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Delicately Airy
A modern Menomonee River guest suite embraces tone and texture.


Oct. 2017

Designer Amy Carman turned a neglected guest suite into an ethereal respite in a wooded,
modern home.

The ombré wallpaper and customized desk are the stars of a bedroom filled with
carefully selected details.

Almost seven years after a Wauwatosa couple selected Elm Grove-based Amy Carman Design to put a clean, modern touch on their home’s lower level, they called on Carman again to extend the look to a first-floor guest suite.

The result is a delicately airy space that emphasizes tone and texture, playing well against an outdoor woodsy landscape tucked along the Menomonee River.

“The bedroom was kind of neglected and became a catch-all room,” Carman says. “The bathroom was outdated, and the design was from the original home that was built in the late 1990s or early 2000s. It’s a very private space at the end of the house.

Crackled, ceramic-base lamps sit on nightstands on each side of the bed.

A reading nook includes simple accessories and a plush, faux fur-covered chair. This
sculptural element is meant to draw the eye to the desk.

“You know, we kind of know our client,” Carman says. “She has great taste and a sense of style, so she really inspired what we did for the room.”

To extend that taste and style, the first order of business was to gut the bathroom — a project that would set the tone for the bedroom makeover.

Pale taupe hues dominate the bathroom space, from the painted walls to the porcelain tile-clad shower walls and the 2-inch-by-5-inch mosaic floor tiles. “We miter all the edges of our tile so it is seamless,” Carman says, also noting a 4-inch thick ledge — the vanity top — made from handmade quartz.

The streamlined, three-drawer vanity cabinet was crafted from rift-sawed white oak and finished with a clear coat — a natural extension of the blond woodwork used throughout the house, Carman says. A metal-frame mirror is suspended from a wall bracket and complements the brushed nickel Kohler fixtures.

The bedroom renovation focused on simplicity and detail. Carman points to two stars of the room: the ombré wallpaper that fades from blush pink at the bottom to white at the top to blend with the ceiling, and a desk that has been dressed in interesting texture and accessories. “The wallpaper gives the room an ethereal quality,” Carman continues, adding that this patternless covering is much less forgiving than traditional paper. “We’re lucky that we have a good wallpaper hanger.”

The top of the writing desk is upholstered in a taupe shagreenleather, displaying the fabric’s hallmark sharkskin-like quality, and covered in glass. The desk’s iron base boasts a bronze finish, and its modern chair is upholstered in velvet mohair, with a frame finished in antique gold.

Carman says a favorite desk accessory includes an abstract wire sculpture that sits on a marble base. It is one of several key pieces carefully selected to lightly complement the purposely stark environment. For example, one of two small wall art pieces is an abstract oil painting by woodcut print artist Bryan Nash Gill. “This piece was selected specifically for its representation of the wooded lot that surrounds the house,” Carman explains.

Books and accompanying itemscomplement the décor while reflecting the
client’s personal interests.

A varied selection of accessories for the refurbished bookshelf include items reflective of the client’s taste, such as small sculpture and pottery pieces and books on art, architecture and interesting people.

The rooms’ additional pieces vary in style and texture, from a midcentury modern

reading chair upholstered in plush, faux-white fur to nightstands constructed of burled Mappa wood. A custom-constructed bed upholstered in a chenille textured fabric makes a luxurious statement.

Carman emphasizes the importance of the fit and finish look of each piece. “You are boiling it down to its essence with modern design,” she says the completed project.

Her work on this home is not quite done, though, she says. The next project? “The kitchen,” Carman says, smiling with anticipation.

Resource center: How to re-create the look

»The bathroom’s pendant mirror is from RH Modern.

»The large-format porcelain bathroom tile is by Ann Sacks and can be sourced locally through the Kohler Signature Store in Wauwatosa.

»The bedroom’s ombré wallpaper is by Designers Guild.

»Both the writing desk and the metal sculpture with white stone base perched atop the desk can be acquired through Amy Carman Design.

This story ran in the Oct. 2017 issue of: