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Ultimate kitchens
Three rooms, three challenges, three stunning solutions.


July 2016


The 2½ -monthlong effort brought new life (and light) to this East Side kitchen.

Character Match

Photography by Mike Kaskel

Some kitchen makeovers just don’t work.

That’s what the new owners of a nearly 100-year-old home on Milwaukee’s East Side discovered with their kitchen. Despite recent remodeling, the kitchen was neither functional nor beautiful. It did not match the character of the rest of the home.

Enter Lisa Minetti of Peabody’s Interiors, Brown Deer, and Kris Bilty of Renaissance Design & Renovation, Elm Grove. The pair oversaw a 2½-monthlong effort that included, among other things, a rearranged floor plan, a butler’s pantry showcase, creation of a walk-in pantry, and the installation of new appliances, wine cabinet, cabinetry, hardware and lighting.

The result? "A timeless kitchen that looks like it’s been there since the home was built in the 1920s," says Bilty. The desired design fundamentals were approachable, practical, upscale and relaxed but still classical, and it was achieved on time and within budget. Minetti says the homeowners — he is a former professional chef — love their new kitchen. "The kitchen now lives very well," she says.

Keys to Success:

» A natural stone selection for some surfaces "jump-started the whole project" as well as a natural mineral glass tile backsplash. "The homeowner says this is her favorite part," Minetti says.

» Bilty is proud of the timelessness of the finished product.

"It matches the existing character of the home," she says. Of the space planning, Bilty adds that "there is now a flow in everything."


A Mequon kitchen renovation maximizes the room’s Lake Michigan views.

In Full View

Photography by Doug Edmunds

If you’re lucky enough to live on Lake Michigan, you want to make sure you take full advantage of it.

That was the goal of Mike Wade of Wade Design & Construction Inc., Mequon, and the owners of a 60-year-old Mequon home situated right on Lake Michigan.

The "before" was a home characteristic of the 1950s; that is, well-defined rooms connected by standard-sized doorways. There was little openness, and according to Wade, it felt rather claustrophobic.

The challenge was to open up the entire living space to make maximum use of the Lake Michigan setting and views.

Wade took down several walls and provided the needed structural support. He and his team moved a stairway to create a circulation corridor and unified the flooring throughout the first floor. They installed large patio doors looking out on the lake, which, with two other sets of doors, will open onto a deck that will be constructed at a later date.

"We increased the glass surface on the east side of the home facing the lake," Wade says.

The "after" is a home that’s more modern than many homes in the area, and one that takes full advantage of the beauty that is Lake Michigan.

What Else?

Custom-made walnut stained cabinets. A beautiful counterpoint to:

» Light gray quartzite stone countertops with flecks of blue

» A custom-made baking center with lower countertops at a specially designed height, perfect for kneading dough


Coffered ceilings link the kitchen and living rooms, providing a seamless transition between the two spaces.

Drawn Together

Photography by Doug Edmunds

Dan Betla of River Bend Studio LLC, Grafton, describes his client’s original, traditional country kitchen in Mequon as dark, outdated and well broken in by the homeowners — a family that once included four growing children. Now that the homeowners are empty nesters, Betla says it was time "to give them a nicer space."

"So we opened up the kitchen to give it much more of a presence," he continues. "We stole just over 2 feet from a laundry room to allow some drama around a new nearby bay window."

A remodeled back hallway gives the homeowners a good-sized walk-in pantry, and a bumped-out wall over a stoop allows for an office space and skylight.

But what both Betla and the homeowners like the most are the coffered ceilings,

which mimic the ceilings in the adjacent family room and sunroom — a touch that draws the rooms together.

Add state-of-the-art appliances, dramatic lighting and contrasting-colored stone for countertops and the island, and you have a home fit for a couple who loves to entertain. M

Special Touches:

» All appliances are panel-covered and flush with the cabinetry

» An expanded island for additional seating

» An arch with columns between the kitchen and the family room that dually differentiates the two rooms and draws them together



This story ran in the July 2016 issue of: