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Recently renovated
Three local kitchen transformations

Photos by Doug Edmunds

January 2016


Expanded cooking options paired with richly crafted counters and cabinets are perfect choices for this midcentury modern makeover. Alaskan White granite has a starring role in the countertops and island, which features a chopping block and seating room to gather.

Open Sesame

Where: Elm Grove / Renovation time: Five months / Cost: $125,000 / Splurged on: The walnut chop block and linear sink in the island / Saved on: Reusing the existing terrazzo floors / Biggest impact: Flow and function

Expanded space extends the possibilities. That notion was put into practice by Terri Schmidt, owner-designer of Delafield’s Dream House Dream Kitchens, when she helped an Elm Grove family expand the capabilities of their midcentury modern home’s kitchen.

Opening the 650-square-foot space for accessibility to the living and dining rooms and a view to a three-sided fireplace was the intent.

"The most important thing was space planning for flow and function for everyday and entertaining," Schmidt says.

Function was achieved in the island, where the beauty of an Alaskan White granite countertop is matched by the versatile function of two sinks for food prep and presentation, refrigeration drawers for fruits and vegetables, as well as meats and cheeses, a beverage cooler and wine storage.

The heart of cooking and refrigeration is supported by a Wolf/Sub-Zero package. Cooking choices include cooktop and built-in induction and high-output burners, perfect for wok cooking. Hot beverages are available in a customized coffee dispenser built in just above the oven.

Color splashes lead to an elegant extension of cabinetry, providing storage and a pause between dining room and kitchen.

A custom in-kitchen formal cabinet combination, a pantry extends space and possibilities with a toaster and sandwich-making area.

Versatile functionality is dressed in charcoal-stained Shaker door cabinetry with brushed nickel pulls, glass-accented ceramic tile backsplash, refurbished existing terrazzo floor, recessed and square opaque glass and brushed nickel pendants. Sleek island chairs of stainless steel and dark espresso fabric complete the room.

This was a case where reality matched imagination. "It absolutely turned out the way it was envisioned," Schmidt says. "It so improves the way the family lives their life."


The simple elegance of the 1920s blends perfectly with plenty of subtle modern touches in this Milwaukee lakefront Tudor.

Period Piece

Where: Milwaukee / Renovation time: Eight months / Cost: Owners won’t say, though extensive infrastructure work supports high-end aesthetics / Splurged on: Granite countertops and birch millwork / Saved on: Maple hardwood flooring / Biggest impact: Floor-to-ceiling birch cabinetry throughout the 400 square feet of kitchen and pantry

When the owners of a 1920s-era expansive Tudor on Lake Drive needed an update to its 1980s-renovated kitchen, they called on Glendale-based Gabor Design Build.

The refined look of birchextends to the butler’s pantry, an expansion that required careful effort to match the original detail. Period lighting above was sourced by the homeowner.

"The focus was to emulate the 1920s and still meet today’s standards," says Nathan Gabor, the firm’s owner and project manager.

It was a twofold approach to address mechanicals like extending an HVAC system, installing new LED lighting and raising the ceiling to 10 feet while giving the room a stately feel.

Design was inspired by floor-to-ceiling birch cabinets lining one side of an adjoining, existing butler’s pantry. After removing part of an incinerator chimney stack, expert millwork matched not only the existing birch on the opposite side, but was extended floor to ceiling throughout the kitchen. The cabinetry provides plenty of leaded glass and opaque storage and expertly hides the Sub-Zero refrigerator, warming drawer and dishwasher — accentuating the room’s simple lines.

That simplicity plays well with classic modern touches, such as a green granite countertop and island, green herringbone pattern marble and white subway tile behind the Wolf range, a double range and warming drawer, a farmhouse and prep sink and flat screen television.

The involved homeowner also sourced period lighting and brass shell pulls for the pantry.

Gabor credits several local companies that partnered with his firm, including Burmeister Woodworking Co. of Hales Corners, Milwaukee’s Nu-Town Painting, Heritage Lighting in Cedarburg and Shorewood’s Oxford Glass.

With other Milwaukee projects to his firm’s credit, Gabor says, "This is one of the best kitchens we have done lately."


Modernizing an original barn meant blending white marble countertops and cabinets and stainless steel with wood beams, floor and furniture.

Barn Charm

Photos by David Bader

Where: Elm Grove / Renovation time: Six months, as part of a whole-house renovation / Cost: Between $100,000 and $125,000 / Splurged on: Sub-Zero appliances and marble countertops / Saved on: Ceramic backsplash / Biggest impact: Marble countertops amid farmhouse eclectic feel

A garage fire generated all the inspiration needed for Geoff and Macee Wilber to renovate their historic Elm Grove home. As a result, their kitchen now has a naturally modern aura for a family of five that loves to cook for themselves and entertain guests.

It’s a remarkable but period-nod change for the home, which was originally converted from a barn in the 1850s, expanded in the 1940s, and added on in piecemeal fashion until the Wilbers took advantage of their fire misfortune to rid themselves of the home’s 1980s aura.


Sliding rail wood doors and an opened view to a hearth reflect this home’s history.

"We wanted to keep the rustic feel and update it to our needs," Macee says.

Delafield-based design-build firm Bartelt. The Remodeling Resource incorporated the historic influences into a modern framework by blending the clean white lines of classically simple cabinets, stainless steel appliances and bronze fixtures with touches of a distressed cherrywood island top, Douglas fir beams and sliding doors separating the dining room and doubling the width of the wood floors with 4-inch-wide oak plank.

Tile backsplash with modest shelving provides a homey touch.

Designer Matt Retzak of Bartelt says the project was a "typical balancing act" of giving the client modern conveniences such as two islands — one for prep and one for seating and serving — and two beverage refrigerators. It was all done in an expanded footprint of about 400 square feet.

By completing those improvements as well as improving the kitchen’s sightline to the large, picturesque lot, the designer says the project "hit a home run on all counts."

Macee agrees. "Now we have a kitchen that is perfect," she says. "It’s exactly what we need." M


This story ran in the January 2016 issue of: