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A repurposed gem
Newly remodeled, eclectically styled Whitefish Bay home masters the art of open concept living

Photos by Doug Edmunds

March 2016

A perfect blend of repurposed and new details, the dining room features a table made from original-to-the-home red fir, upholstered button-back chairs, an antique hand-knotted wool Serapi rug and colorful art.

A repurposed home intersects with a repurposed life in Whitefish Bay, where build and design professionals created a rustic, modern gem.

Longtime area home builder Jim Hoffman and wife, Pat, are reveling in the project’s outcome, a sprawling domicile that offers expansive Lake Michigan views, new living spaces melded into early 20th century English/French country architecture and walkable distance to the village’s retail district.

Under an umbrella of beams and beneath a vaulted ceiling, the great room, once the space for a full-sized indoor swimming pool, now provides elegantly informal relaxation with a linear gas ribbon fireplace beneath the flat-screen television. A clip sofa, a pair of peppercorn swivel chairs on stainless steel bases and a hand-knotted rug inspired by a tribal design solidify the modernized, rustic feel.


"Being in Mequon was great to raise our children, but we thought long and hard to plan for the next phase of life," Pat says. She notes that phase will include exploring the area by bicycle and entertaining an expanded family that now includes grandchildren. The Hoffmans comfortably entertained a group of 28 this past Christmas.

The key to achieving their dream came in the form of carving out open concept living by creating a new great room with fireplace in a former indoor swimming pool space. The living area now flows to a kitchen on one side and a sunroom and dining room on the other. A first-floor master suite bedroom and bath were added, and updates were made to other first-floor space, including what the Hoffmans dub their library — a room adorned with their piano and an original fireplace.


Painted and upholstered from a previous home of the Hoffmans’, the sunroom’s repurposed rattan chairs and loveseat complement the large cocktail table and black iron snake lamps.

The home’s décor includes repurposed slate taken from the home’s original roof and area brick peppered throughout the first floor. Jim set up a woodshop in the height-expanded basement so that every new cabinet and door could be handmade on-site. He says he looked upon the home purchase and more than three-year renovation as a personal challenge, similar to an extent that he had seen in his home building business.

He also knew that the project needed professional interior design help, so he called upon Warren Barnett Interiors of Brookfield, who put Emily Ebben and Kathleen Blake on the job.


Waking up to sunny Lake Michigan views is a scenic treat in the master bedroom. Charming touches include a French Empire era bed with silver leaf highlights and pewter nail heads, transitional nightstands, swivel chairs in celery and taupe and layered area rugs — an acid-etched silver leaf hide over a darker Tribeca finish.

"I am a big believer in collaboration between interior and architectural design," Jim says. "I know what I like, but I know working with others is better."

He and Ebben refer to the décor style as a higher form of eclectic — a "brilliant eclectic" that marries a wide variety of textures, shapes and colors.

A clawless soaking tub and tiered capiz shell chandelier help set the tone for an inviting master bathroom.

For example, one of Jim’s favorite furniture pieces is a modern glass-topped coffee table on a zinc base, a cast of an actual tree trunk. It’s the kind of piece he appreciates, he says, from quality designers who knew how to convert he and Pat from their previous taste in heavy Tuscan pieces.

Ebben says the home’s favored neutral color palette includes a number of fun fabrics such as mohair and hides.

The kitchen shines with a sophisticated island topped with polished iceberg quartz that plays well with its hand-crafted base. Accompanying cabinets have been painted, stained and distressed — all made in the home’s basement workshop by craftsmen employed by homeowner and professional home builder Jim Hoffman.

"We played with textures and color," she says. "We did a lot mixing of black, gray and white and included fire engine red accents." Color accents are seen in bold abstract art like the 10-foot painting in the dining room.

Homeowners and designer say they have no favorite room. Instead, they point out the various views to the lake from expansive windows.

"The view from each room is different," Jim says. "Each is special." m



This story ran in the March 2016 issue of: