Gothic Tudor Revived

Local designer Lynn Tarrence gives her historic home a modern makeover.

BY RICK ROMANO | PHOTOS BY TRICIA SHAY

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 home makeover.

“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, modern touches.

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 Milwaukee neighborhood.

“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.  

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 and accents.

“I like things that have a story,” she notes.

Above: In the dining area, a statement pendant light recalls the “artichoke” style that has long been a staple of Danish design.

Right: 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.


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 room.

“My kitchen is heaven,” she says.

 

Tarrence opened up her kitchen workspace and readdressed its flow and storage options. The framed potrait 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 and instincts.



Modern lines and textures play well with the home’s classic bones.

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.

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 artful showpiece.

“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. MKE

 

Converting her home’s third floor into an apartment gives Tarrence’s adult son security plus independence.

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