The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Cribz: A funhouse at 1020 East st.

Brisa Zielina
Carl Olson-Skog `24, Carlie Duus `24, Max Kasten `26, Elsa Kasten `24, and Zade Mullin `24 invite few visitors, but, in exchange, they offer warm food, games, and a good time to all who enter.

When Zade Mullin `24 and Carlie Duus `24 moved into 1020 East St. last summer, they discovered a cramped, dirt-floor room in their basement fully lined with upright mirrors. “Yeah, it’s still kind of creepy,” said Mullin. But after Carl Olson-Skog `24 moved in for the school year, the space transformed into what he called “the jam room.” 

Now equipped with a drum set, guitar and amps, the room serves as a musical cave of sorts. “It’s kind of a fun vibe down here, with the stone and all,” said Olson-Skog, gesturing at the dusty exposed walls. 

Mullin, Duus and Olson-Skog also live with Elsa Kasten `24 and more recently her brother, Max Kasten `26, who needed a place to stay after taking last semester off. “It’s been really fun actually, it’s kind of been better than expected,” said Elsa Kasten about living with her brother. 

“She’ll nag me to do the dishes now and again and act like a mom, but other than that it’s very smooth sailing,” said Max Kasten.

Though all five roommates use both floors regularly, the house could be a duplex, complete with a kitchen and bathroom on each level and a staircase (one with funky floral carpeting) at the front and back of the house. The upstairs kitchen, Olson-Skog said, “is more for snacks … it’s more of an evening hangout space.” 

In order to get to the dining room or kitchen on the first floor, one has to travel through either Elsa or Max Kasten’s bedrooms. “I think the fact that we all lived together for the last couple years makes it not a big deal,” said Elsa Kasten. “It puts a little pressure on to keep the space clean, but I’m like that anyways.”

Mullin and Duus said moving in before the school year helped them adjust to living on their own. Although Duus pays rent for a bedroom at a different off-campus house, she is essentially 1020 East’s fifth roommate since she opts to stay with Mullin, her boyfriend, most of the time. Olson-Skog and Elsa Kasten are also partners and have been together since their first year on campus.

“It’s really not weird for us,” said Elsa Kasten. “We all became friends really quickly.” After they met in an online English class during the 2020 to 2021 school year, Elsa Kasten, Duus, Olson-Skog and Mullin all lived in dorm rooms next to each other. 

All five roommates said they much preferred living off campus. According to Mullin, “We knew we wanted to get off campus by, like, second year.” Max Kasten said “it’s a breath of fresh air” to be away from the dorms, where he said he disliked the relative lack of privacy and space. 

The housemates share a unique basement setup, combining a myriad of musical instruments and mirrors. (Brisa Zielina)

“It’s a good transition to being an actual adult, you don’t really feel like you’re living in college,” said Elsa Kasten.

Throughout the week, the friends almost always eat lunch and dinner together. Each person is responsible for cooking dinner and doing the dishes for everyone once a week. “Only having to worry about once a week, and it’s good food and usually healthy, it’s just really nice,” said Duus. 

Olson-Skog said, “I tried my hand at a stew last night, it went okay,” to which everyone else chimed in to affirm that it was, indeed, a good stew.  

Besides dining together, the roommates also like to play board games and, more recently, Wii mini games. “We just got the Wii going again,” said Duus. Though their favorite board games like Avalon do not become super competitive, Mullin said, “I would say Wii party causes more drama.”

The roommates said they added seating to their dining room to accommodate larger groups of people. “We like hosting small things. We have people over a lot, but not anything too big,” said Duus. During one get-together, they played a game in which people had to race upstairs and do a full loop through the house. 

Outside of Grinnell, the fourth-year friends have lived together in northern Minnesota and spent a short time in Venice, Italy when Duus, Olson-Skog and Elsa Kasten studied abroad — Zade joined them shortly after. Their Airbnb in Venice, Duus said, “was a crazy find, it was so nice. It had a balcony on a quiet canal.”

In their uniquely designed and somewhat disorienting home, Mullin, Duus, Olson-Skog and Elsa and Max Kasten have created a fun, warm and hospitable environment. If you’re lucky enough to visit, just be sure to brace yourself before you see a dozen versions of your face in the basement funhouse mirrors. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Allison Moore, Staff Writer
Allison is a fourth-year gender, women's, and sexuality studies major from Granville, Ohio. In her spare time, she can be found crafting, cooking, and cuddling with her kitten, Koda. If you think her mini crossword is too hard, then too bad.
Brisa Zielina, Staff Photographer
Brisa Zielina is a first year and an aspiring Theater major with a concentration in American Studies from Los Angeles, California. She loves singing and acting and uses the word “slay” way too often. When she’s not slaying the day, she’s probably in rehearsal or studying on the third floor of the HSSC. If you see her around campus, say howdy, she’s always happy to make new friends!
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *