A sports court. A “moody” bath. A condo kitchen. MKE Lifestyle’s first “Best of Home & Garden” submission contest included some spectacular remodeling projects, which included both DIYs and professionally contracted work.

As the MKE Lifestyle team judged the entries, we saw pride in home ownership and a “wow” factor in each entry, making our decisions extremely difficult. Thanks to all participants who entered, and a collective “Bravo!” for work well done.

Here are the winning entries.

Kitchen winner: Erica Smith

KITCHEN: These downtown condo owners completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen by knocking down a wall that blocked the kitchen view from the entrance. They added an island and cream city brick with exposed shelving to complement the original building. Adding the cream city brick makes this kitchen remodel stand out. 


Bathroom winner: Kim Ward

BATHROOM: The homeowners wanted an upgrade to their master bath which had featured a dated corner whirlpool tub. They contracted with Ward Kitchen and Bath to replace the tub with a custom walk-in shower and rainfall shower head. New vessel sinks on the counter provide a sleek design that accents the brown tones. We liked the unconventional and moody look of this bathroom transformation.


Specialty room winner: Kristine Gonzalez

Spurred by a pandemic lockdown, the experts at Bartelt Remodeling helped these homeowners plan and build a sport court addition to their home. The addition features a spacious multi-purpose area with a retractable golf/baseball net and basketball court and hoop. The design allows for viewing from the backyard balcony and the kitchen sink window. The homeowners’ favorite part of the design is the sleek spiral staircase, which allows access to the court right off the kitchen; the kids’ favorite fixture is the gym-style bubbler right next to the half-bathroom. The room is used by the family on a daily basis and has helped their home earn the honor of “quarantine approved livable home” by family and friends.


Outdoor space winner: Kathi Tenhover

This DIY project has been a work of art over many years. The homeowners say they are always adding and changing things, and have included lots of perennials. We love the tranquility of the landscaping on this lakefront property.


Outdoor space honorable mention: Doreen Unger

The homeowner was tired of looking at the old railroad ties propping up the old landscaping in the couple’s backyard. He gathered his brothers, nephews and friends and made the project happen, using interlocking blocks that won’t shift or rot. We gave a special mention to this project, acknowledging the amount of hard work and sweat equity required to build this beautiful retaining wall.


Grand prize winner/Major renovation projects : Sara Grotenrath

This homeowner bought a foreclosed property. “It needed so much love,” the homeowner explains. “It was so horrible inside and out but we saw the great bones and potential. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! This is where that advice to just be in the moment, take one day at a time, really paid off! 

“We had so much fun smashing things and creating. We would walk from my house 280 footsteps away to the reno project every day after work, for 3 1/2 years! My partner and I were just friends at the start, but as we smashed and created together, had so much fun together and found out what a great team we were that our relationship grew into a commitment. 

“We completely transformed everything inside and out; nothing was left untouched except the railing on the staircase, and the fireplace. It’s now our private paradise. This was a DIY project. We did all the design work ourselves, and all the installation too, unless it was too heavy and we need help.”

This couple’s hard work, perseverance and overall remodeling charm made this entry the grand prize winner! MKE