By Audra Mehl
Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography and special to Design & Living Magazine
My name is Audra Mehl and in August 2018, I announced that I was closing the retail boutique aspect of my business, Grace 1972, a curated vintage and found home décor store inside of Mehl’s Gluten Free Bakery, to focus on providing design services. Since then, I rebranded my business as Grace 1972 Design and have been having so much fun working with clients who love modern farmhouse and cottage style. I thoroughly enjoyed owning a store, but my heart is in interior decorating and design. Before I started working on the Timberline Flip House, I had already flipped two homes with my husband, Matthew: a 110-year-old A frame in Casselton and a massive home south of Fargo on Wild Rice River. I believe that all homes started as someone’s dream. This flip house, formerly home to the Simonson family, was built in love and is now ready for new love to fill its walls.
This flip house is located in Timberline, a neighborhood that came to life in the 1990s. It is full of expansive, two-story and ranch-style homes. The neighborhood is well established with tall trees along winding streets, but unfortunately, that also means the finishes can be dated in these sprawling beauties. People want to live here, but don’t want to be the ones to spearhead a time consuming and costly remodel. However, The Timberline house has now been fully renovated, so buyers can have both the neighborhood and the finishes they are craving.
Friends who love my design style considered purchasing this house when it was on the market last winter. I toured it with them to talk through the types of changes, updates and finishes I would recommend for this property if they bought it. The realtor, Tina Kraft, accompanied us on the tour.
When my friends decided not to purchase the home, Tina introduced me to the new owner, Jeni Gunderson, an investor whose intention was to flip the home. Jeni called me when she had the home gutted and realized that there were a lot of decisions to make. I visited with Jeni and offered to author a design plan for the entire home, which she commissioned me to do in February of 2018.
Jeni was a joy to work with. The trust I established early on with her clearly instilled her confidence in my abilities. That was exceptionally flattering, especially as a person who has no formal training. I am a self-taught enthusiast who spent years eating up everything I could get my eyes on that had anything to do with interior decorating and design. “It has been a joy working with Audra, and her presence is like that of an old friend,” Jeni said.
This house was a 1990’s time capsule. Finishes that were desirable when it was built have long since lost their allure, but the layout and bones of the home were spectacular, with an immense foyer, a great room off a large kitchen and highly-desirable, functional areas (a home office, mudroom, large family spaces and several bedrooms). It was the perfect canvas. As an investor, Jeni wanted finishes that would appeal to the majority of buyers, while bringing this property up to the price point of its neighbors. The traditional style that was already present in the carved spindles and traditional floor plan of this home made it ideal for incorporating cottage and farmhouse style, a trend made popular by Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper.
List of Renovations
Here is a quick list of the renovations we did:
Added fresh paint – The trim was all cream, a 1990s trend that dated this home. Painting it all bright white made the beautiful architectural features like the two story windows become stunning focal points. I also had Jeni paint the spindles white and the railing black on the large, sweeping stairway in the foyer.
Added new flooring – I recommended a hand scraped patina with cool wood tones and color variation to warm up the large space. I also included in my design plan the stairwell carpet–tight loop for a clean, high-end look.
Added focal point lighting – I chose all of the chandeliers, incorporating grand scale and patinas that would provide contrast and interest to each room. (The beaded wood globe in the foyer is my favorite!)
Added Board & Batten – The home was traditional in style originally, but I brought in trending finishes like this to elevate the design.
Added a new, custom drop zone in the mudroom – I had a closet removed so that a custom drop zone could be added, which was built by my husband, Matthew Mehl of On Point Construction.
Added subway tile in mudroom
Added Black french doors to the home office
Added Italian, porcelain tile in the main floor powder room – I chose the mirror and light fixtures in this room as well. On Point Construction installed the tile.
Updated fireplace facade – We brought it all the way up to the ceiling to highlight the height of the room. We also incorporated a double mantel with symmetrical shelving and cabinets flanking it.
Decor from Burlap Rustic Chic Boutique – Burlap is my go to local store that I like to source from for my design clients. The two stained-glass windows on either side of the fireplace are from Burlap Rustic Chic Boutique.
Renovated the kitchen – Kitchens are big. Jeni took my advice and ripped out the original and installed all new cabinets–white shaker style with a contrasting black island.
Redesigned the footprint and lay out of the master bath – I suggested putting a soaking tub at an angle in the corner.
Staging by Carrie Brusven of Gathered. Boutique Rentals & Events – I first met Carrie Brusven when we were in a book club together, then I hired her to decorate for my wedding to Matthew in 2013. She has an incredible eye! Last November, we teamed up to decorate for the Homes for the Holidays tour. Carrie has recently expanded her business to include home staging services in addition to her usual wedding and event decorating. Her gifts are exceptional. She knows how to show people the potential of any space. Statistically speaking, staged homes sell for 20 percent more than non-staged homes. Potential buyers sometimes can’t visualize what a bed would look like in a master bedroom or where they would put their sofa, and staging allows them to better see themselves actually living in a home. Jeni said, “Carrie Brusven made this house a home with her beautiful staging. There is just something about Carrie that I trusted and felt comfortable with from the moment I met her.”
The End Results
I want to live here myself, which is always the goal. I decorate every home as if it were my own. I put the same care into my clients that I would for my own family. The home is so cozy and inviting. The transformation–taking something dated and creating a place that people swoon over and love–is my favorite part of the flipping process.
The future homeowner will appreciate the established neighborhood and proximity to the bike path along the creek that borders Timberline. The future homeowner will feel blessed to have their breakfast at the beautiful island and enjoy a chilly, winter evening cozied up next to the fireplace in the great room. The ideal buyer will know it when they step foot inside. Isn’t it how that works? We fall in love with a house, and that is what makes it home.