Case Study:
Wauwatosa Craftsman Kitchen



See this project highlighted in MKE Lifestyle magazine!

Small kitchen renovation/big style achieved.

No one said a small kitchen had to be boring, or that every kitchen has to open up into the living room to be modern. My own kitchen as pictured here was a purposeful decision to buck the large open kitchen concept trend.

I set out to design my kitchen to meet every modern convenience that I wanted, as well as retain the original footprint to prove to myself that this 1928 layout could work as a modern kitchen! The end result was beyond what I expected and in the end, I am very happy with the results.

The first picture is what I had to work with. A kitchen that had been well loved, it was beyond just needing some maintenance, it needed an overhaul!

Before, left. After, right.

Photography by Amy Lamb

I knew that the house had good bones, When I was on the hunt for my home I told my realtor, Jack H Smith,  that I wanted a fixer-upper that had potential. The last thing I wanted was a remodel that was done on the cheap, cutting corners, or of low quality.

Jack found me this cute 1928 Craftsman in the heart of the Wauwatosa Village. He knew it had been loved, but just not updated. Which was perfect for me because I was llooking for homes that retained their original characteristics. I like to pay respect to the original character of that home when adding modern renovations. I like to blend the new and the old.

The renovation took a little longer than expected because I did some of the demolition myself, as well as wanted to get everything perfect. The first thing I tackled was the flooring. The floor had 3 layers of old flooring on top of beautiful original 1928 maple hardwood. Ripping up the flooring took an entire day and a lot of elbow grease. But the end result was totally worth it, not only did I keep continuity with the rest of the house, I gained a very light and airy flooring color that I absolutely adore. Im not the only one who’s loves it, my 2 elderly chihuahuas love all the light that comes in the windows.

I like to pay respect to the original character of that home when adding modern renovations. I like to blend the new and the old.

Speaking of windows, a decision I had to make during this renovation was about the original 1928 windows that were still intact on the structure. It’s not as common to see the original windows from 90 years ago still on the home and I didn’t want to lose them as a part of the home’s history. So I had them painstakingly disassembled, sanded down to raw wood and then reassembled casings, sill, sashes, and all. We also restrung the old weighted pulley system with new cords and sanded the hardware down to the metal – stripped 90 years of paint! It was a lot of work but totally worth it. Yes, they may be less efficient than a new thermal triple pane window, but once redone they work very well and draftiness has not been an issue. In addition to retaining the original casings and windows, I also retained the original exhaust fan. I did add a direct-vented microwave and fan combo; this fan was in great working condition, and once turned on, it removed any smoke or cooking smells from the room in seconds. I just couldn’t bring myself to remove such a nice quality fan. 

The layout I designed used every inch of wall space in this adorable little kitchen. In fact, I had to add 3 inches onto the main fridge wall to fit everything I wanted to get in on that wall. In the end, it turned into a very custom built-in look, that is super functional and easy to use! I have so much cabinet space, there are cabinets that still have nothing in them!

Do you have questions about an old home you are renovating in the Milwaukee, Chicago, or St Petersburg FL area? Call me at 414-510-3449 and let’s talk about the possibilities for your space.

Another huge design element that I loved, but also served a great function was the painted wood ceiling. I am always trying to add warmth and character even if its a subtle detail. The ceiling served the purpose of covering up a cracked plaster ceiling, but also added warmth and a great way to get more of those beautiful lines running through the room, leading to a real tailored look.

The backsplash and wallpaper were design moments in the room where I could add a bit of glamour and classic motifs to bring my own personal style into the project. The tile is an aluminum gold colored mosaic from Porcelenosa. It pairs perfectly because of its small-scale pattern that plays so handsomely with the large stripe that I chose from Kelly Wearslter and LeeJofa.

The patterns of these elements as well as the custom cabinetry from Crystal Cabinets come together to create a masculine feeling in this kitchen, that borders on modern, with roots firmly in the 1920’s which is exactly what I was shooting for in this fun and meticulous renovation.

Additional modern touches that I had to have was the Delta touch faucet in Champagne gold. This technology allows you to touch the metal anywhere on the faucet to turn the water on, and the same to turn it off. Which actually is one of my favorite features considering my hands can be dirty from cooking or doing dishes and it helps me keep things clean and removes the step of manually turning the faucet off when I’m busy cooking in the kitchen! Another feature I had to have was the panel ready Bosch dishwasher that was a convenient 18inches wide. which is 6 inches more narrow than a regular dishwasher but designed so much more efficient on the inside I can fit everything I need from a night of entertaining. Not only is it well designed, but it’s nearly silent when operating, so much so, they had to design a red laser to shoot onto the floor to indicate the machine is running. Which is great because I cannot tell whether its on or not.

Not only did this design fit my needs of wanting all the modern conveniences that I was looking for it also looks bright and cheerful. The style borders on masculine and firmly sits in the classic modern category of design. Which is where I love to do my best work!