Sullivans’ expanded sunroom, aglow in natural light and combined
with heated flooring, is a room they can enjoy year-round.
When Kim and Owen
Sullivan of Wauwatosa found themselves on the brink of an empty nest,
the parents of four wanted to find a home to emanate the next phase of
their life. They mulled over a move west to Lake Country, then east to
downtown Milwaukee, but ultimately realized they wanted to stay near and
dear to their beloved Tosa neighborhood.
fitting that, at the onslaught of their decision, Kim discovered a for
sale sign on a house just two blocks down from the Sullivan family home.
Despite its proximity, the Sullivans had never seen the inside of the
What they found
inside was a shocking preservation of the swing era, down to the
original wool carpeting, wallpaper, wood paneling and teal-and-tangerine
color scheme. The only room that had been changed throughout the single
owner’s tenancy was the kitchen — sometime in the 1950s. All of the
appliances were intact.
completely revamped kitchen now serves as an "entertaining
hub" with open views of the family and dining room. A large
kitchen island, floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, a custom metal hood,
and pendant lighting further add inviting elements to the space.
"When we saw
it, I was scared to death and my husband was ready to go," she
laughs. "But from the moment I walked in, I could envision what I
wanted to do. We always had a desire to rebuild or gut a house. We
embarked knowing that everything would have to be redone."
Better yet? They
knew they could stay in their original home while it was being done.
rallied Bartelt. The Remodeling Resource in Delafield for a full-scale
renovation. Project designer Matt Retzak says the home’s original
design, while intriguing, was nonetheless cramped and incohesive, and it
certainly wasn’t conducive to the couple’s penchant for
was very ‘vintage’ — besides the crown molding and the fireplaces,
everything was a blank slate," Retzak says. "We wanted it to
look like this was the way it was originally built, but wanted to
increase the space quite a bit and update it to the way people live
new family room features oak hardwood flooring, a coffered ceiling
and a wet bar — perfect for summer with direct access to the
outdoor entertaining area.
Retzak says they
began by reworking the exterior of the home, where two-story columns and
an odd stucco-and-lannonstone façade stood out like a sore thumb in the
neighborhood. They also made room for a new detached and more functional
Once inside, it
was clear nearly every room in the home would have to be
"completely gutted" and updated, says Retzak. The home was
completely rewired for audio and lighting systems, and concealed storage
— such as floor-to-ceiling cabinetry in the kitchen — was a top
bonus room, once a vacant leeway above the attached garage, was
transformed into a spacious master suite.
Among some of the
remodeling challenges included tearing down walls between the existing
kitchen and dining room to make an "entertaining hub;" moving
the family room into the old attached garage, which required stripping
it down to its foundation; and adding a master suite to the second
floor, complete with a master bathroom, and, using a former bedroom, a
walk-in closet. Part of the second floor was rebuilt and an addition was
added to the home to accommodate the suite, Retzak says.
of the new addition, the master bath boasts a large steam shower,
as well as a freestanding tub and "his and her" pedestal
sinks. The chandelier above the tub was an original light fixture
refurbished for use.
additions, such as the double French doors, lent greater cohesion
between the interior of the residence and the outdoors, where a fire
pit, gardens and two patios were created. Kim says her favorite room in
the house is the expanded sunroom.
gray-and-white color palette throughout the home gave the structure a
classic, yet contemporary feel. Overall, the project took about six
months, Retzak says.
"It was a
great transformation," he says.