When you look around Daschle and Whitney Larsen’s house, it’s hard to believe this is their “starter home.” The four-bedroom, three-bathroom located on the east side of Sioux Falls is a feast for the eyes with patterned wallpaper, pops of color, and mismatched furniture. The couple (she’s a Nurse Practitioner at Vivaz Medical Spa and he’s a commercial and personal lines producer at McKinneyOlson Insurance) shares their eclectic home with son, Rivers, and dog, Morris (or “Mo-Mo”), and decorate by their mantra: “Does it make me happy?”
“I like to do photography as a hobby, so the only time I’m at the computer is editing photos.”
BUILDING A HOME
As newlyweds, the Larsens lived downtown-style in the Harvester Building.
“It was nice being downtown. Our loft actually was a little bigger than our main floor in this house,” recalled Whitney. “It will be much different and will double in size when we finish our basement, which is close to being done. We’ll have a bar and more rooms.”
The couple decided to move to the east side into their first home three years ago with their plans to start a family.
“With a starter home it’s nice, because [builders] give you a range of template options, so it wasn’t too overwhelming,” she said. “I think the main places we went with upgrades were flooring, light fixtures, and vanities.”
Looking around the open kitchen, dining area, and living room, it’s noticeable right away that there are several styles in design.
Whitney explained, “I love mid-century modern, but I like the farmhouse, and I like cottage. I mix it all together.”
The Larsen’s kitchen exemplifies that with mid-century bar stools, a farmhouse island, and (super unique) cottage cabinets fused with modern cabinets.
I pointed to above the cabinets, “Where are those adorable dishes from?”
She smiled, “World Market.”
Whitney explained their household has many (and we mean many) décor items from World Market, Urban Outfitters, and – the “most dangerous part of living near Dawley Farm [Village]” – Target.
“Target is dangerous,” she said. “It’s hard not to leave with a cart full of stuff.”
After taking in more of the atmosphere, it was interesting that most of the furniture – if not all of it – doesn’t match. This includes the dining room chairs.
“I don’t like when things match too much,” she said. “I feel like when you match, it doesn’t match, and the more it doesn’t match, the more it flows together.”
Even the body of the kitchen island is split into two different colors – the front grey and the back white. The cabinets are also two-toned into white and black.
“When I see something I like, I just go with it, and hope that it all comes together,” laughed Whitney. “I’m sure some people would come in here and think, ‘Whoa, that’s a little too much.’”
She continued, “I look at a lot of Pinterest. But for the most part, if I see something I like, I just go with it. I don’t think it has to be a certain style.”
One piece, a console in the dining area, is from the second-hand store Urban Junk in Madison.
“[Madison] is my hometown. That piece was online and was $100,” she said. “I painted it and fixed it up.”
The Larsens mark on their map where they have traveled around the world, which includes Italy, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.
“[Text art] is a good everyday reminder. Even in my bathroom I try to pick out things that are meaningful to live by.”
It’s also apparent that the family loves color. Each room has its own palette, and the living room is monochromatic with hues of blue splashed with oranges, yellows, and browns.
“I like a lot of color and busyness. I think it feels homier to me when things feel full,” said Whitney.
The showstopper is the wallpaper.
“When I told the builder we wanted several rooms to have wallpaper, he was like, ‘What? Wallpaper isn’t in,’” she laughed.
Another shop that is prominent in this particular room, which also helped pick out said wallpaper, is former local business, Zing.
Other Zing touches include the Gus couch and chair, the teakwood coffee table, and the industrial bookshelf.
“I miss that store so much,” she said. “They would help not only with purchasing pieces, but they would give me styling and design tips.”
A lot of personal details are strewn about the bookshelf, including one of the only places they display photographs.
The living room also shows creative ways the family hides potential clutter, like routers, cords, throw blankets, etc.
A favorite section of the living room for Whitney is her framed collage of prints that are from Society6.
“They’re all things that I like. They’re odd things, I don’t know,” she said. “I’ll browse it, and if it catches my eye, I’ll order it. For some reason, I really love the astronaut.”
Their Mount Rushmore pillow is from the former small business Zing.
Right outside of their dining room is their oasis – an open deck with dangling café lights. The World Market furniture allows for family gatherings and hosting friends for grilling out, or for simply catching up.
“We try to hang out here. It’s fun to turn those [lights] on and sit around and have a few drinks,” said Daschle.
“Our location is perfect, because we have grocery stores and Wal-Mart and Target, but we’re tucked away,” said Whitney. “At the same time, we’re by a cornfield and a windmill.”
Since there is no fence, the wide-open space is a canvas for the Larsens to relax and reflect.
“That’s why we love it out here. It’s a great place to people watch,” joked Daschle.
Further out past the deck is a bonfire setup and landscaping they did with a little help from the former lead designer of Landscape Garden Center.
“It was a process for sure,” continued Daschle, “but we’re excited to work on the yard some more.”
“That’s a four-leaf clover that my dad gave to my mom. There’s a little love note from him in there, and it’s something I’ve always held on to.” -Whitney
One of the other rooms that has an accent wall with wallpaper is Rivers’ room, which is a sore subject.
“Rivers’ bedroom was kind of a nightmare,” recalled Whitney. “We were initially going to stencil arrows in the entire room, so I painted it white and did black stencils. Stenciling is a lot harder than I realized.”
Whitney said she was in denial about how the stenciling project turned out, and put off dealing with the situation for months. After staring at it, she finally “caved.”
“I hated it … I couldn’t stand it,” she laughed. “I found the wallpaper and we redid the room quick. Daschle will probably never let me change that room after all of that.”
Daschle soon followed us into the room and overheard our conversation.
“Oh… the stenciling,” he said as he seemed to relive the moment.
Rivers, who is almost 2 years old, has a very (literal) campy feel to his nursery, including his own print collage, flannel sheets, and a faux bear mount.
“I didn’t think initially I wanted a themed room, but I gravitated towards outdoorsy,” said Whitney. “I think it’s really gender neutral.”
One of the only other DIY projects Whitney has taken on was Rivers’ antique dresser, which she painted mint-green with a friend.
“My friend Jocelyn Johnson that does a lot of do-it-yourself projects helped me finish that,” she said. “I’ll probably never do it again – I don’t have the patience for it.”
There are also fittingly tiny details in Rivers’ room, like a mini globe, a mini lantern, and his first (outdoorsy) pair of shoes.
“Amazon is great for things like that,” she said. “You can find everything on Amazon.”
Daschle and Whitney’s bedroom is cozy, so they use drawers as much as possible for their things.
“It’s nice to have storage, because our bedroom isn’t that big,” said Whitney.
When noticing the bed and both side tables were all different, she noted, “I don’t think I could ever buy a bedroom set, because it all goes back to that I just can’t match.”
Her friend, Johnson, who also helped painted Rivers’ dresser, created custom lamp displays for them.
“She’s so incredible, I don’t know how she does it,” she said. “We just bought the actual lamps at Target.”
Whitney explained how talented her friend is at her home, and that she also gets the bug to change things up, which she notes can drive Daschle “a little crazy.”
“I already want to change half the things in [the house],” she laughed. “I try not to change it up. But, for example, in our kitchen I want white tiles and a farmhouse sink… but I shouldn’t.”
What they do know for sure is that this experience is another great chapter in their lives as a family.
Whitney said, “It was nice to build, so you really know what you want for your next forever home.”