There’s no place like home – finding “inspo”

A handcrafted rocking chair


Inspo is not a tropical fish, like Nemo. Inspo = “inspiration” in millennial slang. Thanks for attending my tiny Ted Talk. In the throes of winter, even in the supposedly hopeful post-solstice part, it’s kind of hard to think about redecorating, remodeling, or (shudder) moving to a whole new home. This is hunker-down time, grit-your-teeth and make-it-through time. But also dream time. So here are some ideas about getting fuel for your dreams, input for your plans, inspiration, or even inspo, if you prefer.

Expos, shows and fairs

January through March is a good time for home improvement expos and fairs. Local and national remodelers, materials providers, designers and home builders flock to the convention centers to show you what’s on trend or the latest idea in home improvement or new homes. Some of these include gardens and landscaping. Some focus on second homes. Here are a few big ones coming our way.
Very soon, on Jan. 13 – 15, is the Minneapolis Home Building and Remodeling Expo at the downtown Hyatt Regency. To get more details, type into your browser then page down to find Minneapolis and click on it. Also in January, the Shakopee Home Show is a one-day only event on Jan. 21 at Canterbury Park. Unlike most of the other shows, fairs and expos, it is free to attend, and you even get a goody bag of samples and discounts. You can find more details on this one at

Custom-made bunk beds

A really big show kicks off in early February. The Minneapolis Home and Remodeling Show takes place from Feb. 3 – 5 at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. This one has a modest entry fee, and you can get $2 off if you buy the tickets online. Also you can virtually window shop it through an online portal (for free). To do that and more, go to One cool feature of this very local show is a contest sponsored by Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore. There will be a competition to highlight Twin Citians’ crafting talents, where local individuals will be upcycling a small item to be displayed at the show and guests will choose a winner.
Another hyperlocal event is the Lake Home and Cabin Show, which happens only in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Minneapolis’s version takes place on Feb. 10 – 12 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. In addition to homes, from tiny one-room cabins to vast compounds, this show covers camping and boating with such items as teardrop camper-trailers and boats and boat docks. You can also get information about lodges, cabins and campgrounds for rent, and build-your-own cabin kits. The National Eagle Center of Wabasha, Minn., will be presenting live eagle programs every day during the show. There is a Facebook page called Lake Home and Cabin which is your portal to the show and more.

Minneapolis Home and Garden Show

On Feb. 26, another one-day event is the West Metro Home Remodel Fair, happening at the Eisenhower Community Center in Hopkins. This one is also admission-free and is sponsored by three west metro cities. Although this show is focused on west metro homes and businesses, there is a lot of overlap in the exhibitors to the various events.
Co-sponsored by the St. Louis Park Community Education Department, this fair is rich in seminars. The 2023 seminars are not set yet, but the 2022 list gives an idea of what to expect, and one really stands out: the presentation by Just Deeds Coalition, with Maria Cisneros and Kiarra Zackery of the City of Golden Valley. Here’s the description:
“Discriminatory covenants have been used to keep people of color from

Reading nook idea from the Home and Garden show blog

buying houses in certain Minnesota neighborhoods, resulting in a century of segregated communities. Though racial covenants have been illegal for decades, they remain on the titles of these properties. The impact has been made apparent through the work of Mapping Prejudice and the PBS documentary, ‘The Jim Crow of the North.’ In this session, you will hear a brief summary of the history of these practices, and learn about the Just Deeds Coalition, helping property owners remove the racial covenants from their deeds and educating about this hidden history.”
The biggest expo will be the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, running March 1 – 5 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Even though it has a completely different URL, the website for this fair is identical in look and structure to the expo at the U.S. Bank Stadium. So I went through the virtual interactive list of exhibitors and “hearted” all the ones I want to check out. (Go to to see my list and access more information about the show.)

Traditional style in a newly built home from the Parade of Homes

Parade of Homes Twin Cities and Minneapolis – St. Paul Home Tour

Another kind of event geared toward giving the potential home remodeler (or home buyer) information and inspiration is the proverbial Parade of Homes or Home Tour. The Twin Cities has two major events of this nature, one for newly built homes and one for remodeled homes. They both have a fairly interesting history and sponsorship.
The MSP Home Tour is the one for remodelers. Here is the history summed up on its website:
“The tour started in the late 1980s as a program of the City of Minneapolis, joined by the City of St. Paul a year later. The Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP), created in 1990 to revitalize the neighborhoods of Minneapolis, became a major sponsor of the Home Tour in 1992 and provided funding and staff support.
“Neighborhood organizations used their NRP monies for various programs to help renovate homes and complete other community improvement projects, and the MSP Home Tour served as a showcase for these projects and the neighborhoods. It was natural for NRP to take over leading the tour from 2003 to 2011, evolving it from being supported mostly by governments and nonprofit agencies, to a Minneapolis and St. Paul public/private partnership focused on showcasing homeowners and neighborhoods.

Home gym in a newly built home from the Parade of Homes

“As NRP ended its operations, it looked for an organization that could continue the Home Tour in the spirit and traditions of the previous 24 years and selected Pro Media Inc. to perform the coordination function. In 2021 Pro Media transferred care and custody of the tour to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry of MN (NARI MN).”
The MSP Home Tour this year will occur April 29 – 30, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The tour is self-guided and paced, with the website providing a map of all the homes and you choosing the ones you want to visit and when. This is also a different kind of event because it still retains its sociable and neighborly quality, with the homeowners playing host and answering your questions.
The Parade of Homes Twin Cities is also presented by a trade association, Housing First Minnesota, an association of new home builders. All of the homes on the parade are newly built and empty, although some are presold. Check out the website to get a list of the sites and the timing of open periods which is usually a five-week stretch starting in March and then another four-week period in the fall.

Countertop created from wood scraps

Online inspiration

If all this is too much for you, you can always find inspiration online as well. The home improvement channels have spawned lots of baby remodeling shows on YouTube and the like. Home and garden magazines have online spreads. Remodelers and other businesses in the trade (including many of our advertisers and most of the exhibitors at the shows) often have gorgeous photo galleries of their work.
A website of woodworking artists has some amazing and inspiring projects. Bored Panda did a piece on them, selecting some of the most awe-inspiring: Or you can go straight to the source at

Anticipating spring, and other mental health moves

Imperial white currant for your edible perennial garden from the Experimental Farm Network

Maybe you like to plan your garden in the depths of winter. Instead of doing it just in your head, here’s a suggestion that might improve your wintry outlook as well. Visit the Como Park Conservatory Sunken Garden for its Winter Garden period, Jan. 14 through March 19, featuring cyclamen, azaleas, camellias, veltheimia, cineraria and foxgloves.
Then take that inspo shopping with you, as you visit Mother Earth Gardens, the Highland Nursery, Egg/Plant or any of the other amazing garden centers we have in our area. I am excited to have discovered the Agrarian Seed and Garden store at 5152 Hiawatha Ave. (closed now but reopening in April 2023).

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