Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

Deciding to make a lifestyle change, minimalist and local photographer, Miranda Roen, did what so many homeowners dream of, but so few have conquered. She swapped her big mortgage for a smaller space with even bigger potential. Two years ago, Roen and her son Eli made the move from a 2,500-square-foot, four-bedroom home in Moorhead, to a cozy, 520-square-foot home in South Fargo. Built in the 1940’s, the small home lacked the character Roen was looking for, but with its functional floor plan and large detached garage, she knew she had found a fixer-upper that would be worth the work. Once considered a tiny home in shambles, Roen’s minimalist redesign is now the picture of perfection.

A Radical Remodel
One of the deciding factors to make the move was the realization that in their large home they only used the upstairs; the downstairs was completely untouched. “The mortgage and utility expenses were insane, so I decided to make a radical change; sell the big house, and move into our current home,” said Roen. “This was the best financial decision I have ever made. Now the mortgage is next to nothing. I’m really passionate about minimalism and living within your means, even if it means going small.”

At the time, Roen was married and the two bought this house for $125,000 with a down payment of $60,000. With the remodel beginning two years ago, there’s been about $10,000 worth of equity put into the home with additional remodel projects still in the works.”I’m really passionate about minimalism and living within your means, even if it means going small.”
Miranda Roen, Homeowner

To figure out a feasible game plan before moving in, Roen researched minimalist design ideas and new concepts geared toward living efficiently in small spaces. Online, she found a wealth of knowledge that helped her transform their two-bedroom home with a bonus loft space, into a minimalist’s dream home. With a $15,000 budget in mind, Roen has perfected every inch to suit the needs of her photography business, her six-year-old son Eli and their wiener dog, Lincoln.

Throughout the home, the worn-out carpet was replaced with bamboo veneer flooring that would be durable enough for kids and pets. Since the original layout didn’t provide the space she needed, a side entrance door near the kitchen was removed and the kitchen itself was completely reconfigured to add more cupboards and counter space. Since each room was minimal in square footage, Roen needed to her design to be aesthetically pleasing and functional.

“When you have a house this small, it can be tough in the winter to be inside all day, so I wanted something that I would feel was beautiful right when I walked in the door and would love being here. So, the overall look was really important to me,” said Roen.

Minimalistic Modern
In the main living space, Roen kept her style simplistic and meaningful. Her personal style blends modern design elements with vintage character and a touch of archeological influence. A serious car accident had derailed her archeology career but eventually led her to her current passion for photography. In her home, hammerstone, fossils, skulls and other artifacts reside alongside local art and photography.

Roen finished her remodel just over a year ago, with four months of that time spent solely on the kitchen redesign. Before the remodel, the kitchen was comprised of three cupboards and Roen could hardly find the space to prepare a meal. One money-saving tactic she used to free up cupboard space was replacing the huge water heater tank in the cupboard with a much smaller tankless version. “I actually researched minimalists who live in buses and smaller spaces to see what they had done to make it more livable for them,” said Roen.

Since she didn’t have a designated laundry room or basement, the kitchen had to play double duty. As a clever solution, Roen found a Haier washer/dryer combo that took three months to ship from China. “Trying to maximize the space and fit in four appliances was a big challenge,” said Roen. “This is the only washer/dryer combo in the world that would fit into this space, otherwise, we would have had to eliminate some of the cupboards.”

Extending her artistic eye beyond the lens, Roen had custom-built, curved-edge shelving made by Dakota Timber Company. She also took on the project of installing new tile with a raw-edge stone backsplash, laminate countertops and new cabinetry. In line with the kitchen counter, Roen had a dining table custom built to make the most of the space.

Designing for Dogs
Since they had removed the side door near the kitchen, it created one major problem; there was no longer a doggie door. As a hidden solution, Roen designed a lower cupboard to tunnel her dog through to the doghouse and backyard space.

Mastering Small Spaces
In the master bedroom, Roen kept her style simple and functional. A sliding door to her closet gave her an aesthetically pleasing wall feature and preserved space for proper flow.

Roen’s office is an ode to her travels, local art and photography. She found her desk at an online garage sale and tested her DIY skills by refinishing the piece, painting it a more modern grey and updating the hardware. Near the desk, she displays work from her travels in Jerusalem and art by local talent, Karen Bakke.

Lofty Goals
With the bonus loft space on the top level, Roen’s home equates to roughly 720 square feet. This smaller space made the perfect bedroom for her six-year-old son Eli. The steps leading to the loft also got a makeover, and since there was no closet, Roen created an organized storage space for his clothing and toys.

A Dog’s Life
Outside, this fun space-saving solution allows their dog to enter a hidden doggy door from a kitchen cupboard that leads to the exterior’s attached dog house and fenced-in backyard. Last summer, the yard was given a new look by adding an array of new plants, the custom doghouse, cedar fence, and now this summer, a chicken coop. Roen loved the idea of fresh eggs but she also wanted to teach her young son to learn how to take care of animals.

Find the Finishes

Kitchen floating shelves – Dakota Timber Company
Custom dining table – F-M Pallet Furniture & Decor
Bamboo laminate veneer flooring – Home Depot
Kitchen cabinetry – Lowe’s
Porcelain tile – Lowe’s
Art – Deborah Mae Broad, Karen Bakke
Chandelier – Lowe’s
Sectional & TV stand – Hom Furniture
Feather art – Hobby Lobby
Master dresser – Furniture Mart
Master barn door – Lowe’s
Master bedroom paint – Morning Fog
Main area paint – Filtered Shade
Office desk stain – Leathered Grey


For more information about Roen’s remodel or photography business, contact:
Roen Photography