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Growing a ‘One of a Kind’ business since 2005

Interior design company moves into new building, houses retail shop

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January 22, 2024

CHIPPEWA FALLS –  Amy Burke Lepper said like many others, the COVID-19 pandemic gave her the nudge she needed to move her design studio into a storefront of its own.

Though when she made the leap, Burke Lepper – owner/designer of One of a Kind Interior Design at 15 E. Central St. in Chippewa Falls – said she was no newcomer to entrepreneurialism. 

One of a Kind Interior Design was previously located around the corner in the property that is also home to House Blend Lighting & Design, which she said is owned by her friend, Marnie Keilholz. 

Burke Lepper housed her design studio in that space for 15 years. 

When she found a 1,700-square-foot property located right through the parking lot that would accommodate both her interior design business and her idea for a small retail shop, Burke Lepper said she knew it was the right move. 

Thinking about the possibility of a retail shop for quite some time, Burke Lepper said already had a name picked out – lagöm – which she said is a Swedish word meaning “just the right amount.”

“I had been wanting to do it for a long time, and Marnie and I had grown to be on top of each other at that point,” she said. “I wanted to keep bringing things in, but there wasn’t room to do it. But then this space became available.”

Burke Lepper said she decided to take the jump and made her dream a reality.

Interior design origins

Burke Lepper attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout to pursue a degree in hotel and restaurant management – but said she soon realized it wasn’t for her.

However, the owner said if it hadn’t been for her major, she may not have discovered her interest in interior design.

Burke Lepper said her college projects involved designing a room in a bed and breakfast, which in the moment sparked her unknown interest in interior design.

“I liked that a lot, and it was far more interesting to me,” she said. “So, I quit school, took some time off to figure out what to do and started working at a friend’s lumberyard.”

The business, she said, was quite vast in its services – selling homes being one of them.

When her employer asked her to come to a house to assist with different aspects of interior design, Burke Lepper said he told her, “you’re good at this. You should do this.”

“That was (eye-opening for me) because I never realized you could make a living as an interior designer,” she said. “HGTV was pretty new at the time, and the Internet wasn’t a thing, so it wasn’t a highly-(publicized) career. When I started, I hand-drew everything.”

Soon after, Burke Lepper said she learned about Western Technical College’s interior design program and decided to enroll, which eventually led to her securing a job in commercial design before she even graduated. 

Then, as it’s often said, “life happened.”

A divorce and move to Eau Claire, Burke Lepper said, brought her into the world of residential interior design by working for a local company. 

Then, she said, life happened again.

The owner of the business she worked for left town, which Burke Lepper said left her scrambling to find a new job.

Instead, she pivoted and decided to start her own interior design business. 

“There I was with a six month old, a 3 year old, a 4 year old and a partner, but I wasn’t married,” she said. “But, I had a lot of contractors I had made connections with, and I just started.”

Burke Lepper said she bought a computer, an interior design computer program and rented a small office space.

Luckily, when she started her business in 2005, she said the housing market was booming, and worked on interior design projects for about five houses before the economic downturn in 2008. 

The change, Burke Leppe said, prompted her to shift to smaller projects, often with a local contractor, and embrace advancements, such as three-dimension design. 

“That was different for the area,” she said. “I made a name for myself and then got in with other builders before moving my studio to Chippewa Falls with Marnie.” 

New location, new business

lagöm, Burke Lepper said, is featured at the front of the shop, with the interior design portion of the business located in the back. 

She said lagöm features a lot of eco-friendly products and products from local artisans – including a lot of women-owned businesses – in a Scandinavian-inspired storefront to match the name.

“It feels comfortable here – calm and serene – which is what I wanted,” she said. “I hate walking into a shop where you’re overwhelmed with a lot of stuff. Instead, everything here has a purpose. If you buy something here, it’s because you know the (recipient) will love it or use it.”

Some available pieces, she said, include 3D-printed plant pots; pottery and locally-made jewelry; premium coffees, teas and honey; self-care items; knit items; and vintage items. 

Burke Lepper said her interior design studio features both a kitchen and an additional room that showcase her love of custom kitchens, cabinetry, lighting and other furnishings.

The shop owner said she also uses the space to host community events, such as book signings and a knitting club. 

Form and function first and foremost

Though Burke Lepper’s space offers a one-stop shop for clients, she said she is adamant about delivering the one-of-a-kind interior designs for which the business is named.

“An interior designer deals with the bones of a project, including space planning and other details on the construction end of it,” she said. “Then (the designer) gets into decorating… I am passionate about true interior design, because I love the bones of it. I like to look at a space and figure out how to make it more efficient and better, not just pretty. Getting the form and function down (set the stage) to make it look good later.”

Each interior design project is unique, and Burke Lepper said she goes in with a clean slate for every client. 

“I aim to figure out the best flow in any scenario,” she said. “Cabinetry is a specialty of mine because it’s a lot of form and function in making a kitchen make sense and work for you versus against you. Or, in positioning things a certain way because you have children, for example.”

That’s why Burke Lepper said she always begins the conversation by talking to homeowners about how they live and how they function, getting into intricacies, such as how and where they fed their pets. 

She said it’s a balancing act, because it’s about tailoring form and function for the homeowner but not to a degree that it will compromise resale value later. 

Burke Lepper said all her work is client-driven versus contractor-driven, which she said means people consult with her, and then she finds a contractor or works with their contractor on their behalf. 

One of a Kind Interior Design’s clientele is mainly in Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley, but Burke Lepper said she also does some work in the Birchwood/Cable area.

A new team member, repeat clients

With the business’s growth, Burke Lepper said she has hired a full-time employee, Randi Lockman, who has been a great help since coming on board.

“She loves the shop part, as well as interior design, and I couldn’t have gotten this shop up and running without her,” she said. “It is hard to find someone who is as passionate about this as I am, and she is. She regularly suggests things to bring into the shop, and my clients love her.”

Lockman is largely running the operations of lagöm, which Burke Lepper said is allowing her to mainly focus on interior design. 

Being a part of the Chippewa Falls for more than a decade, she said, has helped her build a base of repeat clients – those who began by remodeling a certain aspect of their home and are now doing another part, or who are embarking on building a new home. 

“I appreciate it when clients respect my opinion and me as a person and a designer, because this job doesn’t work without mutual respect and understanding,” Burke Lepper said. “Interior design is a lot of work. It’s not glamorous. There’s a lot of heavy lifting, both figuratively and literally. But it’s worth it when I can go back into a kitchen I did years ago and see how classic and timeless it is. Let the bones of a house be the timeless classic and be trendy with the rugs, throws, pillows and other items that are easy to change out.”

To learn more about One of a Kind Interior Design and lagöm, visit

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