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Holiday Homes of Hope: Mid-century modern home invites nature indoors

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Constructed in the 1970s by builder and architect Warren Diederich and his wife Irene, their mid-century modern home in Fargo is even more impressive on the inside than the outside. Deemed Fargo's highest-assessed property ($105,436 in 1974), the four-bedroom, five-bath residence is now home to Kirsten Bakke Diederich and her husband Donn.

This year, the Diederichs have agreed to open their large, walnut front door in the name of charity.

"This is an iconic home. You only get this opportunity once," says Lisa Backlund, Holiday Homes of Hope tour chair which benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Association of North Dakota. "This is the first time it has been shown since the remodel. They've been asked before and have said 'no' but (Kirsten) said she'd do it for cystic fibrosis."

After moving in a few years ago, the couple hired Chris Hawley Architects to update the home to complement the original features as well as their unique, nature-inspired style. Guests are greeted by a large foyer and a prominent statue offset by two large Vermont marble walls.

"Her name is Diana and my in-laws bought her from the Italian Embassy early on," says Bakke Diederich. "It's been in the family for years."

Five faux juniper trees — brought in by designers from Gabberts Design Studio and Fine Furniture — accompany the brick wall, redwood ceiling and Vermont flagstone floors — all original to the home.

"In home building, the open concept is great, but this home gives you the open concept plus each individual room," says interior designer Cyndee Engberg.

To the right of the foyer is an open staircase leading to the second floor. Three lit wreaths hanging from iron railings add holiday charm.

During renovations, a wall was torn down to create flow between the great room and kitchen, crafting the perfect space for entertaining. The dining table — from NDSU's Gamma Phi sorority where Irene Diederich once belonged — is elaborately decorated for the tour with 12- to 19-inch vases filled with pine branches, orchids and feathers drawing the eye upward to a sculptural light fixture suspended above.

"I think we agreed that the palette we'd work with would be silver, white and then throw in a punch of color here and there which we did with the orchids," says visual merchandiser Kelly Matthiesen. "We tried to play off some of the natural elements in here so we kept it really organic with pine cones, twigs, berries."

To complement — versus compete with — the home's bold features, Engberg and Matthiesen explored a winter wonderland look as opposed to a holiday theme, adding subtle glam with sequin-detailed pillows on the sectional couch. A redwood burled root coffee table and petrified wood side tables accompany four original "Wassily" sling chairs designed by Hungarian-born architect and furniture designer Marcel Breuer in 1925.

In the kitchen, Cambria quartz countertops showcase two large, adjacent square islands while modern, flat-panel walnut cabinets hide the refrigerator and other appliances.

"I love to cook and the windows provide a view of the golf course," says Bakke Diederich. "It's great for entertaining. There's plenty of counter space to lay out hors d'oeuvres."

One of Bakke Diedrich's wish list items in the renovation process was a showcase kitchen large enough to someday host cooking demos or other events.

"We've been involved in silent auctions before, and it has always been my dream to donate a night where I can bring in a chef to make a meal or some sort of hands-on demo," she says.

In the living room stands a 12-foot tree, wrapped in wide, white ribbon and decorated in snowflakes and red berry stems that match the kitchen accents.

"Using big ornaments, the tree fills up so fast. You don't need a lot. I layered pillows (around the base of the tree) to keep the theme moving through the house and to soften things," Matthiesen says, alluding to the hard surfaces and angles throughout the home.

A fireplace mantle adorned with red orchids and sprigs of pine warms the living room, open to the second floor balcony that overlooks the space as well as the foyer.

"Everything is so well—curated," Matthiesen says of the home's style. "(Kirsten) took time picking out what made her happy and you can tell. That's probably what adds to the warmth — the care that has been taken."

Alexandra Floersch

Alexandra Floersch has worked for Forum Communications since February 2015. She is a content producer and photographer who enjoys writing about finance, fashion and home.

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