Asking interior designer Kelly Neumann of Vyolette Design and Consulting to choose the favorite room in her house is like asking a woman to pick her favorite pair of shoes. The sparkly, the comfortable, the sexy — each is a favorite in its own way.
Center of attention
At holiday time — and at just about any gathering of family and friends — the focus is on the dinner table where most of the festivities occur. Like a landscape, a tablescape creates the backdrop for your meal. "A tablescape should draw you in with a variety of interesting details," says Pam Stasney, photo stylist, set decorator and interior designer.
Vintage-inspired decorating
You don’t have to put all your ornaments on the tree, says Dawn Adamec, designer at Steinhafel’s. She has a collection of antique ornaments she likes to display in different ways, such as placing them in a milk glass serving dish.
Spacious retreats
Consider the lowly lower level. It can be the most difficult part of a house to decorate. It may be dark and sometimes damp — and it tends to become the dumping ground for old furniture and other items. But the right design can make these spaces as beautiful and important as any other spot in the home. Here are four stunning lower level redesigns that elevate the basement experience.
Remodeler's dream
Jake Ruiz endured a serious house hunt — from Hartland to Wauwatosa — before putting in an offer five years ago on the 1937 Lannon stone fixer-upper on a dead-end street in West Allis. Yet the house was no dead end: its good bones realized Ruiz’s remodeling dream.
In the spotlight
The lighting in your home is one of those things you might not think much about until you realize it leaves something to be desired. Whether you are highlighting a well-loved piece of art, a food preparation area or your latest shade of lipstick, lighting can make all the difference. Consider these tips on how to achieve the best possible lighting in your home.
Light-bulb moments
Although Christopher Poehlmann may not have intended to cultivate an international reputation as a designer of cutting-edge light fixtures and home furnishings, the former Milwaukee resident has accomplished just that during a prolific career that spans over two decades.
Kid-tested, mother approved
In remodeling their 1922 Shorewood Mediterranean-style house, homeowners Greg and Becky wanted the interiors to be livable for their family of five.
Refined Rustic
Authentic materials, a design vision and amenable homeowners allowed Renaissance Design and Renovation to create a showplace for a Chenequa couple that reflects the homeowner’s love of the equestrian life and the Southwest lifestyle.
Inside the design
For its "in-the-moment" space in the coach house, designer Mara Wierschke and the Warren Barnett team approached the design with a yin-yang concept in mind.
Collected casual
The 1954 Cedarburg ranch wasn’t what Allen and Jody Washatko were looking for, but once they saw the property along the banks of Cedar Creek and the adjoining three-acre woodland, they knew they had found their next home.
In balance with nature
When an Iowa couple gave the nod to an open canvas for Doug Wells to express his creativity, the result was an architectural masterpiece nestled between two kettles on a wooded lot in Elm Grove.
Red envelope
In this very traditional house off of Lake Drive in Milwaukee, Peabody’s Interiors designer José Carlino infuses bold color into the library with bright red walls and a crisp color scheme.
Milwaukee represents
You don’t need to travel to New York City to find furniture and accessories designed by leading-edge firms. Milwaukee is home to some highly regarded design firms with reputations that go far beyond the Midwest.
Chic spaces
It’s worlds colliding, in the best possible way. Fashion trends — straight off the runway — are popping up in interior design in a variety of ways this season. From furniture to wallpaper, room accents and paint colors, look for a barrage of imagery straight from high fashion to your home.
Bowled over
Six years ago, while shopping for homes, David J. and Jane Frank didn’t know what to think about the odd perk — a full-size bowling lane in the basement — in a Fox Point 1950s ranch.
On trend
"A design trend that I’m enjoying is the use of bold color," says Mara Lisa Wierschke, interior designer with Warren Barnett Interiors in Brookfield. "Color is one of the best ways I know to make a statement that is personal and expressive. 
Building character
Ken and Cindy Gear saw the potential when they pulled into the four-acre property on Waterville Lake. The decrepit home and barn, constructed in 1850, would have to go — but not without salvaging everything they could and giving it away. The couple kept a few things for themselves, including the four front columns and hardwood floors.
Cottage Redefined
A photograph of Pat and Louise’s cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan just north of Milwaukee hangs on the wall of their master bedroom. The beloved cottage gave way to this new vacation home for the Hinsdale, Ill., family.
New Nest
When Tanya and Daven L. Hines Sr. sold their River Hills home two years ago to move into a glossy new condo inside The BreakWater Condominiums on Milwaukee’s East Side, they vowed to retain coziness.
Modern Milwaukee
Moving into the North End apartments in Milwaukee this spring, Matthew Mackai and Jeffrey Raddatz brought just a handful of furnishings with them. "We wanted a fresh start being that it was our first time living together," Mackai says.
Islands of calm
In the master bedroom, closet and bath redo of Gregg and Susan Achtenhagen’s Oconomowoc home, space wasn’t the issue, but the layouts were cumbersome and not very efficient. Enter Jake Ruiz of Quality Remodeling Specialists, who worked with the homeowners to improve the layout and update the design of the rooms without changing the overall footprint. 
From Earth to rebirth
When Julilly Kohler curls up in a comfortable chair near her fireplace reading from her grandfather’s cherished book collection on the shelves beside her, it’s more than a Rockwellian moment.
The lure of nature
A sense of calm seems to take over when you head up the steep, winding drive to Moon Valley Farm. At the top of the hill is Melody and Tim Narr’s home, with a breath-taking view of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The first thing you want to do is plop down in one of the Adirondack chairs and put your boots up. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunrise and, later, the moon, peaking over the horizon.
Depth of field
As husband and wife photographers — he advertising and she architectural — Steve Puetzer and Tricia Shay have been like-minded in the design of their farmhouse in a rural Oconomowoc subdivision. "We’ve been through a couple of different building projects in the past," Shay says. "We reclaimed an 1850s log cabin and put all the details in. We work well together and our choices are really similar. It’s as much him as it is me."
Inner farm girl
Sheila Kruepke has come full circle from the 16-year-old teen who was "devastated" when her parents sold their multilevel modern house and bought a condemned farmhouse. "I thought my mom and dad had gone bankrupt," Kruepke recalls, noting her bedroom had "nothing old" in it.
Lake effect
Don’t call this downtown Milwaukee condo a "man cave." The homeowner, a single 50-something business executive, bristles at the suggestion.


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