HGTV turns eye our way
Mequon colonial's transformation to star



The next task for Terry O’Shaughnessy is the home’s interior design, which she plans to tackle before HGTV’s taping in March. She knows what she and Jim want. Terry said, “Our style is eclectic, leaning toward Country French. It’s important that our home be warm and friendly. We have a large circle of friends and we hope to entertain a lot.”

Down a winding path amid towering pines and maples sits a spectacularly renovated home on five wooded acres in Mequon. This remodel is so impressive, in fact, that television crews from HGTV, the nationally televised home and garden television cable network, have decided to give the world a glimpse. Homeowners Jim and Terry O’Shaughnessy and the show’s host Pat Simpson will be showcasing this “jewel in the rough” on HGTV’s “Before & After” sometime this spring. The show airs Sundays at 7 and 10 p.m. central.

While this magnificent Milwaukee area home merits the star treatment it’s been receiving, the O’Shaughnessys said HGTV’s demands have been few. “There’s been no pressure. They interviewed us at the onset, then photographed the house four times,” Terry said.

The O’Shaughnessys plan to give a few hours of their time for the “after” interview in March.

The project’s architects, Bruce Jackson Architects and Bartelt-Filo, are looking forward to seeing their work on national TV. “It’s a great boost for Milwaukee to be chosen as a filming site,” said Matt Jahns, project supervisor for Bartelt-Filo. “It’s given the Milwaukee area attention that’s long deserved. People will see that the building practices here are superior to many areas in the country.”

Before & After’s appeal is far reaching, too. According to the show’s associate producer Varina Carriveau, Before & After is one of the most popular shows on HGTV with more than 60 million homes tuning in to HGTV. Before & After is not an ordinary home improvement show. Instead, it offers a design viewpoint featuring before and after floor plans, construction highlights throughout the process and discussions with the project’s homeowners and architects. To be considered for the show, a remodel must include major interior and exterior changes, Carriveau said.

Architect Karl Holtermann of Bartelt-Filo recognized the O’Shaughnessys’ project as an ideal candidate for the show. He spotted Before & After’s host Pat Simpson at a 1999 home remodeling event in downtown Milwaukee and was quick to discuss the project with him. “It changed the home dramatically,” Holtermann said. He described the plans, which included putting on a large addition and updating the existing areas. “What was once a simple colonial has become a rambling English farmhouse.”

The original curved staircase railing in the foyer was removed, reinforced and returned to its former location.

The O’Shaughnessys bought the 65-year-old colonial in the spring of 1999 after looking at only one other property. “It was the second house we looked at on our first day out. We bought it in about eight minutes,” said Terry. It was the home’s old-fashioned charm and beautiful setting that appealed to the O’Shaughnessys, who were moving from a three-year-residence in California. “We lived in Milwaukee for 12 years before moving to California,” Terry said. “Coming back was everything I wanted so this was a chance to sink in the roots I never had.”

The home desperately needed to be updated, which was exactly the challenge Terry sought. An interior design enthusiast, Terry said, “I like to put my own stamp on it.” The couple’s main objectives were to add a large master suite, a four-stall garage and a second floor laundry. Terry also wanted the kitchen opened up to the family room. The plans included a roomy office for Jim and a billiards room as well. But, along with a lengthy list of updates, it was important to the O’Shaughnessys that the home retain its old-fashioned charm.

Bruce Jackson Architects worked on the initial plans with the O’Shaughnessys. “It’s a much changed home, but the style mimics what was there before,” Jackson said. Traditional elements flourish throughout the home’s original and new areas.

The original fieldstone garage was re-created into four new stalls, two of which are flanked in fieldstone. Four of the home’s five fireplaces resemble the original two fireplaces because reclaimed brick was used. Several new areas of the home feature transom windows, a design element borrowed from the early 20th century.

The windows beautifully complement the home’s high traditional ceilings. Built-ins abound, including the original scalloped-shape cabinet in the dining room. Full-height raised paneling graces the library. Beadboard wainscot dresses the back staircase and hall. French doors and crown molding flow throughout both the original and new areas. The list goes on.

HGTV indicated that the O’Shaughnessy home renovation in Mequon will be labeled as show #512 and will air sometime this spring. If you’d like to keep an eye out for this episode, you can log onto and preview the week ahead.

Along with the home’s traditional styling, modern day touches brought the home into the 21st century. “You don’t renovate without adding high efficiency devices,” Jahns said. He noted features such as new Low-E insulated windows, recessed lighting, an office fully equipped for networking, granite countertops, a gas option fireplace in the master bedroom and smooth knot-free cedar siding for superior endurance.

What is most captivating about the O’Shaughnessys’ home is that from every room and every vantage point, the windows and the scenery catch your attention. The home’s surplus of windows draws the outside in, illuminating the home and providing a calming view of an expansive woodland.

Also compelling is the home’s second-level porches, set off the master suite, billiards room and office, which allow easy access to the great outdoors. The O’Shaughnessys also expect to spend much of their time relaxing in their main level screened-in porches. “As weather permits, we’ll be out there,”
said Terry. Fortun-ately, the O’Shaughnessys are familiar with Wisconsin’s fickle climate and added a fireplace to one of the porches.

The renovation didn’t stop with the house. The site’s wooded panorama was breathtaking, and the O’Shaughnessys wanted to enjoy it to the fullest. So they worked with La Rosa Landscape Company to integrate the old world tradition of the home into the site. La Rosa built drystack fieldstone walls to complement the fieldstone garages.

They also laid patios and walkways with tumbled concrete pavers which embrace the home and give guests a warm welcome. New perennial gardens will add beauty to the home’s landscaping, furthermore achieving both Terry’s desire for a low-maintenance landscape and Jim’s interest in flowers.

After several months of living in temporary housing, the O’Shaughnessys were eager to move in to their beautiful dream home and once again enjoy their furnishings that had been sitting in storage for so long.