Fall Home: Building from the ground up, the Siegerts crafted their dream
“Less is more. If you stay simple, your house will be beautiful. It’s what you put in it is what makes it,” said Marla Siegert.
Editor's Note: The following originally appeared in the 2022 Fall Home magazine, which was included as a free insert in the Oct. 1, 2022 issue of your local newspaper. Read the magazine in its entirety HERE online.
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It all started on a road trip to Bismarck.
Marla Siegert, with her husband Eric navigating the country roads of Minnesota and North Dakota, began putting the couple’s dream home ideas to paper right from the passenger’s seat.
“I took a piece of paper, and Eric was driving, and I just drew on the paper, ‘how about this, how about that?’” said Marla Siegert.
They decided to build from scratch in Detroit Lakes and selected a lot in a new development just off South Shore Drive on Altavista Drive – a road that Google Maps has yet to discover.
In August 2020, they presented their new home ideas to Josh Strand, an architectural designer at Eye For Design in Frazee. Siegert said they knew that August was too late in the season to begin construction of their home, but they wanted to get everything lined up so they could begin in the spring.
“He was so patient with me,” said Siegert. “He really didn’t change much of our design at all.”
She said the only thing they changed from Strand’s design was the master bedroom and bathroom. With Strand’s design, their bedroom would’ve been 19 feet wide on all sides, but, with some minor tweaking, the couple was still able to create a decently large bedroom with a larger-than-average bathroom and moderate-sized walk-in closet, she said.
The couple then needed a contractor to build their custom-designed home and reached out to local builder John Redding to bring their plans into reality.
With a $350,000 budget, they began construction of their new home in April 2021.
Siegert said they decided not to include a basement in their designs to save money and instead erected a large outbuilding on the property to store the family’s various watercraft, maintenance equipment and other items that people would typically store in their basements.
“As the costs started changing, it was less expensive to do a slab-on-grade,” she said.
By August 31, 2021, the house was finished; however, it was also slightly over-budget with a total price tag of $405,000.
But, none of that mattered to the Siegerts because they finally had their dream home.
It’s a 2,367 square-foot, single-level, modern farmhouse with four bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and a three-stall garage. The exterior is off-white paneling, mixed with dark fixtures and accented by natural wood, and neutral tones.
“What we decided was we wanted the farmhouse look and that’s what we have,” said Siegert.
She also said she had heard some couples have actually gotten divorced over building a new home, but that wasn’t the case with her and Eric at all. In fact, she added, the most difficult choice the couple had to make during the entire process was what color to paint the walls. They went with Sherwin-Williams’ City Loft, which is part of their white-pastel collection and includes undertones of green, gray and gray-eige – a combination of gray and beige.
“Oh my god, I could not decide,” she said. “The problem with what I wanted was I didn’t want it to be too dark, I didn’t want it to look gray, and I didn’t want it to look brown, okay, how do you do that?”
She said she remembers showing Eric multiple color swatches and him saying that she was making this too hard.
“Finally, one day, the contractor sends me a text, Marla, paint, tomorrow, we need to know because I kept putting it off,” said Siegert.
For their floors, she said, they wanted something durable with neutral tones to help hide the heavily-shedded fur from their 5-year-old border collie, Australian shepherd mix, Bandit.
Siegert also said both buying and building a home can be really stressful experiences, but the main difference is picking out everything during a build, whereas when purchasing a home the buyers are left with material and construction choices made by the previous owner.
When the couple moved in, she said, for the first week, they didn’t have any furniture because their new fixtures weren’t ready yet.
“It echoed in here,” said Siegert. But, the new household items would finally arrive and the couple began living in their own dream.
“It’s been a journey and it’s been fun,” she said. “I think the most nerve-racking thing about building a house when you are going with a contractor, who is private, and you are doing a custom-built house, you never really know what it’s going to cost. We actually did very well because the interest rates were only 2%.”
If they had started their project today, instead of last year, she doesn’t think the couple would’ve been able to build new due to the higher interest rates.
She also thinks it would be difficult to go back to just buying a home after they built new because her and Eric have gotten a taste of getting everything they wanted in a home. So, going back to purchasing what is available would be tough, she said.
Siegert said she would love to design and build another home in the future, but, for right now, the couple is going to enjoy exactly where they are at.
As far as tips for homeowners, Siegert said: “Less is more. If you stay simple, your house will be beautiful. It’s what you put in it is what makes it.”