A Look Back at Our Favorites of 2016

A Look Back at Our Favorites of 2016

by Blain Mikkonen

A look back at our favorites of 2016 reminds us of the numerous events, projects, memories, and great clients we were fortunate enough to serve in the 3rd year of our growing business.  Here is a ‘look book’ of sorts outlining some of my personal favorites that 2016 offered.

Spring of 2016 took us back to our business roots; a trip to South Dakota for some inspiration and salvage.  This exercise was mostly in preparation for Eco Chic Design Conference 2016, but we used it as an excuse to get away for a couple days and reminisce on how the company started.

Favorites of 2016 - Spring Salvage

Favorites of 2016 - South Dakota Shop Salvage

The spring also brought a full slate of events including Junk Bonanza in Shakopee, MN.  For past Junk Bonanza events we’ve tried to make it a ‘company retreat’ of sorts but in 2016 the dates happened to coincide with the Design Conference event in Fargo.  My younger brother Jayden and one of his close friends took on the task of running this event for us and did a great job.

Favorites of 2016 - Spring Junk Bonanza

In the meantime, the rest of the Grain Designs team was back in Fargo for the Eco Chic Design Conference event which we were grateful to be a part of. We had the opportunity to present on the same stage as Clint Harp of Fixer Upper and the Property Brothers and captured a couple of photos of the great annual event.  We’re also excited to be a part of the 2017 Design Conference as well; be sure to get your tickets for this years upcoming Conference here.

Fargo Design Conference 2016 Stage Photo

Favorites of 2016 - Design Conference 2016 with Clint Harp

At Grain Designs, spring and warmer weather occasionally promotes less productive outdoor distractions.  As other North Dakotans can probably relate, after 6 months of cold, we’re quick to make an excuse to enjoy the nice weather.  Tools hit the floor at the first mention of a golf course being open.  We waited for the courses to green up before taking a glamour shot… and left Pat at home.

Favorites of 2016 - Summer 2016 Golf

Although it seems like less time is spent in the shop, in many cases we’re still together between projects or on the weekends.  Below are a couple of photos of the Wiffle Ball World Series.  This is an annual event hosted by Pat and his close friends; and the photos will tell you it’s an over the top impressive tournament style display of backyard wiffle ball.  Not documented in the photos is the helicopter fly-over during the opening ceremony’s national anthem.



Pat is also missing from this photo because he chose to recruit his own team.  His team did end up winning the championship but they didn’t look as good doing it.  The fourth player on the right is Jayden, who is making his blog and wiffle ball debut here.

Of course summer weather also yields beautiful sunsets and time at the lake with friends and family.

Favorites of 2016 - Sunset Boat Fishing Scene

Amidst the summer shenanigans, we didn’t lose site of our valuable clients and ongoing projects.  Although, I can’t identify ‘favorite’ projects, here are a few projects that highlight our 2016.  Custom doors, tables, conference tables, and desks are all pieces that fill our portfolio but each of these are custom designs that we worked to create for the client.  A chance to collaborate with others, challenge our design skills, and refine our craft are the opportunities that make our day to day work so fulfilling.

The River Group Osceola WI Reception Desk

Custom weathered wood ebony glaze dining table finish with steel base


KJOS reclaimed douglas fir conference table

In the fall we found ourselves incredibly busy working long hours to keep up.  Fall was a busy time as construction projects around the region were wrapping up, holiday shopping ramping up, and we were working to get our new south Fargo showroom ready for our November open house event.

Grain Designs Open House November 2016

Although busy, we still made some time to enjoy a weekend in western North Dakota pheasant hunting.  Pat didn’t stand us up for this event, and even joined us for the photo.  The fifth marksman next to Phil is a good friend from Denmark who was visiting for the week.  His shooting abilities qualified him to be part of the official Grain Designs team photo.

Fall 2016 Grain Designs team hunt

The fun didn’t stop there.  In late December we took a team retreat to Mexico to end 2016 on a warmer note.  We took the time to enjoy a  couple drinks on the beach, throw the football in the ocean, reminisce on 2016 and discuss what’s ahead for the new year.  Here is the entire team and our significant others in tropical Christmas spirit.


Much to our dismay, we traveled back from 90 degree Mexico weather into -20 degree wind chills and less than favorable road conditions. Welcome back to North Dakota.

Rural North Dakota Wintry Roads

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