A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting a sweet lady by the name of Suzanne Kramer at her Scandinavian antique gallery in River Falls, WI. Suzanne is the real deal. With two old barns full of amazing finds she is a wealth of knowledge on Scandinavian antiques and has the stories behind each piece too! I was introduced to Suzanne and her collection through a mutual friend Lizbet Ronning who was gracious enough to meet me for the tour (aka shopping) at Suzanne's gallery.
When driving up to the gallery that morning I saw Suzanne and her husband applying the finishing touches to the buildings which included placing these adorable flags outside the playhouse. Yes, you read that correctly... this is a playhouse! How adorable and unique. Lizbet's son (pictured here in the cute car) and husband came with her as well. Having the playhouse for the kids to keep busy in is a smart idea because there is a lot to look at in the shops. We spent about three and a half hours there and I still didn't see everything!
The first shop I browsed through was packed full of linens, jewelry, prints, Sami tools, chests, carved household decor and more. I was amazed at how many different things she had on display and Suzanne even mentioned that she had even more still in her truck. She had recently been at a show with many of her display cases and hadn't had a chance to unload everything yet. That is my fault as I made the request to visit her space two days earlier. She was gracious enough to schedule a time with me on such short notice (another reason she is amazing).
While I was shopping (ok I will just switch over to the word shop because that is what I was really doing after all) my little Nisse, Leif, was beginning to come unglued making it hard for me to really treasure all that she had to offer. To help out, Lizbet offered up her hubby, Kristian, as a babysitter. After a few moments I went outside to check on them where I heard Kristian talking to Leif. He was telling Leif nursery rhymes in Norwegian and had successfully put him to sleep. Parenting really does take a village.
Here is a picture of the first barn. It is packed from wall to wall and floor to roof with so many amazing things to check out. Suzanne does her viewing by appointment only given the shops are located at their home. Really though it is the perfect way to experience the shops because it allows her to tell the story behind each piece and because if you are looking for something specific she can dig it out in a jiffy. Note that little Leif is sleeping in his stroller outside the shop on the right... a true Scandinavian experience!
Above is a picture of her collection of carved walking sticks. It is just a taste of the craftsmanship that she has available for sale. I took woodcarving while in undergrad at Luther College and can speak to how much time and attention to detail is needed to complete a work of art like these. I love how the Scandinavians really mix function and aesthetic into everything they do.
Above is a traditional chest that has been painted inside and out full of more linen. Lizbet ended up buying Hardanger curtains for her home so there is much more than the typical table runners and rugs one often sees in other stores. Suzanne travels back to Scandinavia (typically Sweden) a few times each year and makes time to visit secondhand stores in hopes to find new treasures.
Moving onto the second shop, this one was packed with larger pieces such as furniture and decor. Pictured here is a hide-a-bed (yes this pulls out into a bed!) made out of wood. Think about how many people have been part of this piece's story over the years!! She also had another expandable bed that would extend lengthwise as the individual grew, chairs, and carved corner cabinets.
Lastly, but not least, I wanted to include this guy. When listening to Suzanne speak about the pieces she would remember in great detail all of the elements that make each item unique, but when she got to this Viking sculpture her voice and face lit up with an extra amount of joy. She found this piece in Seattle, WA and brought him home. She was worried he would get damaged during the flight home so she took him as a carry-on. To make sure he stayed in as good of condition as possible, she took out the horns and held the head in her lap for the flight so that it wouldn't roll around in the overhead compartment either!
I hope my post for this week really wet your appetite to check out more. I can hardly even try to do Suzanne and her antique shop justice in a blog post. One really needs to go and check it out for his or herself. If you are interested in doing a little shopping or connecting with Suzanne, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also a special thank you to Kristian and Lizbet for bringing waffles and coffee as a snack. I appreciated the break from shopping to enjoy the beautiful weather and wonderful company. Also, thank you to Suzanne's husband, Paul for being so welcoming to us. I can't wait to come back again another day!