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Study in white
Neutral shades work with tradition and contemporary designs

Photos by Doug Edmunds

January 2013

A large square island replaces a kitchen table in this Silver Lake home.  The new layout allows for additional seating.

Natural State

Refreshingly light and natural come to mind when you enter the kitchen of this Silver Lake residence. The homeowner desired an organic feel for the interior when planning the custom house built by Colby Construction.

Kent Johnson of Johnson Design in Oconomowoc followed her lead by designing a large open area for the heart of the home.

Island-style seating for six invites family and guests to congregate for conversation or a meal. The homeowner saw pictures in magazines that inspired her idea for the dual-purpose food prep and eating area.

A natural, light-colored stone backsplash complements the gray and blue-toned glass tile and adds a hint of color against the granite countertops. "It’s all natural stone. I didn’t want any manmade stone," the homeowner says.

The soft blue wall color blends with the white custom cabinets built by Wood Specialties Inc. in Menomonee Falls. The stained wood surround above the Wolf range and refreshment center breaks up the light colors and carries through to the wood-top island with white base. "I didn’t want it all white," says the homeowner.

Adjacent to the main kitchen is a cozy seating area with a commanding view of the lake. French doors on either side of the room lead to a screened porch and grilling area.

The Starks of Mequon wanted a home
with a kitchen that was bold, artistic and playful — where their family could easily relax and share together. This gallery-worthy space that includes a uniquely curved center island, hand-carved range hood, granite countertops, backsplashes and many more surprises throughout does just that.


Medieval Overtones

"I didn’t want traditional or Colonial, I wanted a mini-castle, something that was a little more modern than an old gothic feel," says Bonnie Starks, who moved into her new construction home in 2007. A major part of the design included the kitchen. "I wanted it to be ‘Bonnie-style.’ I took what my thoughts were, based on modern pictures, and put it all together."

What developed, thanks to builders, designers and Starks’ boundless imagination, was a kitchen that leaves guests in awe. Towering mitered-front cabinets fill vertical spaces. Crown molding regally completes the sky-high styling. Recessed lighting and hand-carved pendant lights give the space a mystical glow.

But it is the soft-and-sumptuous curvature of the island that first captures the attention. Boldly black at the homeowner’s request, the piece was a massive undertaking that many companies initially said could not be done. Made from more than 20 individual parts, the island is a work of art and utility created by Matthew Tollefsen, an A. Fillinger custom cabinet designer. The furniture-like island was made of poplar and maple. The range hood itself boasts an intricate hand-carved design worthy of a gallery hall.

"The island was a huge deal for me," Starks says of the kitchen project that took nearly a year to complete. "I love all the storage. In fact, we still have empty spaces. My husband and I love to cook, and now we have enough room to get around each other. It’s really a lot of fun."

Time-honored preservation was at the root of the remodel in the Parks family’s Mequon kitchen. Marble countertops, custom white cabinetry (some with vintage-inspired glass inserts) and many space-saving accents give this space its traditional appeal and modern utility.


'40s Fresh

Susan Parks of Mequon wanted a kitchen remodel that stayed within the framework of her 1940s English Tudor home. The family worked with RP Custom Homes to achieve the look. The Parks had already worked with the company to have their master bathroom updated and were eager for a fresh start in the kitchen. "The original kitchen was designed as an institutional work space, which became outdated over time," Parks says.

Although the kitchen had been previously remodeled, the look had long grown dated. Before, the cabinets were shorter and had a laminate finish. A partition separated the kitchen from the dining space, and there were kitchen soffits to deal with. "We opted to leave the soffits alone and instead hide them behind the elegant crown molding," says Robb Perlewitz of RP Custom Homes.

Throughout the house, exposed natural wood prevails. Yet, this renovation represented an opportunity to depart from that aesthetic. Now, painted white custom cabinetry brightens the space. White marble slab countertops reflect loads of light, and an antique white farmhouse sink offers a cheerful glow of its own. The design of the custom cabinet doors mimics that of the Parks’ dining room doors. To further create this new look of balance, subtle rope lighting was used for accent, and embossed wallpaper, reminiscent of ceiling tin, provided traditional flair.

Along with working around soffits, the contractors also worked around the kitchen’s heavy duty stove, the maple floors (that were bleached and sanded) and existing windows. The cherry wood island and painted cabinetry are all custom. Some cabinets throughout the space include glass fronts, yet not the store-bought kind — custom glass made to look old, wavy and to fit the time period. Even custom bell jar light fixtures complete the space and complement what Perlewitz calls the "flavor and character of the house." 



This story ran in the January 2013 issue of: