series of Sputnick chandeliers stand out against the original
ceiling beams that were painted white for a fresh look. Other
updates to the room included installing a new floor and
repairing cracks in the original plaster walls.
In searching for
an older character home in a walkable community, Sharath and Nirmal
Raja narrowed in on a 1920s English-inspired white brick house on a
double lot in Whitefish Bay. But before they made an offer to
purchase, they walked through the house with Nathan Gabor of Gabor
Design Build to discuss a potential renovation.
has an eye for the possibilities," Sharath says. Nirmal is an
interdisciplinary artist whose media include drawing, printmaking,
painting and video installation. "I am interested in duality and
dichotomy in my work and life, and that spills over to my decorating
style as well," Nirmal says, though she is quick to note that she
and Sharath like the same things. "He has an intuitive sense for
design and appreciates good art," she says.
bold blue accent wall highlights the custom molding on the
ceiling. Existing kitchen cabinets and counters were repurposed
in the new layout.
In the move from
Mequon to Whitefish Bay, the couple wanted a house with a neighborhood
feel, but also wanted their new house to have the same amenities as
the one they were leaving. Their initial thoughts on renovation
included turning a three-season sunroom into a mudroom and laundry
room, expanding one of the bedrooms for their son and finishing the
basement. As the plans evolved, renovation work touched on nearly all
the rooms of the house as well as the exterior spaces. "We plan
to be in the house for the foreseeable future and we wanted to make it
fit our needs," Sharath says.
The kitchen had
been remodeled previously and the cabinets and countertops were reused
in a revamped layout that included an island with bar seating and a
better connection between the cooking area and the dining space.
Nirmal was inspired by a molding detail she had seen somewhere, and
Neuís Building Center and Gaborís carpenters translated it onto
the kitchen ceiling and on the second-floor landing.
three-season room turned mudroom and laundry room features
unfinished 1920s basement into an inhabitable space posed the biggest
challenges during the renovation. Work included digging out the old
slab and 8 inches of soil, vacuuming out the pea-soup-textured sludge
and installing new sump pumps, waterproofing and preparing the site
for a new slab. Now, the water-free lower level is a favorite hangout
for the coupleís teenage son. (They also have a college-age
custom contemporary wrought-iron railing in the entry stands out
against the white walls and traditional architectural details.
The existing floor looks like new after it was resurfaced.
The Rajas both
say they enjoy the light-filled living room the best. "I find
myself going there to read or work on the laptop," Nirmal says.
"I like bright airy spaces and cannot bear dimly lit rooms during
the day, and especially in the cold Wisconsin winters."
In every room of
the house, the eclectic design creates an interesting marriage between
modern and traditional. "I love to combine really old, well-used
objects with modern classics, and very traditional Eastern functional
objects and artwork with contemporary streamlined furniture,"
Nirmal Raja says.
It works, Gabor
says, because the traditional elements, such as the millwork, provide
a uniformity to the house. "The Middle-Eastern or Asian artifacts
are more of an architectural centerpiece," he says.
Nirmal says, "Sharath and I want the home to be welcoming and
interesting, a space where people want to linger and feel comfortable
enough to do so." m