When a family home in rural Wisconsin burned down three years ago, five siblings were left to ponder what to do. With all five living in different areas of the country, they discussed everything from selling the property to building something new and reimagined. The home had been left to them by their father, a patriarchal type that loved to gather his family around to celebrate and debate. The property was his passion; his weekend getaway from life in Milwaukee. He designed the house, reworked the landscape, and planted hundreds of trees So, needless to say, the project had great sentimentality attached. After being handcuffed by the local building code to utilize the same footprint, it was decided to rebuild the home with some changes for functionality of bringing multiple families together. We all know when people gather there is a concentration in the kitchen, and this kitchen has universal appeal that will beckon everyone to congregate.

As any designer will tell you, design by committee is tough. Sometimes just managing a couple’s differing aesthetics can be challenging — now imagine five clients in one with an over 15-year age span and living in vastly different environments, then heap on strong feelings of nostalgia. Since the home sits deep in the Wisconsin woods on a small private lake surrounded by nature, bringing natural products into the design was a priority.  Warmth emanates from the design of this wood-on-wood kitchen with modern elements. We love how the detail of the horizontal grain on the top drawer on the lower cabinets diverges from the vertical grain. Sticking to natural elements, quartz was the obvious choice for the countertops and these Wilsonart Xcaret black quartz counters with earthy gold veining complement and contrast with the wood beautifully. The selection of the Kohler Riverby sink and Napa bar sink, both in a distinctive medium grey with a slight tinge of green color called basalt, creates a subtle and brilliant contrast to the darker quartz counters. The Kohler Tournant semiprofessional kitchen faucet goosenecks against the window looking across the lawn and into the woods, and the Artifacts touchless faucet on the island adds a bit of a sculptural element.  

The Xcaret countertops paired with the slender black hardware added the sophistication and modern details that the client wanted while still keeping that warm and cozy feeling of a cabin in the woods. The lighting choices pull everything together. The minimalistic Sigmund Pendant with the black steel dome highlights the modern black elements while the contrasting golden interior creates a glorious glow that enhances the gold veining in the countertops. The Regina Andrews Viper Chandelier over the rustic table reflects the slim lines of the hardware and pulls the eye to views of the lake without blocking it out. There are two modern black frame Japanese calligraphy-inspired prints by artist Jamie Derringer, which feel a bit like punctuation marks. Understandably, the family is eager to gather again in this newly built kitchen where family-style is the only style and voices and laughter will once again crescendo through the space as soon as the pandemic allows. The rebuilding of this home pulled on the heartstrings, and if the kitchen is the heart of the home then this house will surely be full of love.