Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

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[ Sneak Peek ] The City Centre Lofts Project

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis, renderings by Foss Architecture + Interiors FMI Team members Michael Kelly and Lori Prokop, along with architect Adam Peterson of Foss Architecture…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis, renderings by Foss Architecture + Interiors

FMI Team members Michael Kelly and Lori Prokop, along with architect Adam Peterson of Foss Architecture + Interiors. Not shown, FMI Team member and partner, Kevin Hall and design coordinator, Kathy Mawicke.

Those who know Downtown Fargo well, know that this distinct area has many different faces amidst eclectic personalities. While the bulk of the crowds are lured to the excitement of Broadway, others are drawn to the more serene face of downtown, just to the East of the bustling crowds. Exchanging vibrant nightlife for the quiet of nature and breathtaking river views, the new City Centre Lofts promises to win the hearts of both excitement seekers and nature enthusiasts. While this unique condominium project is in its early phases, we met with the FMI Team to give our readers a sneak peek of what’s to come in the heart of Downtown Fargo.

The New Face of Downtown
It’s time to do a drive-by and check out the future site of the City Centre Lofts project currently being developed. In pursuit of striking the perfect balance between nature and a contemporary, urban lifestyle, they will soon be located on Second Street and Fourth Avenue North in Downtown Fargo. Currently underway, their task begins with an underground parking project for the nearby city hall, followed by the start of construction on the four levels of residential loft units.

Evolving Plans
Hall and Kelly owned the prior location of the SideStreet Grille & Pub and Howard Johnson hotel. When that location became eminent domain for the flood wall, the two moved SideStreet to a new location at 404 Fourth Avenue in Downtown Fargo. After the new city hall was built and a need for parking was evident, the team took a portion of their property and made plans to support the city hall’s parking needs prior to starting their condominium project.

“It was a vision of mine many years ago that we were going to have condominiums above the hotel overlooking the river, so it just evolved into this project and has since taken on a life of its own,” said Kelly. “There was definitely a need for this kind of downtown living. I think we’ve struck the perfect balance between nature and urban lifestyle. You can walk across the street and have access to fishing and canoeing on the Red River as well as 99 miles of biking and hiking trails which lead to 3,000 acres of parks. Walk two blocks to the west and you’re in the urban downtown scene with restaurants, nightlife, shopping and theater.”

Developing partners Michael Kelly and Kevin Hall worked closely with design coordinator, Kathy Mawicke, Tim Leibl of Accent Contracting and architect Adam Peterson of Foss Architecture + Interiors to complete the life-like renderings of the stunning loft designs, with a plan to be completed by summer of 2019. With excitement for the new project and river view location, all nine of the penthouse units sold almost immediately; but not to worry, the remaining three floors have units that are still up for grabs. Here’s your sneak peek at what’s to come in the center of our city.

Here’s your sneak peek at what’s to come in the center of our city.

Communal Spaces + Amenities
“The top floor or Penthouse Vue, features a private work-out facility and private rooftop decks,” said Kelly. “On the second and third floors, there will be guest suites which residents will be able to reserve for visitors, holidays or weekends through the homeowners association. The ground floor or Plaza Vue will feature a workout facility, community lounge, kitchen and entertainment space with a pool table and TV area. Some of the additional amenities in this space will be determined by what the condo owners want in their space.” The two floors of units below the penthouse, the Grand and River Vues, will also have their own unique half-in, half-out balcony designed with sliding glass doors. All residents will have their own individual storage units and up to two heated, indoor parking spots and access to bike storage.

Top Floor | Top Notch
Residents in the penthouse condos will enjoy a stunning interior design with ceilings spanning 18 to 20 feet. “The most unique units are the top floor penthouse units,” said Peterson. “These are designed in a two-story layout which affords large, open spaces with a decorative stairwell that goes up to a loft where they can access the private, rooftop deck.”

“We went through a number of different options to make sure we could get the maximum views to the river and downtown,” said Peterson. “During the design process, we made sure that even at the ground floor or Plaza Vue, residents will still be able to see over the flood wall to the river.”

“This rooftop patio provides amazing views of Fargo and Moorhead downtowns as well as the river. The top roof decks of the penthouses and the balconies are still in design and will be determined soon,” explained Peterson. “The intent is to use a wood plank paver that ties into the wood used on the exterior.”

“During the design process, we made sure that even at the plaza ground level, residents will still be able to see over the new flood wall to the river.”
Adam Peterson, Foss Architecture + Interiors

Level Five Finishes
All units will have the default, level five finishes which Accent Contracting will be spearheading. After that, condo owners can customize their space however they would like with the help of personal consultations and design services provided by design coordinator Kathy Mawicke. While the penthouse units boast 18 and 20-foot ceilings, the remaining floors will also feature nearly 10-foot ceilings and spacious floor plans. “Foss Architecture designed the building envelope, floor plans, unit layouts, and created design renderings of what the units could look like. Each condo owner has their own distinctive style, however, and will work with FMI and Accent to select cabinets and finishes unique to their home,” said Peterson. “The floor plans are much larger than the typical condo or apartment unit. A standard two-bedroom ranges from 1,700 to 1,900 square feet with three-bedrooms available up to 2,500.”

“The City Centre Lofts team has been outstanding to work with. The finishes on the inside of the condo units right now are completely diverse,” said Tim Liebl of Accent Contracting. “Homeowners have the autonomy to select any color scheme that suits them. Right now, we are seeing soft grays mixed with dark taupe and black cabinets. The cabinets are about 50% frameless, 50% framed. The countertops are mostly quartz, with Cambria taking the lion’s share of the visuals so far.”

“City Centre Lofts is a premier downtown residence site. With the location centered between the river and downtown, it creates a fantastic blend of rural and urban design.”
Tim Liebl, Accent Contracting

Urban Landscape + Green Space
Residents at City Centre Lofts can take advantage of the planned green space on the property or make use of the city’s green spaces near the river. With the city’s future plans to provide an urban landscape park adjacent to the flood wall, the terrain and view will only keep getting better for City Centre Loft residents. “Eventually, they plan to create a landscaped corridor between City Hall and the City Centre Lofts, with walkways to the river. There’s also talk of designing a large green space to the east of the library,” said Peterson. Amongst the chatter is also potential plans to repurpose the existing civic center building into a performing arts center.

Exterior Ambiance
For the exterior, Foss Architecture and the FMI Team chose a dark brick and a maintenance free wood-grained cladding made to look like real western red cedar. “With the contrast of the warm wood against the black brick, it’s designed to have a more contemporary, Scandinavian look typically seen in Nordic regions with similar climates to ours,” said Peterson. “I think this will add a lot of warmth and character to the river location and a nice contrast against the white snow during those long winter months.” After dark, the lofts will play into the landscape, providing a lantern-like effect with its abundant glass, exterior lighting and sleek design. Residents can enter through their ground-level, heated and enclosed parking garage or through the secured public entrance and lobby on the north end.

In the Renaissance Zone
According to Kelly, being in the renaissance zone affords the owner of each condominium five years of property tax abatement, as well as five years of state income tax abatement valued at up to $10,000 a year. Prices of the units range from a spacious one-bedroom at around $219,000 to an array of larger units at around the $449,000 price point. With Fargo’s permanent flood protection now in place, an investment in this residence will be well protected.

“The City Centre Lofts support the city’s adopted strategic plans of bringing more housing to the Downtown Fargo area. This project fits nicely within our goal of integrating a unique mix of housing types and helps to build the number of households in support of Downtown Fargo as both a neighborhood and a destination.”
Nicole Crutchfield, Planning Director – City of Fargo

The City Centre Lofts Project: Timeline
Spring 2018 marked the start of construction!
-Phase 1 means first tackling the underground parking project for the city, with completion in the summer.
-Commence working drawings for Phase II of the residential units.
Spring 2018 – Final Phase II (Residential Shell) drawings from Foss architects are completed.
Summer 2018 – Framing begins.
Fall 2018-  Begin the exterior work on Phase II (residential shell).
Spring 2019 – Fit-ups begin for condos working from the top down.
Summer 2019 – Ready for closings and move in!

About FMI Team:
Kevin Hall’s family of companies is referred to as FMI which includes utilizing many of his branches such as FMI Construction, FMI Accounting and FMI Property Management. Michael Kelly is the sales arm of FMI while his wife, Lori Prokop assists in meeting with potential residents and ensures all documentation on the project is complete. Although Michael Kelly is an integral part of FMI Team, he is just as well-known for his role as a football coach at South Fargo High School for the past 34 years.

Fun Fact!
Formed in 1898, Foss Architecture + Interiors is the longest established architecture firm in all of North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota. Several of their projects are listed on the  National Register of Historic Places.


Team + Credits
City Centre Lofts Partners – Kevin Hall, Michael Kelly
General Contractor – FMI Construction
Job Superintendent – Craig Erickson
Project Consultant – Mike Skatvold
Management Company – FMI Property Management
Director of Sales – Michael Kelly
Sales Assistant – Lori Prokop
Architect – Foss Architecture + Interiors
Finishes including kitchen, bath and fit-ups – Tim Leibl, Accent Contracting
Design Coordinator – Kathy Mawicke
Social Media Coordinator – Rebecca Kelly


For more information, contact:
Team FMI / City Centre Lofts
Michael Kelly
200 4th Avenue North Fargo





Foss Architecture + Interiors

Adam Peterson – Principal / Architect, AIA, LEED AP

810 First Avenue North, Fargo

adam@ fossarch.com

Accent Contracting
(A division of Accent Kitchen & Bath)
Tim Leibl
3151 Main Ave, Fargo




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Old World Vs. New World Wines

Words by Laura Botten Photography by M. Schleif Photography We don’t judge our friends based on birthplace, but where our grapes are nurtured does matter. Recently, we gathered a group…

Words by Laura Botten
Photography by M. Schleif Photography

We don’t judge our friends based on birthplace, but where our grapes are nurtured does matter. Recently, we gathered a group at an event we regularly host called Brix & Banter. Our goal was to showcase the differences between Old World and New World wines and why these differences manifest themselves in the glass.

Defining our Wine
Simply put, Old World wines hail from eastern and central Europe, the birthplace of the “modern” wine industry. Vitis vinifera vines and grape varieties that produce the wines that we, as consumers know and love, are believed to have made their first appearance in the Caucasus Mountains in western Asia thousands of years ago, spreading from there into eastern Europe and the Middle East.

New World wines are the result of European colonization of the Americas, Oceania and South Africa over the centuries as vine cuttings made the voyage with emigrants destined for new beginnings. Over the years, these vines flourished in their new homes, living up to, and at times eclipsing, their old world counterparts.

The terms “Old World” and “New World” have moved beyond simply defining a wine by its geography and are now used to reference style and typicity. Since “style” is an extension of geography, politics, regulations, tradition and history, the two uses have an undeniable connection. If all of this seems like an overwhelming pop quiz, just hang in there. We promise it’s worth the read and far more fun than the classroom.

The table below outlines some of the differences between the two. Please keep in mind that these are generalizations, and as with all things wine, there will certainly be exceptions. However, the tasting component criteria outlined, are what a professional taster evaluates during the deductive tasting method to help determine a wine’s origin.

Side by Side Comparisons

At our spring Brix & Banter tasting, we decided to put the OW versus NW to the test, tasting similar wines side by side. It was an interesting exercise; the wines presented beautifully and were direct reflections of the style and typicity outlined above. To be certain we were comparing “apples to apples”, the price points and blends, where applicable, were similar.

Pairing #1: 

Chateau Val Beylie “Demoiselle” Bordeaux Blanc, France:
The Chateau Beylie, a traditional Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc (80%) and Semillon (20%) from a tiny vineyard (only 500 cases produced) was tasting exceptional. With intense fruit character and greater weight from extended maceration with the skins, this is a unique Bordeaux Blanc. It is redolent with white flower, gingerbread, herbs & honey notes. Unoaked & fresh, with moderate acidity (mediated by the Semillon), this is a crowd pleaser with layers of complexity.

Cade Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, California:
Napa Valley is a warmer climate than Bordeaux, so the expectation is riper fruit character – pushing to more tropical fruit versus citrus fruit – which this wine delivered. This wine saw a modicum of oak influence, which included a tiny bit of Acacia wood that the winemaker feels brings a bit of an “almond” or nutty quality to the wine. A bit richer on the palate, more tropical fruit, less acidity, and a bit higher alcohol than its French counterpart, this is a personal favorite for “New World” Sauvignon Blanc.

*Both wines lack the very herbaceous and green notes associated with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Pairing #2: 

Macon-Lugny Les Charmes Chardonnay, Burgundy, France (100% Chardonnay):
Our new favorite Chardonnay, especially for summer drinking, meant it had to be shared!  This is a 100% Estate Chardonnay from the “Les Charmes” vineyard in Lugny, a village of the Maconnais. It sees no oak influence and is intended to be all about the fruit and unique terroir of the region – chalky, limestone soils – that many feel evoke minerality in a wine. It is luxurious on the palate, with ripe fruit, floral notes and a balancing acidity.

Napa Cellars Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California (100% Chardonnay):
This wine again showcased more intense fruit character and weight on the palate than its cooler climate counterpart. Baked apple, ripe pear, caramel and toasted pastry with buttery, creamy overtones and vanilla and spice from oak aging, leaves this wine begging for a nice lobster tail, creamy seafood pasta, chicken piccata or buttered popcorn!

*Both of these wines see 100% Malolactic Fermentation and Sur Lie Aging, with only the Napa Cellars meeting oak, and are great Chards to evaluate side by side!

Pairing #3: 

Jean-Claude Boisset Les Ursuline Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France (100% Pinot Noir):
With fruit coming from the Cotes-de-Nuits, the spiritual home of Pinot Noir, this quintessential Burgundy over-delivers at a reasonable price. Red fruit character – think cranberry, strawberry, ripe red cherry – along with subtle spice notes and a lovely “earthy” component, come together to reveal a refined, finessed and elegant drinking wine. Grab this for simply prepared salmon, duck or a mushroom-heavy dish. The higher acid, lower alcohol and more refined fruit character would also complement a cheese plate or creamy pasta.

Napa Cellars Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, California (100 % Pinot Noir):
In keeping with the previous wines, the warmer Napa Valley climate produces riper fruit, with black cherry, earth, cola, spice notes and caramel; showcasing a more brooding, “masculine” expression of Pinot Noir. This wine sees more oak influence than the Bourgogne, which bodes well considering its bigger constitution. If you lean towards a more structured and “robust” Pinot Noir, this should find a home in your wine rack.

*These two Pinot Noirs deftly showcase the range of Pinot Noir.

Pairing #4:

Clos d’ L’Oratoire des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France:
Consistently rated 90+ points, this is a hidden gem that allows you to drink Chateauneuf-du-Pape without breaking the bank. Drinking beautifully, it was the crowd favorite. Frank & spicy, with licorice, black pepper and surprising, subtle florals evolve into more traditional notes of strawberry, cherry and fresh blackcurrant with subtle menthol. This is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah & 5% each Cinsaut & Mourvedre. Chateauneuf-du-Pape allows 13 (or 18, depending on how they are counted) grape varieties, but Grenache must hold the majority of the blend.

Abstract Red Blend by Orin Swift, California:
Abstract is a blend of Grenache (70-80%, varies by vintage), Syrah (2nd by volume) and Petite Sirah by iconic winemaker, Dave Phinney. Big, with dark briar fruit, ripe black plums, mocha, coffee and caramel on the nose and palate, ample tannins and oak influence, this wine is quintessentially Orin Swift: high alcohol balanced by robust fruit. Much like the label, it is a well-appointed collage that is greater than the sum of its parts. Enjoy with a big, juicy steak or barbecued ribs.

And the Winner is…

After every pairing, we took a vote. And, much to our surprise, our group of (mostly)  American palates favored the Old World wines every round. Not by a landslide, but certainly a majority. The greater takeaway was that indeed, these wines presented in the manner outlined above; Old World contenders were more subtle and acidic, lower alcohol and more terroir-driven with earthy and mineral notes. The New World wines were more concentrated and robust, with lower acid, higher alcohol and significantly more intense fruit character.

About Brix & Banter

Brix & Banter is the collaboration of restaurateur Dan Hurder and Laura Botten; both wine enthusiasts whose goal is to make wine fun and approachable while educating, dispelling myths and opening new doors (or bottles) for the novice or experienced wine drinker. Tastings are the second Wednesday of every month and you can follow them here:


Brix and Banter on Facebook: facebook.com/BrixAndBanter/


Subscribe to Brix and Banter monthly newsletter or contact:

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The Pines: Weddings & Events [Q&A with founders, Grain Designs]

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by M. Schleif Photography, renderings by Grain Designs, Transparent venue image by Exposure Creative Group This September’s bound to be an epic month for the…

Words by Tracy Nicholson

Photography by M. Schleif Photography, renderings by Grain Designs, Transparent venue image by Exposure Creative Group

This September’s bound to be an epic month for the guys of Grain Designs (this is their version of a pre-celebration…). Not only is it their milestone, five-year anniversary, it’s also the month they plan to launch their newest, and possibly biggest, venture to date. We’ve loved watching their business grow – first adding a shop in the country, a studio in South Fargo and a new storefront in the Shoppes at BLU Water Creek, but we’re willing to bet the farm that everyone will be falling in love with their latest project. They recently acquired 17 acres of land surrounding their rural Davenport shop – this included the property’s existing home, pool, shops and grain silos. To fully utilize the land, Grain Designs decided to marry their woodworking talents and share the country plot they’d come to love. Midwest Nest is proud to unveil the future plans for the new Grain Designs destination, The Pines: Weddings & Events!

With “The Pines” plans firmly in place and scheduled for their first wedding in the fall, the guys of Grains Designs gave us a quick tour of the grassy plot where the new venue is set to be built. Working with Rhet Architecture and Taylor Belk of Epic Homes, the team has designed an impressive venue with equally impressive amenities and country views. Whether you’re recently engaged or part of a corporate team in need of a break from the city, this will be an event destination offering an experience unlike all others.

With an ambitious vision and a hard opening date set for September, their first wedding is already in the books for team member Pat Bresnahan and his fiance, Nicolette Berge. The venue will be fully-functioning and the house will be renovated with a bridal party suite, bride and groom master suite and much more. Guests who book a wedding or event here will get full run of the farm, including the property’s guest house and in-ground pool.

In the Works…Silo Suites

Once the venue and house are completed, Grain Designs will move onto phase two, repurposing the grain silos into hotel rooms and suites for guests who want the full-on farm experience.

To find out more about the venue’s future plans, we took a tour around the farm with Grain Design’s team members, Grant Koenig, Blain Mikkonen, Phil Bruckbauer and Pat Bresnahan.

Exposure Creative Group

 Q&A with Grain Designs: The Pines

1. Where is The Pines located?

Grant – Technically, our address is Davenport, but we are just five miles west of Horace and about 10 miles southwest of Fargo.

2. Why did you decide to build a wedding venue and event center?

Grant – When the property became available we realized it was too much for us to take on just as Grain Designs, however, we didn’t want to leave. We loved being out here and the experience that it’s provided for us and we decided that we wanted to share that with other people. There are endless opportunities for what we can do with this property.

Blain – This property allows us to do what we love on a whole new level. We get to create a really interesting gathering space and experience that I think people are going to appreciate and want to be part of.

3. When do you plan to get started and who is managing the construction?

Blain – We will break ground this week and our goal for concrete is early June. We are working with Taylor Belk of Epic Homes to complete the new building. We’re also working with Rhet Fiskness of Rhet Architecture – he executed the construction documents for the official, stamped drawings. Then Grant and I created the 3-D model based on Rhet’s floor plan and completed the renderings. We were originally planning on using the existing building on the property for the event center, but structurally it just wasn’t feasible. Instead, we decided to build new on the open grass site to the east of our Grain Designs shop.

4. What will you be offering guests at the new venue?

Grant – The building is designed to be almost 9,000 square-feet and will accommodate 350 plus for a seated dinner. The design inside will be a very clean and classic white with black detailing and rustic, reclaimed wood elements. Within the venue, we will have a prep kitchen for the caterers, full bar set-up, outdoor patio and private men and women’s restrooms. We will also be building all of the farmhouse tables for the venue in addition to sliding barn doors, the bar and various features throughout the space.

Phil – We will have capabilities to accommodate outdoor ceremonies, with the space to move indoors in inclement weather. When you rent the property for the weekend, the house and pool will be offered as part of the package. We are also looking into different transportation options and hotel partnerships so that we can provide safe travels and additional lodging for large events.

Blain – Right now, we are actively exploring partnerships with various vendors such as Chef’s Table Catering for food service and The White House Co. for event staging. The Pines will have its own liquor license and there will be at least one or two mobile bars on the property and hosted bar options. We are not limiting the venue to weddings, we can also accommodate corporate events using the indoor and outdoor spaces. It will be a really multi-functional building.

5. When will The Pines be ready and how do we book an event?

Grant – The venue will be ready by mid-September. We will do pre-booking as of June 1st for winter events as well as spring and summer 2019 weddings. Right now, the best way to inquire about using The Pines for your future event is to use the “CONTACT” link on our website: ThePinesVenue.com. We want people to be able to use any or all of the property, so we encourage people to ask about any type of scenario from booking just the lawn or pool area, to the entire venue.

6. What will the existing house offer to your venue guests?

Grant – The house has an in-ground pool, patio, full kitchen, formal living room and will soon have a game room and four bedrooms with three baths. We are in the process of renovating each of the rooms to eventually sleep a total of eight to 10 guests. The house will primarily serve as the bridal suite to help you prepare for your big day, but is also available to rent for overnight stays as part of the full weekend experience.

7. What kind of renovations will you be doing on the house? 

Grant – We’ll be taking two rooms upstairs, combining them and adding french doors to create a bridal suite where the bridal party can get ready together. We will also be designing a larger master suite for the bride and groom. The kitchen was updated by the previous owner about four-years ago, so that will be one space that won’t need many renovations. The house is in great shape, so most of what we are doing is just cosmetic upgrades. Of course, we’ll have as much Grain Designs furniture in the house as possible.

Phil – On the exterior, we will be repainting, then updating the deck, pool and patios. Pat and his fiance, Nicolette, are currently living in the home and will be working on the renovations throughout the summer, so the main areas are planned to be completed by fall.

Pat – In the family room, we will be updating the flooring and trim, then painting the brick and designing our own reclaimed wood mantle. In the basement, we will be doing a hang-out area and game room for the groomsmen. We’re planning to put a ping-pong table, couches and TV down there as well.

8. What types of packages will The Pines offer?

Blain – There will be a few different packages; you can rent the property for the day or book the whole weekend experience with the house and pool. With the weekend wedding package, people will be able to host the groom’s dinner on Friday, ceremony on Saturday, then the gift opening and brunch on Sunday.

9. How did you come across this property in the country? 

Grant – Almost three years ago, we built a couple of pieces for a client in the lakes area and her friend was the owner of the farm at the time. She was there during this install and she happened to be my fourth-grade teacher. After the passing of her husband, she told us that she no longer had a use for the property’s shops. She mentioned that if we ever needed a place to work we should get in touch with her. Phil was also friends with her daughter from Shanley High School, so he was familiar with the land.

10. Will you be keeping your 52nd Avenue Studio open as well? 

Blain – Yes, we still have the South Fargo studio and our new store in Shoppes at BLU Water Creek is opening this month next to Eco Chic Home’s new storefront. The 52nd Avenue Studio will be a “behind the scenes” location serving as overflow storage for the new store.


Follow their Progress!

As Grain Designs completes the build and puts the finishing touches on The Pines, Midwest Nest will be following along to give our readers exclusive sneak peeks leading up to the final unveiling. Get ready as we reveal the before and afters and offer readers a glimpse inside their first wedding, this fall!

For more information, contact: 

Grain Designs





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[ Inside the New ] Beauteous Activewear

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography Shawn Seckerson has always been an active person, conquering boot camps in her past and a more calming yoga in the…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

Shawn Seckerson has always been an active person, conquering boot camps in her past and a more calming yoga in the present. For years, she had practically lived in clothing designed for the gym, but like so many of us, she also relied on activewear in her daily life. Comfort was key, but the missing factor was always fashion. To find a solution, Seckerson started researching workout clothing and yoga brands, discovering new lines all over the world that were fusing new technology, function, comfort and fashion. With the idea of bringing the lines she loved home to Fargo, this research would become the spark that would ignite her new venture, Beauteous Activewear. See inside her new store located in South Fargo’s Shoppes at BLU Water Creek.

The Business of Athleisure
Seckerson’s business model is simple yet brilliant. With the concept that activewear should transition seamlessly from the gym to our life beyond, she envisioned a store with all of the high-performing, fashionable and comfortable workout lines she’s comes to love and live in.
“The quality is there and I wanted to let everyone else enjoy the things that I like about these lines and make activewear fun. I want people to have that expectation that there’s always going to be something new here,” said Seckerson.“Beauteous offers more universal workout clothing that can be worn anytime. I travel a lot for hockey with my kids so I love to wear the yoga lines for comfort when I’m traveling. I usually tend to lean towards the more fashionable activewear. I also carry an organic line called Malie; I found this in Hawaii, which is one of my favorite places in the world. They have lotions, soaps, candles, reed diffusers, linen and body sprays.”

Whether you’re striving for perfect planks or perfection in comfort, Beauteous offers many different yoga and athleisure-style clothing lines such as Kira Grace, Lorna Jane, Alo, Varley and more. “Right now, my favorite line is Lorna Jane. She’s from Australia and an amazing designer,” said Seckerson. “She’s got the great colors, support and unique looks in her line. It’s just coming to the United States and it’s big in California, so having it here in Fargo means we get to finally introduce it to the Midwest.”

Fashion-Forward Youth
These days, it’s not just moms that are living in yoga wear, it’s also their daughters. To appease both, Beauteous offers a youth line of activewear for girls, sizes 4 to 14.
Engineered Activewear
“Since we opened, we have had all kinds of athletes, from runners to basketball players in here asking about the high-performance clothing. The pants in the men’s and women’s lines have been really popular with the athletes,” said Seckerson. “They’re just looking for more comfort and a better fit that can endure a lot of pressure.” Seckerson’s engineered solution for the men is a newer line named Rhone.

”Rhone clothing is a really unique, high-performance line designed for men. In some of their materials, they have a trademarked technology called Celliant, which is a muscle re-builder,” said Seckerson. “This technology is in a lot of their shirts and shorts, so this is a great line to wear post-workout to help keep the blood flowing.” Rhone also offers a new GoldFusion, anti-odor technology in their lines, where the fabric is treated with a microbial gold treatment. The brand was recently recognized by Forbes magazine and also awarded the “Best anti-stink activewear” brand by GQ magazine.

For more information, contact:
Beauteous Activewear
3265 45th St S #120, Fargo

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A Hygge Home

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography If the word “hygge” encompasses the art of living a cozy life, then Benjamin Custom Homes has mastered it. While scanning…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

If the word “hygge” encompasses the art of living a cozy life, then Benjamin Custom Homes has mastered it. While scanning social media, we caught a glimpse of their recently featured parade home in the Golden Valley neighborhood and couldn’t wait to see more. To get the full tour, we met up with Ben and Melanie Anderson of Benjamin Custom Homes at their South Fargo stunner. Inside, we found an eclectic mix of creative design elements, custom furniture, and a style of cabinetry that will make you swap your handles and hardware for Scandinavian simplicity.At 1,715 square feet, the home’s open concept and main-level living is the epitome of modern-day hygge. Creating cozy, eclectic vibes around every corner, the home has just enough space and ceiling height to promise both ample entertaining space and intimate home life. The main level boasts two guest bedrooms and a master suite while the unfinished basement is ready for two future bedrooms, bathroom and family room.

A contemporary exterior at first glance, this Benjamin Custom Home features a mix of sleek lines infused with rich iron-grey James Hardie cement-board siding and warm, wood textures. To find the perfect house number and planter, Melanie Anderson searched Etsy, coming across this handmade planter with magnetic numbers by Urban Mettle.

Scandinavian Curb Appeal
“Adam (LaPlante) drew up this layout then I focused on finding a way to modify it and make it different,” said Anderson. “I added the bump-out in the front and had it framed in for more of a Scandinavian feel, adding a mix of textures on the exterior. I wanted to contrast the natural features as well as the more modern features. Ben (Anderson) is Scandinavian and I  love that type of design, so I really wanted to give it a try and play with the style a bit. It’s just something that we haven’t seen much around here at all.”


The living room features an open layout with trayed ceilings in a reclaimed, white-washed wood and contemporary fireplace surround. Creating the room’s nature-inspired focal point is a vertically stacked log feature. Anderson utilized a warm mix of leather side chairs, cowhide rug and black sofa from The White House Co.’s vintage collection. For a Scandinavian flair, Anderson incorporated a custom-designed Finnu chair with striking green upholstery and mid-century modern angles.

Above the fireplace, Benjamin Custom Homes proudly displays a bible verse they’ve come to live and work by; “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain,” Psalm 127:1 of Solomon.

The Heart of a Hygge Home
Lead designer, Melanie Anderson worked with Pacc Woodworks to design the European-styled kitchen cabinetry in stained maple to coordinate with the flooring. This unique design adopts a sleek and functional approach, leaving no need for the typical door and drawer hardware.

Carrying over the simplistic design to the surrounding elements, Anderson chose a waterfall-edge, quartz island with maple inset and Rejuvenation pendants overhead. Adding their signature character, Anderson chose schoolhouse-style island stools from The White House Co.

A charming focal point in the kitchen, Anderson designed reclaimed wood, open shelving to serve as functional storage and symmetrical shelving for decor and greenery.

Adding depth and embracing rich tones, Anderson chose a Raw Iron paint by Benjamin Moore for the pantry and adjacent, reclaimed barn door near the dining room. This color was carried throughout the home’s additional doors and linen closets.

Master Suite

The home’s master bath features a continuance of the European-styled cabinetry with a double wall-hung vanity. Quartz countertops and chrome fixtures create timeless appeal leading to the glass-enclosed shower and massive walk-in closet.


Find the Finishes:
Builder – Benjamin Custom Homes
Drafter – Adam LaPlante
Project Manager – Kara Skarphol
Staging – Melanie Anderson
Flooring – Carpet World
Master bedroom and mudroom lighting – Etsy
Cabinetry – Pacc Woodworks
Kitchen pendant lighting – Rejuvenation
Sink lighting – Rejuvenation
Faucet and fixtures – Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
Appliances – Rigel’s
Island stools and dining chairs- The White House Co.
Living room, leather chairs, sofa and cowhide rug – The White House Co.
Fireplace – Hebron Brick
Dining table lighting – Menards
Floral – Love Always Floral
Dining room rug – Eco Chic Home
Master and mudroom lighting – Etsy
Mudroom hooks – Schoolhouse Electric Company
Reclaimed wood slab bench – designed by Melanie Anderson, Kara Skarphol, Adam LaPlante with wood sourced from Dakota Timber Company
Custom, oversized, hairpin leg dining table – Finnu
Custom living room chair – Finnu
Reclaimed barn door – sourced from Fergus Falls
Door paint – Raw Iron by Benjamin Moore
Siding – James Hardie
House number planter – Urban Mettle, Etsy

Find the Home!
2659 70th Ave South, Fargo

For more information, contact:
Benjamin Custom Homes
4025 4th Avenue South Suite 1, Fargo

To request a personal tour, contact:
Chase Realty – Ian Bullis, Realtor
4631 40th Ave South, Suite 150, Fargo

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Birds, Butterflies and a Big Girl Bed: Planning a Kid’s Room

Words by Katie Sullivan Photography by Dan Francis Photography There is no room I enjoy decorating more than a kid’s room. If you can’t have fun with a kid’s room,…

Words by Katie Sullivan
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

There is no room I enjoy decorating more than a kid’s room. If you can’t have fun with a kid’s room, where can you? Say it with me, decorating should be fun and a kid’s room is a great place to exercise your riskier design muscles. A child’s bedroom is a good chance to push boundaries and to learn when to reign it in. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

Devise a Plan
When it was time to move my three-year-old, Eva, into her big girl room, we made a list of everything the room needed to accomplish. First off, we needed lots of storage that she could easily access. She recently discovered Barbie and her tiny, tiny accessories and we decidedly do not want her brother, who is under one, to discover them too. We also wanted a table top where she could play, seating, floor space to spread out her toys and room to store her Barbie Dreamhouse. All while staying true to her personality and mommy’s desire for messes to be out of sight, out of mind. Whoa, even writing that out just made my head swirl, but I’m guessing many of you want your kid’s room to accomplish quite a few things besides sleeping too.

Eva’s Room
There was no way we could check off all of those needs with box furniture and still be able to walk in the room, so we spent a few days brainstorming a plan. We settled on using IKEA kitchen cupboards, traditionally used as uppers, to create a wall-to-wall bench with drawers. We used IKEA’s planner tool online to pick the cabinets and framed them out with materials from a local hardware store. To upgrade the look, we purchased white shaker cabinet fronts from semihandmadedoors.com. Installing the bench was a space-saving option that allowed us to accomplish three things on our must-have list: storage, seating and a tabletop surface to play.

Tip: Look for furniture pieces with more than one function if customizing a built-in isn’t an option. For example, an end of the bed bench seat that opens for extra storage.

Get Inspired
After we planned what we needed to make the room functional, it was time for the fun part: the finishes, furniture and accessories! This is also when Eva became involved in the planning. She had a few specific requests. She wanted purple, pink and animals. Also, we acquired a beautiful vintage bed destined for her room from Eco Chic Home a few years back. I hit Pinterest with these things in mind and came across a stunning wallpaper by Schumacher featuring birds and butterflies. Eva and I were both smitten. We had our inspiration.

However, the wallpaper was undeniably bold. Although it is a little girl’s room, we were worried the intricate design would overwhelm the space. We added wainscoting around the room to tone it down and balanced the pattern with a pure white, wood accent wall. We kept the remaining furniture neutral.

Tip: Start with one or two items you love and build the room from there.

Have Fun
At this point in the process, we had accomplished all my wants for the room and a little of our daughters. While she loved the wallpaper, were undeniably lacking purple and pink. She lives for those color now, but I’m not confident it is a forever love. We opted to incorporate them in easy to change ways. We added purple and pink textiles, and accessorized the room with her own special treasures. However, she was still distressed that there was not nearly enough purple, so we got creative. We painted both the inside of her door a bright lilac and her ceiling a soft lavender. It’s hardly noticeable, but would probably read as a little strange in any other room. In a kid’s room, specifically her room, it’s perfect.


Let Go
Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that although I designed it, it is not actually my room. She has already found ways to make it her own. For instance, she has requested her artwork to be hung on the wall, and she lines the wainscoting ledge with her figurines. Plus, she really hates how I place the furniture in her dollhouse. She’d much prefer the couch in the kitchen. I gave her a framework to explore her imagination and now it’s time to let her take it where she wants it to go. Just don’t show her I wrote this when she’s a tween and she wants to paint her whole room neon purple.

Tip: When picking a wallpaper steer away from anything too childish unless it is easily removable. Pick something you will be able to “age-up” with different furniture and accessories.

Find the Finishes:
Bed – Eco Chic Home
JuJu Hat – One Affirmation on Etsy
Sheets – Pottery Barn
Duvet – Restoration Hardware Kids
Bed Pillows – McGee & Co
Nightstand – Target
Unicorn Nightlight – Target
Dresser – Room & Board
Covered Basket – Serena & Lily
Planter – McGee & Co
Unicorn Bookend, Pink Tray, Clock & Bone-Inlay Frame – Target
Lamps – Kate Spade from Home Goods
Drawers – Ikea
Drawer Hardware – MINIHAPPYLV on Etsy
Wallpaper – Schumacher (Available through Pretty Domesticated)
Mirror – To-The-Trade (Available through Pretty Domesticated)
Art – Cait Courneya, Minted and Artfully Walls
Dollhouse – IKEA
Rug – McGee & Co
Bench Pillows – HomeGoods, Danielle Oakey Shop on Etsy, The Maryn

Download the LIKEtoKNOW.it app on your phone to instantly shop our rooms.

For more information, contact:
Katie Sullivan

Connect with me on social media:
Instagram: @PrettyDomesticated
Facebook: Pretty Domesticated
Pinterest: KtMSullivan

For more tips visit prettydomesticated.com.

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Functional Art – The Sliding Barn Door Trend

Words by Blain Mikkonen and Phil Bruckbauer Shop and portrait photos by M. Schleif Photography Barn door photos provided by Grain Designs One of the hottest design trends from the…

Words by Blain Mikkonen and Phil Bruckbauer
Shop and portrait photos by M. Schleif Photography
Barn door photos provided by Grain Designs

One of the hottest design trends from the past couple of years has been the introduction of sliding barn doors into homes and offices. Sliding barn doors are commonly rustic in appearance and the designs are modeled after their agricultural predecessors. ‘Barn doors’ have commonly been used as the catch-all term for the functional and beautiful sliding doors. However, if rustic, agricultural-inspired sliding doors don’t tickle your fancy, don’t let the term ‘barn doors’ scare you away.

As with any design trend, it’s common for trends to come and go. We think the sliding barn door is here to stay, although the designs and aesthetics will continue to evolve. We understand this trend to be one of functionality, efficiency and even artistic beauty. So what is all the riot about?

What are the benefits of sliding barn doors?
Sliding doors save space by eliminating the room needed for door swings.
They create a focal point and can make a statement for a home or office.
Unique doors look great when they’re not in use, so they can be left open and not be in the way.
They provide a contrast of materials and create interest for a commonly boring and forgotten element of the home.
The greatest benefit is that a sliding door is so much more than just a door. It is functional art.


What are the most common rooms or areas for a sliding door?
Although we’ve installed sliding doors in many different residential and commercial applications, here are some of the most popular areas/rooms:
Formal Dining/Entry
Hall Closet
Laundry Room
Theatre Room
Master Closet
Master Bathroom
Commercial and Business Applications – sliding doors have also been very popular in area business for use in offices, exam rooms, break rooms, conference rooms, and even to make a statement in the reception area.

What is the most popular style of barn door?
The most popular style we produce is probably the Double Z which is one of the traditional barn door styles seen on agricultural buildings. However, we’ve had the opportunity to do some truly unique, modern, and even elegant sliding doors. Some of these doors that break the rustic, barn door mold have become some of Grain Designs favorites to design and build. These alternative door solutions stand out for their unique details, precision, clean designs and sometimes even the challenge of creating something new and different.


Modernizing the Barn Door
One solution to add a more modern feel to sliding doors is by adding brushed steel or aluminum accents. This can add that touch of contemporary style to the piece in a way that pops unlike more common raw steel or black hardware.


Lighter colored, fully planed woods also tend to offer a more contemporary look. In this example, the combination of brushed, metal hardware, light wood and a unique horizontal pattern result in a pair of ultra modern and multifunctional sliding doors.

Dark stained wood and horizontal, raw steel bands give these unique doors a more industrial feel. However, they still offer a clean look in contrast to a rustic door and create a focal point as pillars to this living room’s entertainment center.

In addition to different wood tones and accents, incorporating other materials or reclaimed elements is another great way to change the style of the door. These solutions incorporate corrugated metal; one yielding rustic results while the other is a healthy combination of contemporary and industrial.


Creating Multi-functional Barn Doors
Other considerations for your door may be to add more functional elements. We’ve built custom doors to include mirrors, windows, chalkboards, or even slat-style privacy doors that cover patio doors, yet still let light in. The options are really endless.

Exploring Craft and Inspiration

As designers and craftsman, we’re constantly in search of other businesses and individuals working on honing their craft. We find inspiration in learning about and exploring the craft of others. Here are a few social media accounts that are worth the follow.

Originally from South Dakota, Trent Preszler now lives in Long Island, New York. He crafts bespoke wooden canoes that are truly beautiful works of art. In addition to his highly crafted canoes, Preszler restored a ‘56 Ford truck, a brand icon, built with an attention-to-detail that exemplifies his passion for high-craft.

Thunder Coffee
Thunder Coffee is mobile coffee service that brews up quality coffee for your meeting, event or gathering. How does coffee relate to craft? Visit with Dex, Thunder’s coffee educator and head barista and you’ll begin to understand the attention-to-detail that goes into the making of a perfect cup of joe.

Hix Design
Quality craftsmanship is often better evaluated when touched, felt and experienced. As a customer of Hix I can attest to this fact. However, in the case of Hix Design’s leather goods, you’ll quickly notice from his Instagram photos that each piece is well designed and crafted with impeccable detail.

Contact the Team:
Mikkonen, Bruckbauer, and the Grain Designs team currently work out of a studio Southwest of Fargo. They are working on an exciting new retail concept, Grain Designs Furniture & Mercantile in South Fargo which will be open late this winter. In the meantime, they can be reached online at graindesigns.com.

Blain Mikkonen

Phil Bruckbauer

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A White Wine Winter

Words by Dan Hurder and Laura Botten Photography by M. Schleif Photography Some wine enthusiasts suggest that winter requires red wine. While we adore a glass of red with a…

Words by Dan Hurder and Laura Botten
Photography by M. Schleif Photography

Some wine enthusiasts suggest that winter requires red wine. While we adore a glass of red with a hearty bowl of beef stew or savory roast, we just aren’t willing to put our whites away while the snow flies. So, with our permission, dust off those white wine glasses and check out a few of our favorites. Laura Botten and I are braving below zero temps and taking you on an exploration of whites, starting with the classics.

Winter White Flights
By consumption, the most popular white wines are Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Moscato is leaving a mark with its surge in popularity, and Sweet Justice deserves its place at the table. Our selections were intentional to showcase the range of styles produced.

We’ll lead with Chardonnay, the “queen” of whites. We collectively cringe when we hear “I hate Chardonnay.” Challenge on! Most likely, the “right” Chardonnay has not graced your palate yet. The diversity within the category is vastly based on region and production methods. Winemakers can choose to make a very fresh, unoaked style that is all about the fruit or they can add complexity through a variety of techniques:

What Makes White Wines “Complex”?
• Sur Lie Aging – This means it had an extended contact with spent yeast cells. It adds texture and enhanced mouthfeel as well as flavors reminiscent of freshly baked bread.

• Malolactic Fermentation (ML) – This converts malic acid (think tart granny smith apple) to the rounder and creamier lactic acid. And, a byproduct of ML is diacetyl, which is used in margarine to make it taste more like (light bulb moment) butter.

• Oak Influence – This can be achieved through barrel aging or other sources and can add tannic structure, apple pie spice notes, vanilla, dill and a host of other tertiary flavors.

Seaglass Chardonnay is an unoaked expression of this versatile grape that is simply about the fruit. A Santa Barbara County appellation (rare for the price point), yields peach, pineapple and melon flavors and aromas. This easy drinking Chardonnay would appeal to a Pinot Grigio drinker with its fresh, fruit-driven style.

California Chardonnay came into its own in the mid-80s, and Rombauer was right there in the fold helping to define the quintessential expression of oaky, buttery, full-bodied Chardonnay. In fact, Rombauer-esque is often used to describe other wines of this style. Carneros fruit, sur lie aging, ML fermentation and nine months in French and American oak barrels yield a rich mouthfeel, tropical fruit, buttery notes and beautiful apple pie spice. Cold weather comfort foods like chicken pot pie or a more elegant meal of lobster tail pair beautifully with Rombauer.


Pinot Grigio
It’s hard to think about Italy without thinking of Pinot Grigio. Enough said.

A to Z
Oregon is producing amazing Pinot Gris (the French term for Pinot Grigio) and A to Z is a market leader. While the grape variety is the same, Pinot Gris on a label suggests more intense fruit character and added complexity. Fabulous to simply sip, it pairs nicely with salads or dishes you would squeeze a lemon over. Pan fry some walleye and enjoy!

Candoni is a classic Italian expression. Bartlett pear shines through on the nose and palate with a crisp, lingering finish. It’s easy and approachable nature makes it a crowd pleaser.

[Sauvignon Blanc]
One of the more polarizing grapes, Sauvignon Blanc tends to evoke a “love it or hate it” response. Characteristics range from bell pepper and vegetal qualities to intense grapefruit, white peach and melon.

Loveblock from Marlborough, New Zealand, is produced and owned by Sauvignon Blanc icon, winemaker Kim Crawford. We find this a more refined and elegant expression, lacking the aggressive acid and over the top grapefruit typical of the region.

Cade Sauvignon Blanc is from Napa Valley, a warmer growing region. This yields riper melon fruit, a softer mouthfeel and more weight on the palate. The nominal blending of other aromatic grape varietals lends complexity.

Riesling, a personal favorite, is often underappreciated and oversimplified. One of the most esteemed white grapes, it runs the gamut from bone-crushingly dry to sweet, dessert wine. For those that dismiss Riesling because they don’t like sweet wine, the secret is to check the alcohol content on the bottle. Alcohol and sugar have an inverse relationship – the higher the alcohol, the lower the sugar. Seek out 9-10% alcohol content or higher if you prefer a drier style.

Kings Ridge
At 12%, Kings Ridge Riesling from Willamette Valley, Oregon, is technically dry and showcases that Riesling is NOT the simple quaff many think it to be. Peach, green apple, and rose predominate, and the distinct petrol (think brand new yoga mat) aromas are a hallmark of the grape.

Bollig-Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen
Approaching the other end of the spectrum is Bollig-Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spätlese. Try polishing off a bottle and saying that five times fast. This gorgeously complex bottling is from the Goldtropfchen vineyard, one of the most esteemed in the Mosel region of Germany. Spätlese means late harvest, suggesting more developed fruit character. At 8% ABV, expect more sweetness – perfectly balanced by crisp acidity.

This Riesling is a perfect partner with spicy side dishes like the jalapeno poppers from Boiler Room but also pairs perfectly with spicy Thai or Indian cuisine. Only 700 cases produced and with a 91 point rating from the Wine Spectator, this is a gem to seek out.

Sweet Justice
Sweet Justice Moscato, produced by boutique Australian winery, Shinas Estate, has won over many Moscato naysayers. Only 500 cases are produced each vintage and astonishingly, over 300 are consumed right here in North Dakota. With a bit of a cult following, this is not your dorm room variety Moscato. It is ethereal in nature, with stone fruit and tropical flavors, and a touch of effervescence. You be the judge, but we bet Sweet Justice will win you over.

Dan Hurder is Managing Partner of Twist, Boiler Room and Chef’s Table Catering. Laura Botten is Fine Wines Manager of Johnson Brothers ND. For more information or if you want to chat about wine with Dan or Laura, email info@brixandbanter.com

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