When Jenika Kurtz Cuadra’s parents decided to buy a vacation home in the Wisconsin town they’d grown up in, the designer was fully on board. “They had been looking for a vacation home for years and once they discovered this property they knew it was perfect,” she tells us. “It’s nestled in the woods down a long driveway right at the edge of town, so even though they’re still close to all of the conveniences they need they feel like they’re in the middle of the country.”
Though the house was in pretty good shape at the time of purchase, it was quite dated. “It was a weird combination of original early 50s decor and an 80s revamp,” Jenika laughs. “Yellow and aqua tile in the one bathroom on the upper floor with maroon formica countertops and hunter green wallpaper in the kitchen, for example.” Additionally, the home’s best feature — the view from the living room — wasn’t being utilized or appreciated because the layout was pretty sectioned off.
Jenika’s folks originally brought her on to help with general space planning, but it quickly turned into much more. She recalls, “My dad is a general contractor and he had a pretty strong vision for the house, but once we began work I became involved in all details and we decided to really go for a complete facelift. We redid everything.” However, according to the designer, it wasn’t without a few hurdles. “They both have very different tastes so honing in on one style that would please them both was a major challenge.”
The first step was to really open things up, which they achieved by widening the hallway and removing an unnecessary cased opening. The kitchen saw the biggest changes. “Where there used to be an enclosed box in the middle of the upper floor that was tight and cramped, we created the heart of the home by removing a huge portion of one wall to feature the beautiful views out the back wall of windows,” Jenika explains. “Before, the living room, kitchen, and dining were all very separate but now they all flow together.” There is also wall-to-wall countertop between the living room and kitchen, which serves as pull up seating for the living room and ample cooking and serving space in the kitchen.
Another feature that was quick to go was an oddly placed flight of stairs. “Before it looked like just a hole cut in the floor so to make more sense of it and ground it we wrapped the opening with railing height bookshelves,” Jenika says. “There are two bedrooms on the upper floor, master and guest, and they originally only had one very small bathroom to share. We turned that into the powder bath (where the shower stall once was is now the coat closet for the entry hall) and added on two en suites for the bedrooms that include walk in closets.”
Now, the home is a great getaway for the family where Jenika’s talent as a designer shines bright. However, the interior itself isn’t what she loves most. “The living room is definitely my favorite because of the view, you feel like you’re in a treehouse.”