When chef Rebecca Guralnick put together plans for her dream
kitchen, she had a few more requirements than your average cook,
starting with a 12-foot island in the heart of the space.
Guralnick is a chef at the Jewish Community Centerís new kosher
restaurant, CafA B Data. She also does private catering and offers
cooking classes out of her Bayside home. "My cooking background
really drove the design of the kitchen," she says.
Though the large island raised the eyebrows of contractors and even
architect/builder Rory Palubiski of Fein Design, Mequon. Guralnick
says it isnít as big as it could have been. "I could have seen
it a foot bigger," she says.
"(Since) there is not really any other kind of counter space,
it works well," Palubiski says.
One end of the island drops to a 30-inch bakerís counter and
swing-up shelves on either side house a food processor, blender and
other small appliances, all plugged in and ready to go.
Other features in this cookís kitchen include a U-Line drink
fridge in the island, a large pantry, an indoor grill and three
convection ovens. "I usually dedicate one for sweet and one for
savory," Guralnick says. The third, about half the size of a
regular-sized oven and located in the Wolf range, is for reheating.
The custom pot rack was designed by Guralnick and Gonen Liberman of
Iron Creations, who hand-forged all the hooks.
The Carmen Terra Cotta granite on the island and the knotty cherry
cabinetry complement the Ann Sacks Tile Jerusalem Stone backsplash.
"That was the first design feature I picked," Guralnick says
of the Jerusalem Stone. "All of the colors flowed from picking
cabinetry is painted chestnut and the wall paint is Stonewear
with brown glaze. Juperana Bordeaux granite tops both the
island and the counters. Wisconsin Kitchen Mart interior
designer Nadine Millot assisted with the selections.
The 1970s kitchen in the Bayside home of Dan and Julie Rosenfeld,
though stylish for the time, wasnít a practical use of space by
todayís standards. The U-shaped kitchen featured cabinets over a
peninsula that separated the work space from the dining space.
"They really didnít like the communication block," says
Russ Waters, kitchen designer with Wisconsin Kitchen Mart, Milwaukee.
The main goals in remodeling the space were to open up the area,
update the appliances and have it reflect the coupleís design
tastes. "Their design is more elaborate," Waters says.
"We wanted this kitchen to jump out and sing.
"I had to come up with a design that allowed for an island of
a significant size. Luckily room was big enough to do that without
breaking any design rules," Waters says.
He also had to make up for the loss of the cabinets in the
peninsula. The new space incorporates a chefís pantry, storage in
the island and additional cabinets in the adjoining sun room and
"To create punch and character, I drew upon European
design," Waters says. He accomplished that by incorporating rope
molding, carvings and pediment arches into the design. "I wanted
some architectural flair and to make every place you look in that
kitchen special," Waters says. In addition, the unique ceiling
panel helps to define the space.
The Rosenfelds were no strangers to remodeling projects, previously
completing a 1,000-square-foot second-story addition. Julie Rosenfeld
had lots of magazine pages and ideas to bring to the table, among them
the mini chandelier light fixtures and the use of different woods to
create a classic look.
Her three children, ages 3, 11 and 13, like to gather at the
island, Rosenfeld says. "I love that I have the counter space for
when we donít have family meals."
Her favorite features are the openness and warmth of the room and
the updated appliances. "The kitchen is elegant, yet it functions
for a family," she says.
of Marge Konigís kitchen addition are stainless steel
appliances, including warming and microwave drawers and a
three-bowl stainless steel sink.
Marge Konig likens her 1874 farmhouse to Abe Lincolnís axe in
Springfield, Ill. ó the one that has had 10 new handles and five new
She and her late husband bought the Grafton farmhouse in 1941 as a
young married couple. The citified pair had their work cut out for
them ó the house had no running water or electricity. "We went
through the first year that way," Konig recalls.
They raised chickens there and along the way installed modern
conveniences. "Iíve tried in all the steps weíve done to
bring it up to date as far as comfort and living," Konig says.
Konig has been widowed for seven years, yet continues to make
improvements to the house. For the latest project, a kitchen addition,
she called upon Willard Geidle and Son, Mequon, the firm that had
previously put a sun room addition onto the home. "I wanted
something up-to-date in the kitchen but didnít want it to be ultra
modernistic," Konig says.
With the help of designer Susan House and cabinet maker Bob Maectle,
both of Grafton, Konig crafted her dream kitchen, with all the newest
"I have Scandinavian style teak furniture in the home so that
was the theme (Maectle) used for the kitchen," Konig says.
"It is simple in design, but very striking."
With two walls of windows, House and Maectle had to consider
aesthetics and conveniences in designing the layout and cabinetry.
"The view from kitchen is spectacular," Konig says.
"Iíve seen a lot of wildlife that I havenít seen
The 86-year-old grandmother is looking forward to lots more family
visits in the new space. "To the casual observer it looks like it
is all just one home," Konig says, "and it is."
in Jack and Nikki Levineís remodeled kitchen include maple
hardwood floors and custom-made cherry cabinets. Warm-toned
stone tiles make up the backsplash; the countertops are Verniz
granite. The island holds a built-in oven and has a bonus
6-inch-deep spice cabinet.
When Jack and Nikki Levine contemplated remodeling their kitchen,
they didnít want to expand their Fox Point home, knowing they were
going to be empty nesters in a few years.
"We wanted to make it a happy work and family space and
preserve the original footprint," Jack Levine says.
Certified kitchen designer Terri Bird of Design Group Three in
Glendale collaborated with the Levines to come up with a plan that
accomplished their goals. They reconfigured the layout and eliminated
some closet space to improve traffic flow and make the space more
"I wanted to have a new stove and lots of storage, of course,
and I wanted a pantry, which we did not have before," Levine
"The homeowners wanted an island, but space was very
limited," Bird says. "Reworking the walls of the closet and
pantry area opened up the floor plan of the kitchen for an
island," Bird says.
The expanded bay window brings more sunlight into the room and a
new lighting arrangement created task and ambient lighting.
Not only does the new kitchen function well for Levine, a
self-described part-time cook, it has become the familyís central
gathering spot. "We pretty much live in it," Levine says.
"We cook in it and entertain in it and read the newspaper in it.
Itís better used than the family room."
Whitefish Bay kitchen remodel features Canadian Neff
cabinetry, which are a formaldehyde-free product and
ecological. The cabinets are finished with a Mohair Patina.
The granite counters are Artus; the ceramic tile backsplash is
Walker Zanger Gramercy Park. Other features of the kitchen
include two-bin trash rollout and two spice racks on cabinet
A Whitefish Bay couple wanted to update a 1960s cave-like
garage-turned-family-room and outdated kitchen, and unite the two
spaces to create a family living center.
The challenge for Alan Freysinger of Design Group Three, Glendale,
was to interject design elements into the plan to break up the long
space. He accomplished this in part by varying ceiling heights between
the kitchen and the family room, designing a kitchen island and
matching a bookcase in the kitchen to those flanking the fireplace in
the adjoining room. "We introduced some of wood cabinetry from
the family room in the kitchen to visually interrupt the sight
line," he says.
Freysinger says he and the homeowners went back and forth on the
layout of the kitchen, particularly the island element. "Islands
are such great gathering spots," he says, noting the owners are
pleased with the decision to incorporate it into the plans.
The homeowner selected pendant lights over the island, which serve
as another visual break between rooms.
Though the couple are empty nesters, their college-age children
come home frequently and the couple often entertain other family
members who live nearby.
"There are a lot of things going on in the space,"
Freysinger says, "and the challenge was how to make them all fit
granite counters are Black Galaxy Island and the island is
Juperana Classico Supreme. The coppery undertones of the
island granite pick up the cabinets and play off the 4-by-4
copper tiles on the backsplash. The farm sink is made of
Much like the original owners of this Glendale home, the current
homeownersí tastes trend toward modern.
The house was built in the 1970s and designed by an Oconomowoc
architect. In a 1975 write-up in the Milwaukee Sentinel, the home is
described as contemporary with Spanish stylings. "The most
spectacular interior space in the house is the two story living room
with its semicircular conversation pit facing the fireplace,"
according to the article.
Now more than 30 years later, the new owners are putting their 21st
century stamp on the space. They leveled out the multilevel first
floor and tore out the shag carpeting. In the kitchen, Mexican tile
and dark wood cabinets gave way to cherry cabinetry and a walnut
floor. The homeowner originally wanted to install tile on the floor,
but B&E General Contractors, Glendale, advised against it due to
structural issues. B&E designer Tove Kenyon suggested walnut
flooring. "As long as we were doing wood, I said, ĎLetís do
something different,í" Kenyon says. "You can get a lot of
darker looks out of it."
The house is located on a wooded lot along the Milwaukee River. In
order to capitalize on the scenery, a first-floor laundry between the
kitchen and family room was eliminated, which then connected the
kitchen and family room.
"The trend now is to open up rooms to each other," Kenyon
says. "It wasnít in the í70s."
The conversation pit remains a focal point in the home. The yellow
shag carpeting gave way to the walnut floor and the couch was
reupholstered. "We had to keep the conversation pit Ö it was,
and is, a conversation piece," Kenyon says.