Bayside kitchen of Jamie and Felicia Miller features maple
cabinets and floors and a center island that offers additional
You might not think that your kitchen
says much about your personality. Well, just look around. The prints
on your walls, the souvenirs you picked up on vacation, the chairs you
bought at an antique auction ó they all say something about your
personal style. Even the reasons for remodeling a kitchen can express
some aspect of your life.
The Bayside home of Felicia and Jamie
Miller had a serviceable kitchen, but "It just didnít reflect
our style," says Felicia Miller. "When appliances started
needing replacement, we thought more strongly about remodeling."
The family, which also includes Erin,
12, and Hilary, 8, has lived in Bayside for nearly six years. The
ranch homeís original 1960s style was also evident in the kitchen.
Although a previous owner had done some minor remodeling, the kitchen
was ready for a new look. In fact, cabinets that had been resurfaced
years ago "were starting to fall apart," notes Paul
Greenspan of Milwaukee Kitchen and Bath.
Eventually, the former kitchen was
gutted, leaving the family without kitchen services for about eight
weeks. The family continued to live in the home during renovation.
"It wasnít as bad as I thought," Miller says.
The result is a sparkling new kitchen
with rich-looking maple cabinets and floors. There are more cabinets
than in the previous kitchen and additional storage space under a new
The notion of adding an island almost
didnít make it off the drawing boards. "I was reluctant about
it at first," Miller admits. "I didnít think we had room
for it." Greenspan coaxed the couple into it.
"Felicia couldnít picture how an
island was the right move for her kitchen," he says. "We
created a design that was much different from the U-shaped design of
their former kitchen. Once Felicia walked through another kitchen we
remodeled (with a center island), she felt reassured that it would
"Now Iím really glad we listened
to him," Miller says.
One of the kitchenís highlights is a
20-inch LCD flat panel television that fits into one wall, and
built-in speakers for recessed surround sound. "That is my
husbandís contribution," Miller muses. One of her favorite
touches is a series of red pendant lamps hanging from the ceiling.
Now the couple have a perfect space for
relaxing with friends and family. "People who see the new kitchen
for the first time just canít believe the difference from what it
looked like before," Miller says, laughing. "I get such a
kick out of that." Sheís satisfied that the new kitchen really
does reflect the familyís personality.
Itís well known that the art of
compromise is one of the keys to a successful marriage. So itís a
good sign that when Mark Brunner, owner of Brunner Builders in
Cedarburg and his fiancťe, Sue Merrill, recently built a
4,100-square-foot home, kitchen design and dťcor werenít an
obstacle. When it came to the kitchen, an unusual role reversal put
Brunner in charge. "After all," he says, "Iím the one
who does most of the cooking."
He was interested in a kitchen that was
more functional than decorative. He calls it "a blend of
traditional and contemporary elements." In terms of cost, he
believes the price was "pretty average." Part of this is due
to the fact that upscale appliances and fixtures ó which can quickly
push a budget skyward ó werenít a priority for them. The
attractive kitchen includes a double oven, hickory cabinets and oak
flooring. The wood is accented by shades of pale green and window
treatments in rust and gold colors.
era Cedarburg kitchen has been updated for modern living, yet
it still exudes historic charm with beadboard cabinets, a farm
sink and other amenities.
The most unusual item in their kitchen
is a center island. Unlike most islands, however, this one can move
anywhere in the kitchen. It can even go into the next room to provide
extra seating. Lockable casters prevent the island from shifting.
Brunner says he appreciates the flexibility this gives them when
entertaining. He isnít worried about the island damaging the wood
flooring. "Nah, the floor is meant to take the weight, and the
island is designed to distribute the weight evenly." However, the
island itself is no lightweight, as it features a solid granite top.
Although Brunner says his cooking is
more homestyle than gourmet, it ranges across many different cuisines.
Wintertime can mean a roast and roasted vegetables, while summer
favorites include grilled steaks. The only "must-have" item
in the kitchen was a convenient spice rack, Brunner says.
Even though Jeanie Woodís 1930
Tudor-style home had undergone some minor kitchen remodeling through
the years, Wood thought it needed a makeover. She wanted a bright and
cheery spot to entertain friends, and to lift her spirits.
Wood says she might not have decided to
remodel her kitchen if she were brimming with good health. But her
cancer became "the catalyst for achieving a lifelong dream,"
she says. Wood refers to herself as a "chronic cancer
patient." Chemotherapy treatments are now part of her regular
routine. When she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2003, Wood went
through chemotherapy and then into remission. For a while, she thought
she was cancer-free ó until the cancer returned. The chemotherapy
treatments keep it in check.
After the cancer came back, Wood
decided to redo the kitchen. "I consider it a gift to
myself," she says, proudly. Her dream was achieved with the
assistance of designer Colleen Thompson, formerly of CabinetWerks, and
Oren Pickell Construction.
The two women clicked from the start.
"She just looked around my old kitchen and started sharing
ideas," Wood says, admiringly. "I liked what I heard."
Eventually, the kitchen expanded to 10 feet by 16 feet. An interior
wall between the kitchen and a small eating area was removed to make
extra room. Closets also were rearranged, giving Wood what she longed
for ó a pantry. Storage areas were reconfigured to give Wood more
wall space. She was delighted to have a place for her whimsical
Although the project went over the
original budget, Wood decided to "go for it." After all, she
says, almost kiddingly, "How long have I got?"
Her designer wanted to provide Wood
with everything she asked for. "Jeanie loves bold, dramatic
colors," Thompson says. So they decided to paint the walls red.
Although this isnít what most residential clients would desire,
Thompson says that red is a favorite color used in many restaurants.
"For some reason, red stimulates our appetites," she says.
The red in Woodís kitchen is a nice contrast to the bisque white
cabinets and a cream-colored ceiling. Granite countertops and wood
flooring finish the look.
Now Wood has space for friends, family
ó or just herself. Itís a place where she says she feels both
peace and energy. "I canít believe the transformation,"
she remarks, still marveling over the results. Itís a place
guaranteed to lift her spirits when she is feeling down. "The
kitchen was so beautiful when it was finished, I was almost afraid to
use it," she says with a laugh.
There are as many reasons for
remodeling a kitchen as the number of people who elect to do it. A
busy family life prompted a Cedarburg couple to redo their kitchen.
Their home needed an update to meet the needs of three boys, ages 11,
3 and 1. However, they wanted to maintain the feel of the homeís
1850s origins without sacrificing any modern conveniences.
Luckily, their former next-door
neighbor happened to be Jon Hennum, owner of Historic Building Co.
When Hennum decided to remodel parts of his own historic home, the
Gibeaus took note. When they moved into their historic Cedarburg home,
they knew who to call.
The couple established a firm budget
before they even sent the project out to bid. With three children,
they had to make priorities about how to meet their financial needs.
They thought about college costs as well as other items that needed to
be considered. "Jon was fantastic about working within our
$40,000 budget," the wife says. "He really gave us an
excellent value for what we spent."
In order to meet the Gibeausí budget,
Hennum suggested standard-sized beadboard cabinets from Kraftmaid. He
also recommended repairing the original maple floor, rather than
replacing it. Items that would be expensive to move, such as the sink,
stayed in place. Even the matching stainless steel appliances all are
As anyone with an old house can attest,
remodeling contains a lot of "hidden" costs. "Nothing
was up to code," the wife says. For instance, the voltage had to
be increased from 40 to 200 amperes. In addition, some of the plumbing
needed to be fixed. The couple also opted to run copper pipes from the
kitchen to an adjoining room that became a first-floor laundry. The
sagging ceiling needed repair, as well as some of the flooring. A
heavy granite-topped island required extra reinforcement under one
section of the floor. New thresholds were added to the door openings.
Despite all the obstacles, the Gibeaus
are thrilled with the results. "Itís a wonderful blend of
historic and contemporary elements," the wife says. One standout
item is the Kohler apron sink and old-style faucets. The lighting is
another important element. Although much of the lighting comes from
recessed lights and cabinet under lighting, a reproduction light
fixture over the center island also draws attention.
Hennum, too, is pleased with the
results. "Itís a great working kitchen for a busy, active
family," he says. The Gibeaus typify what most people are looking
for in a historic-themed kitchen, he says. "They want a warm,
cozy feeling that an Ďoldí kitchen can provide." Yet,
"They still want a lot of modern conveniences and low
maintenance." He also congratulates the Gibeaus on staying within
their budget. "So often, the remodeling process begins and then
people get carried away," he says. "But the Gibeaus were
very practical about where they needed to trim costs. They werenít
unhappy with the choices they made."