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Home, sweet (pricey) home

The home movie theater room in the Ahmed and Kay Abdullah home in south Fargo. David Samson/The Forum

FARGO -- At $1.8 million, the Kay and Ahmed Abdullah home has the highest assessed value of any house in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

It's a distinction that, until recently, Kay Abdullah was unaware of.

"Nobody's ever told me that. I actually thought it was the Offutt house," said Abdullah, referring to the home of Ronald and Karen Offutt, which at $1.6 million is the third-highest-valued home in Fargo, based on city assessor records.

There are 23 houses in Cass County valued at more than $1 million, with 18 of those homes in Fargo.

The Abdullahs, however, don't seem much concerned about such rankings.

For them, home is just a great place to spend time with each other and to entertain relatives and friends.

Kay Abdullah's favorite spot is "the pool room," which houses a swimming pool as well as a hot tub; a steam sauna and a dry sauna; and an indoor barbeque area.

"It's very easy to have a lot of people in here and not even feel it," she said.

Space is something the Abdullah home on Rose Creek Boulevard has in abundance.

When the family moved in about four years ago, they discovered it was difficult to keep track of each other.

"We were like, where is everybody?" Kay Abdullah recalled.

They solved their communication problem the same way many conversations happen today.

"We just call each other with cell phones," Kay Abdullah said, referring to her husband and twin sons, Ali and Alex.

After introducing themselves, the boys, who are 16, returned to the lower level of the home where a group of friends was hanging out around a ping-pong table.

"We always have our friends coming over here," said Ali, whose favorite room is the movie theater, located down a hallway from the game room and ping-pong table.

"It's a good time," he said as he popped a copy of the movie "Rocky" into a DVD player to show how the theater's projection system worked.

"We still go out to movies. But this is just a lot more relaxing," Kay Abdullah said.

The Abdullahs, who came to Fargo in 1993, own and operate the Plastic Surgery Institute, where both are surgeons.

She was born in Mott, N.D.

He is from Pakistan.

They met while doing residency training in Texas.

When that was done, they moved to North Dakota.

"All of my family is in Fargo. We get together really often," Kay Abdullah said as she showed visitors around her home.

She said no single style defines her home's décor, describing it as more of a blend.

Rooms have their own individual flavor, with artwork reflecting the family's background and travels.

"My husband is from Pakistan, so a lot of this is from there," she said, referring to items decorating the main dining room.

"All of this," she said, nodding toward a niche rich in Oriental trappings, "is from China. The boys are studying Mandarin."

As she walked through what would impressively qualify as the kitchen in many homes, Abdullah made it clear it was only part of the kitchen.

A slight zig-zag and "the real kitchen" appeared.

Abdullah explained when hosting parties, guests can congregate in one kitchen, while the one that produced all the food stays out of sight.

"They don't see the mess. It's fantastic," she said.

In the pool room, Abdullah points out some of the features she feels make the space special, like the heated floor and the barbeque area.

Her husband designed it all.

"He has such an artistic eye," Kay Abdullah said.

"There were some things they (the builders) thought couldn't happen. But he said no, it has to happen. And they were able to work it out.

"We get a lot of sunlight in this room," she added. "You sit in here and look out at the snow."

Ahmed Abdullah agreed, stating that their home made things like winter vacations largely unnecessary.

"There's really no reason to leave," he said, adding that because the family spends so much time in the house, he felt OK spending what it took to make it comfortable.

He said a Park District golf course just beyond the backyard makes it a great spot in warmer months, too.

"A lot of people have lake homes. We don't," he said. "From a summer perspective, this is an ideal location."

And from a parent's point of view, he said, there is another advantage to having a place where everyone in the family likes to be.

"The kids are always home," he said.