Since the very beginning of Grant and Rebekah Koenig’s story in 2016, creativity has been a core theme throughout their relationship. Many of Grant and Rebekah’s date nights early on involved exploring their mutual interest in photography by adventuring the backroads and fields of the Red River Valley or building furniture in his shop. As Grant and business partner Blain Mikkonen pursued Grain Designs as wood craftsmen and Rebekah delved into interior design with Thomsen Homes after college, both began to find their sweet spot in curating beautiful spaces.
The Koenigs later married in 2021 and have continued to excel as experts in the world of design, with Grant and Mikkonen winning awards like Design & Living’s People’s Choice Awards for Best Custom Furniture Company and The Red River Valley Award for Best Furniture Store in 2020; and Rebekah joining Enclave as a Design Specialist.
Today, the Koenigs greatly anticipate sharing their world of creativity and imagination with many more people, but one more in particular, with baby Koenig coming soon this spring! Speaking of love and family, let’s see what projects the two lovebirds have been working on over the last few years…
The Pines Black
Although the two have designed and built many outstanding projects together, from refurbished furniture pieces for their first apartment, to completely renovating their home in Horace, ND, none would make quite as much of an impact as their biggest collaborated endeavor—The Pines Venue, specifically, the Pines Black.
Grain Designs had been renting a workshop on some property near Davenport, ND, and an opportunity to purchase the property arose when the landowner moved. Through careful planning, blood, sweat, and tears— and maybe a little luck—the plans for a wedding venue took shape. The project began in 2018 with the first building concept, The Pines White. With both Grant and Mikkonen having Master’s Degrees in Architecture from NDSU, they began designing the building and floorplans.
After the Pines White was finished later in 2018, it became an instant success, booking out dozens of weddings and events. Soon, plans for a second venue arose. “As we were going through the things we could do differently in Pines Black, that’s where I really leaned on Rebekah to use her design,” Grant said. “We had floor plans and layouts and things that we could do differently, architecturally. But when it came to any of the finishes on the interior, that’s really where Rebekah came through.” And thus, the Pines Black project began in August 2021.
Imagination & Simplicity
Rebekah Koenig on Starting a Family
“[In regards to overuse of screens and technology), a challenge that I’m always concerned that our kids and the next generation are going to struggle to have is how to use their imagination,” Rebekah said. “I think having a passion and having that creativity inside of you, as well as the passion to dive deeper, plays into that role of having an imagination.”
A couple of things Grant and Rebekah want to instill in their children include lots of hands-on work and helping them understand, “You can do way more by yourself than people realize, as they put it.
“Happiness doesn’t come from material things, it comes from living a simple life and having gratitude for the simple things,” she said.
Usually, large construction projects involve several contractors and outsourcing, but the Koenigs, along with the help of the Grain Designs team, did most of the work themselves. Grain Designs built the furniture, tables, and the iconic “120 BAR
N,” a play on words giving a nod to the history of the property being a bonanza farm. A 120-foot-by-120-foot horse barn once stood where the Pines Black now stands.
“I would be working late getting the bar piece done, and [Rebekah] would come to bring dinner out when I was nailing boards up,” Grant reminisced. “But we really worked hand-in-hand in selecting everything within the space.”
Investing in the Community
Outside of work, Rebekah believes it’s important to be a contributing member of the community in any way possible. In fall of 2022, she enrolled as a mentor for Bio Girls, a preventative mental wellness program with a mission of improving the self-esteem of adolescent girls, meeting with four mentees on a weekly basis.
‘Good enough’ was never even a consideration for any aspect of the Pines Black; as pieces of the design puzzle would come together, Grant and Rebekah would take a step back and see how each element could be made better to inspire more “Instagrammable moments,” as Rebekah put it.
The flea market was one of the first steps for the Koenigs when finding decor for the groom and bridal suites and the lounges inside the Pines Black. “We were looking for one-off unique pieces that tied the space together,” Grant said. “And a lot of times I don’t see something that [Rebekah] sees and she’s like, ‘This would be perfect.’ And you know, I don’t believe it until it’s in the space. And all of a sudden, I’m like, ‘You’re right.’ So I mean, we definitely have that dialogue back and forth.
Not necessarily agreeing on everything by any means. But at the end of the day, I think because we have different styles and tastes in certain ways, it really brings a cohesive project together.” The whole concept of a wedding venue with black and white themes was really to act as inspiration for wedding parties to add their wedding colors and truly make it their own. “We wanted to make it a blank canvas for people to make it what they want it to be,” Rebekah said.
But for Grant, it’s still a bit of a shock that this journey has led to two wedding venues with the Pines White and Pines Black. “I had zero interest in being in the wedding industry, if I’m being quite frank,” he said. “Honestly at the time, we believed we could provide a product and experience similar to Grain Designs. Obviously, it’s a completely different product and service, but the idea was putting the customer first, realizing what the area doesn’t have—kind of how Grain Designs started.”
Grant and Mikkonen didn’t see anyone else creating the specific type of furniture or offering the type of venue that they wanted, so they set out to bring their own wishes to life and differentiate themselves with the unique size and concepts of The Pines Venue—and it certainly has been well-accepted by the community, having won Best Wedding and Event Venue in the area for the past four consecutive years.
For the 120 BAR
N, it was important for the Koenigs to treat it almost like an accent wall, where the subtle use of different materials, textures, and lines helped create balance. Vertical paneling is a trending design that has made a strong, lasting impression, while not being overbearing to the rest of the space. Interestingly, the vertical paneling was actually inspired by the Koenigs’ own home where they utilized vertical panels in their family room. “The combination of mixed materials and textures elevates a space,” Rebekah said.
For the space as a whole, their philosophy was “less is more.” “If we used that paneling throughout the venue, the bar would kind of disappear,” Grant said. “I think it’s [about] being intentional and using textures and colors with restraint.” With Rebekah’s expertise in interior design, this is a concept she excels in, and has trained Grant to also use this concept. “You have to be intentional and use restraint when you want something to really shine,” they agreed. “So we think that’s what really makes those things pop.”
When all was said and done in June of 2022, the Pines Black was a 14,000-square-foot venue with a very modern feel, surrounded by 10 black grain bins. The primary features of the building are the main reception hall with seating for up to 340, an indoor ceremony space, and attached prep suites with a lounge featuring a kitchenette, the 120 BAR
N, pool table, and golf simulator.
For the Pines Black, the Koenigs partnered with RHET Architecture to help them iron out the details of their plans, and partnered with Epic Homes ND to help them with the building.
The Koenigs and their team put the finishing touches on Pines Black just hours before the grand opening, and since opening, the feedback from guests has been overwhelmingly positive, with reviews like, “We hosted our wedding at Pines Black and could not have asked for a more beautiful venue” and “One of the most beautiful wedding venues I’ve ever been to beautiful space for both ceremony and reception.”
To learn more about the Pines Venue or to book your own event there, visit thepinesvenue.com
Grant’s 5 Hacks for Home Design
1. Choosing your dining table size
“A simple trick we use is two feet per person. If you’d like to seat six people (three on each side), the minimum size table needed would be six feet.”
2. Creating space
“To separate space without using walls, look down or look up. Change up the flooring material or add a wood beam to the ceiling. The material break will help provide the visual separation of space.”
3. Sliding doors
“Sliding doors are a great space saver where a traditional swing door won’t work. They can also be built with integrated mirrors, glass, or metal to provide additional visual interest.”
4. Custom desk
“The home office has taken on a totally new meaning within the last few years and a custom desk is a great way to maximize productivity. Getting a custom desk built that perfectly fits the space and aesthetic is becoming increasingly popular with our clients.”
5. Floating shelves
“I believe that open or floating shelving throughout the home helps prioritize decor and can help eliminate clutter in the long run. When you always have items on display or out in the open it is easier to keep things looking tidy and can help eliminate unnecessary items.”
“Don’t always focus on appealing to the masses or playing it safe. Of course, this depends on what type of project you are working on, but if able, do something funky, crazy, or wild. Maybe that’s a new bold accent color brought in, a wild tile design, or a funky wallcovering in a place unexpected.”
Rebekah’s 5 Hacks for Home Design
1. When hanging art alone
“Use masking tape and line it on the back of the frame you are hanging, just under the clips/hangers. On the tape, mark the center of the clip. Peel it off and apply it to the wall where you wish to hang the frame. Align the tape with a level, and mark the wall above the tape marks to create nail guides. Remove the tape, nail, and hang your piece!”
2. Mix it up!
“Just because your side table is a natural finish of oak, doesn’t mean the arms of your chair can’t be stained with a deeper tone. Especially when it comes to furniture, bringing in a combination of materials and textures is a simple way to make a space feel a bit more elevated.”
3. Creating an “inviting’ space
“Walking into a ‘perfect’ space can actually be intimidating when you’re the guest in a home and you’re afraid to touch anything. Drape a throw blanket over a chair corner, and turn some lamps on to create some ambiance.”
4. Selecting a paint color
“When selecting the perfect shade of color for a room, test it on all walls, and revisit it throughout the day and throughout different lighting before painting the entire room—whites especially can pull undertones of pink, green, blue, or yellow.”
5. Decorating on a budget
“Before buying new decor, try rearranging your existing decor first. I often find it’s not that I no longer like the decor, but I’m needing some change. Rearranging pieces is a refresh of the space.”
Grant’s Wood Finishes for 2023
“As a woodworker, this is my color palette for 2023. These finishes from Rubio Monocoat provide an alternative finish to the typical sheen of a polyurethane clear coat. Sold primarily as a hardwood floor finish, this product provides a durable finish layer for tables, countertops, and doors. It is a finish that can be reapplied when needed for touch- ups or dings and does not require any initial sanding or preparation.”– Grant Koenig, Co-Owner, Grain Designs
Rebekah’s Trends & Colors for 2023
“With these, you can finally remove the hammer and nails from the junk drawer. Simply push them into the sheetrock and you are ready to hang. Game Changer.”
“There is a wide selection of these kits and configurations available and are a staple in our shop. This small one would be a great solution for all the tools above!”
“World’s simplest stud finder. Simply move it along the wall and when the magnet hits the sheetrock screw, you know there is a stud.”
“If you have multiple pieces to hang on a single wall this tool is a must-have. It is great for aligning floating shelves or sets of artwork.”
“These twist and lock anchors are the only ones I will use. They can be installed with a simple Phillips bit and provide incredible strength for ease of installation.”
5 Rebekah’s Must-Haves for the Home
“Indoor plants are not only easy “space fillers,” but they bring warmth and color to a space. I love getting our indoor plants from Handpicked Goods!”
Visit and see for yourself at 14 Roberts St N, Fargo!
“[They] help define the main entrance and make it a warm welcome! It’s also fun to decorate or fill the pots throughout the seasons and holidays. My favorite pots are from Costco. I love them because they are budget-friendly and weatherproof!”
“We use a router extender in our garage gym. It was a cost-effective solution to be able to stream on our TV without it freezing up or skipping!”
“I love The Container Store for all things organizing. They have all the organizing solutions for the kitchen, bathroom, garage, closets, etc.”
“Turning off the main lights and having soft lighting, helps make a space feel more comfortable and cozy.”
Grant & Rebekah’s Local Recommendations
1. Clearwater Custom Cabinets
“Huge finish selection and great customer service.” -Grant
2. Trever Hill Designs
“Trever and his team are incredibly knowledgeable in the design industry and offer everything from full custom design to one-off home goods.” -Grant
3. Northern Stone
“The team at Northern Stone never disappoints. From simple countertops to the fully custom back bar in Pines Black, everything came out accurately and on time.” -Grant
4. Showcase Floors
“Provided the flooring, tile, and installation for the Pines Black. Their selections matched with high-quality installers make them a go-to supplier for us in Fargo.” -Grant
5. Black Iron Dirt
“They’re an excavation and demolition company in Fargo that offers hydroseeding, grading, boulder retaining walls, land clearing, and much more!” -Grant
6. Curated Home
“Plenty of unique and one-ofa-kind pieces for your home!” -Rebekah
7. Weyer for Hire
“Exceptional service and easy to work with!” -Rebekah
8. Eco Chic
“One-stop shop for all things home!” -Rebekah
9. Handpicked Goods
“Truly the cutest! A ‘go to’ for my greenery.” -Rebekah
10. Love Always Floral
“Great for bouquets and greenery for that grand opening party, hosted events, and housewarming parties to show off your new designs!” -Rebekah
Q&A with Grant
What are wood crafting, furniture building, and architecture all about to you?
The commonalities that I find in wood crafting, furniture building, and architecture are all a balance of aesthetics and functionality. At the end of the day, the spaces we live in and the furniture we use are something we all experience daily, and for that reason, they should be thoughtfully designed and well-crafted.
You and Rebekah both work in the home & design industry. What is that dynamic like for you, both professionally and in life?
Having the opportunity to talk with Rebekah about styles and offerings outside of our common materials inspires new and creative ideas that help push my design limits. Rebekah has an incredible eye for design and I love being able to lean on her for unique ideas and new concepts.
How does your creative medium with wood complement Rebekah’s creative touch?
Wood as a product can be found in every room of the home; from flooring and cabinetry to furniture and paneling, it has the ability to become dominant in design. Strength in interior design to me is in the ability to show restraint when needed and I believe that Rebekah’s eye enables the wood pieces we build to elevate the space without overpowering the room.
Outside the professional world, what do you devote yourself to?
Rebekah is currently pregnant with our first child and I am beyond excited to become a dad. Our family is something I am fully devoted to.
What is the most ingenious furniture piece you’ve ever seen incorporated into a home design?
We have designed and built a handful of dining tables that are connected to kitchen islands and really become an extension of the kitchen. It provides a great alternative to a formal dining room and compliments the open floor plan concept.
You and Blain could’ve started a business anywhere— why Fargo? What unique opportunity did you see here?
To me, Fargo has always been home. We both graduated from the architecture program at NDSU and have always appreciated the growth, innovation, and passion for design that Fargo offers.
The community here supported our passion for furniture from the very beginning and we continue to see an opportunity here.
What woods and other materials have you been enjoying using to craft lately?
Any new finishes/stains you’ve been trying out and liking? White oak and walnut. Both of these species provide a timeless look and provide durability to last generations.
Q&A with Rebekah
What is being an interior designer all about to you?
Being a designer is about creating spaces that provide an experience. Not only making the space look aesthetically pleasing, but creating an experience through the feelings felt when walking into that space, and how well it functions for the intentional use of that space.
What’s it like having a husband who is also in the home & design industry?
The design industry is constantly changing and evolving. It’s a fun challenge to learn the upcoming or latest trends and be a part of bringing those to life. In life, having a handyman as a husband is great to test some of these new trends out in our own home (wink wink)
Traveling is a big creative inspiration for you. What are some recent destinations that have given you new ideas?
Since last August, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to visit Austin, TX; Myrtle Beach, SC; San Diego, CA; and Vail, CO. One common theme I noticed while visiting each of these destinations, is how the outdoors are brought in—most commonly in restaurants or boutique hotels. The design seems to really capture the landscape and setting of where we are and gets pulled into the inside. Whether it be a play off the landscape colors, materials alike, and that contrast used throughout the furniture or tile, etc. It reminds me that things don’t need to be complicated to be detailed and bring a “wow” factor. It can actually be quite simple if you pay attention to your surroundings.
What is most dear to you?
I’m going to steal my grandma’s life motto here of the “Four F’s of life to live by,” being faithful, family, food, and fun…never particularly in that order. I believe life is about having a balance and living with a purpose. A new purpose for Grant and I will be entering the journey of parenthood within the next few weeks! I’m beyond excited to start this new chapter with such a supportive partner.
What is the most ingenious thing you’ve ever seen incorporated into a home design?
A design I recently came across that did make me dive a little deeper, was a retracting backsplash/wall along the backside of a countertop, particularly behind a stove, with shallow shelving to host all your spices, cooking oils, etc. When finished cooking, pull the wall back and you’d never know it was there. Great idea to keep spaces looking tidy!
You’re originally not from the F/M area— why Fargo? What unique opportunity does this area offer for you as an interior designer?
To be completely transparent, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go out of college. But having family members in the area made it an easy decision to stay and work during a time when I thought I’d figure out my “next adventure.” I took my first position in design with a local home builder, something I had zero experience in. I then was presented with another opportunity in a new industry that had nothing to do with construction or design, and I took it. I quickly realized how much I missed design and came back to it. Careerwise, local opportunities kept presenting themselves and I feel I was curious enough to take them until I felt my feet stick with where I currently am.
Outside of work, I have a lot of hobbies like photography, fitness, social life, etc. and Fargo seems to be a bottomless pit of resources to feed those hobbies and new ones that continue to come to the surface. It’s a growing community that’s exciting to be a part of!
You fell in love with interior design almost by accident. What was that “ah ha!” moment for you when you realized you wanted to make a career out of this?
Coming to the realization that I wanted to have a career through or involved with interior design was the moment I left the industry. I quickly ran back! It’s not simply just realizing I enjoyed design, but also realizing what “fills my cup” and making a career out of that. What brings me joy in life is finding solutions to problems, overcoming challenges, helping others be more successful in their role, giving experiences and putting a smile on someone else’s face. I’m able to fill my cup with all those things through design and the development and construction industry that Enclave provides in my role. It’s the furthest thing from boring and it genuinely brings a lot of joy to my life!