Ken Michaels Furniture
Designers: Michael Carter and Cathy Williams
Michael Carter and Cathy Williams bring a modern design
sensibility to the ballroom to create a chic space for
entertaining guests before and after a dinner party. They
named the room "Vita — A Cocktail Lounge," with
"Vita" being Italian for "life." Candice
Olson furniture and lighting gave the room the element of
luxury the designers wanted. Lush velvets, tone-on-tone prints
and textured solids in silvers, creams and blacks were used as
the foundation of the space. Strong, bold prints and patterns,
along with punches of magenta, add a touch of the unexpected.
The designers’ choice of magenta as the accent color was
meant as a nod toward the purpose of the showhouse —
fundraising to find a cure for breast and prostate cancer.
Mike McGuiness of Caravella Paintworks designed and created
the two murals in the room.
months ago 38 designers looked at the stately 1917 home on Marietta
Avenue to come up with their best ideas in transforming the
6,567-square-foot home into the 2011 Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse.
They started with a house with great bones, from the
Neo-Mediterranean Revival architecture by Robert A. Messmer to the
wrought-iron work by world-renowned Milwaukee artist Cyril Colnick to
the coffered ceiling by famous plasterer Matthew Orlandini. Their
challenge was to reinvent the house without diminishing its historic
features, in other words, transforming an historic home into a
showhouse. Anne Wangman, owner of Forbes Design and chairwoman of the
Design Review Committee, headed a 12-person group that coordinated the
design work. She answers some questions about the showhouse.
Whose house is
The home is
owned by Dr. James B. Stiehl and Martha H. Stiehl. James Stiehl is an
orthopedic surgeon and Martha Stiehl is a former faculty member of
UW-Milwaukee and professional musician with the Milwaukee Symphony
Was there a
challenge posed to the participating designers?
We try not to
dictate to the designers once they are selected to participate. Of
course we have certain guidelines, but the reason they participate is
to show off their talents so we want to let them be creative as
possible. However, we have tightened up the designer selection process
on the front end. The committee worked really hard to ensure that the
designers who were ultimately selected had a proven track record of
great design and also presented ideas for their rooms that were in
keeping with the goals of producing a top showhouse: cutting edge
design, originality and respect for the character of the house.
Room and Conservatory
Boston Store Furniture Gallery
Designers: Glenn Mielke and John Anderson
furniture grouping around the French mahogany fireplace is
anchored by a hand-woven wool rug. The furnishings of
midcentury design create a warm, inviting conversation
grouping. Original artwork gives the space a stylized, updated
flare. The designers were inspired by the classic
architectural elements of the house and imagining how the
original owners used the living room and conservatory for
entertaining nearly a century ago.
Now that the
house has come together, what’s the unifying feeling throughout?
If I had to
define the overall feeling of the house it would be "tradition
with a twist." Some rooms are transitional, some more
traditional, others more contemporary, but it all works. We don’t
want each room to look like the next one, and they don’t. I think
you see the personality and style of each designer in his or her
space. However, the most important unifying feature is that each
designer has tried to respect the architecture of the house and that
results in a certain flow. Additionally, you see a number of colors
repeated throughout the house, and while they may or may not be used
in adjoining rooms, visitors will be exposed to these palettes several
times over, which is another subtle way of creating a unified feel.
How is the
interior design respectful of the style of the house?
faced some unique challenges this year. Some were working in rooms
that had all original details that have been lovingly maintained and
were in top condition, like spectacular fireplaces, woodwork and
windows. Others were in spaces that had been updated 20 years ago and
were really tired. Still others were working with original features
that were just plain and simply dated and not in great condition. Each
designer had to work within the confines of his or her space and I
think they all did an incredible job. What is really exciting is that
this year we added "before" photos to the designer pages in
the catalog so visitors will be able to see what the rooms looked like
before the designers transformed them.
What is going to
wow visitors to the showhouse?
It depends on
each person’s taste. Everyone will find something to love.
Additionally, everyone should be able to walk away with some great
design ideas. Even though the house is a spectacular, elegant home
that most people only dream of living in, our designers have made even
the most formal of rooms feel comfortable, inviting and livable.
Additionally, some of the designers have come up with unique and
creative ideas that anyone can use at home. They’ve also solved some
design problems that many of us face in aging houses. Honestly, each
room has its own "wow" factor.
Thomasville Home Furnishings
Designer: Cathy Anthony
master bedroom is styled in Drexel Heritage’s Philosophies
collection, which features rich, savory colored upholstery,
unique reflective surfaces and dark wood. "(The room)
speaks an elegant, richly rendered language from an era of
Hollywood glamour and opulence," Cathy Anthony says.
If this house
were music, what kind would it be?
best word would be collaborative, which is really popular right now. I
know I am dating myself, but it reminds me of the rock opera
"Tommy" by The Who. It is really a marriage of traditional
and contemporary elements, just like "Tommy" merged opera
and rock. Even though "Tommy" came out decades ago, my kids
tell me it is still relevant today because it was the predecessor to a
lot of the collaborative efforts by today’s musicians.
"Tommy" has a timeless appeal and so does the showhouse.
Visitors will still love it years from now.
story about the lower level?
From what I
understand, at one time in the house’s history, there was a little
old lady who gave dancing lessons to the neighborhood children in the
ballroom. That room in the showhouse is now known as Vita; that little
old lady and her students would have their knickers knocked off if
they could see it now!
How do designers
marry the home’s Neo-Mediterranean Revival style and contemporary
There are many
examples of this throughout the house but the one that visitors will
notice almost immediately is Tom Hoffman’s stunning Tribute Foyer.
This is one of the spaces that was very formal and has lovely original
details like thick moldings, leaded glass doors and an elaborate
crystal chandelier. Tom has completely respected these elements but
has updated the space with a brilliant use of contemporary features.
Two ornate gilded chests and amazing mirrors that belong to the
homeowner flank each side of the foyer. However, he has turned the
whole space on its ear with the use of a more contemporary, neutral
color palette of soft browns painted in wide horizontal stripes on the
walls. They draw your eye into the house and have a very clean, modern
feel. Tom added clear glass lamps, sculptural striped vases and simple
rugs to the space as well. But perhaps the most striking
transformation is the chandelier. He placed uncomplicated brown shades
over each of the bulbs and they give the whole fixture a completely
different look. The chandelier really ties the whole space together.
His juxtaposition of the traditional and the modern creates a dramatic
tension that really speaks to the way much of the house has been
designed for the showhouse.
Designer: Greg Holm
Holm describes the master bedroom sitting area as traditional
with a twist. Furnishings are traditional; artwork is colorful
and contemporary. The room houses the homeowners’ treasured
book collection, and the bright book bindings inspired lively
tangerine and magenta accents in the custom hand-designed rug,
art and accessories. The Louis XV style-writing table is both
classical and modern.
1917 6,567-square-foot, five-bedroom, three-bath
Neo-Mediterranean Revival home was built by respected Milwaukee
architect Robert A. Messmer for Christian and Amanda Kurth and
their three children. It’s located near Lake Michigan in the
Kenwood Park District on Milwaukee’s East Side.