Patina Vie

Patina Vie merchandise
Photograph Barbara Wilson

At Ripon’s iconic 5-street corner, where 1870s Italianate architecture merges with the contemporary, Patina Vie has taken on the role of transforming self-expression from outside-in to inside-out. The spaces we exist in shouldn’t reflect broader design movements imposed on us by magazines and store layouts, but rather showcase the way we experience the world.

“I want lifestyle and decorating and personal style to be a mix of all your experiences,” says founder Sarah Willett. In a world obsessed with organization, Sarah challenges everyone to ask themselves who among us is really so organized. Things make sense not because they fit into nice little categories, but because we connect with them on a deeper level.

From an 1820s Belgian butcher block to a 200-year-old European sideboard displaying candles on shelves and in drawers, showpieces throughout Patina Vie are things Sarah has fallen in love with. But she also thrives on change and personal evolutions. “My worst day in here is when one of my favorite pieces sells. … But then after a minute I recover, and I realize I now have permission to find something cooler.”

Jewelry, bedspreads, 18-karat ikat glassware, journals, artwork, candles, handbags, it’s all there and more. There are little surprises around the store and even a liquor section. But to focus on the items almost feels like a betrayal to what she’s really selling. It’s a place where artists and stylemakers share a part of themselves. Where collaborations are celebrations of synergy, like a dish set Sarah did with Rowe Pottery out of Cambridge. “I love that it’s local paired with local.”

Photograph by Barbara Wilson

Those familiar with Patina Vie might question why a brand recognized worldwide would set its base of operations in Ripon. “It’s so simple. I was born in Ripon, grew up in Green Lake. I realized at the right point in my life that this is the center of the universe for me. It’s my favorite corner in the world.”

Then there’s the building itself, which, like many of us, has lived many lives. The interior combines Sarah and her daughter’s personal touches with discovery. Removing layers of drywall revealed the original brick, which creates a timeless accent wall with the original porthole windows.

Sarah is the first to admit that nobody needs anything in her shop. Her wares are cool and funky, and they’re often a luxury. But anyone who goes into Patina Vie with an open mind will come out better for the experience. It’s like taking a glimpse into someone else’s perspective and learning that you don’t need permission to break the rules governing how you live your life.

“Patina means it’s had a life. It’s been kicked around a little bit. To me, it’s more beautiful because it’s not new or perfect. Aren’t we all just cooler to celebrate all our imperfections? Thank goodness I’m not young and fresh and don’t have any wisdom. I’ve been around the block a few times. This is a reflection of all the imperfections and the things that I hold dear.”

Kyle Jacobson is a writer and senior copy editor for Green Lake Magazine.