Have glue gun, will dec­o­rate

Min­neapo­lis woman trans­forms ‘av­er­age box’ into fan­ta­sy­land

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Kim Palmer

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — The first thing you no­tice are the rocks — thou­sands of them — form­ing in­tri­cate mo­saics on walls, doors and even stair ris­ers. “The house is highly tex­tured,” said artist/home­owner Lauri Sved­berg, in an un­der­state­ment if there ever was one. “Of­ten I’d see a ma­te­rial, fall in love, and think, ‘I’ve got to use it.’” Armed with bound­less energy, cre­ativ­ity and a glue gun, Sved­berg trans­formed her “av­er­age box” of a house into a fan­ta­sy­land that could serve as the back­drop for a mu­sic video, the­atri­cal pro­duc­tion or a re­ally cool party. Rocks aren’t her only medium. She painted one room to evoke a birch for­est, and another to sug­gest a canopied tent of leop­ard, ze­bra and chee­tah­print draperies. “I love an­i­mals so much; I love the pat­terns of their fur,” she said. She’s proud­est of her mo­saic door­way arch made of semi­precious stones, min­er­als and col­or­ful rocks col­lected dur­ing her trav­els. The arch frames a view of an eye-catch­ing win­dow — made of 77 cir­cles of glass. When Sved­berg had to re­place a win­dow in the 1912 house, she dis­cov­ered that new win­dows wouldn’t fit the open­ing. “I couldn’t just go to Me­nard’s,” she re­called. “I thought, ‘I betcha I could build a win­dow.’” So she did, us­ing rows of Ma­son jars framed by even more rocks, to cre­ate a Casablanca-meets-Flint­stones ef­fect. Now af­ter 35 years of liv­ing and cre­at­ing in her residential gallery, the re­tired art and phi­los­o­phy teacher is mov­ing on, to a trailer in Palm Springs, where the desert cli­mate is kin­der to her arthri­tis. But how do you price, mar­ket and sell a home that’s also an art piece? “There are no comps,” Sved­berg said, be­cause there are no com­pa­ra­ble prop­er­ties. And the stan­dard ad­vice, to re­paint in neu­tral col­ors, wouldn’t turn Sved­berg’s house into a plain-vanilla list­ing. “I don’t think this place would look good painted white,” she said. ‘You couldn’t just paint it white and have it look like an uber-mod­ern IKEA house.” It’s go­ing to take a spe­cial buyer, said list­ing agent Michael Gacek of Ed­ina Realty, who said he planned to use so­cial media, lo­ca­tion mar­ket­ing and a grass-roots cam­paign to reach a tar­geted au­di­ence. “I’ve sold some in­ter­est­ing homes in my day, and this is high on the list, as far as in­ter­est­ing,” he said. “It’s def­i­nitely a head-turner — well-known in the neigh­bor­hood and in the artist com­mu­nity. It’s over the top, and I’m go­ing to sell over the top.” The home’s lo­ca­tion in the Waite Park neigh­bor­hood of north­east Min­neapo­lis is a plus. North­east was re­cently named “Best Arts Dis­trict” in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to a USA To­day read­ers’ poll; that cor­ner of the city is al­ready a des­ti­na­tion for ar­ti­sans, hip­sters and oth­ers with a taste for the dis­tinc­tive and off­beat. “North­east is known for arts and tap­rooms right now,” noted Gacek, a life­long res­i­dent. “I can see some of the peo­ple I’ve met in the ‘hood liv­ing there. This is the epit­ome of an artsy Nordeast house — this is art to the max.” Although Sved­berg’s rock-en­crusted decor is ec­cen­tric, the prop­erty has many main­stream ameni­ties, Gacek noted. It sits on a gen­er­ous cor­ner lot that Sved­berg has land­scaped into ter­raced gar­dens of low-main­te­nance peren­ni­als and rus­tic cob­ble­stones sal­vaged from old streets of Min­neapo­lis. There’s also an at­tached tuck-un­der garage, a cov­eted fea­ture in older ur­ban neigh­bor­hoods. One end of the liv­ing room has a But her home’s cur­rent artis­tic state­ment is its best, in her opin­ion. “This is my fa­vorite in­car­na­tion be­cause it’s seam­less,” she said. “It’s tex­tured mixed media in earth tones — na­ture with a twist.” Sved­berg loves the home she’s cre­ated. “If I could mag­i­cally zap this down to Palm Springs, that would be ideal,” she said. But she’s a re­al­ist. She knows that her mas­ter­piece could be­come some­one else’s do-over. The next owner might dis­man­tle her work — or even tear the house down and start fresh. “The log­i­cal part of me says, ‘Who­ever buys it has the right to do with it what they want,’” she said. “But I would be a lit­tle nos­tal­gic. My fond­est hope is that some­one will buy it and keep it alive. If I walked in here in five years and it was all pink and hearts and flow­ers, I’d prob­a­bly throw up.” Guess what? The house at­tracted “over­whelm­ing” in­ter­est in a mat­ter of days and re­ceived 10 of­fers, said Gacek. It sold to an artist who in­tends to pre­serve much of the stonework and paint­ing, he said. He can’t re­veal the name of the buyer or price un­til the house closes in July. But it’s prob­a­bly safe to as­sume that it sold above the ask­ing price of $149,900.


Lauri Sved­berg’s home es­chews grass for stone and other plant­ings, while in­side, she used thou­sands of rocks to


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