Have glue gun, will decorate
Minneapolis woman transforms ‘average box’ into fantasyland
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