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Team Royce
Working together, this family 
has created space that suits their needs

By JUDY WOOD

Paul and Chris Royce


If you’ve heard the expression "they just don’t build things like they used to," Paul Royce wants you to know it doesn’t apply to everything. Royce is a homebuilder and developer with Red Maple Real Estate. His wife, Chris, is a former R.N. who took up architectural design when the family relocated from Chris’ native New Zealand. Together, they put together their best work in their Mequon home.

"The advantage builders have when they do their own home is that they can put in the best of everything," said Chris. "We really tried to choose things for this home that would appeal to almost anyone and then we chose the best materials."

Royce is a second-generation homebuilder whose father told him that home building was like making a cake.

"He would say that people don’t know what the ingredients are, but everyone can recognize good frosting," said Paul. "There are some fancy touches that people can add that are perceived as quality. We try to build homes like they did in the 1950s with quality materials and good design."

The Royce home is carefully situated on a wooded lot. No windows face north to maximize natural light throughout the home. The entrance is Paul’s favorite part of the home. The two-story foyer is accented with dark cherry wood wainscoting and staircase. The floor has the red maple leaf pattern in the tile and the doorways to the music room and office are also accented with the maple leaf pattern in the frosted glass panes.

Wood floors in the music room and dining room show cherry inlay. The cherry wood is also used in Paul’s office including his custom made desk. But the rear of the home is more informal - and the Royces reflect this with a more casual look of oak.

"The house needs to function for two home-based businesses, but also for a family," said Paul.

The Royces’ two teenage children, Becky and Ben, were the central concerns in designing the home.

"I designed this home for a family with teenagers," said Chris. "If I had really little kids at home, I would have done things differently. But as it is, each person has their own zone of the home that functions well for their needs, but there are a lot of areas to come together."

"The music room can be used as a second dining room or living room," said Paul. "The flexibility in the use of the rooms of the house was a great feature for us."

The informal family room is accented with built-in oak cabinets and bookcases. The Royces aren’t big television fans, so they chose not to build in an entertainment center. The center of this room is the fireplace.

"The fireplace is designed to provide efficient heat for the home," said Paul. "If the heat went out in the house we could comfortably heat the first floor with this system."

The family room is open to the kitchen and dinette area. Chris, the designer of the house, also knows what a good cook needs to be efficient.

"This kitchen had to be user friendly for me," she said. "There is ease of movement but more importantly, the work surface is separated from the entertaining surface."

The Royces spend a lot of time in this three-season room.


A granite-topped island divides the two zones. The kids can stay on one side of the embedded sink, grab snacks and beverages without disturbing the cook.

The first floor also includes a guest suite complete with full bath. The double sink in the guest bath includes one laundry sized sink.

"This comes in so handy right off the garage to have this big sink here," said Paul whose workshop is located in the garage. The basement is also accessible from the garage directly down the staircase.

The second floor houses Chris’ nerve center - her office and her laundry room. "The best thing I ever did was putting that laundry room upstairs," she said.

Chris’ office is a space off of the master bedroom. All of the bedrooms in the Royce home have a deck off the room.

"A lot of the features we put in this house six years ago are becoming standard today," said Paul. "We have dual shower heads in the walk-in shower that was new back then. We tried to use different accents throughout. Each bathroom has slightly different types of glass. There is ceramic tile in front of all of the deck access doors. The bonus room over the garage is the size it is because we used rafters, not trusses in construction. Rafters allow a greater flexibility. We have a bigger room and a good-sized storage closet in here. Angled ceilings and a window seat.

"This house was a great way to test out a lot of things without annoying a buyer," Paul continued. "We installed 40 year shingles on the roof instead of cedar shake - a lot of roofers won’t work with them because they are so heavy, but it’s worth it to find someone who will."

The Royce home works well for the family, but they can’t wait for an opportunity to rebuild for themselves one day. They are starting spec homes in two new Mequon subdivisions, Fairbrook and Highgate.