Photos by Hillary Ehlen
A few weeks ago, we received a phone call from one Faye Sexton of Moorhead, who kindly invited us to a get-together she was throwing as a thank-you to all those who helped with her home renovation. This reno, which was more than four years in the making, truly took a tribe. Join us now as we tour Sexton’s Scandinavian-modern kitchen and dining room.
It all started back in 2013 when Sexton’s husband and mother passed away within months of each other. Afterward, Sexton felt as if she was moving through life slowly without any direction or purpose. “Everybody thought I was fine, but inside, I was just like molasses,” she said in reflection. Then one day her cousin, Darlene Morken, who often comes to stay at the house, planted the seeds of what was to become a years-long renovation that would help Sexton heal from the inside of her home out.
A Full-On Renovation
People who have endured loss sometimes find themselves taking on big projects, but Sexton’s renovation started out small and just kept growing. What simply began with a new coat of paint turned into new flooring, new trim and new doors on the main floor. Eventually, it became a full-on renovation.
A Dining Room All Along
Sexton and her husband first moved into their home in 1975. They then built an addition in the late 70s, which included the kitchen and family room. However, when Morken looked at the then-family room, she saw potential. Sexton shared the story of how her cousin encouraged Sexton to change her plans to whip the family room into shape. “She stopped right here [in the middle of the family room] and said, ‘This is where your table belongs,’ and my jaw just dropped. I said, ‘You mean, I don’t have a family room? I have a dining room? I had no idea that this was the house’s dining room,'” Sexton laughed.
Be There In An Hour
Although she resides in Climax, Minnesota, Morken was there for Sexton every step of the way throughout the renovation. “‘I’ll be there in an hour,’ is what she usually would say,” Sexton smiled. The rest of her family was supportive, too. This included Morken’s sister Dorothy and Sexton’s children, Brady and Heather. Even the grandchildren got involved, whether that meant picking up a paintbrush or just being there to help.
Sexton also received help from companies in West Fargo, Fargo and Moorhead.
When it comes to renovations, lots of decisions have to be made. After a while, it can become tiring. “Decision-wise, I had to look at everything,” Sexton said. One of her priorities was that she wanted to be as environmentally friendly as possible while staying within her budget. For the flooring, she initially wanted cork, but eventually went with hardwood. “I’m a little kid who grew up in the woods, so I finally settled on rustic hickory,” she said. Sexton also chose formaldehyde-free, bertch cabinets from Pine Country Carpet & Cabinets out of Park Rapids, MN. “I thought ‘how cute, a play on birch,'” she declared.
1a, 2b, 3c
Sexton and Morken came up with a unique system for laying the flooring. While her son helped with the installation, he told Sexton to place the boards the way that she wanted them and that he would do the rest. However, this was no easy task because each board had beautiful variations in color and grain, so Sexton and Morken labeled them with a number and corresponding letter before placing them on the floor. That way, even if her son had to move the boards off to the side, he would know which went where. The order was important because Sexton and Morken placed their favorite pieces where they were most likely to be seen. They even came up with nicknames for a few.
After Sexton selected lighting for in the kitchen, she texted her daughter for a second opinion. She said, “Mom, you have Scandinavian-modern style!” This took Sexton by surprise, as she was simply picking out the things that she liked. The kitchen also differs from the rest of the house because almost every room has a theme.
For example, the living room has a western look and feel in honor of Sexton’s late husband, Terry. The main floor is also home to “Auntie Anne’s Summer House Room,” which is a spare room that is only furnished with things Terry’s Auntie Anne owned or would’ve loved. “Almost all of the things came from her house or are things she would have loved,” Sexton said.
A Thank-You Get-Together
After the kitchen was nearly complete, Sexton and Morken threw not one, but two thank-you parties for all of the people who helped with the renovation. They held one get-together on a Friday in October for all of the local businesses who took part, and another for family and friends that Saturday. Those who attended and those reading this article may wonder what’s next for Sexton. Well, a the end of our visit, Morken gestured to the basement and said, “We’re going to gut that next.”