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Passion for painting: West Fargo woman updates cabinets with stroke of a brush

WEST FARGO-The heart of Ashley Bakkegard's home was orange and she hated it. Oak cabinetry dominated the kitchen in her ranch-style house that was built in the 1980s. Six years ago, she decided to do something about it. New cabinets would cost $3...

Ashley Bakkegard refinished her oak kitchen cabinets and added a quartz countertop to her West Fargo home. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Ashley Bakkegard refinished her oak kitchen cabinets and added a quartz countertop to her West Fargo home. Dave Wallis / The Forum

WEST FARGO-The heart of Ashley Bakkegard's home was orange and she hated it. Oak cabinetry dominated the kitchen in her ranch-style house that was built in the 1980s. Six years ago, she decided to do something about it. New cabinets would cost $30,000 or more, so the 34-year-old West Fargo woman stripped, sanded and painted all 48 cabinets and drawers, giving her kitchen a facelift for less than $2,000. It was her first project. Friends started asking Bakkegard to paint their cabinets, too. The successful transformations inspired Bakkegard to leave her career in finance and start her painting and refinishing business, Brushed Interiors, in January. Although she says it was scary, Bakkegard knew her passion for painting made her happier than numbers. "My three kids need to know that I can go to work and love my job," she says. "I was burnt out, and me quitting my job meant no guaranteed income or benefits. But there's never a right time." Encouraged by her husband, Andy, she tested the waters by renting a booth at a remodeling expo in Fargo in February and ran out of her 300 business cards in two days. Soon, she had five clients.

Ashley Bakkegard refinished her oak kitchen cabinets and added a quartz countertop to her West Fargo home. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Ashley Bakkegard refinished her oak kitchen cabinets and added a quartz countertop to her West Fargo home. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Heidi Eukel of Fargo hired Bakkegard to paint her kitchen cabinets and family room built-ins. She was tired of the honey oak color and wanted white instead. Bakkegard first removed the cabinet faces to paint at her home studio. Then, in the mornings, she'd work at the Eukel home painting the cabinet boxes and drawers. The family didn't have to remove items from their cabinets, and the kitchen remained fully functional during the two-week process. "Before, it was dated. It kind of looked like everyone else's kitchen. It was what you would see in a typical showhouse from the early 2000s," Eukel says. "Now it feels really fresh and clean. It brightened everything up with the light color and looks so modern." Variations of white are the most popular choice when people are refinishing cabinets, Bakkegard says, but she encourages clients to go with their taste preference, too. "People see it every day. They wake up to it," she says. "It's one of the most used rooms of the house. You have to love it." Fargo residents Chuck and Sharon Troftgruben chose a cream color with an antique finish for their Bluemont Lakes home. They hired Bakkegard to refinish the 26-year-old custom-built cabinets because the "bones" were good. "They're solid, very nice looking, and we thought it would be a shame to get rid of them," Chuck Troftgruben said. The cabinets, along with new appliances, lighting and a backsplash, helped create a space the Troftgrubens love. "It's astounding how it changed the kitchen," Chuck Troftgruben says. "It makes the whole house feel modern." An average kitchen cabinet refinishing project takes Bakkegard about a week and a half. She charges $60 per door and drawer and $70 for an antique finish. Most jobs cost approximately $2,000. Bakkegard's worked on new and old cabinets, homes that companies are flipping, as well as twinhomes with lower-grade cabinetry. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2081678","attributes":{"alt":"Ashley Bakkegard refinished her oak kitchen cabinets and added a quartz countertop to her home. Dave Wallis / The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"320","title":"","width":"480"}}]]The quick change is ideal for sellers and homeowners who want to give a kitchen a fresh feel, says Sylvia Lunski of Design Direction in Fargo. "We live in a part of the country that tends to be more conservative and practical, and sometimes painting is a really good solution rather than replacing everything," she says. Homeowners typically recoup 59 percent of a minor kitchen renovation that costs $17,640, which includes cabinet updates that leave the original cabinet boxes in place, according to Remodeling magazine statistics for Fargo from 2014. It's the most cost-effective interior tweak for a homeowner besides a basement remodel or addition, based on statistics for midrange projects. "The kitchen is definitely the hub of where every family gathers, and typically that's the room where most people entertain in, too. It's true of any room in the house-once it's nicely decorated, cozy, inviting, you feel like living in the space more," Lunski says. While there are other local businesses and individuals who refinish cabinets, Bakkegard's seen demand grow for her services. "I can run the gamut of emotions in a 24-hour period-you take things so personally. I just want to make sure the client is really happy no matter what," Bakkegard says. "I can see my girls are proud of me. Through all my ups and downs, even when I'm panicking and freaking out, I don't regret my decision. I haven't regretted it once."Online www.BrushedInteriorsND.com www.facebook.com/TheBrushedInteriorsWEST FARGO-The heart of Ashley Bakkegard's home was orange and she hated it. Oak cabinetry dominated the kitchen in her ranch-style house that was built in the 1980s. Six years ago, she decided to do something about it. New cabinets would cost $30,000 or more, so the 34-year-old West Fargo woman stripped, sanded and painted all 48 cabinets and drawers, giving her kitchen a facelift for less than $2,000. It was her first project. Friends started asking Bakkegard to paint their cabinets, too. The successful transformations inspired Bakkegard to leave her career in finance and start her painting and refinishing business, Brushed Interiors, in January. Although she says it was scary, Bakkegard knew her passion for painting made her happier than numbers. "My three kids need to know that I can go to work and love my job," she says. "I was burnt out, and me quitting my job meant no guaranteed income or benefits. But there's never a right time." Encouraged by her husband, Andy, she tested the waters by renting a booth at a remodeling expo in Fargo in February and ran out of her 300 business cards in two days. Soon, she had five clients. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2081676","attributes":{"alt":"Ashley Bakkegard of West Fargo gave her kitchen a fresh feel when she transformed the orange-y wood cabinets with paint. Handout","class":"media-image","height":"1536","title":"","width":"2048"}}]] Heidi Eukel of Fargo hired Bakkegard to paint her kitchen cabinets and family room built-ins. She was tired of the honey oak color and wanted white instead. Bakkegard first removed the cabinet faces to paint at her home studio. Then, in the mornings, she'd work at the Eukel home painting the cabinet boxes and drawers. The family didn't have to remove items from their cabinets, and the kitchen remained fully functional during the two-week process. "Before, it was dated. It kind of looked like everyone else's kitchen. It was what you would see in a typical showhouse from the early 2000s," Eukel says. "Now it feels really fresh and clean. It brightened everything up with the light color and looks so modern." Variations of white are the most popular choice when people are refinishing cabinets, Bakkegard says, but she encourages clients to go with their taste preference, too. "People see it every day. They wake up to it," she says. "It's one of the most used rooms of the house. You have to love it." Fargo residents Chuck and Sharon Troftgruben chose a cream color with an antique finish for their Bluemont Lakes home. They hired Bakkegard to refinish the 26-year-old custom-built cabinets because the "bones" were good. "They're solid, very nice looking, and we thought it would be a shame to get rid of them," Chuck Troftgruben said. The cabinets, along with new appliances, lighting and a backsplash, helped create a space the Troftgrubens love. "It's astounding how it changed the kitchen," Chuck Troftgruben says. "It makes the whole house feel modern." An average kitchen cabinet refinishing project takes Bakkegard about a week and a half. She charges $60 per door and drawer and $70 for an antique finish. Most jobs cost approximately $2,000. Bakkegard's worked on new and old cabinets, homes that companies are flipping, as well as twinhomes with lower-grade cabinetry.

Ashley Bakkegard refinished her oak kitchen cabinets and added a quartz countertop to her West Fargo home. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Ashley Bakkegard refinished her oak kitchen cabinets and added a quartz countertop to her West Fargo home. Dave Wallis / The Forum

The quick change is ideal for sellers and homeowners who want to give a kitchen a fresh feel, says Sylvia Lunski of Design Direction in Fargo. "We live in a part of the country that tends to be more conservative and practical, and sometimes painting is a really good solution rather than replacing everything," she says. Homeowners typically recoup 59 percent of a minor kitchen renovation that costs $17,640, which includes cabinet updates that leave the original cabinet boxes in place, according to Remodeling magazine statistics for Fargo from 2014. It's the most cost-effective interior tweak for a homeowner besides a basement remodel or addition, based on statistics for midrange projects. "The kitchen is definitely the hub of where every family gathers, and typically that's the room where most people entertain in, too. It's true of any room in the house-once it's nicely decorated, cozy, inviting, you feel like living in the space more," Lunski says. While there are other local businesses and individuals who refinish cabinets, Bakkegard's seen demand grow for her services. "I can run the gamut of emotions in a 24-hour period-you take things so personally. I just want to make sure the client is really happy no matter what," Bakkegard says. "I can see my girls are proud of me. Through all my ups and downs, even when I'm panicking and freaking out, I don't regret my decision. I haven't regretted it once."Online www.BrushedInteriorsND.com www.facebook.com/TheBrushedInteriors

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