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A storybook ending
Whimsical home blends high design and function

Photos by Doug Edmunds

May 2015

Despite tearing down the existing home on their Elm Grove lot, homeowners Madan and Gwen Kandula wanted their new house to blend into the established feel of the surrounding neighborhood. The couple hired John Van Rooy of John Van Rooy Architecture, Milwaukee, to take on the challenge. "They didn’t want the house to feel brand new or old — but timeless," says Van Rooy. Playing off of the Kandulas’ vision, Van Rooy designed a whimsical, story book-like facade for the new home, adding small cosmetic details to make it appear aged.

Rooy and the team at Moore Designs Inc., West Bend, worked together to rearrange how the new home was positioned on the site, a process that also involved enlarging the outdoor living space. "The Kandulas wanted to expand the backyard and create a large, private area to enjoy outdoor time together as a family," says Van Rooy. Landscape architect Scott Byron of Scott Byron & Co., Lake Bluff, Ill., was tasked with transforming the yard into one conducive to an outdoor-loving family of five. "We concentrated on family entertainment and family togetherness," adds Byron.

Creating a kid-friendly interior space was also high on the Kandulas’ priority list. "Our goal was to have a really beautiful place to live, but I didn’t want anything too precious to use," laughs Gwen, adding that her three kids have recently taken to roller blading through the kitchen. "No space was meant to be designed in a way where they (the family) couldn’t use it on a regular basis," says Jessica Jubelirer of Jessica Jubelirer Design, Whitefish Bay, who worked as the project’s interior designer.

The result is a collection of uniquely distinct spaces — each marrying high design and function without being uninviting or pretentious. The gathering room’s richly upholstered chairs, for example, are actually swivel-based lounge chairs, allowing users to turn between the coffee table and TV with ease, and the terra-cotta flooring throughout the main entryway conveys a sense of age and permanence. "We really love that everything looks so lived-in and comfortable," adds Gwen. "It just felt like home from the moment we moved in."

John Van Rooy and Jessica Jubelirer of Jessica Jubelirer Design, Whitefish Bay, worked together to meld the interior design of the home with its exterior architecture. A defined skylight is broken down into nine sections, purposefully syncing with the light fixture’s design and structure.

The formal living room, which also functions as the family’s music room, reflects the Kandulas’ appreciation for unique, handcrafted pieces. Jubelirer designed and fabricated the fireplace to have a clean take on a traditional French mantelpiece, and the custom-made coffee table is inset with hand-blocked Italian leather.

The gathering room’s wire-brushed and whitewashed ceiling enhances the intimacy of the space, and the window treatments, though refined and elegant, are made from more casual fabrics. "Warm finishes and warmth come at you from every direction," adds Jubelirer.

The pewter tone of the master bathroom’s wallpaper sets a warm, rich backdrop, and the Nero Marquina marble floor provides a new depth of luxury. A brightly colored ottoman injects a splash of color into the otherwise neutral-toned room.

The oldest daughter’s bedroom is dressed in turquoise and hot pink tones — two colors she can "grow into as a teenager," says Jubelirer. A freestanding sofa functions as a place to perch, read a book or daydream, and the scalloped shape used throughout the drapery treatments complement the headboard’s design.


Spunky accents — like cheetah print carpeting and a floral balloon ceiling fixture — capture the personality of the Kandulas’ youngest daughter, whom Jubelirer describes as "the perfect blend of firecracker and sweet little girl."

Gwen Kandula affectionately refers to her family’s backyard as a "private oasis." Landscape architect Scott Byron separated the backyard into outdoor "rooms," using pear trees and boxwood to create three distinct areas.




This story ran in the May 2015 issue of: