Selling Park Point home, couple leaving sunrises, sand (and bulletproof walls) behind
A curved staircase was on Jody Berquist's wish list for her new home. Also, many windows, a pet-friendly floor, a beautiful view — and she got it. Standing in the living room looking at her backyard of sandy beach and Lake Superior, "It doesn't feel like you're in the city of Duluth because you can't really see any houses," she said.
Jody and her late husband, Robert — an architect whose vision helped transform Canal Park — snagged six lots on Park Point. They started building in 2004; it took two years, and it was a group effort.
For the interior, the couple did the sheetrock, hung the cabinets in the Southwestern-style space.
Jody weeps a little when she thinks about it, but she listed the house for sale last month. "It was our dream house, and I lived the dream for as long as it lasted. It's time to move on to the next chapter," she said.
Robert Berquist died of heat exposure while hiking in Utah in 2014. After his death, she freshened up the muted, Earthy walls with splashes of color.
Walk into the main floor of the home, and to the right are bright green walls in the large, open-concept kitchen. To the left, around the curved staircase, are fuschia walls with sunlight spilling on either side of the property.
There are rich brown pillars made from reclaimed wood. There's a little bar in the corner, pink and green armchairs dotted with owl-adorned throw pillows.
In the foyer are photos of Jody and her husband, Tom Meador. The couple married in September, and for their wedding reception, they replaced the furniture in the two main-floor rooms with tables.
"I was very fortunate to find another love of my life," she said.
Standing in the home's main level, they pointed to the "shoreline" in the floor.
Rocks of different shapes and sizes are angled, separating white travertine tile in the living room with brown tiles in the dining space. "This is indestructible with pets," Jody said of her floor choice. "I had carpet and hardwood floors in my last house, and I wasn't going to do it again." She's a veterinarian in Superior, and the couple has two dogs and two hairless cats.
There's also a large moose mount, intended for a restaurant her late husband designed. But when the restaurant owners decided to pass, the moose landed in their living room. Jody hopes whoever buys the house will be a fan. "He likes it there, and he's really heavy," she said with a smile.
The space was meant to be their "forever home," so they threw in an elevator, which has come in handy — for a dog that had knee surgery; Jody's father, who broke his back; the people who delivered their furniture.
Up the stairs is a nearly self-sustaining space with a kitchenette, an office, a washer and dryer, a jacuzzi-like tub in the bathroom and a very large walk-in closet complete with a door that leads to the roof. Jody and Tom redid the outdoor space with pebbled rocks. Tom likes to watch the Wednesday night sailboat races from there, he said.
There's also the bulletproof, Kevlar walls and a security system that makes the top floor into a panic room.
The genesis is, her late husband's father was killed in Chicago, the result of a gang initiation. Robert decided he wasn't going to be a victim, Jody said.
Jody looks at the security measures as a compromise. "I got the curved staircase, he got the Kevlar in the walls," she said.
With that came weight sensors in the stairs. When an alarm is set, any person or animal that weighs more than 70 pounds will set it off; there has been only one incident.
On a Sunday morning, the couple received a call while coming home from church. The security system operator asked if they should send for the police. Jody recalled asking which alarm went off. When she found out it was in the living room, she told them, "It's just my dog lying down."
And she was right; it was their Newfoundland mix, who didn't lie down gently.
A scan of the basement bears a multi-level pet-feeding station where "they all know their own bowls," a weight room and a wine cellar. When they sell, Tom will miss the sunrises, he said.
Out of all the spaces, Jody's favorites are the kitchen and the master bathroom.
"I have mixed emotions," she said.
"It's time to move on, and I'm excited for that. This was definitely a labor of love. I just have to remember that it was a dream, and I lived it and I loved it ... now, I'm going to move on to enjoy something different."
Jody hopes whoever buys the house will appreciate the views. And for the couple's future: They want to ride motorcycles and travel, Tom said. For their next home, "We're looking for pet-friendly and still want to enjoy nature. To be honest, we want the freedom to enjoy life."
Added Jody: "Live simply and enjoy life."
• The home is listed through Sotheby's International Realty, https://bit.ly/2tDOIHz