Marc and Chelsie Kuhn, the husband-and-wife general contracting duo turned his childhood residence into a dream home worthy of forever
On the morning his childhood home was set to go up for auction, Mark Kuhn put a call into his banker. The call was short. He was driving to the auction site and he didn’t have time to elaborate. His message was simple: he was going to make an offer on a house. A week prior, he and his wife didn’t know the house was heading into auction. They had never planned to acquire the house. As a husband and wife custom-homebuilding and general-contracting-team, they were thinking about projects under construction in Grand Forks and rural Thompson, meeting client demands and staffing up for another construction season, not about the former Sears Craftsman home Kuhn had lived in during his childhood and how it might make a perfect dream home someday.
By the time of the auction, time had taken its toll on the house and his mom’s ability to maintain living in the residence. Most bidders were planning to demo and start over. At the auction site, there were others there set to bid. Kuhn made the first bid. $85,000. The other bidders there, knowing Kuhn, held off from bidding, he says. With the first and only bid, he won. Two years after that day, Kuhn and his wife have turned his childhood home into the type of dream residence that most couples never consider possible until they are ready to invest in forever.
“I hope our kids live here one day,” Chelsie says, “we built with forever in mind.”
Using the know-how and staff from his general contracting business, Kuhn and crew spent a summer-plus working on demo and renovations. During that time, they became accustomed to interested neighbors and community members driving by, curious to see what progress was being made. As the walls came off, trim crumbled, musty dust filled the air and elements of the property that are still featured in its current form were exposed (shiplap was a great find, Chelsie says). Knowing they wanted to preserve a large portion of the house and add on a great room to the side of the house, the couple spent countless nights working with their drafter on plans for the property. The process was much different than their new builds, both say. Instead of laying out beams that would be exposed, they had to find ways to hide beams and duct work.
Existing sliding barn doors, shiplap and a few fixtures were preserved. Most everything else covering the walls is new. “We built a new house on an existing house,” Kuhn says.
The couple focused on custom windows, adding massive windows throughout the house. In the kitchen, Chelsie stayed true to the farmhouse style, adding a farmhouse sink and décor to match. With forever in mind, they added two master bedrooms and impressive bathrooms to ensure guests (parents) would have a great place to stay.
Their style was inspired by Chelsie’s love of old things, clean lines, an affinity for modern farmhouse designs and the functionality a mother of two young girls would want infused throughout the property. Several custom built-ins provide storage and style.
To free him from the stress and long days working on the construction site, Kuhn opted for outlet spaces with his second garage (paid for through Menard’s rebates) that include a golf simulator and car lift for the weekend’s toys. Although they aren’t sure if they’d ever take on a similar project, both agree the bid at the auction was worth it. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would live in this house,” Chelsie says. G
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PHOTOS BY: RUSS HONS PHOTOGRAPHY