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. ◆