Meet the Lacek family: (Above) Susan, Mark, Ally, and Emmy. Photographed July 16 outside their home in the historic Lake Harriet neighborhood of Minneapolis. The bike—which they will be using as “artwork” in the stairwell—was a find from a hardware store near their cabin in Webster, Wisconsin.
The scene at 4533 Fremont Ave. S. is exactly what you’d expect three months before the ASID MN Showcase Home Gala: A construction crew is hard at work, the ground has been leveled in preparation for a front porch, and spaces are just beginning to take shape. When Susan and Mark Lacek arrive at their construction zone-of-a-home, they admire the work that’s been done in the past week during their absence. With their two girls, Emmy, 14, and Ally, 12, off at summer camp for the week, they’ve just returned from a mini-vacation to Las Vegas. Dressed in beach-appropriate attire—Mark in shorts and flip-flops, Susan in a flowing white top—you can tell the homeowners are in their element. “We’re sun and water people,” Susan says. “If we can get away for some sun and water, that’s where we are happiest.”
So when it came to buying and renovating their new home, they wanted something that would reflect that passion for warm locales, a place that would make them feel like they were on vacation all year. “I feel like, even if you’re in Minnesota, your heart can be somewhere else,” Susan says. “Why not have a little bit of that love or dream destination wrapped up in your own home? Why not have that feeling every day?”
Longtime supporters and attendees of the Showcase Home, the Laceks’ idea about becoming this year’s homeowners began to percolate last fall. While attending Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s Fashionopolis event, they ran into Jayne Haugen Olson, editorial director for MSP Communications, and publisher Deb Hopp. Fresh from the new home buy on Fremont, just down the street from their old house, Susan and Mark spoke of their renovation plans, and when they discovered the search was still on for the 2015 home, they jumped at the opportunity.
“If anyone could handle a project like this and actually enjoy it, it would be us,” says Susan, who is no stranger to large-scale construction projects. Before embarking on this ASID venture, Mark—a serial entrepreneur—built The Lodge at Crooked Lake in Siren, Wisconsin, for recreational lovers. And, in July 2007, he and Susan opened the doors to Faith’s Lodge—a retreat for parents and families who are coping with the serious illness or death of a child—in memory and honor of their first daughter, Faith Ann.
After the couple lost Faith at full term due to an in-utero umbilical cord accident in 2000, Susan and Mark were shocked to find so few resources existed for those who’ve lost a child. So with money they received as wedding presents when they got married in 1999, they created a place where grieving parents and families can heal with others going through similar situations. “I remember saying, ‘It can’t be OK. It can’t be good. It has to be amazing. It has to be a place where they just walk in and feel like they’ve had a weight lifted off their shoulders,’” Susan says. “There’s something about, when you’re going through life’s stuff, having a really beautiful place to nest. It just makes it so much easier to get through the hard stuff.”
They’ve since helped more than 2,000 families, with programming designed for reflection and renewal. “What’s most rewarding is that our daughter Faith’s name will live on forever,” Mark says. “As big of a loss that it was personally for us, it’s been a gain to all others who have walked the same path. Our daughter is helping a lot of people.”
Applying the same thought process and attention to detail of Faith’s Lodge to their own home, the Laceks worked with this year’s team of 27 ASID designers to create a space that feels like a dream destination. Pulling inspiration from their time spent living in the Caribbean, the Laceks surrounded themselves with colors, textures, furniture, artwork, and design elements—like the large sliding glass doors to the backyard that create a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors—that help them achieve their goal of a coastal-chic abode.
“When we talked about the design aesthetic for the new home, we thought, ‘Why can’t we have a beach-style home? Does living in landlocked Minnesota rule that out?’” Susan says. “The open, airy style and all the windows make us happy and let the sunlight pour in. And who doesn’t need more of that living where we live?”
Meet the builders: When Scott and Margaret Busyn were in the market for a home in 2004, they were disappointed with what they found. Longtime Edina residents, they knew they loved the character of older, urban neighborhoods, but couldn’t find the right builder or the level of design and distinction they craved. So instead of settling for a not-so-perfect fit for their family of five, they founded Great Neighborhood Homes. As a full-service, boutique firm, the Busyns and their team of project managers, interior designers, and site supervisors take on only a small number of custom projects annually, which this year includes the 2015 ASID MN Showcase Home. Mark and Susan Lacek’s 1920s Tudor in the Lake Harriet neighborhood melds well with the Busyns’ passion for historic charm. “Building with Mark and Susan has been both exciting and fun,” Margaret says. “They both have great energy and design vision, which has helped not only achieve the beach-chic design goal, but also make this home functional and family-friendly.” greatneighborhoodhomes.com