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Kitchen Styling
5 renovations cater to owners' tastes


January 2014

Faithful Redo
Photo by Jim Tschetter

When Stephanie Quinn of Modern Edge Design visited the downtown Milwaukee condo of a potential client, she saw a kitchen that, while functional, needed an update.

"The kitchen had honed black granite countertops, very beautiful," Quinn says, "but it lacked pizazz and needed spicing up. When I saw the space I knew we needed exotic woods — more stylish and sophisticated."

So she hired a custom craftsman to reface the kitchen cabinets with a Zebrano wood veneer — an exotic wood with shades of cream and charcoal. They also installed built-in drawer boxes, components such as pullouts, spice racks and other kitchen organizers. But what really stands out are the book-matched veneers — the grain that runs cleanly from cabinet to cabinet.

Quinn finds she uses something different — like the Zebrano wood — with each new project. "I find that people want something more unique, something special that no one else has. So I use something that I’ve never used before. The client can get an individual look. It’s not necessarily expensive."

The condo owner loves her new kitchen. "She says it finally fits who she is," Quinn says. "She’s stylish and fun and lively and now the kitchen is too. She says it’s the kitchen that should have always been there."

Right Reno
Photo by John Kimpel

Steve and Kadie Jelenchick were drawn to the stately 1930s Tudor on Newberry Boulevard in Milwaukee for its architectural features but knew the outdated kitchen would have to be redone.

"We wanted a kitchen where we could relax but also looked like it had been there a long time," Steve Jelenchick says.

They called in architect Joy Peot-Shields and began renovation, with Crestone Construction as the general contractor. They originally wanted to stay within the existing space but decided to do a more complete renovation by moving the back door and a bathroom in order to create a more workable kitchen.

During the work, the Jelenchicks’ home was selected to be the 2013 Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse for a Cure. Suddenly everything went into hyperdrive. Essentially, the remodel needed to be done in 60 days so that "the designers could come in and work their magic," says Peot-Shields.

First Quality Woodwork matched the profile of the original butler’s pantry and designed extensive new inset cabinetry to match. The countertops are Vermont Danby Marble, which gives the look of Carrara marble but is harder and more durable. White Heritage subway tiles with dark gray grout were chosen to fit in with the historic nature of the house as true subway tile is designed to be set tightly with almost no grout between the joints.

"Our favorite element of the kitchen is all the light we have," Jelenchick says. "There was a door that went to the backyard and we put a window there. Getting that extra window, it was unbelievable how much light it brought in. Sunlight allows you to see all the other features, the tile and the architectural features. We love how authentic the kitchen is to the house. It’s such a pleasant place to be."

Confirmation of Peot-Shields’ and Crestone’s work as well as the Jelenchicks’ decisions became apparent when the walls were opened during construction. The "new" sink was precisely in the same location as the original sink. The "new" window — which replaced the 1970s kitchen door — was in exactly the same location as an original window.

The Jelenchicks’ neighbors have lived next door for close to 40 years. After the remodel, the neighbors confided that everyone who had lived in the house had tried to do something with the kitchen but never got it right.

"I think we got it right," Jelenchick says.

Good Neighbors
Photo by Doug Edmunds

The owners of a 1970s Colonial in Mequon came to Wade Design & Construction to update and redesign their kitchen. The homeowner also just happened to be a neighbor.

"We’ve done probably 10 other kitchens in the neighborhood," Michael Wade says. "Our specialty is taking houses from the 1960s and 1970s into the 2000s. People who live here love the neighborhood. It’s very special with a clubhouse and lake, etc., but more than that, people develop friendships with their neighbors and don’t want to move."

The project wasn’t without its challenges. In the current bar area, the ceiling dropped down 7 feet and was held up with a steel post. Wade used this structural limitation as an opportunity to create a fully equipped bar and entertainment area. The dark wood ceiling was painted the same color as the hickory floor and the post was built into a column with a matching column on the other side for balance.

A technology closet was built behind the bar. The owner installed a Sonos home theater system; all the electronic components are integrated into one central area and an iPhone can turn on the system anywhere within the home.

"From a techie guy standpoint, I really like this," Wade says. "There is all the equipment but you don’t see any of it. The owner ran all of the wires before we finished the drywall. You can do Pandora from the kitchen and a movie in the family room and everything is run from Wi-Fi."

Another highlight is the custom cabinets. The American cherry island’s lower cabinets were dyed a rich black color, then clear-coated to achieve the right sheen. The upper cabinets were painted with Sherwin-Williams Snowbound. All the cabinets were finished with a premium precatalyzed lacquer finish where a hardener is mixed into the paint to make it extremely durable. "They stay beautiful for a long time," Wade says.

The homeowners are now happily ensconced in the same house in the same neighborhood but with a brand-new beautiful kitchen.

Wow Execution
Photo by Mark Heffron

Interior designer Jeff Billstrom of Callen Construction was called in by the clients — co-owners of a business with two young children — to rework the layout of their Cedarburg kitchen.

Billstrom knew he had a challenge. "Originally I was given a certain budget. We met and they said if you can ‘wow us’ — they used that word —‘we will extend the budget.’"

So Billstrom wowed them. In the original layout, the butler’s pantry, closet and fireplace were taking up 40 percent of the space. He took out the butler’s pantry and closet, moved the fireplace, and now 100 percent of the space is usable.

This wasn’t easily done. The pantry area contained a load-bearing wall that held the second floor and roof loads. In order to get the new look but keep the function, Billstrom used engineered laminated veneer lumber to create a flush header above the ceiling line, held up by a single load-bearing column covered with cherry wood and trimmed with cherry crown and base moldings to match the kitchen cabinetry.

Other changes included adding a 9-foot kitchen island. "The island is always a focal point — no matter where you put the food, people congregate around the island. I know this because I also have children and we have an island. This island was a dream. You could probably put 20 people around it," he laughs.

The island and the counters were topped with Volga Blue Granite. Water and chlorine from the pool off the kitchen had damaged the oak floor, which was replaced with ceramic tile. Porcelain tile that looks like wood was used in the living room. 



This story ran in the January 2014 issue of: