Snow Globe on the Lake: Wissota couple shares custom-designed dream home

Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Marnie and Mike Keilholz
Marnie and Mike Keilholz

When Marnie Keilholz sits by the wood stove in her dream home during a winter snowfall, gazing out windows that overlook Lake Wissota, she feels like she could be in a snowglobe.

Marnie said her husband Mike wasn’t sure about placing the stove in front of the expansive windows.

“Yeah, I was worried it would take away from the view, but it sort of enhances the view, because when you sit around it it’s almost like you’re sitting around a bonfire outside,” Mike replied.

Marnie, owner of HB Lighting and Design Studio, and Mike, an electrician, began designing their modern, clean-lined home in 2015.  Marnie calls it her “Venice” house, because it reminds her of California, where she grew up.  “Nontraditional is traditional there,” she said, and she enjoys bringing that west-coast nontraditional design to her neighborhood.

After a lifetime of helping others design their homes and businesses, Marnie was finally able to use her skills to build her own paradise.

“I tried to treat myself like my own client,” Marnie said.  She focused on the priorities she set for the home – sustainability, ease of cleaning, natural light and fantastic views – and let herself incorporate features she loved, such as wi-fi enabled lights they can control with their phones, deep cabinets to house the tools of their love of cooking, and strategically placed windows.

“People are always like, ‘oh I can’t do that at my house. I love that but I can’t do that at my house.’” she said. “If you love it than you should be doing that in your house.  Life is too short.  You should be able to come home and feel like it’s your personal sanctuary.”

A central fixture of Marnie’s sanctuary is expansive dark-stained dining table with wrought-iron legs, a piece she bought at a market several years ago.  Marne doesn’t often buy new furniture for herself, but she knew the table would be a perfect anchor. So she followed the advice she often gives her clients: find something you’re drawn to, and design a space around it.

“I just let her go,” Mike said.  “You know what, she does this for a living, and she’s talented.  I was always amazed every day I would come home and there would be a new surprise.”

“I never really thought I’d build my own house,” Marnie said.  But with all the construction and finishing done, Marnie and Mike are left with a spacious place to enjoy their lives with their Australian shepherd, Hazel, and frequent visits from parents, children, and grandchildren.

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