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Modern Character
A Kohler area home blends family-friendly comfort and contemporary style.


Oct. 2017

The pressed tin ceiling inlay was entirely the homeowner’s idea — and her vision brought to life. Interior designer Jessica Forston added the leather bar stools, which balance the kitchen’s modern, clean-lined aesthetic with the rustic nature of a nearby informal dining table.

The dining room, which Forston describes as “casual but formal,” boasts a custom-made, solid-wood table made in the mountains of North Carolina. “It was handcrafted to the exact inch,” she adds.

Despite having good bones, many homes require certain tweaks or updates to accommodate their new owners’ wants and needs — or, in the case of this Kohler area home, an extensive, whole-house renovation spanning nearly a year’s time.

“When you look at the space in its entirety, we reconfigured it to better suit the family lifestyle,” says Steven Peskie, principal of Sheboygan Falls-based Distinctive Design Studio, LLC. The architectural designer collaborated with the homeowners to transform their home into one custom-tailored to satisfy the needs of their young family, which includes five children under the age of 17 and an English bulldog. The kitchen layout was redesigned to improve functionality, common living spaces were added, and thoughtful architectural features were incorporated throughout the home to soften the space.

 The family room combines user-friendly fabrics with playful touches, like the faux dinosaur skull Forston pulled specifically to appease the family’s youngest son.
(The family’s bulldog loves this room too.)

“The vaulted ceilings were there originally,” explains Peskie, “but there was nothing on the ceiling. It felt very open and cold. … That’s why I prescribed adding the tongue-and-groove wood beams. They brought some warmth into the space, and also brought some of (the room’s) height down.” The beams’ deep, walnut color appears in other areas of the home too, establishing an overall sense of continuity between the various rooms.

As the renovation neared completion, the homeowners enlisted the expertise of interior designer Jessica Forston of Fringe Interior Design & Home Furnishings in Whitefish Bay to add the finishing touches. “Because they have such a busy lifestyle, they wanted to come home to something that’s nice and soothing,” says Forston, who incorporated a neutral color palette rich in tone and texture to achieve her clients’ desired look. With five children and a dog roaming about, durability was imperative, so Forston pulled kid-proof and pet-proof fabrics for each piece of furniture, from the dining room’s easy-to-wipe leather chairs to the master bedroom’s custom-made bed frame and headboard.

 Forston says she based the master bedroom’s interior design off the existing overhead pendants.
The nightstands’ facades are finished in white shellac, coordinating with the pendants, and the bedding complements their geometric pattern.

The master bathroom’s metal-framework window combines both functionality and style, flooding both the bathroom and adjacent walk-in closet with natural light while enhancing the space’s industrial-chic feel.

Inspired by the home’s architecture and Peskie’s directive to soften and warm the space, Forston also strategically placed organic elements, including greenery and raw wood, in each room. “(The homeowners) asked me to pull back the reins on the modern feel — it was starting to feel too sterile,” she explains. “Adding little rustic pieces to a modern space makes it feel more relaxed. Plus, with authentic wood, you’re not going to notice the dings, scratches and knicks when a child drops a plate on it. (The flaw) just adds to the character of the piece.”

Additional assistance by Forston included rearranging existing furniture and styling bookshelves. “It’s helpful to have a fresh eye come in and switch up the layout,” she says. In the living room, for example, a strikingly beautiful piano was tucked in the corner, so she moved it to a different spot, where it now serves as a focal point of the space. When styling the bookshelves, Forston’s approach involved what she refers to as the “three-pile rule.” “I ask my clients to divide their belongings into three piles: the pile that you have to have on your bookcase, the pile you love but could do without, and then the ‘I couldn’t care less about it’ pile,” she explains. Forston then works with each client to add any supplemental items, from well-traveled accessories and home accents to artwork and books, and styles each shelf appropriately. “Less is best in bookcases,” she adds.

Now, more than two years after initially purchasing the home, the homeowners and their children are settling into their refreshed abode — a refined, family-friendly retreat that seamlessly blends comfort and functionality with modern-rustic style.

Resource Center: How to Re-Create the Look

»A custom-made, statement-making hood by Wolf is positioned above the stove’s gas range.

»The 110-inch-long dining room table, which seats 12, is by Charleston Forge, a furniture company located in North Carolina. The line can be sourced locally at Fringe Interior Design & Home Furnishings.

»The kitchen pairs “greige” cabinetry tones with natural wood and natural quartzite countertops. Architectural designer Steven Peskie sourced the quartzite from Milwaukee-based K.G. Stevens.

»The family room’s reclaimed wood, bluestone-topped coffee table is available through Fringe Interior Design & Home Furnishings.

»The master bathroom’s steam shower features the Kohler DTV Prompt digital showering system, allowing the homeowners to control body sprays and more.

This story ran in the Oct. 2017 issue of: