attention to detail in the cottage designed by Bill Koehnlein of
Collaborative Design elevates this space far beyond the
expected. Koehnlein designed the fireplace, which includes
Gothic arches, stone, brick, quarter-sawn white oak and plaster,
incorporating a corner detail in the plaster work that was
commonly used at the turn of the 20th century. Koehnlein picked
up the zebra rug at auction; the ottoman in the seating area is
upholstered with a Tibetan rug and inspired the color palette.
"I like to mix old pieces in with new pieces,"
Koehnlein says. "It gives it a special, well-traveled
While some drive
hours to an Up North getaway, one Waukesha County family can leave it
all behind simply by walking across the driveway.
"I had been
looking for a place Up North for a long time, but we donít have time
to drive five hours to get somewhere," the homeowner says.
"This turned into Up North for me," she says of the cottage
that was built to complement the Tudor style of their 1920s home.
Gothic arches at the top of the stairs become an architectural
feature around a necessary support post. The custom designed
booth with built-in television comfortably seats 12 for dining,
gaming or socializing. To the right of the seating area is a
built-in bar that opens up for extra counter space; behind it,
the cottageís mechanicals are housed.
But this is no
ordinary cottage. Well-conceived details, expert craftsmanship and a
few surprises make this space an extraordinary place in which to
had strong design ideas and began as the general contractor, working
with many friends and relatives in the trades, including mason
contractor Dennis Grimm. "As it was being built, the space
dictated what it needed to be," the homeowner says. "It took
tons more time, but it made it much more interesting of a space."
owner wanted to incorporate her antique marble collection into
the balusters, but they were too small. An artist in West
Virginia created the effect; many of the marbles are signed, and
they spin in the balusters. "Everyone who comes in has to
spin them when they come up the stairs," the homeowner
says. The floor in the entry and the stair treads are end-grain
oak, creating a cottagey impression. The newel post echoes the
marble detail; the dark-stained handrail and a detail on the
stair treads visually tie in the darker floors upstairs with the
lighter tones pictured here.
Along the way
she met Bill Koehnlein of Collaborative Design, who took over the
project when the homeowners went on an extended trip overseas.
"Finding him was like a gem for me," the homeowner says.
"He literally collaborates with you. He took what I was thinking
and made it better."
When she was
looking for a cottage door, he came up with a concept to modify a slab
door into something unique; when she wanted a specific glass detail on
the balusters on the stairs, he found an artist who could accomplish
it. She envisioned the fireplace to appear as it would if it were in
an old attic, with space to walk behind it. Koehnleinís stylized
design is rich in Old World details, and the fireplace has become the
focal point of the room.
Koehnlein designed a bench for the entry to look like it came
from an old church. Behind the bench is a secret panel that
houses electronic equipment.
plaster walls, angled fumed white oak ceilings, a hand-hammered zinc
island and rich textiles are among the many details that express the
visual story. Koehnlein describes the design as eclectic, ageless
style. "I wanted to make sure this house is timeless. Itís a
reflection of the lifestyle of my clients as well as befitting of the
existing home on the property," he says. "In 30 years it
will still have this classic architectural appeal."
window in the white oak shower door lines up with the window
inside the shower. A skylight above the mirror also brings in
natural light and highlights the roomís architecture.
distinct seating areas allow up to 30 people to sit comfortably.
"It can accommodate a lot of people considering itís not a real
large space," Koehnlein says.
single person who comes in plops down on the couch and puts their feet
up on the ottoman," the homeowner says. "Itís warm and
inviting, not too formal and not too woodsy.
not be what everyone would want to live in every day of their lives,
but thatís not what itís meant to be," she says. "When
you go Up North you leave your daily duties behind. I can come here
for an hour to clear my head, and when I come back to the house, I
feel like I just had a vacation." m