Blais Design is ‘rustic chic’

Published 12:31 pm Thursday, April 26, 2012

Keek and Bill Bielby opened Blais Design in Three Oaks last July.

THREE OAKS — The old-world charm and rich history of the Three Oaks train depot always held a fascination with Union Pier’s Keek and Bill Bielby.

So when the 100-plus-year-old building came on the market two years ago, the Bielby’s called their realtor.

“We were on a trip and told her to buy the building for us,” Keek said. “Without walking or setting foot in the building, we bought it.”

Truth be told, the Bielbys had been in the depot several times before as customers of the clothing shop that used to be there.

It was the perfect place for Keek to pursue a long-unfulfilled dream of starting a business.

They opened Blais Design in July of 2011.

Keek describes the store as an eclectic mix.

Their “rustic chic” collection includes vintage, industrial, new accessories, jewelry, art and furniture.

Much of what they sell is local. Other items come from the Bielbys’ journeys across the world. They have found things during their annual cross-country road trip to California and on trips to France, among other places.

“We are not just going to the typical gift shows,” Keek said.

They sell vintage Harbor Country postcards, which are blown up and framed. They also showcase local artists several times a year.

Since opening Blais, the Bielbys have been visited by three of the former owners of the building. A long time resident also stopped by to talk about what it was like to come there as a child and pay 25 cents to go to Michigan City.

“She had never gone farther than Michigan City her whole life, and still hasn’t,” Keek said.

The Bielbys grew up in Chicago, but moved to Union Pier in 2003.

They’ve been married six years, but knew each other as kids, living just blocks from each other.

Keek has a degree in interior design and worked for many years as a photostylist and set designer.

She runs a by-appointment interior design company, Blais Interiors. She also does landscape and still life oil paintings, which she sells at Blais.

“What didn’t sell I give to my kids as a Christmas present,” she said chuckling.

Bill is an avid bicyclists and semi-retired sociologist, teaching part-time at University of Illinois Chicago in the fall. He’s also plays bass and guitar.

“Every once in a while we get the band back together from graduate school days,” he said.

Bill also has an extensive collection of entry-level electric guitars from the late 1950s and early ‘60s. They can be found hanging in his home’s basement/music studio, which includes a stage and drums.

“He plays almost every day,” Keek said.

The Three Oaks Train Depot was a working railroad depot until the early 1950s. From there, it became an antique bookstore, bicycle museum and a clothing store.

Blais Design is located at 1 Oak Street in Three Oaks, Michigan. Phone is 269-783-5335. More information can be found on the Blais Facebook page or at

The store is open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. From Memorial Day on, it is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Monday. Blaise closes January through March.