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Three Stories, Three Styles
Every renovation has a backstory. Here’s a look at three kitchens, each crafted with unique inspiration.


January 2017

Photo by Doug Edmunds

Detailed Delight

While revamping the kitchen in a 6,000-square-foot home on Lake Du Bay, just north of Stevens Point, architect Josh Wadzinski of Glendale-based Think Design returned home, so to speak.

Wadzinski called upon his parents, who’ve owned Wad’s Woodworks near Wausau for the past three decades. It wasn’t the first time he had used their resources, but it would be the last, for this project was to be the business’ swan song.

Hired by the owners of a central Wisconsin-based catalog company to transform their home to better host out-of-town clients, Wadzinski designed a kitchen suite enveloped in rich wood and punctuated with custom design elements.

The Arts and Crafts gem is a 700-square-foot kitchen, bar and wine lounge.

Wadzinski made the cabinetry the star attraction, while Wad’s Woodworks infused Pennsylvania wood and cherrywood, adding intricate cruciform and corbel features that emphasize the Arts and Crafts design. A Brazilian cherrywood floor extends the look.

Fifty separate recessed wood pieces, each with its own hardware, form the refrigerator’s façade — a subtle yet strikingly intricate detail. “It’s a very specific look, like an old library card system,” Wadzinski says. “That’s a good example of the unusual details.”

Custom copper-and-brass pendants, cream-colored limestone backsplash, a charcoal and green crystal counter and island top, and a custom metal range hood all complement the rich wood look.

“This was a perfect project for my parents’ business,” Wadzinski says. “I guess it was a good way to end.”


Photo by Doug Edmunds


Cheryl Barenz of Barenz Builders in Menomonee Falls doesn’t mind bringing her work home. In fact, she even showcases her own kitchen to spark ideas for clients.

Located in her West Bend home on Cedar Lake, the kitchen sports the transitional style she favors.

“I like a mix of old and new, with a mix of different textures — items that have a story behind them,” says Barenz.

The mix is palpable. Barn timbers frame a 15-foot-high ceiling, while bright white cabinets and a glossy quartzite countertop draw on contemporary influences. A walnut-board-topped island and wide-plank, walnut board flooring maintain the room’s

rustic charm, and Viking stainless steel appliances satisfy both the aspiring cook and seasoned chef.

“It’s traditional with a twist,” Barenz adds.

Other features include a small “appliance garage” in a corner of the countertop, over-sized subway tile backsplash, a beverage fridge, and two-tone brass candelabra pendants that Barenz says mix modern and traditional design.

“The backs of the lighted cabinets are beadboard to add a coastal quality,” she says.

Massaging the kitchen features was driven by Barenz’s changing tastes and what she thought would be a creative way to show clients various possibilities.

“There’s something to be said about craftsmanship,” Barenz says. “It’s made with love. Those things stand the test of time.”


Photo by Doug Edmunds

Purposely Casual

Within an ambitious makeover of an 8,000-square-foot, second-home retreat on Oconomowoc Lake, interior designer Anne Wangman of Mequon-based Forbes Design carved out a smartly informal kitchen.

Beyond staying within the original space, key components included preserving the builder’s-grade pine cabinets and the floor. The cabinets and island base were painted Benjamin Moore’s Linen White, and the floors were polished to a pleasant pine finish.

“They wanted this to be a fun, casual place,” Wangman says of her clients’ vision. Maintaining a casual tone, Wangman incorporated stainless steel appliances, such as a Wolf range expanded to six burners, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, stove and microwave built-ins, and a wine fridge update.

A straw-colored backsplash replaced a builder-grade version, and a quartz top from Oconomowoc-based J.P. Kitchen Studio, LLC, blends white, gray and sand tones, providing a marble look to the existing island. Overhead antique brass pendant light fixtures continue the upgraded, keep-it-casual approach.

Smartly positioned under a white lantern fixture and open beams, a racetrack-shaped table and ladderback chairs adorn an adjoining dining area.

Designing the kitchen, like the rest of the home, required a team approach, so Wangman called on Andre Walker and David Simmons of East Troy-based Walker Simmons Designs to assist.

Two of Wangman’s favorite takeaways? The project didn’t disturb the home’s basic footprint, and her clients received their desired outcome: an updated, family-friendly kitchen.


This story ran in the January 2017 issue of: