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Exclusive kitchens
Homeowners reveal the unique design elements 
that make their kitchens so distinctive



The highlight of the Feld family’s Grafton kitchen is the stained-glass dome created by Lisa Feld’s grandfather. Feld says the dome is particularly impressive at night when it is lit.

A touch of Italy

When Bill and Lisa Feld constructed their Grafton home, they planted some family roots right in the kitchen.

"I come from a big Italian family with lots of cooking, baking and eating, and more eating," says Lisa Feld. "I have a real cook’s kitchen that dominates the rest of the house — it is the centerpiece of the home."

The style of the kitchen reflects Feld’s family origins, from the tumbled tile backsplash that features a hand-painted Italian scene to the bell-shaped plaster hood over the stove. The Felds used Thierfelder Builders for their 3,100-square-foot ranch.

"We chose granite that is green and black with little gold flecks that picks up the colors on the tile," says Feld. "We wanted a big, deep sink in the island in addition to the kitchen sink. All of our cookbooks and magazines are located on the island. We gave a lot of thought to the flow of the kitchen and how easy it is to work in this room."

Feld works as a field editor for Taste of Home magazine, where she can use her new kitchen to scope out new recipes as well as the family recipes passed down from the generations before her. The Italian phrase painted on the wall, "live well, laugh well, love well," is played out on a daily basis in this home.

"We like to entertain family and friends here and cook with our daughters," Feld says of Lauren, 10 and Gianna, 4. "Lauren won a blue ribbon at the Ozaukee County fair for her pumpkin bread recipe. Gianna helps us prepare meals, too. I see our kitchen as warm and inviting with an ethnic Italian feel to it."

The most impressive part of the room, according to Feld, is the custom-created, stained-glass dome that her 84-year-old grandfather, George Golownia, created for the family.

"My grandfather created this for us while caring for my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s," says Feld. "It took him over a year to finish this. It is an original piece of artwork. It is especially beautiful when it is lit at night. The colors are burgundy green and beige — very beautiful. People are pretty amazed by the dome when they first see it."

Feld also enjoys the pantry, which has a countertop and cabinetry with pull-out shelving. She stores some of her appliances in this space and can close it off when not in use. The maple cabinetry gives her plenty of space to display collections.

Another crucial feature of the room is the planning desk. "We had one contractor try to talk us out of a planning desk in the kitchen, but I knew I needed one," she says. "I’m very organized and I grew up with a desk in the kitchen and had to have one. We had custom cabinets done for this and I would just be lost without it. What I love about this space it that it is functional and neat."

Instead of leaving their Cedarburg neighborhood, Mark and Stacy Pritzl decided to redo the small galley kitchen by removing a wall between the kitchen and living room. They selected hickory cabinets and oak floors for a "light Arts and Crafts style."

Necessary renovation

A kitchen remodel is powerful enough to change the way you cook. Just ask Mark and Stacy Pritzl of Cedarburg.

"I never used to cook before we had this kitchen," Stacy Pritzl says. "We were strictly cereal, sandwiches and salads. It was a big joke with my friends that we have this amazing kitchen, but now I cook all the time. Before I just didn’t have the functional space."

The Pritzls fell in love with their Cedarburg neighborhood, but they knew if they wanted to stay, the kitchen in their 40-year-old Cape Cod home would need a face-lift.

"It was a galley kitchen that was almost unusable," Pritzl says. "We had no dining room and we usually ate with plates on our laps. We had to redo the kitchen or move, and we think this is a great neighborhood so we decided to remodel."

The Pritzls turned to designer Marianne Kohlmann of Remodeling Center Inc. to design a kitchen that was functional and inviting.

"We removed a wall between the living room and the kitchen and that made all the difference," Pritzl says. "This house is now an open concept, which is unique for a home of the 1960s era. People walk in and are pleasantly surprised by what we’ve done. It is unexpected and unique in a home like this."

The centerpiece of the new kitchen is a work island with a cooktop and seating for eight people. The soft warm colors of sage green and earth tones give the home what Pritzl calls "a light Arts and Crafts feeling."

"There are decorative tiles with a floral design that give a lighter element to the room," Pritzl says. "The hardwood floors and hickory cabinets add to the Mission style, but it is not overdone. We love the oak floors because it just adds so much warmth to the space. We added a picture rail around the room that divides the wall between a soft cream and soft sage. It is subtle and pretty. This is a warm, user friendly space that is now the heartbeat of the house."

After an extensive remodel, the kitchen of this Lake Drive manor now reflects the French chateau style of the home of Peggy and Brian Swier. The copper hood and a wall of Cream City brick behind the stove were preserved in the remodel.

Hidden treasure

Tim Benkowski of timothyj kitchen & bath created the look of a French bakery when he remodeled Peggy and Brian Swier’s 1920s brick home.

"The home is a French chateau style," Benkowski says. "It is a stately brick manor on Lake Drive. The previous kitchen had been done in the 1950s and just was not right for the house. It was choppy with three separate areas and the ceiling was dropped. There was a nice copper hood over the range that we knew we wanted to preserve, but other than that it was gutted to the studs."

In addition to the copper hood, one other original feature remains in the room, but it had been hidden behind a wall until now.

"During demolition we found that the back of the dining room fireplace that was in the kitchen was a very nice Cream City brick," Benkowski says. "This was a very nice surprise that they would have taken such care of a wall that was going to be hidden. We kept that brick behind the range. The brick ties into the rest of the house — the exterior and the conservatory room off the kitchen."

The finished product is an open, gracious space with two table islands providing work space, storage and seating when needed.

"The tables are inviting and complementary to the space," Benkowski says. "We didn’t plan to have the tables with seating, but there are stools in the room if someone wanted to sit. Because of the size of this room, we used two work areas instead of one for traffic, access and flow. It is one of the more successful aspects — the function is not compromised for the look."

Benkowski said the diligence the Swiers showed in planning the space led to the success of the project.

"There were a few things that were important to them that we incorporated," he says. "We have a spring-loaded pullout mixer shelf. There is lots of spice storage — probably twice what you would find in an average kitchen. Brian is an architect and they had a lot of input in this project. They knew what was right for the space."

By removing the chimney, Rick and Lynne Burling were able to reconfigure the kitchen of their 1920’s Shorewood Tudor into a functional space for cooking and entertaining.

Preserved history

Rick and Lynne Burling of Shorewood also remodeled a kitchen in an older home. They wanted the kitchen in their 1920s Tudor to reflect the old-world craftsmanship found in the rest of the home.

"The kitchen had been updated, but it didn’t fit with the rest of the home," says Lynne Burling. "There were Formica countertops and white tile and cabinets that just didn’t fit with the home. There is quarry tile in the entryway with earthy tones that we wanted to carry throughout the house. We also wanted to have a more open space. There was a back hall, the kitchen and a butler’s pantry that were three separate spaces."

Bartelt Filo created a design for the couple that stayed within the original footprint of the kitchen. Most important to the Burlings, they incorporated design elements that respect the history of the home.

"Now you can see right into the kitchen from the foyer — it is a very inviting space where everyone congregates," says Burling.

The key to the remodel was the removal of an obstacle to the kitchen’s function — the chimney.

"We had gone round and round with ideas for this space, but it wasn’t until we realized the chimney had to come out that we came up with something that worked," Rick Burling says. "The chimney had been repaired in the past and it was kind of buckled like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. It came down in one day and we were happy to get rid of the banana chimney."

"We now have double ovens where the chimney used to be," Lynne says. "It really gave us so many options as to where to place appliances."

The new kitchen has a banquette in the old butler’s pantry with a built-in china cabinet. The Burlings chose quarter-sewn oak for the cabinets finished in a warm reddish gold tone. The lighting includes functional work lighting under cabinets and recessed, but also decorative lanterns with copper and glass that complement the older home.

"We found the lanterns at Brass Light Gallery," says Lynne. "We have a copper farm sink in the kitchen and a smaller hammered copper sink in the island. The copper sink is a work of art that changes every day depending on the light and what you are making. The countertops are a granite with green black and gold."

Details in the cabinetry, tile and lighting mimic the Arts and Crafts elements in the rest of the home. "These cabinets are unique with the fabulous doors with hammered-glass panels that incorporate leading in an Arts and Crafts design," says Rick. "We had a back hallway that is now open with an exposed stairway to the second floor. We have an oak railing with wrought iron spindles that looks like it could have been original."