Pretty Functional

Local designers demonstrate how to add substance and style to your utility spaces.


Some rooms in our homes are intended to be workhorses — mudrooms, laundry areas, offices and entryways. But that doesn’t mean they have to be all work and no pretty or play. We tapped a trio of local design firms for their advice on (and great examples of) how to infuse personality and high style into serviceable spaces.

Brightly Colored Mudroom
Jody Ryg and Kris Bilty, Renaissance Design and  Renovation (RDR), Elm Grove,, (262) 649-3805

This colorful and creative addition to a Wauwatosa home expands the kitchen footprint to allow for a small in-kitchen dining area and mudroom. The homeowner requested that the mudroom look like a comfortable, cozy, beautiful room, not a run-of-the-mill utilitarian space. The Samara wallpaper from Harlequin’s Anoushka book provides a beautiful compliment to the custom cabinetry designed by RDR and custom made by Steve Schlicht of West Bend’s Sunset Woodwork. The homeowner often finds her three daughters doing homework on the room’s bench seats, featuring seat cushions from Manhattan Textiles, who also supplied the rug and the room’s window treatments. The bench seat, built-ins and cubbies — one for each girl — are painted in a custom Wood-Mode Cabinetry Nordic White to match
the kitchen.

Get the look:
Harlequin wallpaper, Wallpaper Wallpaper, 9126 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 258-8640,
Manhattan Textiles, 10505 W. North Ave, (414) 774-5858, Wauwatosa,
Find Wood-Mode cabinetry at Timothy J. Kitchen and Bath, 225 S. Second Street, (414) 224-8552,
Custom woodwork, Sunset Woodwork, 4614 Division Road, West Bend, (262) 677-4499,

Bold Offices
Marcia Klode, Showcase Consign and Design, Mequon,, (262) 236-9083

Bold colors surround these inspired — and inspiring — office areas. On the opposite page, Charlotte’s Locks paint from Farrow and Ball surrounds French doors painted in Farrow and Ball Cook’s Blue. Adding a touch of whimsy to the door handles are black and white tiebacks from Osborne & Little, which introduce contemporary wallpaper from Brunschwig & Fils on the back wall, plus black porcelain plank tile floors and a bamboo motif pendant light. The desk, created from a repurposed metal table, is enlivened with two red Hwang Bishop lamps, while red metal chinoiserie chairs from Michael Taylor Designs seat guests in style. On this page, walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s Calm provide an understated backdrop for colorful, contemporary artwork, fabrics and accessories in this small but mighty office space. A glass-top table with a wrought iron base from Brunschwig & Fils serves as a desk, topped with a unique rock lamp, also from Brunschwig & Fils. Bold pillows resting in an antique, French wooden basket and a zebra area rug from Stark Carpet lend additional punch.

Get the look:
Porcelain plank tile floors:  Lakeside Stoneworks, LLC, 5333 W. Beaver Creek Parkway, Brown Deer, (414) 354-6100,
Shop Scalamandre and Bruschwig & Fils at Mille Tesori Design Studio, 229 S Main St., Thiensville, (262) 512-1771
Farrow and Ball paints,

Joe Klein, S.J. Janis Co., Inc., Wauwatosa,, (414) 259-0300

These Cedarburg homeowners wanted to respect the farmhouse cottage style of the home while adding modern flair to suit their personal taste. They opted to build a second-floor addition to maximize views of the wooded backyard and creek, and provide additional guest quarters. A circular floor plan worked well for the creation of niches with specific uses and allows for plenty of Marvin Integrity windows to light the space. The middle dormer on the front side of the addition is used as an office and observatory, complete with a telescope. The walls, painted with Sherwin-Williams Dovetail, and ceiling in Sherwin-Williams Pure White provide dimension and architectural detail, and maximize reflection of natural light, while recessed lighting modernizes the space. The cork flooring from Wicanders throughout the addition provides a soft feel, natural look and sound absorption, and naturally repels liquid. The rug adds an additional pop of color that helps define the office space.

Get the look:
Wicanders Corkcomfort flooring, Malkin’s Flooring, N95 W17055 Falls Parkway, Menomonee Falls, (292) 255-1400,
Marvin Integrity windows, Weather-Tek Windows and Doors, N22 W22922 Nancys Court, Waukesha, (262) 875-4300,
Sherwin-Williams paint, multiple locations in the Milwaukee area,

Multipurpose Laundry
Lisa Moore, Moore Designs, Inc., 262-415-5740,

This lavish, multipurpose space joins the Waukesha homeowners’ kitchen and family entryway and proves that a beautiful, inviting room can still do tons of heavy lifting. Readily accessible laundry facilities allow the large and active family to place dirty clothing directly into the washer or utility sink when they come indoors, while custom-designed cabinetry and lockers crafted in
gel-stained, character-grade cherry wood provide ample storage and additional pantry space. Because the room also houses a workspace where busy parents can multitask and keep family schedules straight, beautiful details like stone countertops, millrun American walnut floors and statement lighting provide additional style.

Get the Look:
Countertops: Lakeside Stoneworks, LLC, 5333 W. Beaver Creek Parkway, Brown Deer, (414) 354-6100,
Pendant and recessed lighting: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, 13300 W Capitol Dr., Brookfield, (262) 781-9048,