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Gallery in the sky
The 30th floor of the Kilbourn Tower is the owner’s personal artistic statement

Photos by Doug Edmunds

November 2014

To take full advantage of the views, very few interior walls have been added to the home. Owner Peggy Ann often uses this largest area of the condo for fundraising and other events.

Step off the elevator on the 30th floor of the Kilbourn Tower and you might think you’ve entered an art gallery. In a way you’d be right. But this is no ordinary art gallery. This is the home of Peggy Ann, and what you see around you is the product of a lifetime of collecting.

The master bedroom, situated on the northeast corner of the home overlooking the yacht club and the Milwaukee Art Museum below, is given a splash of color with a lime green chair made of seat belts.

Of course at this height and this location there are stunning views of the lake and city below, but the real story of this home is the art and the owner. Not to say that Peggy Ann has neglected the views. The interior has been designed with a minimal amount of walls so that there are views from every room. "On a clear day you can see as far as Holy Hill. As a creative person, the openness is important to me. I need the space to allow my mind to wander," she says.

In the media room the owner shows her playful side with a puzzle-piece coffee table and a collection of vases placed on their side to resemble jacks.

Everything in the home has been designed to accommodate the art, including the charcoal gray color of the walls and ceiling. "I purposely wanted it dark so that the art would pop. Also, dark ceilings disappear, you hardly notice them and with all these windows it would have been too glaring with white walls and ceiling."

Peggy Ann calls the 6,200-square-foot space "organized chaos." In reality, it is a collection of 15 houses worth of art and furnishings. "I had a log home in Colorado, a ranch home in Arizona, a contemporary barn on a lake and a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Delafield. There are organic and contemporary pieces and antiques. My biggest challenge — and nightmare — was finding a way to combine them all."

The dressing room is centered by a glass chandelier originally hanging in the Ritz hotel Paris. The antiqued mirrors are the work of glass artist Cora Monis, who signed her work with a
profile of herself etched into one of the doors.

After nearly three years of work, she has done something more than simply combine the objects. She has achieved a free-flow between each. Not one looks out of place and taken as a whole, they form a home.

Making such a large space feel warm and cozy is no easy feat. Peggy Ann has done so by putting her touch on every inch of the condo. The collection is personal. Each and every piece, and there are hundreds, means something to Peggy Ann. "Every piece has a story. Either they are things I have collected over the years or they were created by artist friends."

To give the space its indoor-outdoor feel and completely open the terrace to the breakfast room, a hurricane door has been added. Inside, the room is centered by a table made for the owner out of wood from an old barn and situated to take in the views of both the city and the lake.

Throughout the condo, Peggy Ann has added touches of humor and whimsy like the Catbird Seat, a sculpture of a cat sitting on a chair that just happens to be enjoying one of the home’s best views of the city from the media room. In the "Bird Bath" bathroom there are birds walking across the ceiling; the living room table features a work called "The Money Trap," a rat trap clamped on a ceramic replica of Mickey Mouse’s hand with a dollar bill.

Other pieces are more serious. Some of her collection is now worth a lot of money. The framed John Lennon cartoons hanging in her office that she bought in the 1980s for $400 apiece were appraised years ago for $7,000 each. "Money is not the real value of the collection. Some of these pieces are only worth $10. Others are actually from the junkyard. There is not a lot of method to it. I just buy what I like and put it here if I think it fits best. It is a scrapbook of my life."  



This story ran in the November 2014 issue of: