice. Every home is start to finish working with our clients.”

“When I started working for these guys, it worked out well because, from my point-of-view, I never want to design the same house twice,” said Mevold. “It’s not fun for me. It doesn’t matter how big or small a house is. The proportion is smaller in a smaller home and we just take that challenge to design a house that’s somebody’s dream. If there are a husband and wife you have to come up with a design that makes them both happy, usually the wife wins,” laughed Mevold.

Building a Partnership
For Epic Homes, building their team was a story in full circle. Pladson began building in 2011 in Dickinson, then in 2013 started building custom homes in Bismarck. He met Belk in between, while he was employed at Roers in the same area.

“We’ve all known each other for a long time and I think what makes us special is how we all came together. Taylor and I became fast friends, he was actually dating my cousin, who’s now his wife,” laughed Pladson. “I met Tom around the same time period through a mutual friend.” Belk started off in commercial builds in Dickinson and ended up building his own house on the side, propelling him into the world of homebuilding.

“While I was in commercial, I met Jan and going from commercial to residential, I ended up moving from Dickinson back to Fargo,” said Belk. “I worked for another homebuilder for a couple of years. Meanwhile, I was still working with Jan, and still keeping in touch with Parker. Parker always gave me the guidance and the support while I was learning about homebuilding. Eventually, I had contacted Parker and he came down to Fargo and we immediately discussed what it would be like to take Epic Homes and branch out to Fargo. We spent about a week together discussing it and we knew each other well, our strengths and weaknesses. This was our best opportunity to team up and see what we could do together.”

Pladson met Jan through Belk about two years ago when he designed the exterior of his personal home in Bismarck. “I thought he did a great job. I didn’t have a lot of experience working with an architect in the past, I worked with him and had a really good experience,” said Pladson. “As soon as we started to first work together it was just an experience that I enjoyed and knew our clients would also appreciate. We all knew it was something that we had to stick with.”

Pladson met Seifert and over the course of five years, had many conversations about working together, but not ever knowing if it would happen. “I don’t know how or why, but from day one, we always ended up talking business, bettering ourselves, just life really,” said Seifert. “There were opportunities that we felt at some point we should take advantage of. It’s funny how life works out and brought us all together.”

“Fast Forward a few years, and we decided to reinvent ourselves a bit,” said Pladson. “We were building custom homes already, but we wanted to expand on that experience and make it even better for clients. This would allow us to be more creative from start to finish. I started talking to Tom more seriously, I knew he was one of the pieces of the puzzle. I knew he was a really smart person and would be an incredible salesperson and great marketer for the new company.”

“I came to NDSU for college and fell in love with Fargo,” said Belk. “I knew that would be the place I wanted to call home. Now that we’re all working together, we all just enjoy the state of North Dakota in general. We’re going back and forth between friends and family all the time, it’s really not as difficult as people may think to build in different cities.” Right now, the Epic Homes team has built just about everywhere in the state and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

Find the Finishes
Stonework – Swenson Masonry
Cabinets – Clearwater Custom Cabinets
Countertops – Northern Stone
Painting – Weyer-For-Hire
Interior Design & staging – Mary Richholt and Amber Flick, Interiors by France
Siding – Allied (supplier), ICP (installer) 
Whole-house Audio – Pacific Sound and Video
Electrical – Axis Electric
Interior Millwork – D&M Industries and NT Woodworks
Appliances – Karl’s Appliance

Architect – Jan Mevold

Epic Homes
Taylor Belk

Mevold Studio
Jan Mevold

No Comments on Epic Masterpiece

Par Three Overhaul

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography On a quiet, picturesque street near the Fargo Country Club, you’ll find a Mediterranean-styled home that’s recently received a contemporary overhaul….

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

On a quiet, picturesque street near the Fargo Country Club, you’ll find a Mediterranean-styled home that’s recently received a contemporary overhaul. A beautiful home with great bones, the homeowners worked closely with Dan Elton of Chris Hawley Architects, to fuse the original home’s style with their own more contemporary style. Revamping the layout meant creating a space that would be a perfect fit for their family of five.

Construction Process
Four years ago amidst plans to build on a lot in West Fargo, realtor, Erik Hatch reached out to the homeowners with this pocket listing on the Par 3 course of the Fargo Country Club. They had once told Hatch of their desire to live in this neighborhood, but at the time they were planning their build; nothing had been listed.

At first glance, it was a beautiful home that was clearly well-built but designed in a Spanish villa style they were not accustomed to. Beneath the Spanish facade, the homeowner’s husband had a vision for renovation and he soon convinced his wife that this could be their forever home. With beautiful, mature trees and plenty to do with the kids, right in their backyard, the home was hard to pass up.

With the original home’s exterior having a Mediterranean flair, the homeowners made subtle changes for big curb appeal. They replaced the original dark wood with a more contemporary, Cor-Ten steel near the front door. Cor-Ten starts out as silver, then naturally rusts for a unique look. The landscaping was updated by taking out the old paver stone and replacing it with a natural stone sidewalk and stairs. Additional updates included a new garage door, new house numbers, and exterior lighting.

Renovation Goals
Wanting to create a transitional style melding Mediterranean, craftsman and contemporary, the homeowners reached out to Chris Hawley Architects to carry out their vision. Architects Chris Hawley and Dan Elton were tasked with figuring out a new floorplan which would fit the lifestyle of their family of five.

After purchasing their home, and while coming up with a renovation plan, the homeowners lived in the original space for a few months before moving to a two-bedroom apartment in Downtown Fargo so the demo and renovation could get started. Demo was done on the entire home at once, stripping the main and upper levels down to the studs. The entire renovation then took about 12 months to complete.

Architectural Aspirations
The home had really good bones and good flow, it was a great space for entertaining,” said the homeowner. “It’s an older house, but had the open floor plan we were looking for. My biggest worry was whether we could make it work for our family. My husband recognized the potential and Chris Hawley and Dan Elton helped us create a home that was both beautiful and functional. Dan did most of the interior drawings, with Chris helping out with some with the interior floor plan and exterior elevations.”

“This project had some interesting challenges,” said architect Dan Elton. “We had plenty of room, so an addition wasn’t necessary nor possible on the small lot. But we were faced with a 70’s interior done in Mediterranean styling. Our goal was to update the house to better match a modern family lifestyle, yet retain some of the existing Mediterranean flavors, because it needed to stay connected to the exterior style.”

“Enlisting the help of an architect was probably the best decision we made on this project,” said the homeowner. “We knew what we wanted out of the home and what our style was, but didn’t know how to make it all come together. Dan and Chris did a great job understanding our needs and coming up with a design plan that was perfect for our family. I knew in my head what I wanted our home to look like, but it’s amazing when they do the drawings how it all comes together and you can see those ideas on paper. The whole architectural process went really smoothly and we appreciated their patience with us. The best part was the design work that Chris and Dan did, it gave us a lot of reassurance that we could really turn this house into our home.”

For the homeowners, the great room was one of their bigger challenges, due to the position of the fireplace. To lend more function to the space, they changed their focus from sitting around the fire to designating a sitting area on one end, then chose a position for the piano as the transition to the dining room. “We found this old piano at Schmidt music, someone had traded it in. We loved the worn, matte finish and it fits perfectly in the corner of the great room,” said the homeowner.

“That’s the original 20-foot-high, wood ceiling and one of the reasons why we bought the home,” explained the homeowner. “There was darker wood on the cross beams, so we replaced them with painted drywall to lighten up the room. Changing the windows also made a big difference. The original windows were quite a bit lower so you could see right into the neighbor’s house.”

“We added upper windows in the living room to bring in more daylight, removed the Meditteranean, red tile flooring in favor of warm wood-scraped oak, and re-built the dated stair to give a fresh, modern touch to the center of the house,” said Dan Elton. “The fireplace got a face-lift, yet the structure remained in place.”

Beyond the beams and impressive hearth, a stand-out furniture piece is the 6-foot-long, matted, wood coffee table built by the homeowner over the course of four days.

A massive focal point in the great room, the home’s hearth was once comprised of stucco all the way up with a red brick around it, so it was one of the major factors creating the Meditteranean styling. The original walls were plaster and they were painted red, with orange, ceramic tile for the flooring. To give the hearth a style update, the homeowners worked with Elton to rebuild its facade. The homeowner searched Hebron Brick’s scrap lot for the smaller, remnants of Montana stones. Larger pieces were then found to match and used as a sitting area in front of the fireplace.

The homeowner built the wood mantel himself, learning the craft from his dad and using timbers his dad had collected at the lake. Plans to switch it back to a wood-burning fireplace is a goal for a later date.

To update the original baseboard heat, they contacted Straightline Design to fabricate more contemporary registers throughout the home. “That was one of the hardest things to figure out,” said the homeowner. “You just can’t buy registers like this, the replacements we found all looked like they should be in an office building.”

With the high ceilings and the expansive great room connected to the dining room, this space called for an equally impressive chandelier to balance the space.
Creating a dining table to fit their space to-a-tee, the homeowner spent one week building the eight-foot-long, wood table.

The kitchen probably needed the most work,” said Elton. “With new cabinets, floor, appliances and lighting, it went from an awkward, dark, uninviting space to an efficient showplace.” They also worked to change the layout, moving the patio door around the corner and widening the door to the kitchen to create more usable space. The newly designed space featured two islands and a larger perimeter counter space. The high-end range is one appliance the owners kept from the original home. “I really like the idea of two islands because the kids can be doing homework, while I’m cooking and using the one island for prep. The kitchen and living room are favorite spaces for us, this is really where we live. The open floor plan allows me to be in the kitchen, but still keeping an eye on the kids in the living room and be a part of what they’re doing,” explained the homeowner.

For the kitchen finishes, new granite and white cabinetry replaced the original honey maple cabinetry. A smaller subway tile backsplash and vintage lighting in a transitional style, tied in both the existing Meditteranean and newer contemporary stylings. “Having a Spanish-style house, we felt like we couldn’t be too modern with our style. We wanted it to still work as well as it could with the exterior of the house,” said the homeowner.

Just off of the kitchen, the owners opted to keep the sunken layout of the living room, creating a casual den and TV room. “For this space, we just wanted everything comfortable and cozy, with usable space. We didn’t want a room that nobody sat in, all of our space gets used.” The homeowner’s husband built the unique, wooden coffee table from a timber that was once 15-feet long to fit the room’s laid-back style. Since the family room had baseboards all around, the homeowners opted for wall-hung built-ins, creating an entertainment center just off of the kitchen area.

With the master bedroom located on the main level, this was a great selling point for the homeowners. “We changed the layout in the master a lot. The hot water heat registers make positioning furniture difficult, there were also existing doors and a window that we had to work around,” explained the homeowner. “The previous owners had the bed on the opposite wall, but we wanted to be able to see out the door if the kids were coming in. One of the unique challenges is making the design work within the confines of the existing space. We ended up positioning the bed partly under the window and I made a collage of pictures to try to balance the wall and provide some symmetry.”

In the original home, there was a long, narrow hallway coming into the bathroom, so this area was reworked for better flow. Now, entering from the master bedroom, a sleek, custom closet welcomes them to their master bath. Lightening the space, the homeowners replaced the dated, ceramic tile and dark cabinets. For the new, updated space, the homeowners chose heated flooring, Quartz countertops, and a Quartz soaking tub surround with chrome fixtures and lighter tones.

“They just had a single sink in here, so by moving the door, we were able to put double sinks and a center linen cabinet in the master bath,” explained the homeowner. “Before there was a single shower and a little vanity sitting where the tub is now.”


Upstairs Renovation
“Upstairs, we re-organized and modernized the bathrooms and closets to better fit the kid’s needs and added a small laundry,” explained Elton. “From there, the homeowners did a great job lightening the color palette and choosing materials, cabinets and fixtures that fit the overall theme. This was a fun upgrade for a fun family.”

Upstairs, each of the girl’s rooms had a huge closet. There were two bathrooms and one of the rooms had its own bathroom. Revamping the space from the closets, they were able to carve a bathroom for the girls and create the smaller closets for each side.

Keeping the staircase in the original location, the homeowners contacted Straightline Design to fabricate a new railing. What was once a Mediterranean-styled, metal staircase that was not up to today’s code, was now a sleeker, more contemporary version that would be safer for their three, young kids. Finishing the styling, the homeowners added new wood and carpet to the stairs.

Future Projects
With the country club’s pool nearby, the homeowners have noticed that the kids come in the patio door and throw their wet things down near the kitchen and family room. To eliminate this, the homeowners are currently working with Chris Hawley Architects to create a screened-in porch which can also function as a drop zone for their three kids.

Find the Finishes
Architect – Dan Elton, Chris Hawley Architects
Contractor – Radiant Homes
Landscaping, front sidewalk, and stairs – Natural Environments Landscaping & Outdoor Living
Exterior house numbers – Eco Chic Boutique
Kitchen and bathroom granite – Northern Stone
Wood flooring – Carpet World
Hearth stones – Hebron Brick
Dining room chandelier – Restoration Hardware
Great room side tables – Pottery Barn
Custom registers and stair railing – Straightline Design
Faucets, fixtures, and appliances – Ferguson

Chris Hawley Architects
2534 South University Drive, #3, Fargo, N.D.

No Comments on Par Three Overhaul

Rilos & MiMi Remodel

Words by Christy Remmick Photography by Emily Remmick If you watched the MTV Video Movie Awards last year, shop sites like Etsy or Amazon, or have attended a Pride of…

Words by Christy Remmick
Photography by Emily Remmick

If you watched the MTV Video Movie Awards last year, shop sites like Etsy or Amazon, or have attended a Pride of Dakota or other craft shows in North Dakota, you may have seen my work. My name is Christy Remmick and I design and manufacture custom bags with my company Rilos & MiMi. Taking a break from designing bags and working with fabrics, I decided to accept a new challenge and design and manage a complete first- floor remodel of my home. Having moved from Grand Forks to Devils Lake, N.D. amidst a slow real estate market, our new home had plenty of potential projects. We started in January this year and gave ourselves only three months to complete the remodel, just in time for Easter dinner.

Background of the House
Our family moved from Grand Forks to Devils Lake in 2011 and at the time there was a huge housing shortage due to several long-term construction products going on. We had three months to sell our house in Grand Forks and find a new place in Devils Lake. We knew our biggest challenge was going to be having enough space for our family, which included three kids under the age of five along with my husband and myself.

The house we purchased was built in the 70s and is a split level that had been remodeled several times in several different areas. It had the space we needed but was dark, dated, boxed up, and full of shag carpet- even in the dining room.

The original kitchen of the house was tiny, only 77 square feet (7’ by 11’) and closed off with cabinets. It had porcelain, tile counter tops and porcelain, tile floors that were chipping away with a 1970s oven that was roughly the size of a camper oven. There was a huge, stone fireplace dividing the kitchen and the living room. The tones of the room were dark green, brown, maroon, and mustard with minimal lighting.

Because we moved into the house so quickly there was no time to do any work on it before we moved in. The house needed so much work, so we had to do it in phases, carefully planning the order we completed projects. Unfortunately, the way we had to complete the house made the main floor with kitchen, living room, and master suite last on our list. The house only has a very small, single stall garage so we added a garage to one side and converted the only garage into the entryway with a wet bar which would be used as our kitchen during our main floor remodel. Next, we had to remodel our basement to include three bedrooms that we all stayed in during the main floor remodel. After six years I was finally ready to remodel the top floor. Having to wait to remodel the kitchen gave me plenty of time to think about what I really wanted in terms of layout and function.

The Remodel
I drew up the layout of the first floor on a piece of notebook paper and gave it to architect, Scott Meland of Meland Architects to make into building drawings.

The details of the plans were brought to Wood Specialists in Fargo, N.D. and certified kitchen designer, Beth Kemmer helped bring them to life. I loved working with Beth, she had the most amazing ideas to make my ideas even better. I went in there thinking I knew exactly what I wanted and she proved me wrong. She got everything I wanted to fit in my kitchen including a 48” range. She had ideas for adding more details like putting shiplap on the back of the island. We also used the same rustic Maple with Cumin stain for the floating shelves in the kitchen and breakfast bar, and then carried them over to the living room mantel and bathroom vanity, makeup counter and linen built-in.

The goal was to make the first floor bright and welcoming. I wanted it to be livable and practical. I spend a lot of time with my kids because I have such a flexible work schedule owning my own business. We are often cooking, baking, doing crafts or playing games together. I wanted it to be a neutral pallet to be able to change out décor colors easily, allowing it to grow with our family.

I knew I wanted a completely open floor plan so for easy flow, we used the same flooring throughout the whole first floor. The old living room was so long and narrow that the built-ins along the back wall became perfect for bringing the space together.

The long island provides a great division to the two rooms and gives us a lot of space for homework and also hosting holiday dinners.

The breakfast/coffee bar was a must for me. With family members living out of town, we have lots of company on the weekends and I wanted a place for everyone to get coffee and breakfast without coming into the kitchen.

The command center area was Beth at Wood Specialists’ idea and is a great addition for our family calendar, papers, and charging station.

We moved the master bedroom to the back of our house and left a small office/bedroom where our old bedroom was. We didn’t want to move plumbing too much or replace or add any new windows which made for some strategic planning to get everything we wanted to fit.

Kitchen Design – Beth Kemmer, CKD, CLC, Wood Specialists
Countertops – LG Viatera quartz, color: Minuet, Wood Specialists
Cabinetry – Perimeter: Alabaster, Island: Gravel Grey, stain: Cumin on rustic Maple, Wood Specialists


Meet the Kitchen Designer

Beth Kemmer, CKD, CLC
Wood Specialists

” I discovered Rilos & Mimi at an area craft show last fall and I purchased some bags as Christmas gifts for my teen daughter. When Christy was referred to me to help her design her cabinetry for her remodel, I didn’t put two and two together until we met in person to work on her project. What a small world – Rilos & Mimi bags are so fun, creative and functional!”

“For the start of her project, Christy came in with an initial kitchen layout. After visiting with her and going over a wish list, I suggested rotating the island so that it could be longer. By making the island longer, we could have the sink and dishwasher on the island, along with a seating area for three at the end by the coffee bar. We were then able to fit in the 48” range which was at the top of Christy’s wish list. They cook for large groups and the added oven and burner space would definitely be put to good use. The coffee bar area was originally planned to be very shallow to allow for a dining table. We relocated the dining table to sit up against the back of the island to create sort of a “bridge” between the kitchen and living spaces.”

“By moving the dining table we were also able to design the coffee bar to be standard depth and be much wider to accommodate large gatherings. We added some “bells & whistles” to really make this kitchen functional, such as a Magic Corner in the blind corner base cabinetry, a dish drawer organizer and two pull out base pantry organizers on either side of the range for spices and cooking oils. I knew the addition of the command center cabinet next to the refrigerator would come in handy for a busy family and would help to keep papers and other daily items tucked away. The open shelving in the corner and above the coffee bar added some interest and areas where Christy could display some items. She has such a fun sense of design and was so organized which made her project move quickly.”

Mastering the Details
The new master suite is now L-shaped with our new master closet in the back half of our old bedroom with a window in it. We walk past the custom built vanity with sink on one side and carefully planned makeup station on the side. For our vanity, It’s all about the details with outlets to plug in toothbrushes in the cabinets and a drawer with outlets for hair dryers and curling irons.

Turning right at the vanity takes you to the water closet on the right side and built-in linens cabinet on the left side. I love the look of open shelving with bath decor but I also knew there are some things I don’t want everyone to see, and this cabinet is a perfect combination. Going past the linen closet and water closet is a fully tiled, walk-in shower and bathtub room that is like a dream.

Finally Home
I still have a hard time believing this space is mine. Since the completion of the remodel, I have been able to do things that I was not able to do in our old first floor, such as watch my children play in the living room as I am cleaning up from supper, and bake pies with all three kids in the kitchen at the same time. I feel so lucky to be able to create my dream home in Devils Lake, N.D.

Bathroom design – Beth Kemmer, CKD, CLC, Wood Specialists
Vanity countertop – LG Viatera quartz, color: Minuet, Wood Specialists
Cabinetry – Cumin on rustic Maple, Wood Specialists


About Rilos + Mimi
The name Rilos + MiMi comes from nicknames for my identical twin daughters Riley and Emersyn. These names were given to them by their big brother Hunter. The company has been around since 2012, designing and manufacturing travel bags and other accessories that are sold online on Etsy and Amazon and are also available in over 45 retail shops throughout the country. Beyond designing bags for the 2016 MTV Movie Awards, I have also designed custom diaper clutches for the past three years for Intermountain Health Care in Utah, given as gifts to new parents. My company is currently working on 600 bags for the National Jewish Health Annual Gala in December and 450 custom designed, resort bags for the Elegant Hotel Group based in Florida.

Kitchen Design
Wood Specialists
Beth A Kemmer CKD, CLC
3221 4th Ave S, Fargo, N.D.

Becker + Deckert Construction

Rilos & MiMi

No Comments on Rilos & MiMi Remodel

Design + Discuss with Grain Designs

Words by Grant Koenig and Blain Mikkonen Photos by Grant Koenig, Dan Francis Photography, Kuda Photography, Nick Friesen Photography, and Shawn Thomas Creative For those that aren’t yet familiar with…

Words by Grant Koenig and Blain Mikkonen

Photos by Grant Koenig, Dan Francis Photography, Kuda Photography, Nick Friesen Photography, and Shawn Thomas Creative

For those that aren’t yet familiar with us, Grain Designs is based in Fargo, N.D. and started out of a joint passion to build and develop new ideas through furniture making. As designers, our minds are in constant pursuit of inspiration and Grain Designs became our outlet to create tangible products out of ideas. We also quickly realized that the furniture market was over-saturated with poorly made, generic pieces and we knew that we could provide something better. We don’t believe in buying new things day after day or year after year, we want the products that we create to hold value and function for years to come. Quality to us means everything and is more important now, than ever.

grain design fargo


Why reclaimed wood?
By choosing to work with reclaimed wood it has taught us to be mindful of the resources we have. This has enabled us to breathe new life into seemingly useless materials giving us the ability to provide a meaningful product and experience unlike anything else.

Fall’s Most Popular Products

grain designs fargoThe Frederick Farmhouse Table
Typically built with reclaimed floor joists out of barns or warehouses, this table has become a staple product for us and is continuing to evolve as design styles change.


The Sliding Barn Door 
This product has taken on a life of its own and has found so many more applications than we had originally imagined. They are most commonly used to replace existing swing doors however we have used them as window shades, large room partitions and even doors on dog kennels.

grain designs fargo


Custom Desks
Work spaces have become so much more flexible, and this had created a whole new market for us in both the home and business industry. The custom desks that we have designed are truly built with the user in mind and have featured everything from hidden whiskey storage to full magnetic, steel wall features.
Instagram Inspiration
In our constant pursuit of new ideas, we find inspiration from businesses across the country and throughout the Midwest, combining their ideas with our own local flavor. Here are a few outstanding businesses that are worth the follow.

Junkyard Brewing Company

This Moorhead, M.N. based brewing company has set out to not only create a delicious product but to facilitate a customer experience unlike any other. Stop by their Taproom in North Moorhead and get inspired with their weekly rotation of experimental beers and live music.


Jordan Iverson Signature Homes 

Three words describe this Eugene, Oregon home builder; architect, designer, visionary. It’s not hard to be inspired by Iverson’s fusion of modern and traditional design elements, materials and color palettes.

Workshop Denver 

Owner Brad Weiman started his Denver, C.O. venture as a construction and concrete furniture company, but over the past five years, they’ve grown to become much more. These days they are a design + build, construction and project management company that specializes in custom features. Follow them to see their take on creative applications of concrete and wood in countertops, custom wood cabinets and floating staircases in their portfolio of over 60 spec homes.


Contact us:
(by appointment only)
6218 53rd Ave S., Fargo, N.D.

(by appointment only)
4487 165th Ave SE, Davenport, N.D.

Blain Mikkonen

Grant Koenig

No Comments on Design + Discuss with Grain Designs

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search