Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography


For our first birthday, we had to go big; nearly 6,000 square-feet big, to be exact. Partnering up with Dietrich Homes as our gracious party host, we invited our readers, family, friends, team and contributors to celebrate the first 365 days of pure adventure. If you didn’t make it out to the party at this beautiful model home in West Fargo, you also missed out on the debut and room reveal of our first annual Design Challenge, featuring nine local designers. Not to worry, we’ve got it covered. Read on and we’ll give you a glimpse inside the party, room reveals and winner announcement, then finish with a tour through the spectacular host home.

Special thanks to our wonderful, party partners:
Host: Inspired by Dietrich Homes
Luna Fargo
Shotwell Floral & Greenhouse
Chef’s Table Catering
The Spirit Shop
Tru Blu Social Club
Design Challenge bedroom furnishings – Furniture for Less
Down Home

[2018 Design Challenge]

As part of our one-year anniversary celebration, we wanted to do something that would unite the talented people whom we get the joy of working with every day. Our publisher, Susan Hozak-Cardinal, came up with a brilliant idea; since we were having our party in a Dietrich Homes model home, why not make the most of the space? We decided to invite nine local designers to meet with us, get randomly thrown into teams of three, then give them 24 hours to complete an entire room makeover.

We gave them all a bare room with the same furniture and a strict budget of $450. Since we always encourage shopping small, we made sure the bulk of it got spent at local boutiques and thrift stores around the Fargo-Moorhead area. To top it off, we decided to donate all of the decor and bedding to an organization called Down Home – their team takes on design challenges and room makeovers all year long, helping the homeless make a more beautiful transition into permanent housing. Meet the extraordinary designers and see inside the three rooms that were revealed to the public at our one-year anniversary celebration!

But First…the Design Challenge Guidelines
All three teams were given one bedroom to decorate and a timeframe of just over 24 hours. Each bedroom started with the same bed frame, mattress and bedside tables which had been provided by Furniture for Less. As far as creative boundaries, the sky was the limit -they just couldn’t damage the walls or repaint the room. Rooms would be revealed at the Midwest Nest party and guests would be allowed to cast their vote.

All teams received $450* in funds to decorate the bedroom with the following breakdown:

● $100 Local Thrift Store

● $100 Chain or Big Box Store

● $250 Locally-Owned Boutique

*Each designer was allowed to donate up to two items to their room

And the Winner is…

Room #1: Team “Dream Weavers”
Linda Birmingham of Designingwomen2
Trever Hill of Trever Hill Design
Melanie Iverson of Mosaic Design + Build

To get started, the winning team first chose their name, Dream Weavers. This would represent both their room theme and Down Home, the non-profit that would benefit from the challenge. It would come to stand for the three of them uniting from different design/decorating firms and weaving their talents, in an effort to help others work towards their dreams.

Their team wanted to stay on-trend, but do something unexpected. Inspired by a vintage rug Iverson almost gave away, their theme became Romantic Boho. To achieve this, they relied on a mix of old and new, with a splash of floral. Hill donated the removable peony wall decals from his own home, while the sconces, lamps and chairs were thrift store finds. The coverlet and carved wall piece were donated by Birmingham’s store, Designingwomen2.

“Hanging the chandelier over the bed, without damaging the sheetrock, was definitely a challenge,” said Birmingham. “But, with a bit of MacGyvering, we made it work.”

“Because we wanted those touring the room to feel like they were entering a honeymoon suite or a B&B, we chose to burn a volcano candle and play my prom theme song, ‘Dream Weaver’. Did I just date myself?” laughed Birmingham. “I think I’m safe to speak for Trever and Melanie when I say, we had a blast and I think we all loved the challenge. I was nervous to team up with peers I had never worked with, but when this was over, I was a bit sad. I felt like had known them forever – working, collaborating and even struggling, was a joy.”

“The biggest challenges to the room were the budget and timeline,” said Iverson. “Our team had a couple other commitments so we only had 12 hours together, from start to finish. We had to think quickly and strategically to be sure the design was cohesive and that the products we chose were intentional because every dollar was extremely important.”

Find the Goods!
Gold lamps, weaved “dream catcher”, mirror, two chairs, two candle sconces – The Arc and Dakota Boys & Girls Ranch
Four pillows and the wool blanket – The White House Co.
Pillows and shams – donated by Trever Hill
Sheets and chandelier – HomeGoods
Coverlet and carved wall piece – donated by Designingwomen2
Vintage rug – donated by Melanie Iverson

Room #2: Team “M²K”
Maria Bosak, Eco Chic Home
Monica Hart, Monica Hart Interior Design
Katie Sullivan, Pretty Domesticated

Team M²K settled into a Feminine Guest Room for their room’s theme. “After a lengthy debate, I think the peel and stick wallpaper is what finally helped us determine a color for an accent and the rest fell into place. It was interesting to hear other ideas and see how other designers work,” said Hart.

“The biggest challenge was pulling a whole look together (down to the little details like books and picture frames), on such a modest budget. It would have been easier to simply furnish the room, but we wanted the room to have personalized details and character,” said Sullivan. “We were able to accomplish this by relying heavily on thrifting and donations for those details. My favorite addition was the fresh cut flowers from our yards.”

“Although the biggest challenge was the budget, my favorite aspect was how it turned out – I thought it was so tranquil, functional and pretty. I would stay in that guest room!” said Hart.

Find the Goods!
Bedding set, curtains, curtain rod & removable wallpaper – Target

Wood candle holders & candles – Eco Chic Home

Side table, rug, books, lamp, various vases & misc. decor – thrift stores including Savers & The Dakota Boys & Girls Ranch

Fabric – Joann Fabric

Flowers – Gathered from their yards

Decorative pillows – Eco Chic Home
Gold Side Table – HomeGoods

Chair – Donated by Maria Bosak of Eco Chic Home

Gray throw – donated by Monica Hart Interior Design

Pink throw – purchased from Pier 1 and donated by Monica Hart Interior Design
Art, Books & Vase – Donated by Katie Sullivan


Room #3: The Dream Team

Lindsey Christie, Lindsey Grace Interiors
Amanda Rydell, The White House Co.
Christy Brawner-Riley, Christy Brawner Interiors

Keeping in mind that all of the items would be going to charity, The Dream Team thought outside the box and decided to create a dream-inspired children’s theme. “With Amanda having access to a lot of vintage items that tend to lean towards a feminine feel, we ended up designing a young girl’s room,” said Christie.

“It was honestly so fun getting to know two other women business owners in the area. We had a crash course in teamwork when it came to the timeline, figuring out the best way (and fastest way) to accomplish our goals while being super creative with our budget,” said Christie. “We all have such different personalities and businesses, I feel like we just somehow fell into our prospective roles that made the most sense for how we work.”

On this team, Brawner used her detail-oriented personality to hammer out the task of hanging the temporary wallpaper in a short time frame. Rydell leaned on her creative eye and was able to see items for more than their shelf value, and Christie took on the role of the big picture thinker, envisioning the overall look and feel of the final design.

Find the Goods!
Wallpaper – Target

End table – HomeGoods

Lamp – HomeGoods

Flowers – Love Always Floral

Bedding (sheets) – HomeGoods

Stuffed unicorn – Target

Throw blanket & white fur – Burlington

Art, Dresser, frames, accent pillows, accessories – White House Co.

Stool (under the fur), basket, duvet and cover, accessories – The Arc, Dakota Boys & Girls Ranch
Bookshelf & headboard – thrift store + a fresh coat of paint

Special thanks to the designers who some wonderfully donated their time and decor to the challenge and ultimately, Down Home:

Monica Hart, Katie Sullivan, Melanie Iverson, Amanda Rydell, Christy Brawner-Riley, Lindsey Christie, Maria Bosak, Linda Birmingham and Trever Hill

What is Down Home?
Down Home is a local non-profit that provides furnishings and décor for families transitioning from homelessness into permanent housing. They are based in North Fargo and serve our community through donations of like-new furniture and accessories, monetary donations and volunteers.

For more information about Down Home, contact:
Down Home
2102 12th Street North, Fargo
Find them on Facebook: downhome.org