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House revival
Tudor revamp restores home’s rustic charm and improves floor plan


December 2007

Most of the first floor of the Rolfs’ home was gutted to improve the flow of the living space.

When Steve and Peg Rolfs moved into their Whitefish Bay Tudor 10 years ago, they knew the 1928 house would need to be renovated to make better use of the space.

A previous kitchen and master suite remodel didn’t meet the Rolfs’ needs and there really wasn’t a family room. The Rolfs hired Ruvin Bros. Artisan & Trade Inc., Brown Deer, to fix those flaws. "Eighty percent of the existing first floor was completely demolished and reconfigured," says Tony Enea, Ruvin president.

Since there were no blueprints from the previous remodeling job, there were structural challenges, Enea says. Though the work was extensive, no square footage was added. "It was just making the space flow better," Enea says, noting that before, the house was "cut up into little rooms." "Because it flows so much better, it looks like we added space."

Though the homeowners wanted to freshen up the look of their 1920s home, they stayed true to its rustic Tudor style.

Ruvin Bros. built a desk and entertainment center in the family room. Some cosmetic changes — redoing the flooring and patching plaster — were also made. "The house is a very traditional Tudor, so everything is consistent with that," says Enea, noting that the family room required the least amount of work.

Kitchens are always more labor-intensive, he says, and the Rolfs’ was no exception. When the Rolfs moved in, the garage led right into the kitchen. Now, a mud room separates the two. A powder room on the first floor was also added, as was a laundry room.

The kitchen features quarter-sawn oak custom cabinets, and the clean lines the owners wanted. It also features top-of-the-line appliances, another must-have of the owners.

The previous homeowners favored dark colors, and the Rolfs wanted to lighten the look. Marianne Kohlmann, interior designer, Blue Hot Design, Glendale, helped with that. "She just wanted it really clean and fresh looking," Kohlmann says of Peg Rolfs, who collaborated on the work. Though brightening up the house was a priority, Kohlmann says it was also important to stay true to the rustic Tudor style. "Oak floors and moldings — that was continued throughout the house," she says. "That lent itself to a nice, cozy, rich feeling."