The Cummings, formerly of Madison,
moved back to Northshore after deciding to give up the daily
three-hour commute from Connecticut into New York City. At the
time, Rocky was chief tax accountant for NBC and Ellen was with
Grant Thorton, a public accounting firm. (These days, Rocky is
with Deloitte & Touche and Ellen works for Mequons M. W.
Kasch Company in Human Resources).
Some people seem destined to
capture the past and restore it to its former glory. The Cummings
first home together was a 1770s farmhouse in Connecticut. Their
Mequon farmhouse, circa 1890, has all the charm of a bygone era
cleverly mixed with modern amenities.
Although the original front door
remains, the entrance to the house is no longer in the front. An
addition to one side of the house has created a foyer and expanded
the kitchen and family room, allowing the addition of a master
suite upstairs. The addition blends beautifully into the original
by creating a wraparound porch, which connects the two entrances.
The paneled ceiling and large
pillars in the foyer echo the craftsmanship of an earlier time.
The front door is original; it was simply re-hung in its new
position. The foyer gives way to the family room on one side and a
generous kitchen on the other.
In the family room, wood paneled
walls and natural fireplace combined with the Cummings choice
in furniture create a cozy, old world feeling.
spaciousness of the home lends itself to one of the
Cummings passions: antiquing.
We spend a lot of time in here,
said Ellen. I love the openness between the family room and the
kitchen. The kitchen is her favorite room in the house. The
large center islanda modern addition to the roomfeatures
mock drawer fronts, hinting at an earlier era. A patterned tile
border of fruit surrounding the surface of the island brightens
the look. The pullout drawers are one of Ellens favorite
features. However, her favorite spot in the room is the generous
brick cooking center. A large custom pantry has swing out racks
for organizing and storage.
Next to the pantry is a pocket
door, which opens to reveal a small powder room. An old claw-foot
tub stands as a monument to days gone by. A small tile topped
cabinet is built into the corner.
The other side of the cooking area
leads to the living and dining room. We use the dining room as
a library reading room, said Ellen. Books and comfortable
chairs finish the room. Around the corner, next to the living room
fireplace is Ellens grandmothers desk. Another family
heirloom, a marble top cocktail table, belonged to Ellens
great-grandparents. We were lucky to get these things,
explained Ellen. My mom was downsizing while we were upsizing.
We got a lot of furniture and art from her.
On the second floor three bedrooms,
used as guest rooms and an office, share space with the master
suite. Hardwood floors and closet space abound. A full walk-up
attic can be accessed at the top of the stairs. Someday we
would like to panel it and make an office up there, explained
The three bedrooms share one very
small bath, only about 4 x 6 feet, including the shower. Its
the smallest bath Ive ever seen, joked Ellen. Its
definitely only one person at a time. They plan to enlarge the
bath by joining it to the large closet in one of the guest rooms.
Green and white marble decorates
the master bath. The leaded glass shower door and detailing around
the mirrors complements the windows in the bedroom. Above the tub
is a painting commissioned for Ellens grandfather, Andre of
The master suite, part of the new
addition, is bathed in light. Incorporated into the original attic
to create a vaulted ceiling, French doors lead out to a wraparound
porch that runs along two sides of the house, mimicking the main
porch below. A gas fireplace in the corner of the room operates by
remote control. Its awesome when youre already in bed,
enthused Ellen. Decorative leaded-glass windows frame the French
doors and help tie the new addition to the homes historical
roots. An antique desk that used to belong to Ellens father and
contemporary watercolors repeat the ongoing theme of blending the
old with the new. (The watercolors) were Rockys, said
Ellen. When we joined households they still fit in.
Karen Cino is a freelance writer
living in Delafield with her husband and their cat. She is
currently working on her first novel.