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Counter Intelligence
Smart kitchen designs reflect homeowners' personalities


Running the Numbers

The owner of this Whitefish Bay Colonial did his due diligence before he bought his house in April 2008, looking at dozens of properties with the help of his Realtor, Shorewest’s Kate Kenlay. "I wasn’t sold on it right away because the kitchen and baths were so outdated," the homeowner says. After Kenlay introduced him to architectural designer Peter Wells of Wells Design and his interior-designer wife, Marianne Kohlmann of Blue Hot Design, the homeowner began to see the home’s possibilities. "I had drawings in my hand before I even closed on the house," he says. Kitchen renovations included removing a wall that separated the kitchen from the dinette. "We wanted to make it a bigger, brighter space," Kohlmann says, "one that is pleasant to cook in and entertain in." The owner, who travels extensively as a partner at a Big 4 accounting firm, says he cooks every night he is at home. "In my house prior to this one, I did carry out every night." Looking at the investment from a numbers perspective, the owner estimates he would have spent between $50,000 to $100,000 more for a similar house in move-in condition. One of his favorite features in the kitchen is the 10-foot-long Iroko wood countertop, a perfect place for friends to gather, set up a laptop or watch the flat screen TV.

Peaceful Continuity

The views inside this newly remodeled kitchen in Chenequa are as stunning as the glorious views of Pine Lake beyond. Residential designer Jeff Schmidt of JLS Designs in Milwaukee worked in concert with the homeowner to orchestrate the extensive face-lift of the English Georgian home. "The homeowner and I agreed that we wanted to use elements that were more architecturally pure with the style of the house," Schmidt says. Cream-colored custom birch cabinets replaced the old mint green 1950s St. Charles cabinetry. The Crown City hardware is a reproduction of polished chrome antique freezer latches. The island is built out of reclaimed pine and the top is end-grain maple butcher block in small parquet style cuts. "We chose the butcher block because we felt we wanted the island to be more of a focal point and look more like an antique piece of furniture," Schmidt says. The countertops are Ann Sacks Israeli Blue Limestone and the floor is Eastern Amber limestone installed by Dragon Fly in Milwaukee. A helpful addition to the room is the ladder, which gives the homeowner easy access to the upper cabinets.




Urban Aesthetic

When Mike and Abbey Line moved from their Third Ward condo to the suburbs, they didn’t leave behind their urban sense of style. For the better part of two years they have been renovating their Bayside ranch home to reflect their minimalist design sensibilities. The kitchen is the most dramatic interpretation of that with its Glacier White Corian countertops and island, and contrasting white glass and mocha-stained wood cabinets. Abbey’s sister, an architect in Chicago, drew up the plans; construction work was completed by Dwelling Renovations in Grafton. The galley-style kitchen and laundry room were gutted and additional space was gleaned for the cabinetry from a closet in the dining room. "We wanted to make sure we had enough storage," she says. "That is something we were missing in the Third Ward." Her favorite element of the award-winning kitchen is the spa green honed slate floor. The Lines had originally picked out something different but were concerned about how it would wear, particularly during the sloppy winter months. Her sister suggested the natural stone, which Line says sparkles like a starry sky. "It’s pretty amazing stone. I wouldn’t change it for the world."





Farmhouse Modern

Appearances can be deceiving when it comes to Richard and Jeanette Weinz’s town of Merton home. A pleasant yellow farmhouse greets visitors when they pull in the driveway, but a contemporary kitchen with unique materials, finishes, modern amenities and a funky island await when they walk in the door. The Weinz kitchen boasts top-of-the-line appliances, and interior-features galore inside the cabinets, including a hidden message center, chrome pullouts for spices and storage, built-in knife wood insert in the concrete countertop, and custom metal artistic touches that the Weinz’s made themselves. Large corrugated metal pieces installed by Richard Weinz, line the ceiling and front of the island to create a focal point when entering the room. The OAR Group in Elm Grove used custom cabinetry with a custom stain matched to the owner’s sample — a chocolate brown with a hint of plum. Weinz also made the stainless steel hood, countertop supports and the flip-up stainless steel panel for a cabinet door. Multiple countertop surfaces were combined using engineered quartz in a mustard color that highlights the 48-inch long meandering Elkay Mystic entertainment sink on the island. Quartz and concrete are used for the three-tier space with the elevated bar area as well as the perimeter tops. Jeanette Weinz says she collected ideas through the years that she wanted to use in her kitchen. When Stephanie Quinn of the OAR Group asked Weinz what she wanted to include in the space, she handed her book of ideas over and said, "All of this!"

Mission Accomplished

When John and Nancy O’Donnell bought their town of Cedarburg home in 1997, they remodeled everything but the kitchen. More than a decade later, they decided it was time for a kitchen redo. They worked with the architect who had done the original remodel, Jim Chambers of FWC Architects, and kitchen designer Tove Kenyon of B&E General Contractors. "We have a living room, a large family room in the basement and plenty of other areas in the house, but everyone congregates in our kitchen," Nancy O’Donnell says. To accommodate, she wanted to eliminate the dining room, but she says her husband wasn’t in favor of it. After consulting with a Realtor, she gave up on the idea. The newly configured space still works beautifully for entertaining, she says. Special features of the kitchen include a wine captain in the granite-topped center island, semi-custom maple cabinets and an arts and crafts style wood range hood. O’Donnell says she wasn’t a cook for most of her life, but now that she is retired she is inspired by her new kitchen. "I’m learning and having a great time," she says.



A Forest Feel

There is an open flow, yet areas between the dining room and kitchen in Mike and Ellyn Helberg’s Oconomowoc home remain distinct. The French Country style is highlighted with the soft green-colored walls and white moulding, and lends a fresh, organic feel to the space. The forest green granite countertops contrast with the antique white cabinets. The pattern tile behind the stove adds a nice element to the space. Mike Helberg, owner of Helberg Homes, worked with Tiffany Peirick of Peirick’s Kitchen & Bath Cabinets in Watertown on the overall design of the kitchen. The jars above the stove are antique tobacco jars that Mike Helberg collects; it is one of the largest collections in the Midwest. Several of the copper pots hanging above the island are Helberg’s family heirlooms. His mother is from Finland and several of the pots are from Europe dating back more than 300 years. A butler’s pantry on the left provides additional storage and a prep area while entertaining guests. M