Ellenbecker appreciates the expansive view of Lake Michigan from
her downtown condo after living on the shores of Pewaukee Lake.
As a financial
adviser who primarily consults clients who are retired or nearing
retirement age, Karen Ellenbecker routinely sees retirees build their
dream homes only to be disappointed when suburban living falls short of
their lifestyle expectations. "They put too much thinking into the
house, but not the surrounding community," says Ellenbecker,
founder and strategic adviser for Ellenbecker Investment Group.
"You can’t just hope your lifestyle falls into place."
Patt Krejci hired Trillium Ltd. to do custom decorative painting
throughout the condo. In the master bedroom, an oversized floral
pattern in muted tones that adorns the wall behind the bed is soft
and feminine, yet not overpowering.
So when it came
time for Ellenbecker to decide to move on or stay in her single-family
home on Pewaukee Lake, the 65-year-old opted for a different approach.
"I thought about the lifestyle I wanted and tried to plan
accordingly," she explains.
Ellenbecker decided a condo in downtown Milwaukee better suited her
active lifestyle. "I felt isolated in Pewaukee — particularly in
the winter when all of the windows were closed," she says.
Ellenbecker looked at the Regency on Astor Street at the advice of a
friend who owned a condo in the building. Accustomed to living on a
lake, Ellenbecker liked the sweeping views of Lake Michigan from the
complex’s upper floors. The building’s generous landscaping and a
park directly across the street made up for losing her yard.
the flowers and trees in my yard in Pewaukee so having a nice outdoor
space so close was ideal," she says.
does a lot of entertaining for family and friends so the large
custom kitchen island was a must in the redesign of the space.
two units on the 19th floor, Ellenbecker quickly got to work, hiring
contactor Michael Kellogg to completely overhaul the space. Interior
designer and close friend Patt Krejci helped develop a new floor plan
that better utilized the living space and gave priority to Ellenbecker’s
love for entertaining. "We totally gutted the condo down to the
bone," says Ellenbecker. "It was crazy because the whole
building is concrete. We had to drill through concrete to do the
After seven months
of intensive remodeling, Ellenbecker moved into her condo in July 2013.
Now the 2,000-square-foot unit features a brick accent wall that mimics
the bricks on the outside of the Regency and a custom kitchen island
that can fit 13 people around it.
the rest of the condo, the master bath is done in subtle shades of
cream. The tone-on-tone color scheme carried through in the
cabinetry and the slate floor tiles keeps the space light and
"I do a lot
of entertaining for family, friends and clients," says Ellenbecker,
who has three children and seven grandchildren. "I love to
describes her condo’s style as casual and relaxed. She replaced all of
the windows to take full advantage of the panoramic lake and city views.
"Every window offers amazing views," she says.
the powder room, an ornate vessel sink from Linkasink’s Jewelry
Collection makes a striking statement.
window seating that opens for storage runs along the length of the
windows. More custom cabinetry throughout the condo provides additional
storage — another must-have for Ellenbecker. "I have a place to
put everything," she says.
Textured walls and
decorative painting accents by Trillium Ltd. also enhance the character
of the living space.
admits it was hard to move from the house where she raised her children,
she says the transition to downtown living has been smooth. "I
realize now that you take your home with you," says Ellenbecker.
"It feels so rewarding. I practiced what I preach to my