Ravishing Revamp

Port Washington homeowners trust local pros to turn their new condo in an existing building into a seaside showpiece.


After a walk in Grafton’s Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, Terry and Mary Murphy stopped for lunch in Port Washington and noticed a sign for new condos in an existing building overlooking the marina. The pair was planning to downsize from their Mequon home and were instantly intrigued by the prospect.

“We looked at it the next day and Mary loved the views from the deck and rooftop terrace,” Terry muses. “The building was brand-new and the penthouse unit was not yet built out, so we had the unique opportunity of designing it just the way we wanted.”

Timothy J. Benkowski, owner of timothyj kitchen & bath, inc., says reworking the original kitchen layout and taking advantage of the available space made for a much more practical kitchen.
Interior designers Lisa Whittet and Meg Zamzow pulled from a color palette of blues, whites and grays to complement the colors of the harbor and achieve the homeowners’ “Nantucket cottage” vision.

The couple turned to Timothy J. Benkowski, president of timothyj kitchen & bath, inc. to transform their 2,400-square-foot condo into the perfect space for their next chapter. Architecturally, the space needed some attention and TLC from the get-go, Benkowski notes.

“They had stuff in locations that just didn’t make any sense for [the homeowners],” says Benkowski of the building’s plumbing placement and original layout. “So we moved virtually everything in [the kitchen, master bedroom and both bathrooms].”

After moving walls and plumbing and working around existing doors and windows, the functionality of the three-bedroom, two-bath condo dramatically improved.

The master suite was completely redesigned to create a more practical and inviting layout. At the homeowners’ request, Benkowski replaced the bathtub with a spacious walk-in shower and added his-and-hers walk-in closets.

He also revamped the kitchen layout, relocating doors around the pantry area to create extra space for the refrigerator and additional cabinetry. In addition to the main refrigerator, the kitchen also features two beverage fridges as well as a designated wine fridge. Adding double pocket doors proved both aesthetically pleasing and practical in saving space in the room. 

“We were able to get a much, much better kitchen layout by doing some pretty simple revisions there,” Benkowski says. 

The living room and dining room each feature an elegant coffered ceiling for Mary’s desired “Nantucket cottage” feel. Benkowski also created an entertainment center with sliding doors to hide the television when not in use, adding bookcases, storage and a Planika ethanol fireplace for ambiance. 

Once the overall layout redesign was completed, the Murphys consulted Meg Zamzow of Haven Interiors and Lisa Whittet from Designing Works, who teamed up to bring Mary’s vision to life. To accomplish that seaside aesthetic, Zamzow and Whittet used a serene palette of grays, whites and blues. 

“The condo has a lot of natural light and windows,” explains Terry. “There are a couple of skylights in the cathedral ceiling in the kitchen as well as two more skylights in Mary’s studio and the master bath. It makes everything feel light and cheerful, and the open concept makes the unit feel larger than it is.”
Whittet and Zamzow kept the colors, mediums and overall interior design “light and airy,” using neutral hues with pops of blue for an elegant coastal feel. 

“The overall design and feel is light, airy and open. Coastal,” Zamzow says. “The lake and the harbor are the showpiece and we wanted

The master bathroom commands attention from the minute you step inside, with soft, curved tile running up the entirety of the wall to add color and interest.

furnishings that were tasteful and blended aesthetically with the surroundings.” 

Zamzow and Whittet saw a big opportunity with the stairwell. “When you enter the front door, you walked directly into the staircase. That was an issue,” Whittet explains. “Through discussion and research, we came up with a plan to turn the staircase opening and add a railing, so the opening faces the hallway and not the front door. This also allowed for a furniture piece to be placed in front of the staircase and make it more a welcoming and graceful way to enter.” 

The design pair worked with Hamid Dehbod of Persian Rug Gallery, a family-owned business in Whitefish Bay, to create unique, handmade wool rugs — the most crucial of which was a customized runner for the stairs, which provides a subtle and tasteful statement piece as guests enter the condo. 

From there, Zamzow says she and Whittet selected tiles and backsplashes that complemented the interior and exterior color choices the homeowners preferred, as well as the color of the water visible from the condo. One of their favorite aspects is the guest bathroom, which features a tile backsplash that spans the entire height of the wall. 

“[It] commands the attention and presence of the room, while the gentle curves of the tile soften the hard lines of the bathroom, adding color and interest,” Zamzow says.

Mary explains that she and Terry wanted to “start over” with this new condo, giving most of the furniture from their Mequon home to family members and selling the rest off in estate sales. Bringing in all new furniture and decor — aside from the duo’s favorite art pieces — ushered in the fresh sense they were hoping for. 

“The condo has an eclectic feel, combining all the new stuff with some of the old favorites — especially the art — that we kept,” she says of the completed space. The couple also notes that Benkowski, Zamzow and Whittet were incredibly easy to work with, understanding the Murphys’ concepts and wishes and transforming them into the perfect final product.

“We identified the big picture and they made specific recommendations,” Terry says of the team’s help in the architectural and interior designs. “In the end, we are very pleased.” MKE