When Lauren Hegenbarth listed her family’s rural Wisconsin home for sale online on Friday, she hoped the spacious bedrooms, vast plot of land and freshly refurbished decor would catch the eye of a few potential buyers. Never in her wildest dreams would she have guessed the house would land on Zillow Gone Wild — a popular account that highlights particularly wacky houses for sale across social media — let alone that she’d be the reason “Welcome to Poundtown” became a national trending topic on Twitter on Monday.
“I never in my life thought I’d go viral for anything,” she tells me. “I don’t even use Twitter, and my home is trending there today. Like, what the heck?”
Hegenbarth and her husband began buying and flipping houses in 2013, and the house in Onalaska, Wisconsin, which Hegenbarth lovingly refers to as “the Poundtown house,” is their fourth. “I’ve always loved decorating and design, and I just kind of started winging it when we started flipping homes, since we do most of the work ourselves,” she explains.
Born from that penchant for interior decor and design, Hegenbarth started a small online shop, Sleepless Beauty Designs, to sell her DIY signs and decorations, which helps to explain why there are few walls in her house that aren’t adorned with verbiage like, “Welcome to Our Beautiful Chaos,” “Welcome to Our Crazy Fun Loud Happy Home,” “Welcome Home,” “We’re So Glad You Are Here” and simply “Welcome,” to name a few.
“People are saying that I went overboard with the signs, and that I need to lay off Michael’s even though I never go to Michael’s,” she tells me. “If I go to a store it’s Hobby Lobby or TJ MAXX, but I mainly make my own signs!”
To be sure, of all the signs in the house, there’s only one sign that “outsigns them all,” as ZillowGoneWild put it: the “Welcome to POUNDTOWN” sign floating above the headboard of her and her husband’s bed in the primary bedroom.
“My husband went on a 90-day work deployment back in November to New Orleans, where he helped repair homes for those whose lives were destroyed by the most recent hurricane,” Hegenbarth begins. It was at that time that an idea began to percolate for a new sign in the bedroom. “I saw the OG Poundtown sign in a group on Facebook, and was like, ‘Yeah I love that. I need to make that,’” she continues.
For sake of radical clarification, “pound town” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse, and the sign welcomes visitors to the place where that happens. “I wanted to make it look like just another cheesy decor sign, and then once you read it, BAM! Raunchy and hilarious.”
Hegenbarth created the sign while her husband was gone so she could surprise him when he returned. “He absolutely loved it; it matches our humor to a T,” she explains. “Plus, two out of three of our kids can’t read, and when our oldest read it while I was making it, I just told her it was a funny quote from a movie and she never asked about it again. She doesn’t care; she’s clearly used to the decor.”
For everyone else who bore witness to the “Welcome to POUNDTOWN” bedroom sign firsthand, Hegenbarth says most have taken it in stride. “Our family has all seen it, and they think it’s hilarious. We all have the same sense of humor too, and my sister even put in an order for her own,” she tells me. “Although there was one time I posted a picture of my husband and my dog sleeping in bed together one day on Facebook without even thinking about the sign.”
Nevertheless, when the couple put the finishing touches before listing the house online, Hegenbarth didn’t expect the sign to garner national attention. “I’d really hoped our realtor wouldn’t notice the sign and make me take it down, so I was excited when he didn’t,” she says. “I’ve always thought it would be cool to be featured on ZillowGoneWild’s page because it’s one of my favorites. But I honestly have no idea how they picked it up.”
Though she assures me the whole thing wasn’t a well-orchestrated viral marketing stunt for her burgeoning DIY and interior design business, she’s managed to take the unexpected attention in stride. “It’s clearly not everyone’s moral cup of tea,” she laughs. “It’s been a crazy unexpected Monday, but I’m just taking the positive out of this experience and running with it while ignoring anything negative — like the fact that I’ve already gotten a bunch more orders for new ‘Welcome to POUNDTOWN’ signs!”