ASID house shows dual personality

  • Article by: KIM PALMER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 23, 2012 - 6:13 AM

Traditional? Contemporary? This year's designer showcase home has it both ways.

This year's designer showcase home is a bit bipolar.

Downstairs, the style is stately and dignified, with dark woodwork, classic furniture and tastefully muted colors. That aesthetic continues upstairs to the owners' suite -- and then takes a sharp detour.

Down the hall is an airy art studio that boasts a graffiti-patterned sofa and an artfully paint-spattered floor, à la Jackson Pollock ... a sewing room sporting a handpainted neon-bright mural ... and a "hippie-freak" office with psychedelic wallpaper on the ceiling.

That juxtaposition is very much by design, according to homeowners John Larsen and Mike Stewart, whose house overlooking Lake of the Isles was transformed by a team of more than 30 interior designers for this year's showcase.

"The main floor is fairly traditional," said Larsen, in keeping with the 1899 home's original features, which include a grand front hall, quartersawn oak wainscoting and inlaid wood floors.

He and Stewart were committed to maintaining the historic home's aesthetic integrity in the public spaces, where they hope to continue the former owners' legacy of hosting philanthropic and community events. "We didn't let anyone paint the woodwork, although we had a strong push from some of the designers," Larsen said. "But as you move away from the main floor, it gets more playful."

That's an understatement.

"We had a lot of fun," said Stewart with a grin. He's the one who requested the psychedelic office where he could display his collection of vintage rock 'n' roll posters.

Designer Linda Engler admitted she initially had trouble getting her head around Stewart's vision for his refuge.

The first plan she submitted for Larsen and Stewart to review was "tame, more sophisticated," she said, featuring Audubon prints and bird motifs. Stewart thought it was "too grown-up" for him.

Once Engler and associate Emily Thull realized Stewart was serious about taking a trip to a style galaxy far, far away from the rest of the house, they eagerly "jumped down the rabbit hole."

Apart from those flights of fancy, this year's showcase home has a lot of design consistency from room to room. Its color palette is dominated by blues and browns -- classic "menswear" hues -- especially in the main-floor public spaces.

Showcase committee co-chairwoman Angela Parker, who also designed the library, said her original design for the room featured red and blue. But she subdued her palette so that her room would harmonize with the spaces around it (the living room and family room).

The homeowners' art collection, which is incorporated into the design throughout the house, also reinforces consistent themes. Larsen and Stewart collect pieces by Hazel Belvo, who was once Larsen's art teacher, including several works inspired by the Spirit Tree on Lake Superior's North Shore.

Then there's that collection of vintage rock posters that inspired Stewart's trippy spaces. The daughter of the home's former owners, who slept in what is now Stewart's office when she was a child, took one look and assured him he could "change it back after the designers leave," he said. "I didn't tell her I was driving the magic bus on that one."

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784

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  • Photo gallery: Designer showcase home

    Tuesday May 22, 2012

    A 1899-built home is transformed by a team of more than 30 interior designers.

  • Master bedroom

  • ASID SHOWCASE HOME

    What: Self-guided tour of a remodeled historic home that has been transformed by a team of professional interior designers. • When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays, through June 10. • Where: 2002 W. Lake of the Isles Pkwy., Mpls. • Tickets: $20 at the door or at www.mspmag.com/hometour or 612-336-9247, $15 tickets available at ASID office at International Market Square, Mpls., and at Bachman's, the Bibelot shops, D'Amico and Sons, Hirshfield's, Patina stores and Rubble Tile. (Information about designer-led tours, culinary evenings and Ladies Night Out are at www.mspmag.com/hometour.)

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