Home & Design | Everybody on the bridge

At first, Lisa Clark Balke was far from thrilled by the towering evergreens that are synonymous with cozy cabins nestled deep in the Wisconsin woods. “I’m from North Dakota,” says the Minneapolis resident and co-owner of Vintage Victory in Linden Hills. “There are so many trees here; I was starting to feel claustrophobic. Each road looked the same.

But her husband, Jeff Balke, had grown up vacationing in the area, near Danbury, where the couple eventually bought a 1920s repairman that was once part of a nine-acre fishing camp. Now, nearly 25 years later, it’s hard for Lisa to imagine not having that secluded getaway where they created so many memories with their three now grown children. “We found our groove doing projects in the cabin,” she says of years of knocking down walls, rearranging rooms and adding layers of paint and personality.

As in her Minneapolis homeware store, Lisa’s love of collecting is also on display in the cabin, albeit in a restrained and restrained order. There’s a metal medicine cabinet that holds natural curiosities near the main entrance, a group of vintage clay pots from Red Wing sitting above the TV cabinet in the family room, and a series of Audubon prints that Lisa pulled from a book, framed and hung. along a wall in one of the bedrooms. “I don’t like having a lot of things everywhere,” she says. “But I like junk and weird stuff, so I try to keep it all in one place.”

“I like clean lines and industrial mixed with vintage.”

—Lisa Clark Balke

Always a collector, Lisa enjoys shopping at restaurant supply stores for dishes that won’t break or chip. Impromptu table settings are simply elegant with antique linens embroidered with old monograms, glass domes, tarnished silver, and wildflowers. A vintage stove she bought for $50 at an estate sale and industrial-style light fixtures add character.

Daughters Ella, 27, and Kate, 25, inherited their mother’s love of hunting and also have space fingerprints. The sisters lived for nearly six months in the shack during the COVID lockdown and spent much of that time with brushes and hammers in hand, making repairs, building an herb garden in fresh air and to cool the rooms. “We’re not very good at relaxing,” Ella says. “A few years ago we built the stone retaining walls around the fire pit as a ‘fun’ summer activity.”

But when they’re relaxing, a dip in the lake, beers around the bonfire, or a puzzle on the porch are their favorite pastimes. That is, until someone comes up with an idea for the next daybreak project. “It’s a more meaningful space because we created it together,” says Ella.

Kelly Ryan Kegans

Kelly is a southern transplant that has been covering news and lifestyle for national, regional and local publications for over 25 years. She is the Home and Design Editor at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

Read more by Kelly Ryan Kegans

June 28, 2022


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Rozella J. Cook