Tucked into a wooded lot, this stately Elm Grove
home recently underwent a multiyear renovation, which included extensive
remodeling of the kitchen and guest suite, among other rooms.
The first of many
renovation projects completed by Ruvin Brothers Artisans
& Trades for this Elm Grove home, the sunroom exudes
cozy charm and European panache.
Long-term relationships between a home design-build
company and its client can begin in myriad ways. It took a broken
ceiling pipe in an Elm Grove residence built in the 1930s to forge a
strong association between Mequon-based Ruvin Brothers Artisans &
Trades and homeowners Mike and Barb Lauer.
Total Mechanical repaired the pipe and referred the Lauers to Ruvin to
restore the sunroom ceiling as well as second-floor damage.
Completed in 2011, the restoration project was just the beginning. Over
the six years that followed, the Ruvin team has renovated the Lauers’
bedroom-bathroom guest suite, kitchen and another bathroom. All the
work, they say, was done to preserve and incorporate an interior
As part of a
third-floor guest suite makeover, the guest bedroom
oozes a Euro-cottage feel.
The connecting bathroom includes
waffle-pattern floor tile paired with large-format wall
Ruvin owner and president Tony Enea and lead designer
Julie Voeller recall the progression of projects.
Beginning in late 2011, Enea and Voeller helped the Lauers update an
old, third-floor guest suite, removing walls, ceilings, floors and
insulation. They added custom cabinetry designed to enhance storage,
decorating it with stick-like hardware that matches the bedroom’s
primary light fixture. The suite’s bathroom was transformed into a
neutral, spa-like oasis, complete with a Carrara marble floor,
large-format wall tile, Vicostone quartz countertops and Hudson Valley
The kitchen remodel revitalized a 1980s-designed space that featured
cherry cabinets and granite countertops. “The idea was to lighten
everything up and bring it into today’s style,” Voeller says of the
project. As with the suite, the kitchen finishes, such as the inch-thick
stone floors, were demolished. New Marvin windows were installed, and
Total Mechanical upgraded the kitchen’s electrical, plumbing and
in-floor heating. Among the details are Taj Mahal quartzite countertops,
Quintessenza backsplash tile and antiqued Bleu Fonce limestone floors.
The appliances — a gas cooktop, double oven, warming oven and wine
refrigerator — are Sub-Zero and Wolf.
With a charge
to redesign the kitchen into a brighter, more welcoming
space, the Ruvin team demolished all the finishes,
creating the desired update while maintaining a European
The key to making a contractor-client relationship
work — especially over the course of multiple jobs and years — is
appreciating each other’s skills, say the Ruvin team and homeowner
“Barb has a real European flair,” Enea says. “That’s apparent throughout
the home.” Voeller says that flair, plus a certain confidence in her
choices, makes Barb a good design partner. “She collects European items
and she showcases them, so it’s as much about the interior look as it is
about the exterior architecture,” Voeller says.
For her part, Barb credits a passion for design and being blessed with a
discriminating eye. “I would describe my interior design style more as
‘wabi sabi,’ meaning perfect imperfection, instead of eclectic,” she
says. “I know what I want. Julie and I worked well together.”
Reflecting on how the relationship with the Ruvin pros was formed, Barb
notes her fondness for the sunroom and its needed restoration.
provides respite throughout the year,” she says, “while sitting in a
favorite easy chair with the latest magazines or a good book.”
How to re-create the
guest suite’s bedroom features woodsy-inspired cabinet hardware and
lighting. The hardware can be found at Neu’s Hardware Gallery in
Brookfield and Menomonee Falls, hardwaregallery.com, and the
light fixture is from Elektra Lights & Fans in Wauwatosa,
Carrara marble floor tile, which infuses the guest suite’s bathroom with
an updated, vintage charm, can be found at Childcrest Tile & Stone in
Menomonee Falls. rbctile.com
Lighting fixtures hang over the kitchen island and can be purchased from
Elektra Lights & Fans. elektralights.com
customized kitchen cabinetry, which helped brighten the space from its
original darker motif, is from Burmeister Woodwork Company in Hales
International in Waukesha sourced a variety of floor and countertop
materials throughout the home. bstonemm.com