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Anna G. Larson, Published October 12 2013

Orange lifestyle: Citrus hue dominates apartment in historic Fargo freight house

FARGO - When Jed Pahan was 16, he chose an orange-lacquered drum set over a blue one. That was the start of his self-described “orange lifestyle.”

The 28-year-old’s efficiency apartment in the historic Freighthouse Flats building, located at 210 11th St. N. in downtown Fargo, is full of the citrus hue, which can be a shock to first-time guests.

Two couches, an ottoman, kitchen accessories and art, all orange, make a bold statement in the 600-square-foot space.

Pahan, who’s the vice president of the Downtown Community Partnership, jokes his choice color works to cull prospective dates.

“Do you like orange?” he says. “If not, well, that’s a dealbreaker.”

The color’s vintage appeal juxtaposes with the modern-industrial feel of his square space. Nesbitt’s orange soda ads from the early 1900s dot the exposed brick walls. An old orange television, clock and telephone sit under the modern flat screen TV in the living area.

Two couches – one vintage, the other Ikea – make up the main seating for the space. A murphy bed hides on the west end of the room, decorated with an orange quilt gifted to Pahan by a co-worker.

Modular orange chairs sit nearby, ready for football game gatherings and parties. Pahan scored the chairs and vintage couch from his landlord, and most of the other orange memorabilia was purchased at antique stores.

“My siblings and I make a point of going antiquing a couple times a year,” Pahan says.

He’s scoured antique stores in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, as well as local spots for orange décor and furniture. Some current favorites are Antiques on Broadway and downtown’s midcentury furniture store, Midmodmadhaus.

If the vintage decor and orange-ness of Pahan’s apartment don’t get guests talking, his Zima memorabilia usually does. The clear alcoholic beverage was popular in the 1990s, and it became a running joke between Pahan and his friends to collect Zima items. They try ordering the beverage when they’re at bars or restaurants, knowing that production of the drink ceased years ago in the U.S.

“You’ve got to have a sense of humor in life,” Pahan says.

Besides the Zima memorabilia, Pahan considers his food scale to be a humorous piece of décor. The orange-shaped scale’s never been used – it’s around just for fun, he says.

Pahan’s orange-obsession continues to his transportation, a vintage Schwinn California cruiser bike. He rides the bike to work downtown every day.

That’s another thing he loves about his Freighthouse Flats apartment – it’s blocks from his office located in the heart of downtown Fargo.

“I wouldn’t live anywhere else other than downtown,” Pahan says. “It’s quieter because it’s a little more on the outskirts of downtown. It feels like home.”

Perhaps one reason the old freight house feels like home is because Pahan’s parents own the historic train depot in his hometown of Villard, Minn. The town is named after Henry Villard, an early president of the Northern Pacific Railway, and Pahan says railroads and freight houses have always been interests of his.

“I love the historic charm, and I’ve always wanted to live here, even before I’d been in the building,” he says.

The old freight house was renovated in 2001 by Fargo-Moorhead real estate broker Steve Stoner after he purchased it for $115,000, according to Forum archives.

Pahan learned about the apartments after seeing photos from the building’s grand opening. He knew it was the perfect spot to call home, so he kept his ears open for tips on landing an apartment in the covetable building that rarely advertises.

Typically, people learn of openings by word of mouth, and they’re often filled quickly, Pahan says.

His lucky day came in 2011 when he heard about the vacancy through a Downtown Community Partnership board member. He looked at the apartment that very day and hasn’t moved since.

The building houses 10 units, and heat, Internet and heated underground parking are included in rent. Rent ranges from $700 a month for an efficiency to $1,200 for one of the eight larger one-bedroom units. Efficiencies have one bathroom, and all other units have two and include a washer and dryer.

The building’s demographics range from young-to-middle-aged professionals to retired people, Pahan says, but he’s pretty sure he’s the only one with an orange apartment.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525