The home’s entryway boasts a fun and fearless blend
of traditional wood and stained glass touches, clean lines, intriguing
textures and bold printed wallpaper.
Reimagining much of her own home recently gave Lynn
Tarrence, founding owner of The Egg Design Group in Milwaukee, a
whole new appreciation for the lifestyle disruption that goes into a
“Going through this has made it easier to empathize with clients,”
Tarrence admits. “It does make you appreciate the inconveniences.”
Tarrence recently transformed her 4,000-square-foot, mixed-style Gothic
Tudor Revival home in a historic district on Milwaukee’s East Side. The
designer maintained the home’s signature exterior, while freshening the
traditional, dark interior with an airy palette, eclectic art and sleek,
The impetus for the project, she explains, was to meet her family’s
evolving lifestyle. With most of her children grown, Tarrence and her
husband moved from their previous Port Washington home into their new
In the dining area, a statement pendant light
recalls the “artichoke” style that has long been a staple of Danish
“This property filled a need,” Tarrence says, noting
a third-floor space could be converted to an apartment for her adult
son who is on the autism spectrum. She also wanted her home to be
more inviting for social gatherings and visits from her
grandchildren and other family members.
The opportunity to unleash her artistry beckoned, but Tarrence first
tackled structural issues, including non-functioning windows, fireplaces
in disrepair and unwieldy closets that interfered with Tarrence’s plans
for an updated master bedroom and bath.
To dress the home’s interior, Tarrence seamlessly blended midcentury
modern, transitional and antique elements against a palette of earth
tones and vivid pops of color to ease the heavy feel of the previous
decor — all without erasing the home’s historic personality.
Modern lines and textures play well with the home’s
The entry provides immediate evidence of the
transformation’s impact. Curved archways were brightened with a
customized pearl finish that complements the classic wooden pillars
and staircase, freshened with a neutral runner. The original tile
floor offers rustic charm. Tarrence opted for vivid printed
wallpaper as an accent, paired with a dresser whose hardware mimics
the paper’s print.
A metal-frame bench topped in white faux fur adds a playful touch.
Tarrence purposefully picked pieces that added more than pops of color
“I like things that have a story,” she notes.
Tarrence opened up her kitchen workspace and
readdressed its flow and storage options. The framed portrait of artist
Frida Kahlo — a reprint of “Frida by Organ Cactus Fence” from the estate
of Nickolas Muray — is a daily reminder for the designer to trust her
own good taste
Stories which, in her own home, come via repurposed
antique and vintage items, like the chestnut dining room table lit
by a modified artichoke-shaped fixture, a sputnik chandelier in the
living room, Italian lucite grape lamps on bedroom nightstands and
two ornate mirrors that lend a vintage vibe to the otherwise
modernized master bath.
The project was an exercise in the joy of personal discovery and
imagination. Tarrence says finding exposed brick for an accent wall in
the master bedroom and successfully developing a fully functional
third-floor apartment are particular points of pride.
But, like most homeowners, Tarrence has a favorite
“My kitchen is heaven,” she says.
To maximize space, radiators were replaced with hydronic heating. An
island topped with creamy quartzite is crafted for storage and painted
white, also housing a swirled copper farmhouse sink. Above it, dangling
wooden beads lend movement and interest to washed-wood chandelier
crafted from an old wine barrel. Live-edge, sugar maple shelves above a
counter are supported by plumbing pipe brackets. Backsplashes are
crafted from handmade tile. Modern appliances, including a hidden
Sub-Zero refrigerator, round out this functional, artful kitchen that
flows into a butler’s pantry complete with a bar.
Converting her home’s third floor into an apartment
Tarrence’s adult son security plus independence.
The completed project is both functional and deeply
personal for the longtime designer, allowing her to unleash her
skills and signature inventiveness to turn the historic home into an
“I have a very good
friend who told me that if someone walks into your house and they love
everything, then you are not being creative enough,” she says.