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Anna G. Larson, Published April 26 2014

102-year-old house fits young couple’s décor style

FARGO - Elisabeth and Brett Iepson watched HGTV on their honeymoon.

When they returned to Fargo, they were inspired to start perking up their 102-year-old abode in the historic Hawthorne neighborhood here.

The first task was adding an Ikea chandelier to the master bedroom. After that, the couple lost track of their home improvements.

“Old homes are work,” Elisabeth says. “Structurally, it’s sound, but almost every room’s needed cosmetic updates.”

When she first saw the home online, Elisabeth was drawn to its large windows, hardwood floors and other charming features that reminded her of her parents’ farm house. She viewed the 1,350-square-foot house in person and purchased it in 2010. Brett moved in after they married in 2012.

Elisabeth, who owns photography business Elisabeth Eden, furnished the two-story home almost entirely with thrift shop, antique store and online finds. A major source of inspiration for her is women’s clothing and home décor store, Anthropologie. The brand incorporates vintage-style elements and modern twists into its décor and products.

“All the stuff I like can only go in these old homes,” Elisabeth says of her vintage-antique décor style.

The Iepson home is a happy marriage of both vintage and modern style.

For instance, in the living room, a modern-looking gray and white striped floor mingles with an antique wool rug, and a flat screen television is mounted on the wall above a vintage TV left by the previous homeowners.

The rug, which stretches nearly the entire width of the room, was custom-made in the early 1900s. Elisabeth found it online and likes the warmth and color it adds to the space. She painted the striped floor herself, working three planks at a time.

Besides furnishing the home with vintage finds, Elisabeth and Brett painted most of the interior and the exterior. The most challenging was painting the mustard-yellow exterior of the house. Now a more modern green, the couple says they’ll never paint it again.

Inside, the kitchen underwent one of the most dramatic transformations. Everything was painted white, and even the retro gold refrigerator got an upgrade with a coat of green chalkboard paint.

The brown, taped-down linoleum had a pleasant surprise underneath – hardwood. The Iepsons refinished the floor themselves, and the end result of their labor is a covetable wood floor.

A coffee corner Brett built in the rear of the kitchen and open shelving above the counters add interest and airiness to the neutral space. Elisabeth changes out her dishes seasonally, and says houseguests like to see her selections when they visit.

The dining room, which Elisabeth says is “way too big” for just the two of them, holds a long table with yellow chairs and an assortment of candlesticks she’s collected.

Upstairs are the home’s two bedrooms and the bathroom. Elisabeth and Brett’s room is sizable, especially for a home built in the early 1900s. A king bed, couch, dresser, nightstands and vanity fit comfortably in the sunlight-filled room. One wall is covered in book pages from “Madeline” and “Little House on the Prairie,” and another is painted steel blue.

The bathroom is also surprisingly large for an old home. Elisabeth and Brett embraced its existing mint green tub and tile but painted the floors and ceiling black, lending a contemporary feel to the space.

The guestroom will soon be converted into a nursery for the Iepson’s baby due in August. Plans for the nursery so far include a rustic, woodsy theme with maps, antlers and a fur rug for decoration.

Elisabeth and Brett have talked about upgrading to a larger home in the future, but for now, they’re happy in the century-old abode where all their décor fits in.


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