Design director Sam Soulek and his wife Natalie, an esthetician, had been hunting for the perfect mid-century house for two years when they finally came across this ideal option 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, MN in Golden Valley. The space boasted everything the pair wanted: untouched original details, an open floor plan, and a patch of woods just outside the back door. Such a well-preserved gem came with a hefty price tag, though — one rather far outside Sam and Natalie’s budget. Ignoring pleas from their realtor to pass up the expensive option, Sam and Natalie decided they simply had to bid even if their number was well below the asking price.
That night, with the couple’s paperwork likely sitting at the bottom of a stack of competing offers, Sam couldn’t get the house out of his mind. Fearful their modest offer would be ignored, he decided to appeal to the homeowner Tom’s softer side. By the light of a desk lamp he wrote a very sincere and heartfelt letter detailing his adoration for the house and how he would build a wonderful life for his wife and child inside its walls. His final touch, a page full of charming family photos, would accompany the note and play backup in case his words didn’t do the trick.
The following days seemed to drag, and the house becoming theirs seemed to stray further and further from reality. That is, until their astonished realtor gave them great news: their offer had been accepted! Even better, Tom loved the letter so much he requested they tour the space with him before he moved out. Shocked and thrilled, Sam and Natalie immediately agreed.
As Tom’s son pushed his father’s wheelchair around each room, the 96-year-old man talked of the original makers he’d worked with and of the wonderful time he had bringing his architectural vision to life. He even gave the couple a binder full of 1960s-era manuals and the receipts for everything he’d purchased for the space. Charmed by his kindness, passion and generosity, Sam and Natalie then graciously accepted the keys.
Over the years the couple periodically visited Tom in his retirement community, not only giving him updates on the renovations but catching him up on life in Golden Valley. The couple recalls one visit in particular: “I have something for you,” he said with a twinkle in his eye as he handed them a set of scrolls. Rolled immaculately and meticulously labeled, they seemed ancient. There, on cobalt blue, were the original plans for the home he had painstakingly configured all those years ago, a final gift to the family that had touched his heart. Enjoy! —Garrett
Image above: Updates weren’t solely reserved for the home’s interior. Many dingy, foggy windows were replaced, and the home’s railing was given a powdered, smokey paint job. But the most impactful change has to be the exterior’s new hue. Its retro, white-and-mint scheme has been given a moody facelift through grey-and-black hues and wooden touches. “It was amazing to see how the bold color shift changed the vibe of the house and made it feel more at home in Minnesota,” Sam says.