When Brazilian artist Silvana Ravena moved to Minnesota for her husband’s job at Cargill, she knew what she wanted in a home.

She found it in Plymouth, in a midcentury modern house with huge windows that revealed views of the surrounding woods. The location felt private, set on more than an acre at the end of a cul-de-sac near Gleason Lake.

“When I saw it, I fell in love with it,” she said. “It was what I was looking for — amazing architecture, spaces beautifully connected with the outside. I said, ‘This house needs to be mine!’ ”

After learning that there was already another offer, from someone who wanted to tear down the 1958 house and subdivide the large lot, Ravena wrote the owners a letter. “I said, ‘Please consider our offer.’ I’m an artist, and I know this house is special.”

Ravena and her husband, Persio, got the house.

At the time, she was not familiar with Ralph Rapson, the award-winning modernist architect and longtime dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota. Rapson’s work includes the original Guthrie Theater, the Rarig Center for Performing Arts at the U, and embassies in Copenhagen and Stockholm, among many other buildings.

His design for the 3,169-square-foot house in Plymouth included an open floor plan with large rooms and connected spaces. “It was designed for entertaining and bringing people together,” said real estate agent Heather Dawe, Re/Max Results. “It has the nice open feel that is so popular now.”

Ravena has since researched Rapson and his work and appreciates the way he designed spaces that connect with the natural environment around them. “No matter what the season, you always experience the exterior,” she said.

The original owners of this house had wanted casual spaces for their children on the ground level and more refined spaces upstairs. A spiral staircase connects the floors. There’s also an original bomb shelter in the basement.

The Ravenas made many improvements to the home during the eight years they lived there. They converted a porch into a large art studio for Silvana, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a heated floor and a ventilation system to accommodate her work on large-scale encaustic paintings that have been displayed all over the world.

They remodeled the kitchen, opening a wall between it and the main living area, and installed new quartersawn oak cabinets. “I love the warmth of wood,” she said.

There’s now an owners’ suite, with a spa-inspired bathroom and an oversized walk-in closet.

They also remodeled the ground floor to create space for a larger laundry room and a storage room for Silvana’s artwork, the most valuable of which she kept in the bomb shelter. “It’s the safest place in the house,” she said.

The house that was almost torn down is now an inviting and comfortable place for modern living. “Silvana with her artistic skill could see potential and brought it to life,” said Dawe.

Persio has now accepted another job so the couple will be returning to Brazil. They’ve put the Rapson house on the market for $849,900.

Silvana said she will miss “everything” about their home, especially her art studio. “That studio was something else. Very inspiring, and beautifully connected with the outdoors, with the sky, with nature. It was a blessing.”

 

Heather Dawe, 952-292-2366, and Steve Feshbach, 612-865-3447, Re/Max Results, have the listing.

@stribkimpalmer