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Newport of the West
A Victorian home on Fowler Lake is restored to its former glory

Photos by Doug Edmunds

September 2013

An 1884 Victorian home on Fowler Lake in Oconomowoc certainly lives up to the adage of standing the test of time.

It has been home to generations of families, converted to apartments and recently restored to a single-family home by Chris and Frank Both.

The couple contacted Bartelt. The Remodeling Resource and worked with Matt Retzak on redesigning the floor plan.

"We wanted a house that was totally comfortable for family and friends. Some place that was fun to stay at and low maintenance," says Chris Both.

Retzak came up with a new floor plan that included relocating the kitchen to the dining room, which now opens onto a four-season porch and a view of Fowler Lake.

The immense project required taking the home down to the interior studs. The couple had replaced the exterior siding eight years prior, including the windows that were more than 100 years old, which, amazingly, had no rot in the window frames.

Safety was an important factor in tearing the home down to its bare bones. "My concern was that we had 1884 wiring in the walls and we wanted all the wiring and plumbing torn out and redone," Both explains. "They actually had gas and electric lines going to the same fixture."

The house also has four fireplaces that are rather shallow since they were built during the Victorian period. The Boths had two of the four fireplaces retrofitted for gas and found special gas inserts made to fit Victorian fireplaces.

They installed Santos mahogany wood flooring throughout the home for low maintenance. The Boths are enjoying the benefits of an energy-efficient home while retaining the character of the Victorian age.

The original foyer was larger but the Boths had it shortened to add a half bath in the hallway. A newel post and balusters along with the staircase were custom made by Bartelt. The Remodeling Resource out of Santos mahogany.

The kitchen has a Scandinavian feel representing Chris Bothís heritage with its Blue Willow walls and white cabinetry. The black granite contrasts the white subway tile and stainless steel appliances. The decorative backsplash adds a pop of color to the stove area. The tin ceiling harkens to the homeís Victorian roots as do the period-look pewter light fixtures.

The four-season porch has views of Fowler Lake, which Chris and Frank Both enjoy year-round. The room was originally an exterior porch that the Boths converted during the renovation.

The private porch off the master bedroom used to be the outside entrance to a third-floor apartment. Now it is an ideal spot for morning coffee and mediation.

"I was trying to replicate a built-in bed that our family had in Door County," says Both. Barteltís Matt Retzak designed the bed. "I love it and my grandkids love it," says Both. m



This story ran in the September 2013 issue of: