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Anna G. Larson, Published October 26 2013

Homes for the Holidays tour furnished with intriguing seasonal splendor

FARGO - Annie Poitra sees a wooden grain elevator chute and thinks coffee table.

Painted twigs make a rustic holiday chandelier. Small ceramic pots form the base of place card holders.

Poitra’s artfully repurposed items will be on display in a home by Building Concepts during the annual Homes for the Holidays tour sponsored by North Dakota State University’s Alpha Gamma Delta chapter.

Four other local vendors will also outfit homes in unique holiday décor, with proceeds benefitting the F-M Sheltering Churches homeless housing project and NDSU’s Alpha Gamma Delta chapter and Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation.

The theme “Dreaming of a White Christmas ReDOUX” guided Poitra to furnish the new build with her version of traditional Christmas décor.

“When I think Christmas, I think of being a kid and going into the woods and chopping a Christmas tree,” she says.

A woodland animal vibe is consistent in the home’s holiday décor, with birds, deer and owls all making appearances. Oversized pine cones rest in wire baskets, and other natural elements like twigs and topiaries combine with hints of silver and heaps of white to create a warm, dreamy winter wonderland.

Poitra’s cloche jar art creations that dot shelves in the home’s living room are intriguing clusters of seasonal splendor. Antlers and a white deer figurine sit under a bird’s nest in one jar, lending a whimsical and natural feel to the space.

The nearly 20 pieces of furniture in the space were built by Poitra’s husband, Lowell Poitra. Like items in ReDOUX, each piece is original and crafted from materials like reclaimed wood.

The wooden grain chute from Wisconsin serves as a coffee table in the living room area. Years of grain passing through the chute eroded it, giving it a rustic look and a story. The “conversation piece” is an example of Poitra’s ability to see beyond the ordinary.

Although she says some people “just have an eye for it,” anyone can reevaluate items they already known. A trip to the garage or shed can yield new furniture pieces or décor if you look at them in a different way, she says.

“See if they’re the shape of something. See if they’d work as, say, a side table,” Poitra says.

What guides her most, though, is nostalgia.

“Surround yourself with things that bring warm feelings but are not necessarily intended as décor or storage,” she says. “Bring out things that stir up good memories. It’s hard to have a bad day when you’re constantly reminded of things like that.”

Sarah Liljestrand, of Holland’s in Moorhead, decorated the historic Tronnes House for the tour and has a similar philosophy on holiday décor. The home once belonged to Dr. Nils Tronnes, one of MeritCare’s founders.

For the stately 1916 colonial on Broadway, Liljestrand opted for a seasonal theme of “Peace on Earth.” She worked with the home’s owner, Eeva Sälejärvi, to create a look that blends seamlessly with Sälejärvi’s eclectic taste.

“You have to do something that has meaning to you,” Liljestrand says. “Don’t do something just because it’s trendy.”

Meaningful holiday decorations for Liljestrand, for instance, are bird nests. Her parents’ first Christmas tree as a married couple had a bird’s nest in it, so Liljestrand incorporates birds and nests into her own holiday décor.

At Sälejärvi’s home, a reclaimed lumber tree takes the place of a traditional evergreen. Birds, birch wood logs and metallic hues like gold, copper and silver mingle in the historic home.

Fresh greens, a request made by Sälejärvi, and tree branches bring the outside in to the large home. It was important to Sälejärvi to keep the décor “simple and beautiful.”

“I’m Scandinavian; I tend to be more contemporary and modern,” she explains. “The outside of the home is old, but I don’t have antiques like people normally do in houses like this. I have a bit of a minimalist taste.”

A focal point in the space is the dining room, which Liljestrand decorated in neutral colors. Sälejärvi’s old European-style table contrasts with the modern dusty blue and white chevron runner and twigs rooted in birch wood logs.

Orangey red roses provide a pop of color in mercury glass cups, and the home’s original light fixtures harmonize with the refined yet relaxed holiday decor.

Trees ranging from frosted and traditional to large and simple are spread throughout the home. Wire ornaments meld with glittery pinecones, adding a touch of sparkle to the home that John F. Kennedy once visited.

“We just do something that is very appropriate for the home and the homeowner,” Liljestrand says. “Every home is different, and it’s all about what works for you.”


What: Cystic Fibrosis Association of North Dakota Holiday Homes of Hope

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 9; noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 10

Where: Various homes on Fargo’s historic Eight Street, as well as others, including the Hector House at 1103 Broadway

Info: The tour benefits CFA of ND. The Holiday Hope Boutique and vendor show at Clara Barton elementary school will have 15 to 20 vendors selling holiday products like fresh greens.

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased for $20 at area Hornbacher’s locations. Admission to the Hector House is an additional $10 at the door. For more information: Call (800) 767-3593 or visit www.cfanorthdakota.com.


What: 27th Annual Homes for the Holidays

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3

Where: Five homes in the Fargo-Moorhead area, plus the F-M Convention & Visitors Bureau

Info: The tour benefits the F-M Sheltering Churches homeless housing project and North Dakota State University’s Alpha Gamma Delta chapter and Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation diabetes research and education projects.

Tickets: Advance tickets can be purchased for $20 at Prairie Petals, Scheels Home & Hardware, the F-M Convention & Visitors Bureau, ReDOUX, Shotwell Floral, Scan Design and Unglued, all in Fargo; tickets can also be purchased at Holland’s in Moorhead.

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