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Divinely designed
Waterfront home is rustic yet elegant, formal yet comfortable

Photos by Steinberger Photography

March 2013

At every point and in every room of this home on Egg Harbor in Door County, attention to detail was critical. In the screened-in porch, the post-and-beam construction was hand-framed on site.



There is beautiful, and then there is divine. The modern ranch that sprawls across more than 200 feet of waterfront in Egg Harbor is a robust package of Old- and New-World charm.

Outside of this tinted stucco home is a multigabled roof covered with cedar shake shingles, and parts of the exterior make use of reclaimed barnwood as well. By day, the sun’s reflection off of the harbor floods the picturesque windows with light. At night, bristling fireplaces in the living room, library, dining room and screened porch warm the palatial space.

The style is decidedly country French, with bits and pieces of a warm blend of traditional décor and rustic charm throughout. "We wanted to blend a little bit of the rustic touches and clean areas, almost contemporary, to create that balance," says Donna Sweet, an interior designer/partner with Haven Interiors Ltd. in Milwaukee, who helped to design the interior feel of the house.

Multiple seating options and floor-to-ceiling windows enliven the dining space that makes use of reclaimed timbers on the ceiling and custom accents throughout. The opening to the kitchen makes it easy to keep the conversation flowing at mealtime.

Architectural designer Mitch Wise of Mitch Wise Design in Door County also played an integral role. He helped to rework the home’s design, approve final finishes and fixtures, and worked as the on-site liaison during construction. But it was DeLeer Construction in Green Bay that built the house and various contractors worked to get the specific details just right. From start to finish, Wise estimates that it took about three years to complete.

"When I came in on the project," Sweet says, "the interior architecture was already completed, including cabinetry, detailing and crown molding. We came in at that point to add color and all of those things."

But that was no easy task, as it would require no less than a gargantuan effort to interpret the homeowner’s vision for the grand space. "It was hard to do," Sweet says of the challenge. "We were working off the light and the lake view, and trying to find something that would be soothing and play up all of those details."

A herringbone patterned brick on the foyer ceiling is a textural and visual contrast to the black walnut floors. A circle motif is repeated throughout the house, seen here in the chandelier and the floor.




The result was a soothing, sleek aesthetic filled with muted tones, a diversity of textures and loads of character peeking about every corner.

Wise says everything was well thought out, from the walnut paneling in the library and herringbone-patterned brick on the foyer ceiling, to the playful circle motif that bounces from light fixtures and heating grates, to flooring and some cabinetry. Even the screened-in porch was a priority, in that the post-and-beam construction was hand-framed on site.

In the dining space, the goal was to provide maximum seating without making the room feel crowded or obscuring any of the wonderful lake views. The dining room provides a great backdrop for family and local artwork. Anchored by a fireplace with a flat-screen TV above the mantle, the dining space is large, expansive and inviting. There’s room to sit by the fire, dine at the custom farm table and chat with the family chef in the adjacent kitchen.

The water was the inspiration for the pops of color throughout the living room. Comfortable sofas covered in chenille and mohair welcome guests. Club chairs swivel around for conversation and to take in the breathtaking views. But it’s the accent pillows that add a punch of color and touch of whimsy.

Durable, comfortable seating throughout was a must, and the floors are black walnut throughout, except for the bedrooms, which are covered with wool carpeting. "We knew that people would be sitting in all spaces. And in the summer time, coming and staying," adds Sweet. "You don’t want people to be worrying."

The kitchen sparkles with painted and glazed custom cabinetry. The island boasts a teak countertop and fits in nicely with the surrounding details of the room, including granite countertops, an extended backsplash, built-in appliances and stainless steel and brass hardware.

"(The client) has an amazing eye," Sweet says, "and a beautiful style of her own."

Linen roman shades and a studded bed anchor this guest room that brings together an eclectic mix that includes a classic chandelier and mismatched and distressed nightstands.

One of the guest bedrooms is anchored by a striking chandelier set over the custom bed. Yet, Sweet went for a more casually chic feel here. Inspiration grew from a bedcover the homeowner selected. "We started to think about how we could work with it," Sweet says. From there, she came up with the muted wall color and carpet. Linen roman shades and distressed nightstands help to complete the look.

Here, "it’s all about texture, layering" and surprise, says Sweet. "There’s a lot of what you aren’t expecting here. The mix is a little off. It’s a little less structured, and it doesn’t feel quite as matched."

The great room cheerfully beckons in guests. Silk pillows add pops of color amid the muted landscape indoors and the waterscapes outdoors. "People laugh about pillows, but you can take a neutral sofa and make it look great by putting on a great pillow," Sweet insists.

With its clean lines and chic furnishings, the master bedroom speaks volumes about the homeowner’s sense of style. While comfort may rule most of the other rooms, stylish details reign supreme here. The homeowner’s chinoiserie panels tucked behind the bed add charm and elegance to this otherwise understated space.

Soft, comfy chairs and sofas covered in mohair and chenille add an eclectic yet unifying feel here. "I wanted to use two different fabrics, so the main sofa is mohair. The other sofa, which faces out to the bay, is chenille. The two chairs swivel, which was crucial," the interior designer adds.

Soft, comfortable and inviting. While this house could be taut, rigid and ultra-hands-off, it’s not. Everything is very accessible, welcoming and feels like a place that you’d enjoy as a memorable retreat.

Tile and stonework throughout the house were done by Blackstone International in Waukesha. The two-person shower in the master bath is made from Calcutta marble and glass mosaic tiles.

"She wanted something elegant and comfortable, not uncomfortably large," Wise says of the homeowner’s overarching goal for her new home.

Motorized panels along the curved windows set the stage for drama in the master suite. A commanding chinoiserie panel behind the bed serves as a headboard and adds panache, as do other sleek elements like the leather tufted ottoman, wingback chairs and elegant nightstands and lighting.

The master bath exudes elegance with its custom tub and high-end finishes throughout the space.

To make up for a closet short on space, the room includes additional shelving in a built-in armoire. The master bath includes a custom tub and a two-person shower made from Calcutta marble and glass mosaic tiles.

"I was really pleased with how it came together," says Sweet, who worked with longtime assistant Jane Neuburg on the job. "Doing the work with the client was delightful, and when you’re fortunate to take it to the very end, you make sure that everything feels comfortable. It’s pretty exciting."

Wise agrees. "I am very proud of the whole home. It was a huge undertaking."



This story ran in the March 2013 issue of: