A COUPLE PROVIDES REST, RELEASE AND REJUVENATION AT THEIR IDYLLIC INN.
By Shelby Deering | Photographed by Hillary Schave
Nestled amid wide-open spaces and sweeping fields lies a slice of paradise, less than 40 minutes from downtown Madison. A gravel driveway winds through densely packed trees, parting to reveal Still Point Country Retreat, an inn owned and operated by Kathi Drake and her husband Joe Mirenna.
Although the couple lived on the property for over 15 years, they only arrived at the decision to open it to guests last year. “We’ve made this place so beautiful, it was almost a shame to keep it to ourselves,” says Mirenna, a retired educator and musician.
And beautiful it certainly is. Sprays of flowers and foliage swathe the property. Rows of alpine plants grown in a soil specially formulated by Mirenna thrive in an embankment. The only sounds? Chirping birds and swaying trees. The chug of traffic becomes a faint memory.
Drake, an acupuncturist, shares how they landed on the name Still Point Country Retreat. “Still Point is that place of balance that comes before the next action. In every moment of our lives, there’s that place for us. A lot of times we don’t stop long enough to pay attention to the wholeness of who we are. It’s a practice from acupuncture, and that’s where the inspiration came from.” Relaxation comes naturally at the inn. In the upstairs portion of the house, guests unwind in private quarters featuring a full kitchen, a writing nook and a showstopper— an airy, ethereal bedroom in a screened porch to soak up warm breezes and night sounds—hooting owls and cricket choirs. Mirenna, built nearly everything on the property, including the couple’s newest addition—a charming 8-by-13 tiny house equipped with a bed, kitchenette and cheerful upcycled décor, lying just a few steps from a luxurious bathroom in a separate building.
“Still Point is that place of balance that comes before the next action. In every moment of our lives, there’s that place for us. A lot of times we don’t stop long enough to pay attention to the wholeness of who we are. It’s a practice from acupuncture, and that’s where the inspiration came from.” -Kathi Drake
Although many guests head to Madison for a day of play, many choose to stay on the property, immersing themselves in the country setting.
Drake says, “There is a little sitting area right by the fountain that’s really sweet. People have cocktails out there and we have these anti gravity chairs that we put out, and people are sunning, reading books. It has turned out to be so pleasurable.”
Guests particularly enjoy the bonfires Mirenna sets up, and many venture to the outdoor shower to truly experience the natural surroundings. Unlike some inns, privacy is the standard at Still Point.
“Guests come in and out, and often, we don’t hear them,” says Drake.
Drake loves the balance the property brings into her guests’ lives and into her own life.
“I’m always looking at how everything is working together, how everything has balanced as things move forward in time. Things keep evolving. And that’s a nice way to live because there’s always sort of this place that you come to. I love open space. I love peaceful, grounded space. And we always come back to that point here.”
To learn more, visit stillpointcountryretreat.com.
An Eye For Design
- Kathi Drake and her husband Joe Mirenna relocated from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and built the original house for only $55,000. Here’s their brand of innovation and designing on a dime.
- Think outside the box to discover aesthetically pleasing solutions that are also cost-effective. Repurpose things and think of them in a new way.
- When designing as a couple, play to each other’s strengths. For example, one can be the builder and the other can be the problem solver. One can be a macro thinker while the other sees the microcosm.
- Use materials that others might not think to use. Don’t be afraid to rework cast-offs from resale stores like Habitat for Humanity ReStore
- Find joy in the design process. If you’re designing as a team, try to feed off of one another’s creativity.