Restored Elegance

A crew of curated pros helped restore and revive this 1928 Shorewood beauty.


Above: Unique original aspects of this 1928 home were kept on display, including the show-stopping stained glass ceiling, stone wall fountain and tile flooring in this spacious great room.





Walk into Paul and Natalia Hackbarth’s grand 1928 Shorewood home and your eyes are immediately drawn to the stained-glass ceiling and glamorous chandeliers hanging over a cozy great room complete with a cobblestone tile floor at the perimeter and an original stone water fountain built into the wall.

While some designers like to keep the bones of an older home and modernize the inside, Kris Bilty and Jody Ryg, who own Renaissance Design & Renovation in Elm Grove, thrive on restoring historic homes to their original grandeur. Their most recent example is a stunning restoration of the Hackbarth’s spacious home.

Bilty and Ryg worked carefully with a curated list of local artisans to maintain the nearly century-old dwelling’s original charm. The RdR duo kept most of the home’s original footprint, but the biggest change was in the kitchen and dining room, where a dividing wall was removed.

“We totally gutted the kitchen. We took one wall down in the dining room ... and then expanded into the butler’s pantry, [which was] original to the home. In fact, during the demo, the back of the cabinet read ‘November 11, 1928.’”

The extra space afforded RdR to create a highly prioritized dream kitchen, adding a custom two-toned metal range hood, showstopping backsplash tiles of mosaic marble and cut antique mirorring, and a cook’s island complete with a prep sink, garbage pullout and refrigeration drawers. A space that Bilty calls a helpful haven for uninterrupted meal prep.

 A larger second island hosts a dishwasher and extra seating, and a bar area designed behind the island featuring wine storage with beverage drawers below, an ice maker and a gorgeous custom pewter top make the perfect spot for gatherings and entertaining. Many of the appliances are hidden behind Woodmore custom cabinetry, giving a neat and ordererly appearance to the hub of the home.

The home’s original plaster crown molding was salvaged during the removal of the dining room wall and then relocated to the kitchen pantry area.

New oak flooring was painstakingly installed to the kitchen area to match the original from 1928. All of the wood flooring was then stained to a dark rich finish. This attention to detail, says Bilty, was key in optimizing the floor plan for today’s family lifestyle while maintaining the home’s unique charm.

A doorway in the great room from the kitchen was widened and cumbersome columns were removed from another doorway into the living room, both of which had revealed unfinished areas of cobblestone tile. Bilty brought in the talent of Lin Lindner with Terra Domus Tile in Bay View to replicate the original tilework to fill in the gaps. Decorative painter Jennifer Innes from Sparrow Design was also brought in to accentuate the rope plaster crown at the family room as well as adding detail to all of the columns and cornices in the great room and upper hallways.

Though the Hackbarths loved the decorative railings in window-like spaces of the great room, they knew the original ironwork wasn’t tall enough to be safe for their two small children. RdR tapped Kent Knapp of Milwaukee Blacksmith to augment the grates, adding height for safety while matching the artistry of the original grating installed in 1928.

“You’re keeping up with the architectural detail, and to add onto that wrought iron to have it look like it’s been there since the conception of the home is very important,” Bilty explains of the extra effort.

Above: Conveniently located behind the second island, the bar area features wine storage and an icemaker, making this nook of the kitchen the perfect place for entertaining guests.








Right: Most workhorse areas, like pantries, garbage cans and the dishwasher, are hidden behind pristine, white Woodmore cabinetry to create a clean, seamless kitchen.


Above: Jennifer Innes of Sparrow Design painted the original plaster roping along the ceiling, accentuating the traditional feature and adding color to match the homeowners’ preferred palette.

This beautiful master bathroom features exceptional additions, like the new custom built-in, double mirrors over the vanity, tile wainscoting and Innes’ preferred paint details on the walls.

RdR and Holm collaborated on the breakfast nook off the kitchen, with Holm choosing the wallpaper and quaint furniture and then Innes adding a color glaze to the ceiling to bring out the colors of the paper. Innes also added finishing touches to the walls of the luxurious master bathroom, which was completely renovated to include a steam shower complete with two rain shower heads, body jets, a hand shower and a custom niche shelf for essential oils.

The homeowners commissioned the talents of Greg Holm of Peabody’s Interiors to find the perfect color scheme and furniture to enhance the home’s unique features. Holm opted for timeless grays with punches of color. Over the great room’s tile floor, Holm placed a large custom rug and complimentory runner for the ornate staircase.  

Bilty calls the finished home a true example of commited teamwork and shared attention to detail.

“When you’re dealing with a home of this character, [it’s important to] make sure that whatever you touch, you have the correct vision and artisans to bring it to fruition,” Bilty says of the home’s breathtaking revitalization. “Like our name, Renaissance, we truly gave this beautiful home the rebirth it deserved”. MKE