Malda Reda and Walter Larsen, Home and garden

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About the Artist/Site

Malda Reda Larsen maintained a bungalow at 183 Acorn Street, Kewanee, Illinois, that reflected her personality: colorful, irreverent, and completely original.  Decoration of Larsen’s bungalow began when Malda’s mother somehow lost ownership of a grand house across town. To get even, Malda and her mother surreptitiously and systematically stripped the large house of trellises and ornaments, then installed them at the bungalow.  Malda bought orange-and-gold-veined Italian onyx columns from a bartender, and created her own decorative dormers and other false architectural features.

Whatever color scheme Malda and Walter chose would define their world until they chose a new one.  Yellow and black came first, followed by blue and gold. In 1980, the chosen colors were purple, orange, and fire engine red.   The house and all its elements were painted in these colors, and Malda and Walter wore orange, red, and purple clothing.  Their shoes were painted, as were the rake handles, telephone, the rocks in the brook that ran along their property.  Malda and Walter favored conifers: blue spruce and rows of arborvitae added sharp accents to their vivid home and garden.

The Larsen’s colorful reign over 183 Acorn ended in 1987. Knowing they were to be moved to a nursing home, Malda removed all ornaments from the bungalow and painted it brown. A successive owner painted the house colorfully in purple and pink.


~Lisa Stone

Map and site information

813 Acorn St
Kewanee, Illinois, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 41.235836 / -89.942726


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