and Kathy Kuchler of Delafield peruse a cookbook while
trying to decide what to make for dinner. The kitchen
mixes beautiful woods with tumbled stone tiles. Designer
Amy Seckinger of Hickory Hill Homes in Delafield chose a
unique wall treatment to create a European-feel finish.
Hickory Hill Homes
constructed the Kuchler house.
and Kathy Kuchler opted for a large great room and sunroom
when they built their Delafield home instead of the formal
Kuchler is an expert at seeing things that dont exist yet.
Dick is an engineer, said his
wife Kathy. He can imagine what something will look like while
its still on paper. Im a visual person and I want to
actually see something. Then I can decide.
When it came to designing their
Delafield home, the couples different skills created a perfect
complement. They took advantage both of Dicks engineering
vision to imagine possibilities and Kathys view for visual
detail to flesh out the fine points. The result was a 3,000-square
foot hilltop home that is at once European classic and
all-American contemporary. Though the couple moved in just three
months ago, when they celebrate their first Christmas there this
year, its likely to seem as if the family has lived there
The Kuchlers came to the building
process with a bit of experience. The couple first built a home
together in 1973. The effort was so successful, they stayed in
that house for 27 years, raising their children, refining their
living space, learning to work things through, and collecting
memories that would last. Once the children were grown, however,
the Kuchlers were ready for a change. Like many empty-nesters,
they thought about buying a condo.
But Dick really likes to do yard
work, Kathy said. So we decided to build again.
The fact that their home seems so
settled so quickly is the result of working from two principles
uncompromising attention to detail and refusing to settle for
less than what they really wanted.
Visitors to the stone-faced
dwelling arrive via a paver-edged stamped concrete walkway that
leads to a sheltered front entry.
We wanted that Old World
cobblestone look, Dick said. I didnt like the idea of
putting bricks on dirt. We liked the rustic feel of the stamped
The spacious foyer teases visitors
with glimpses of the pretty rooms and views beyond. Oversize tiles
in neutral stone-like shades set the stage for the homes
commitment to a carved-from-nature feel. A medallion, laser cut
from Italian marble, creates a focal point underfoot while an
alabaster light fixture draws the eye upward. An oversized framed
mirror hangs across from the entry door, reflecting the pleasant
outdoor scene from the open entry as well as from street-facing
windows in the adjacent dining room. The foyer also boasts a huge
walk-in closet that would be the dream of any couple who loves to
entertain. Its space is especially designed to organize, protect
and keep handy several table leaves, table pads and extra folding
bathroom continues the Old World theme throughout the
house with its stone-trimmed tub surround and porcelain
In our other house, we were
always running down to the basement to get extra chairs, Dick
The dining room opens to the right
of the foyer. Done in the neutral shades Kathy loves, its walls
are hand-decorated in a faux stripe over wainscoting.
Choosing the paint color was the
most frustrating process we went through, Dick said.
Kathy agreed. For me, the color
had to be right, she said. We did samples on boards and
changed it a couple of times.
Amy Seckinger, a design coordinator
with Hickory Hill Homes in Delafield, the builder with whom the
Kuchlers worked with, had added a third point of view.
For the dining room, I might
have suggested a deep dramatic color, she said, but Kathys
choice of neutrals throughout the home creates a more elegant feel
and lets the fabrics and furniture pop out.
Neutral backgrounds also create a
fine counterpoint to the elegant woodwork throughout the home.
Painted in a shade called muslin, the wood seems warmer than
that painted in starker tones of white, adding to the overall
The kitchen is accessed through the
open space that flows from the entry, or from the dining room
through a well-stocked butlers pantry that features plenty of
storage for crystal and china and a built-in wine cooler.
A short walk through either access
leads visitors into the interesting, inviting kitchen. The
Kuchlers refer to its unique wall treatment as Amys wall
because she personally supervised the creating of its
Its done this way to create
the look of an old home, Seckinger said. The plaster was
hand-troweled then painted and glazed. The look was inspired by
that of Old World English country houses.
The kitchen successfully mixes
beautiful woods with tumbled stone tiles. The ceiling is finished
in natural pine while the floor is done in random-planked hickory.
Birch cabinets are stained and sealed, then glazed with whitewash.
Doors in the home are cut from poplar.
Kathy was a little worried when
she first saw the floor, said Dick, an avid woodworker. I
wanted hickory because it has so much interest. I assured her that
after it was stained, the varigations would blend well.
Kathy trusted Dicks eye for
beautiful wood and set about choosing appliances like the Viking
gas range and double ovens.
The kitchen has clearly been
designed to accommodate more than one cook at a time.
Both Dick and I like to cook,
said Kathy. We wanted a kitchen that was fun to cook in and
that was open so we could still be part of the group.
Kathy searched through magazines
for ideas that add even more appeal to their favorite room. The
dishwasher, a European import, is so quiet, you hardly know its
running, Kathy said. Ample cabinets include huge drawers for pots
and pans. The kitchens uniquely-shaped center sink island
features a polished granite counter top.
A second smaller sink was installed
in a special food preparation center along one wall. Designed to
look like a piece of furniture, the center also features a butcher
block top, bread drawer and baskets for potatoes and onions. Like
the rest of the room, its overall appearance is enriched with fine
attention to detail.
The finish carpenter did a
wonderful job, Kathy said. Everything is so well matched and
Kathy also selected a central vac
system that catches crumbs with a flick of a switch and a large
pantry where she can store odd-sized small appliances and lots of
keep-on-hand foods. One spot in their kitchen, however, has been
set aside for something other than cooking. A large cupboard near
the butlers pantry holds books and toys for Cailie, the Kuchlers
She put her stuff in there on
moving day, Kathy said. Now its the first place she goes
when she visits.
Past the pantry, a short hallway
features a huge coat closet that provides abundant storage for
cold weather clothing and gear. It then opens into a
two-and-a-half car garage with another nice bonus a second
stairway to the basement.
The wing also features a guest
bedroom, currently claimed by Cailie, a second bedroom, full bath
and large linen closet.
The kitchen is open to the great
room, formally decorated this time of year for the holidays.
We had a formal living room in
our other house, Kathy said. The only time it got used was
on Christmas day. In this house we decided to put the space to use
as a great room and add a sunroom. We have the most beautiful
dining room is located off the spacious kitchen and
carries on the neutral colors of the home.
The great rooms design was
reworked to accommodate the Kuchlers desire for a large
fireplace, then revamped when Dick insisted on a particular
location for his entertainment center.
I had selected the large TV
early on, Dick said, and set that space aside for it. They
tried to get me to switch its location. Eventually they hit upon
building a pull-out system.
Now the huge screen TV and
accessories rest on a swiveling drawer that allows the set
to be seen clearly from the kitchen as well as from the
comfortable sofas in the great room.
We wanted two sofas so the whole
family could relax and watch TV, Kathy said.
The familys office opens across
the hall that leads to the master suite, which includes a private
bedroom, full bath, lots of closets and laundry room.
We wanted the laundry room at
our end of the house, Dick said. The well-equipped room
incorporates a pull-down ironing board, spacious sewing area and
direct access to the master bath.
With its stone-trimmed tub
surround, porcelain floor tile, walk-in shower with tumbled stone
insets and stone-trimmed curved archways, the master bath
re-creates more of the Old World feel. Because the room is used
only by adults, the couple had counter tops installed slightly
higher than normal. Instead of the more common double sinks, they
opted for a single sink and a separate mirrored vanity area.
In our other house, we werent
competing to use the sink. We were competing for counter space,
The master bedroom overlooks the
wide lot where Dick plans to plant wildflowers next spring, and
the informal firepit where the family can gather on summer
evenings just as they would up north.
Though the house still needs some
finishing touches (the electrician, for example, wanted them to
live with their furniture arrangements for a while before
installing in-floor outlets), the Kuchlers are totally satisfied
with their new home.
We couldnt have done it
without Amy, Dick said. It turned out just as I envisioned.
It was fun designing it,
Kathy added, and really fun seeing it all come together.