Home Tour: The Clean & Modern Bay View Home of URSA Boutique’s Owners

This couple said ‘I do’ to a two-bedroom Bay View home.

Not long after meeting in Chicago, recent Milwaukee transplants Emily Kopplin and John Sturdy found they had a lot in common, including décor styles. “We literally had the same items in our places,” recalls Sturdy, including two cowhide rugs, one of which now resides in their living room.

In May they moved into a two-bedroom Bay View home, built in 1893. And this summer they opened URSA, an airy, sun-soaked lifestyle boutique that stocks macramé plant hangers, vintage clothing, artisan-made jewelry, apothecary items (like citrus-patchouli sugar scrub) and sheepskin rugs and throws.

Their home is as bright and eclectic as their Kinnikinnic Avenue store. Records spin on a turntable in the living room, where the couple’s dog, Pepper, and their cats, Bill and Jacob, compete for back pats and belly rubs. Air plants, colorful tapestries and artwork sourced from friends and local artists enliven the house, which was a bit of a fixer-upper when they found it.

Sturdy, a freelance photographer, recalls their first impressions of the place they call home. “The first drive-by, Emily was like, ‘Never,’” he says, with a chuckle.

But the neighborhood won out. “It’s kind of like a little beach town,” says Sturdy. Thanks to ex-Chicagoans (and friends) who own Vanguard and Milwaukee Community Acupuncture, he already knew Bay View, and Kopplin lived in Riverwest for a time.

The couple keep a boat in the garage, ready to sail Lake Michigan on warm days, and often take evening strolls along the South Shore Marina. “This is my favorite place I’ve ever lived, for sure,” says Kopplin.

Riffing off the lake setting, “we were going for the lighthouse look,” says Sturdy. Ripping up the carpet and repainting walls white (the previous owner’s color choices included stripes and a garish multi-colored sponge pattern), they made “modern and clean” their mantra.

Their home renovations cruised along at the same speed as their relationship: fast. The couple planned a vacation to Sedona, Ariz., and the Grand Canyon while on their second date. Three months later they got engaged. In front of 250 friends and family members, they swapped vows in July 2016 in Waterloo, Wisconsin, Kopplin’s hometown, serving Vanguard sausages at the reception. ◆

‘Where the Heart Is’ appears in Milwaukee Weddings 2018.

Find it on newsstands beginning January 1, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine), FoodRepublic.com, CNN.com and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.