Katie Ballantine and her dog, Shire. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Katie Ballantine)

COLLEGVILLE TOWNSHIP — Interior designer and artist Katie Ballantine has spent decades helping people make things beautiful through balancing art, space and natural light.

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing many families to work and learn from home, Ballantine is seeing more people seek beauty through balance in their homes.

Specializing in both residential and commercial interior design, Ballantine likes to bring in nature and work with artists to put the finishing touches on the spaces she creates. As a local artist herself, who works in clay and paint, she connects all her worlds.

“The common denominator for me is conceptualizing space and describing space,” said Ballantine, who operated The Ballantine Company Store until about 2006.

As parents across Central Minnesota begin to think about back-to-school Ballantine is seeing more calls from people wanting to balance their work, home and school spaces.

“School is coming and people are realizing this isn’t going away,” she said.

Though she said it’s a relatively new phenomenon, that balance is created using some of the same steps to good design that she always focused on in her business.

Her store carried essential oils, natural cleaning products, work from local artists and it encompassed a plant nursery. Ballantine has continued many of those same veins as she stepped away from the storefront and continued her company.

“Home is a sanctuary in ways it’s never been before,” she said. “There are so many people working from home, creating home offices, they need to re-think how they use their space and how to get privacy. They need more sanctuary from their space than they’ve ever had before.”

Ballantine works with clients in a number of ways from color consultations to one- or two-hour consultations about a space that needs a new look, to landscape design and consulting on full-house builds. Some of her clients meet with her to conceptualize a space and then do the legwork themselves to save on cost.

“I think everybody gets to have beautiful spaces,” Ballantine said.

And that’s why she works the way she does, letting the client talk about what they need from her and her services.

When Ballantine enters a client’s space, she often focuses on orienting the room to optimize the natural light. She has conversations about how the room is used and sometimes, she said, she just sits in an area and watches how the family lives in a room.

“When I leave a space, I want it to look like them, not me,” she said.

She listens to people and reads them, understanding their vision for the space or helping them to create one if they feel completely lost.

“I want to surround them in a place that’s safe and warm and comfortable and feels like home,” she said.

Ballantine has a plant nursery and still grows the orchids she’s known for in addition to vegetables and heirloom tomatoes she brings to the Minnesota Street Market in St. Joseph.

That connection with the earth, with growing things, is something she works to incorporate into her room designs between indoors and outdoors.

Sometimes, she said, that grounding connection is made through the use of plants and other times, when she’s working on a new build, she envisions where the light would come into the home at different times throughout the day and how that particular space would be used during different times of the day,.

She works with architects as they draw up the space, she is available to assist with concept work and material selection, paint selection, furniture layout and artwork. She has not only been commissioned herself to create artwork for spaces, she makes connections between her clients and local artists when a project deems it a good fit.

She has working relationships with artists who create in metal, those who build custom furniture and those who can make knobs out of stones, tree roots, wood or clay.

“It’s completely original,” she said. “Even if an artist did the same thing for two different houses it would be very different. Artists are innovators by nature so it brings a certain spirit into a space, it becomes a collective of those spirits that have created and collaborated to create this bigger than us thing.”

The Ballantine Company

To contact Katie Ballantine at The Ballantine Company, send her an email at [email protected]

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