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Building character
Waterville Lake home is a labor of love integrating reclaimed items into new construction


September 2012

Reclaimed wood from the original barn gained new life on the walls, beams and floors in the bar area. "The biggest concern was the smell because they had bats living in the barn," says homeowner Cindy Gear. No one was sure if they could get the smell out, but the man who dismantled it had the wood cleaned and treated to get rid of orders and bugs. The Gears had a custom bar built surrounding the center back bar, which was reclaimed from an 1810 townhouse in Chicago. Cindy found it at an Elkhorn flea market. "It was trashed, chipped and painted, with a number of coats of red and white peeling paint," says Gear. The storage units on either side are new and were blended into the original piece to make it look like one unit. "We wanted the room to be dark so it felt like a bar," says Gear.
Photos by Doug Edmunds

Ken and Cindy Gear saw the potential when they pulled into the four-acre property on Waterville Lake. The decrepit home and barn, constructed in 1850, would have to go ó but not without salvaging everything they could and giving it away. The couple kept a few things for themselves, including the four front columns and hardwood floors.

The Gears were not in a rush to build their dream home. They purchased the property in 2003 and moved into their new 4,600-square-foot home, built by Moore Designs, in 2008. They took their time collecting architectural antique items and integrating them into the design and style of the interior of their new home.

Custom cabinets in painted cream with a chocolate glaze brighten the kitchen and blend nicely with the Juperano Persia granite countertops. Hardwood floors are handscraped hickory stained a dark brown to accent the countertops and Tatami Tan colored walls. "The great thing about the kitchen is that itís really functional and I do a lot of cooking," says Cindy Gear. The center island is her prep area with sink and large granite countertop. She has close to 25 people in her family, so itís large enough for everyone to socialize and help out. A walk-in pantry and baking center are located to the right.
Photos by Doug Edmunds

"My intention was to have a house that you would feel was from the 1920s, 1930s or 1940s on Lake Drive. It has a timeless, classic feel," says Cindy Gear, who owns her own interior design firm, Gear Interiors LLC.

"We wanted to have a lake view, but it wasnít our one and only focus," says Gear. "It was executed so well and so seamless, it feels so well put together. I could not have done this without Moore Designs."

The attention to detail is also evident outdoors. LandWorks Landscape Services designed and planted the yard, creating an inviting atmosphere for family and guests.

Gearís love for reclaiming and reusing items is evident throughout their house. She also gets her weekly fix through volunteer work she does at Habitat for Humanity ReStore on 114 and Burleigh streets.

Trees near the lake provide plenty of shade. The bluestone terrace carries the color scheme from the indoors to the outside. "The bluestone in the terrace was picked up from the gray slate in the house," says Robert Diel, landscape architect/project manager at LandWorks Landscape Services. The green plants with yellow flowers called coreopsis adds a soft texture on the edge of the patio and sways in the wind. "I like movement in the landscape," Diel says.
Photos by Doug Edmunds

Antique pillars provide a unique entrance to the terrace. "We wanted to create some kind of entryway to the backyard," says Amee Lapke of LandWorks Landscape Services. Cindy Gear and Bob Diel suggested saving the columns from the original home and using them on the terrace. Kevin Enright of K2 Structures erected the pillars and built four boxes, one for each pillar, to add height to the structure. The terrace is designed with two seating areas ó one for entertaining, one for grilling. A water feature provides soothing sounds.
Photos by Doug Edmunds

A "soft wall" filled with living plants was installed to meet the lake code that restricts solid walls to no more than 2 feet in height. The Lannon outcrop steps were curved to give a softer look and to guide people to the lower patio and into the home. Perennial shrubs and plants, sprinkled with some annuals, add interest from the upper and lower terraces.
Photos by Doug Edmunds

The three doorways leading onto the back patio give the feel of an older home and a great view of the lake. Hardwood floors are throughout the first floor and a large Persian rug (from Shabahang Rugs) gives a warm feel to the space. Cindy Gear designed the concept of the bookcase that contains shelves that move around to reveal a flatscreen behind.
Photos by Doug Edmunds

Ken and Cindy Gear found the antique wood pillars and archway in the foyer at I Love Funkies in Fort Atkinson. The hand-carved quarter-sawn oak pillars came from a home on Lake Drive in Milwaukee built in 1842. "They were in pretty good shape, but I had them striped and redone," says Cindy Gear. The arched design carries from the doorway through the entrance into the living room. 
Photos by Doug Edmunds


This story ran in the September 2012 issue of: