Wauwatosa’s Cindy Busche dreamed of making her kitchen her own
since moving back into the 1950s Cape Cod she lived in with her
parents as a child. On Sept. 26, the OAR Group started helping her
OAR — Owner Assisted Remodeling — tore down walls separating
the dining room, kitchen and a three-season room, tripling the amount
of counter space and providing room for a computer desk. The
three-season room’s bay windows were removed, replaced by patio
doors leading to a new deck. "It became one open space,"
Busche says. "My husband and two sons and I can be in there
without bumping into each other."
Butternut cabinets replaced hickory, hardwood floors replaced a
raised design linoleum and multicolored granite counters added warmth
to the kitchen. Recessed and track lighting, and an island with raised
snack bar, also added a hominess to a room that’s restored Busche’s
"I can’t wait to have people over now," she says.
Sue and Jeff Knutson wanted to redo the small kitchen in their 1928
Tudor home in the Washington Highlands since they bought the house in
the late 1990s. While the kitchen, with its white laminate cupboards
and butler’s pantry, was the seller’s favorite room, Sue Knutson
hated it. "Ever since we looked at the house, I said, ‘We’ve
got to redo the kitchen,’" she says.
Last summer — and four children later — Cream City Construction
of Milwaukee got down and dirty. "We ripped everything out,
gutted the whole thing," she says. All that was preserved were
The void, though, was quickly filled. Weathered-looking brown
cabinets with oil-rubbed bronze hardware replaced the old white
cabinets, and high-end stainless steel appliances — including a
farmer’s sink, dishwasher and dish sink — were installed.
A dramatic island that seats four was added, too, as was a natural
pebble marble back splash behind the sink. And the ceramic floor
contains mosaic tiles that border the island. As Knutson loves to
cook, a cookbook library was added on one wall.
Knutson hopes the new kitchen becomes the gathering space for her
children as they get older. "I want their friends to come and
gather here as well," she says.
Phil Callen says the "before and after" pictures are
Before, the kitchen in their Wauwatosa home was a small galley, and
what had been used by the previous owner as a third bedroom was the
Callens’ dining area.
After, with two walls knocked down last summer, the new kitchen is
open and airy, with a peninsula that seats three, windows that face
the backyard, an entertainment center and warm, dark cherry cabinets,
green granite counter tops, a limestone floor and a corner sink for
"It opened it up tremendously," says Callen, one of the
owners of Callen Construction, which did the work.
The Callens owned their home for 17 years and had considered
building an addition to the kitchen, as the cramped galley had little
counter space, making cooking — a favorite pastime — difficult.
But a Callen designer came up with the idea to renovate instead,
making the kitchen more of a family room that comfortably accommodates
Callen, his wife, Anne, and their two children. "That’s where a
lot of business takes place in the family," he says.