“Shakopee homeowners went out to dinner, and came home to a new kitchen and dining room as part of HGTV’s “Renovation Raiders.” Now, you can have it for $259,000.”
Peter and Lauren Soderberg’s split-level house in Shakopee had its 15 minutes of fame in June 2013 when it was featured on HGTV’s “Renovation Raiders” and in the Star Tribune’s Sunday Homes section.
At the time, “Raiders” was a brand-new show with an offbeat gimmick: The homeowners vacate the premises for a long, leisurely dinner, and a crew descends on their house to give it an instant makeover. To add some suspense, one member of the couple is kept completely in the dark until arriving home for the big reveal.
When the Soderbergs appeared on the show, Lauren was the spouse who got the surprise.
Peter had proposed one of his occasional “mystery date nights” and taken her to Spill the Wine in Minneapolis for a seven-course dinner. “I had no suspicions whatsoever,” she said.
But there were a few clues that something was up. “He was acting kind of strange, texting a lot during dinner, which is not like him,” she said. A waitress brought Champagne and told them Peter’s friend had ordered it for them, which extended their stay at the restaurant. “I did feel it was taking a long time.”
Then on the way home, after reading yet another text message, Peter decided to stop for gas. “It was like 11:30, and I had to get up at 6 a.m.,” said Lauren, who at the time was in her final year of veterinary school. “I said, ‘Let’s go home,’ but he rerouted us to some weird gas station.”
When they finally arrived home, and walked into a brand-new kitchen, it looked so startlingly different that Lauren thought they were in the wrong house. “I was so confused! The kitchen is the first thing you see. Then I saw camera crews. It was an out-of-body experience.”
Even though Lauren didn’t get to choose the look of her improved home, she was delighted with the changes. “They hit the nail on the head with the kitchen,” she said. “It has a rustic country feel, yet modern.” She wasn’t sure about the blue island at first, but she’s come to like it.
The couple had bought the house about a year and a half earlier, intending to tackle the kitchen eventually. Lauren, who loves to cook, wasn’t thrilled with its mismatched cabinets, stained laminate countertops and an island that wasn’t anchored to the floor.
The house, built in 1992, had gone into foreclosure, and the previous owner had ripped out some cupboard doors and light fixtures. The bank had fixed up the house to sell, but only minimally. Still, the Soderbergs were game to move in now and upgrade later.
“We had looked at a lot of foreclosed homes in our budget,” Lauren said. We were looking for something that was livable, but could be improved upon.”
“Renovation Raiders” put the project on the fast track. Peter had a friend with a connection to the new TV show, and he suggested the Soderbergs’ house as a makeover candidate. “He knew it was up their alley,” Lauren said.
Peter took a video of the kitchen and dining area on his cellphone and sent it to the show. “I explained how I wanted to surprise Lauren, and why she deserved a new kitchen,” he said at the time.
Their home was selected, a date was set, and Peter and Lauren went off to their very long dinner date. While they were gone, a crew from the show removed a wall and replaced the mismatched golden-oak cabinets with new white cabinets accented with metal mesh inserts. They installed new stainless-steel appliances and built a new island, with a mini-doghouse for the couple’s pug, Toshiro. New wood floors tied together the kitchen and adjacent dining room, which also got new window treatments, light fixtures, a table, and a custom bar with a wine refrigerator, wine rack and kegerator for Peter’s home-brewed beer.
The enhancements changed the way the couple live in their home, Lauren said. “We definitely do a lot more entertaining now.”
Since the TV show aired, the couple have tackled a few home improvements on their own. They recarpeted the lower level, and remodeled one of their two bathrooms, adding Travertine tile, a new toilet and vanity.
Now that Lauren has graduated and is a veterinarian, the couple have decided to move to a house in Prior Lake with a hobby farm where she can keep horses. Their new house is very similar to the one they’re leaving — minus the new kitchen. “It’s a three-level split, but the kitchen is definitely a downgrade,” said Lauren. In addition to the new kitchen, the 1,800-square-foot house they’re selling features three bedrooms, a cul-de-sac location in a kid-friendly neighborhood and a spacious back yard.
She’s looking forward to having a place where she can keep her horses at home, but she’s sorry to leave her made-for-TV kitchen behind. “I just love the butcher-block countertops, and the white cabinets are beautiful,” she said. “I’ll miss everything about it.”