The making of a dream home

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May 18, 2012 by Sarah M

A tour of the 2012 ASID Showcase Home on Lake of the Isles

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// By Sarah McKenzie //

When John Larsen and Mike Stewart first visited their new home on the eastern edge of Lake of the Isles, they sensed it had good karma.

The house once belonged to Stanley and Martha Platt, progressive community leaders in Minneapolis who lived in the house for 70 years and often hosted philanthropic events at their home.

“It has a super great vibe,” Larsen said. “We want to carry that energy forward.”

The stately white house at 2002 Lake of the Isles Parkway is the 2012 American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Showcase Home. It’s been transformed by the work of more than 30 interior designers and will be available for tours through June 10.

Larsen is co-founder of Design 45, a firm focused on sustainable residential design. As part of the renovation, Larsen has been working with the ASID designers to achieve a “Gold” level certification from Minnesota GreenStar.

Notable green features of the project include a 2.2 kilowatt rooftop solar array, lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, green roofs and a geothermal heating and cooling system under the vegetable garden. All of the construction waste has been recycled as well.

While the homeowners were for the most part impressed by the layout of the 6,000-square-foot house and the spacious yard when they purchased the property last year, they did want to overhaul some awkward spaces, including a cramped kitchen and central stairwell.

Crews took out the center of the house, made the stairwell easier to navigate and added a skylight. Now the area is bathed in light and a perfect spot for Larsen and Stewart to showcase photographs of friends and family.

The kitchen has been expanded and is now a great venue for Stewart to showcase his culinary talents. The room is lined with windows with great views of Lake of the Isles and features a large kitchen island and a cozy breakfast nook. It’s linked to a formal dining room, which faces the front of the house.

The 100-year-old home is filled with several other special spaces that have been given new life by ASID designers. Besides the stunning kitchen on the first floor, other highlights include a living room with a grand piano; a library with birdseye maple bookshelves and a hand-knotted Tibetan rug; and a special space for the couple’s dog Sadie in the mudroom complete with a designer dog bed.

The second floor features an office for Stewart reflective of his personality and passion for hippie décor. Purple wallpaper with a psychedelic print covers the ceiling and album covers and vintage posters adorn the walls.

The second level also features the master bedroom and bathroom, guest bedrooms and a room for Larsen to work on his paintings and showcase his art collection. The highlight of the art studio is a Pollock-esque painted rug on the floor. Another room is devoted to the couple’s creative projects and work for charitable causes, including Project 515 — an organization co-founded by Larsen devoted to fighting for equal rights for same sex couples.

Third-floor highlights include a guest room with walls covered in a bulletin board wallpaper making it easy to post photos and artwork. The couple has been involved in a local Host Home Program that matches homeless GLBT youth with families for temporary stays.

A special meditation room is also located on the third-floor. Facing south, the room gets a lot of light. The rays are filtered through a custom-designed partition with a spiral pattern of holes reflective of Fibonacci numbers — a mathematical sequence found in nature. A similar pattern is found on the rug in the room.

Outside, the house is lined with elegant landscaping. An organic vegetable garden has just been planted in the front yard. A carriage house in the backyard is home to Larsen’s offices for Design 45.

Initially reluctant to be part of the ASID Showcase home process, Larsen and Stewart said they have been grateful for the experience. They are also excited to move back into their home after the tours end.

“We have had a lot of fun with the designers,” Stewart said. “It’s been really collaborative.”


If you go …

Tours of the house at 2002 Lake of the Isles Parkway will run Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., through June 10. Tickets are available at the door or online at There are several special events planned including Green Thumb Weekends — a chance to learn about the Minnesota GreenStar Gold-certification process, landscape and gardening tips. There will also be Culinary Evenings on Wednesdays and Saturdays hosted by Mpls.St. Paul Magazine food editor Stephanie March and wine writer Bill Boy featuring food by local chefs from dining hot spots in town.


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