Kitchens That Shine

Three renovated spaces that make a statement


A stunning kitchen is more than meets the eye, but appearance definitely counts.

That’s the view of three local designers who helped create impressive spaces for one of the most important rooms in a home. Heather Scott of Bartelt. The Remodeling Resource in Delafield, Judy Jensen of Oakhill Design in Wauwatosa and Nathan Wachtl of S.J. Janis Company Inc. defined their own version.

“It’s anything that makes you pause while you are reviewing various options,” Scott says.

“It’s something that stands out and makes a statement that is not typical,” says Jensen.

“It satisfies a list of both functional and aesthetic needs,” Wachtl says.

Here they explain their design methods for these three local kitchens that shine.

Photo by Doug Edmunds

This kitchen design in Mequon is guided by Wachtl and emphasizes life around the island. The island’s 60-square-foot surface reflects the eclectic nature of everyday cooking, family gatherings —including playtime for a 6-year-old – as well as more adult entertainment.

“The goal was to create a bright, airy, classic look,” Wachtl says. “The island creates a zone where people can sit around it and not touch elbows.”
Traditional columns are mixed with updated finishes, making this transitional space also a palette with a number of attractive finishes.

Those details include industrial-like pendant lights hanging over the engineered quartz island countertop topping a blue-gray finish cabinet base that is surrounded by paisley-printed high-back stools.

Away from the island, white cabinets support more workspace and accommodate storage around stainless steel appliances. Gray-to-beige tone glass subway tile is set in a chevron pattern behind the slide-in range.

The hickory-planked floor is arranged in varying widths ranging from 2 1/4 to 5 inches to provide a softer base to the transitional space.
Homeowner Jake LeRoy says the kitchen is now open to the rest of the home.

“It’s really my favorite part of the project,” he says. “Using this kitchen is so much more efficient.”

Photo by Doug Edmunds

The kitchen update to the 1920s Georgian brick home Jensen tackled turned out quite different than the Wauwatosa homeowners’ initial vision.

“They researched kitchens in photos,” Jensen says, “and they liked a white transitional-looking kitchen. I didn’t see them in a white kitchen.”

One reason is this couple works in the artistic field; one is a sculptor and the other a painter. Jensen envisioned a different creative mix.

Expanding the previously dark, small space by eliminating hallways and a row of closets, Jensen says the resulting grays, copper, gold and black tones were “a happy collaboration.”

Distinctive pendant lights above the indigo blue Florida quartzite island are Tom Dixon designed elements that emphasize the transitional nature of the renovation and, as Jensen says, “pulls it all together.”

The island base was painted in a shade of iron so that depending on the light it looks deep gray or black. The counter cabinets along the walls are taupe and the appliances are stainless steel.

Jensen says one of her favorite things is the multipaned windows painted black to emphasize the view. Client Jody Kaiser Scott says she is happy with opening the space and its compatibility with the rest of the home.

“It’s not super bright; it’s a mellow kitchen that fits us,” she says.

Photo by David Bader

Scott helped design a compatible kitchen for a couple who was completely renovating a Colgate, Wisconsin, colonial-style Cape Cod before their wedding. Homeowner Heather Finger found a line of lighting with a lighter feminine tone – Ajourer by Metropolitan – and a hood that would be painted to infuse rustic references over a six-burner Wolfe range. Those opposites-attract pairings were what Scott called “the jumping off point.”

Bright white cabinets that reflect plenty of natural light from the large windows bordering the dining area are juxtaposed with a granite-topped island featuring grays, black and browns, and a backsplash along the stove of equally warm tones in porcelain subway tile.        
Fixtures and hardware add an unadorned bronze vibe against the stainless steel appliances.

“It’s a galley-style kitchen, perfect for someone who wants to cook while interacting with others seated at the table that is attached to the island,” Scott says.

Finger says the renovation has inspired her to do more cooking.

“My husband has done a lot of the cooking but now I love to cook here, too,” she says. “And with everything now open, we can enjoy our meals looking out through those great big windows onto the trees and land around us.”