A home in Safety Harbor has become more than a building; it's a work of art growing for over 35 years. The brains behind the operation are Todd and Kiaralinda Ramquist, and they call it, Whimzey-Land.
“It’s like walking into the mind of an artist.”
That’s not a line from movie, but it did come from the mouth of a well-known actor who plays a musician on the side.
Jeff Daniels used those words to describe Whimzeyland in Safety Harbor, which is owned, operated, and also lived in by Todd and Kiaralinda Ramquist.
Tucked away in the quiet neighborhoods that surround the small Florida town’s downtown district, Whimzeyland is literally what that home is called, even though you may not know what it means.
“Back when we were starting out, “whimsical,” was a word people were using to describe that style of art. Fun, playful, colorful. So we started making our house look like that,” laughed Kiaralinda.
For over 35 years, Todd and Kiaralinda have traveled all over the world, collecting art, seeing live music, and getting involved in humanitarian aid.
“We’ve been together since 7th grade,” Todd said.
The home is the first home they bought back in 1987. Back then, it was just beige or brown which I quickly realized was a color not on their rainbow. As they traveled around to different art shows, they started trading with other artists and bringing those materials back home. The first time they dressed the house up was for Christmas. Then as they traveled more and more, Kiaralinda started bringing ideas back to dress the house up even more.
Today, three different pallets of color later, the house has become something you can’t miss.
“The third incarnation was peach, teal, and azalea. And then I painted every surface a different color. I mean every surface is a different color,” Kiaralinda said with a huge grin.
As I turned onto the street, the first thing I saw is the big smiley face. How could you not smile when you see something like that coming at you?
You walk through a jester entrance that seems like something out of Alice in Wonderland as you come through. It’s filled with their art, art from other people, a geocache, a SpongeBob from an event they held years ago, painted bowling balls, and, among other things, magic.
It’s free of charge to anyone who happens past, and you don’t have to worry about bothering the Ramquists. They might be on their way out, maybe on their way in, but having a place that thousands of visitors stop by on a given day sometimes is something you can tell they enjoy.
“We built it for us but the rest of the world comes to it, which is pretty bizarre, but we like it,” Kiaralinda said.
The whimsy doesn’t stop at their home though. Their love for art and music ripples across the community.
Todd and Kiaralinda started the Safety Harbor Arts and Music Center just five blocks away or SHAMC for short. It’s a place for community art shows. Live music, and, more importantly, fun.
“People always think we work. But we don’t really work. We do stuff here, we do stuff at the art center. We just like to have fun,” Todd said.
Around Safety Harbor you can see their signature everywhere. Glass panels line the community center. They painted the skatepark. Even the side of one of the convenience stores has a mural on it with the town’s name.
Back at Whimzeyland, there is a guesthouse that you can stay in if you’re looking to get those “creative juices” flowing. The couple has had singers and songwriters stay there just to write songs. They have connections in the music business that have helped them secure “mystery music guests” at their shows. I can’t say who because that would ruin the mystery.
As Todd showed us how he makes their “whimzeywire,” which is something they sell at art shows and on the website, he bends that wire into a word that I think wraps up this entire story. At least for me.
Their love for art, music, and community is as vivid as the colors that paint Whimzeyland, and that is something the whole world could use.
“We know we have an impact on what happens in this town. Maybe nobody cares but we care that we have an impact there. We just want people to have a good day when they come to Safety Harbor,” Kiaralinda said with a smile.
For more information, visit kiaralinda.com.