Photos by Kayleigh Omang
If you’re one of Lauren Kupfer’s over 3,000 Instagram followers, this article in the magazine will come as no surprise to you. In the days leading up to Design & Living’s visit to the West Fargo modern farmhouse, Kupfer’s Instagram stories began to feature her signature selfie-video clips. With her face to the camera, she recorded herself humorously “freaking out” and speed cleaning the home to prepare it for our cameras.
When Kupfer isn’t working at MSUM or shuffling her two kids, Peyton and Owen, around to activities, she runs an Instagram account, @FargoFarmhouse. Here, she documents her home design process, along with authentic musings about life, motherhood and, of course, home decor.
On her Instagram feed, you see pristine, stylized vignettes of her black, white and neutral home. But on her Instagram stories, she shares humorous videos showcasing behind-the-scenes footage of special projects, homeownership blunders, parenthood tidbits and even updates on their cat Violet and dogs Frankie and Yogurt. This authentic mix between her carefully curated snapshots of the home mixed with the reality of everyday life make Kupfer and the Fargo Farmhouse stand out in a sea of “Instagram houses.”
Upon us reaching out to feature her home and Instagram brand, Kupfer excitedly shared the announcement with her followers online. That initial excitement quickly turned to panic as she expressed the need to make the home pristine. Kupfer’s commentary on the social media app included, “The kitchen is clean. I’m gonna have to rehome my family ’til after our photoshoot Friday,” and, after us rescheduling thanks to the weather, “We’re having a blizzard! Magazine shoot is rescheduled, work is closed, and the whole family is home destroying my photo-ready house Y A Y.”
As we entered her home, we’d like to think that these worries dissolved. Kupfer candidly talked about the home building process, what she loves about the result, why she decided to document the home online and, for a surprising amount of time, we even discussed Violet the cat, who chimed in with meows.
Best of Both Worlds
It was in April of 2019 that Lauren and husband Chris Kupfer moved into their newly completed home. The Kupfers had always lived in older character homes, so building and living in a brand new home was a new experience for them.
While they were shopping for a new home, the ones they found within their budget did not have the space they needed for their family of five. After not finding what they wanted in the current market, they decided to build. In this new home, their upstairs has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a laundry room—something they never would have been able to find in a historic home. Since they were accustomed to having the unique touches of character homes in their previous houses, this building process ensured that they could include the aesthetics of an older home with the amenities and efficiencies (read: space!) of a new home.
When deciding to design a unique and a bit out-of-the-ordinary home, they also made sure that the space wasn’t too off the wall. “It was important for us to have details that we liked for our new build, but also for our home to have a classic look that would stand the test of time,” said Kupfer. From living in and loving the older homes they’d owned, the family took note of the details they wanted to ensure were incorporated into the new build. Some of these details were high ceilings, thicker trim and not-so-open floor plans.
Their fireplace is one such stand-out feature that marries their dedication to old-meets-new. At the heart of their living room, there is a brick fireplace, made of the same brick that’s on the exterior. While sleek, flat fireplaces are trending, the Kupfers wanted to dip into their roots and go traditional with their fireplace. This centerpiece is put together with a messy mortar method and includes a raised hearth. Both of these features were things that their mason joked that he had not been asked to do in 30 years. The “messy” application and traditional setup make the fireplace a standout in the otherwise sleek and modern floorplan.
The Lay of the Land
When looking for the right place to build this modern-meets-traditional dream home, the Kupfers leaned on their Realtor, Lucas Gunkelman of Hatch Realty. Gunkelman helped them find a lot that was in their price range but also included all the neighborhood features they desired. “We found our ideal location in Eaglewood – with a pond in the back, a park in the front, excellent schools and easy access to shops and restaurants,” said Kupfer. “Our neighborhood has a wonderful sense of community – there’s a fabulously organized Halloween night, block parties and more. Overall it’s been a great place to live.”
Right now, the neighborhood is still in development, meaning that the Kupfers’ home stands virtually alone. Kupfer joked on Instagram that, she is taking advantage of not having nearby neighbors yet, and enjoys posting photos of the home that make it look like a true farmhouse out in the country.
A Clear Aesthetic
The exterior of the home is modern farmhouse, with black window frames, white board and batten and cedar columns. “I honestly had no idea that modern farmhouse was even a style before we started building – I just knew I liked the way black windows with a white exterior looked,” said Kupfer. But after doing some online research, she noticed a theme amongst homes falling under the “Modern Farmhouse” umbrella.
While the exterior is true to the modern farmhouse aesthetic, the interior falls into a mix of farmhouse, bohemian, traditional and a sprinkle of eclectic style. When decorating, Kupfer gravitates towards black, white and woods and neutral tones. “I had a photography business at the time [of the build], so natural light and all-white appealed to me,” said Kupfer. She noted that once she discovered her love for the black-and-white trend, she was able to pull a lot of inspiration from Instagram and magazines (including Design & Living’s very own “High Contrast Homes” issue from September 2018).
I love driving up to our home every day. I love that it feels like we live out in the county, but we are literally 10 minutes from Target. I love that my kids have plenty of room to run around, a huge yard to play in and that our neighbors are always watching out for each other’s children. I love that our home and community feel safe and I love raising my family here.
In The Budget
Pulling from her inspirations, Kupfer took what she had seen others do and made it her own, all within their budget. When it came to the finishes of the home, Kupfer noted that many of the home’s details come from online, particularly Amazon. “I ordered a lot online, a lot from Amazon. At first, I didn’t know we would be able to find stuff and just have it delivered here,” she said, adding to her previous statement that she and her husband did not know much about the home-building process. By ordering things like light fixtures, kitchen cabinet hardware and doorknobs from online, the Kupfers were able to stick to their budget while also achieving their desired look.
By saving on small, easily-changeable things, the homeowners could splurge on the things that really mattered to them. One of those things being a large number of windows throughout the home. The windows all have signature black frames on the interior and exterior. In fact, the decision to have windows like this was one of the first choices the couple made when embarking on the custom-build process. Kupfer even joked that the large, black-framed windows were one detail they decided on first. “Our windows are larger than ‘standard’ and we based our whole interior décor design around them. I still love them and am so happy that we decided to go with them,” she said.
Documenting The Process
Watching the whole house come together, Kupfer created the @FargoFarmhouse Instagram account as a way to document the process of custom-building. However, she has since become part of a much larger home-enthusiast community. Through Instagram, Kupfer shares her home while connecting with like-minded moms, Target-aholics and décor enthusiasts.
“I created my Instagram account as a way to document and vent about the good, bad and ugly about our build. You can see in earlier posts that there was a lot of frustration and tears about our build,” said Kupfer. Having never built a house before, the couple shared that they didn’t have any experience with it and didn’t know what to expect. With this shroud of mystery around the project, this home-building process came with some surprises.
Luckily, Kupfer found an online community to help answer some of their questions, commiserate with and compare stories. “Once I began following more accounts [on Instagram] and connecting with other people who were also in the process of building their homes via this platform, I noticed that I was surrounded by a whole community of other people who were experiencing the same things that I was, making some of the same decisions that I was, and were all supporting each other along the way,” Kupfer shared. She explains this as an amazing discovery for her and that it came at the right time. By following more and more like-minded accounts, she could discuss ideas and tips and gather inspiration in a new way. “Now I am lucky enough to consider a lot of them my friends and am constantly inspired by them and their design choices,” she added.
As many custom-home owners have come to learn, projects are never quite done. This is no different for the Kupfers. Some upcoming projects they have up their sleeves include designing the guest bedroom around a newly purchased murphy bed, coming up with the perfect DIY kitchen backsplash option (coming off the coattails of a peel-and-stick tile mishap), adding something fun to the walls of the main floor’s half bath and determining a game plan for the unfinished basement. “There’s always something new and fun going on!” said Kupfer. To stay tuned with these new and fun additions to the Fargo Farmhouse, be sure to follow along on Instagram and see how these visions come to life.
Countertops: Northern Stone
Flooring: Carpet Garage
Cabinetry and Open Shelving: Country Classic Cabinets
Windows: Simonson Lumber and Hardware
Electrical: Nice Electric
Realty: Lucas Gunkelman, Hatch Realty