A designer's weekend retreat marries chic style with rural comfort

As she strolls across the heart of her family's 58-acre retreat near Granville, Monique Keegan talks about comfort. That is, after all, what this rural paradise is all about. With a husband who commutes to Pittsburgh for work and a 12-year-old son with loads of energy, the heralded interior decorator wanted to create the perfect place to spend weekends together-without worrying about high-maintenance dcor.


"I am not spending my entire weekend vacuuming and Swiffering," Keegan said. "This is a place for us to unwind and just have fun."

The pieces of blue balloons she picks up as she walks--remnants of a water balloon fight--prove that she's not just talk. Though her client list is impressive, this isn't a stuffy woman. She's a mom who's fun, and Summer Haven reflects it.

Keegan, 43, and her husband, Keith, 45, spent years on the East Coast before moving to Central Ohio for work. They fell in love with Granville and have gutted, renovated and moved from five homes there.

Now, they live in their sixth. Amidst the several moves, Keegan switched from clothing design to interior design and opened Enjoy Co., a decorating studio that recently expanded to include a retail store.

When their son Maxfield was two or three, the couple started looking for property they could use as a weekend escape. It took years to find what they envisioned, but in 2006, they purchased Summer Haven, a spacious retreat 18 miles from Granville. The property included a main cabin, guest house, tack room, handful of barns and plenty of woods for hiking and ATV riding. It needed years of work, but Keegan and her husband, who grew up on a farm, were game.

Though the land is vast, the main cabin is small, so making every inch usable was Keegan's greatest challenge. Closet space, for example, is almost nonexistent. And the kitchen where Keegan enjoys experimenting with recipes is half the size of some master bathrooms. But she made it work--remembering always that the retreat isn't even about the indoors.

"You're not really in the house. Even in the winter, you're out hiking, sledding," and, she said, laughing, "clearing all the trees that keep falling down with all these ice and wind storms!"

Now, the family spends weekends there year-round, often hosting guests while hiking, gardening and roasting marshmallows around the fire pit. Because this, Keegan made sure, is not a house to admire--it's a home to enjoy.