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A collective effort
Nashotah home was a collaborative project among homeowners, designers and contractors

Photos by Doug Edmunds

January 2016


Rugged elegance rules the living room by mixing wood, leather, stone and softer tones of fabric — all pulled together on a large, lighter-tone area rug that balances the natural light streaming in from both sides of the wood- and stone-draped fireplace.

For Cameron and Dawn Knuth, building and moving into a new home meant more than fulfilling a lifestyle need for their family, which includes two children and two dogs. It also meant meeting that need with very specific style.

That style evolved as a blended art form, even as finishing touches continue to be applied to their 6,800-square-foot Nashotah home with six bedrooms and 5½ baths. Just a few varied style descriptions — "transitional (or updated classic), European lodge with touches of English and Italian" — were provided by Bill Koehnlein and Michael John Weber of Collaborative Design in Waukesha. Their work over three years was a collective effort with Pat Seegers and Jim Siepmann, partners in Ascent Custom Homes of Waukesha, MBH Architect of Delafield and the Knuths.

The builder and designers credited Dawn Knuth for her vision.

"It’s not very often you work with a client with such a knack for interior design and taste," Siepmann says, adding his company tried to hire Dawn for future projects. Said Koehnlein, "We worked well with Dawn’s refined vision and attention to detail."


The diverse collection of textures in the hearth room reflects the tastes of the homeowners — and apparently one of their pet canines. The eclectic items include oversized leather chairs, a table made from a reclaimed antique factory cart and a buffalo skin rug. The rich wood panels in the left background are an extension of the kitchen pantry, made to look like an armoire.

With a central theme of warm, neutral tones, the home’s style is a balancing act between casual and formal living with masculine and feminine effects. The result is worldly traveler meets dressy rustic.

Casual family time or more formalized entertainment are accomplished, for example, in the open concept, linking a kitchen, dining room and hearth room. Casual and formal elements are found in the kitchen’s large island with a heavy, carved base and multitoned quartzite countertop. The adjoining dining room, where fabric chairs mirror the kitchen’s, and the cozy hearth room are perfect for a pre-dinner gathering or just a place to hang out around the fireplace.


Earth-tone wood elements, including a beamed ceiling, island base and a metal-look stove hood, link this combination casual kitchen with adjoining more formal dining space. Note the iron and glass mixed chandelier and pendant lighting, the introduction of a softer, lighter cabinetry on the far left, and how the ever-present stone perfectly ties in a backsplash and accent wall.

The living room is a smart blend of rich wood and stone. On one end, the fireplace face is a rustic textured stone surrounded by an elegant, dark stained wood that flows above the mantel to the coffered ceiling. Arched wood and glass doorways on either side leading to the exterior patio offer natural light. More rustic stone archways at the room’s opposite end and inside the front door frame earthy leather, fabric and wood furnishings.

The designers infused a spa-like color palette in the master bedroom and bath. The heavy wood and leather used in the king- size bed, nightstands and bench are softened with blue-gray, textured fabrics in the bedspread and pillows as well subtle plaid cloth chairs in the ample bay window conversation area. The view to the backyard patio, pool and cabana further emphasizes relaxing luxury.

That same feel extends to the bath, where soft, natural tones are dotted with more blue-grays and the ever-present rich-tone wood.

The lower level’s style takes rustic even further — think Irish pub or rathskeller — with barn wood beam and pocket doors leading to a home theater.

Dawn Knuth said all the work is a vision accomplished. "I wanted a home for all of us and to entertain," she says. "Everyone listened to what we needed. It was a great experience." M

Medieval meets modern in this entrance to the lower level theater. A reclaimed barn beam and the crafted knotty alder pocket doors frame the perfect entrance to today’s entertaining comfort.



This master bedroom doubles as the perfect hideaway, with ample room to relax at a conversation bay window area overlooking the exterior’s pool and cabana.
This master bath defines quaint spa-like grace by incorporating a walk-in doorless shower with heated rack claw-foot tub and an iron and crystal chandelier suspended from the vaulted ceiling.



This story ran in the January 2016 issue of: