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"This is a spectacular historic remodel. The attention to detail and craftsmanship make this remodel stand above the rest. Great work."

2018 NARI Milwaukee RotY Judge

Actually look forward to doing the laundry!

Historic Craftsman-style Renovation: Early 1900s charm

2019 NARI National CotY™ (Contractor of the Year) and Qualified Remodeler Master Design Silver awards winner for residential historic renovation; Appleton, Wisconsin: The homeowners loved older, classic style homes and bought this for their forever home. Built in 1913, the house is located in a historic district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Challenge: Renovations in the 1970–80s were not true to the historic character of the house and the new owners wanted to restore it to its Craftsman-style roots. They wanted to update the kitchen and add living space, but couldn’t increase the house’s footprint.

Solution: The home’s kitchen was completely re-oriented for an efficient use of space; on the first floor, the breakfast nook and half of the porch was repurposed, creating the kitchen and mudroom. A hallway was formed along the side of the house, stretching the length of the new kitchen. Upstairs, a sleeping porch became the new primary bathroom and closet space.

Opportunity: Under the old porch was a crawl space that provided the only access to the plumbing and heating lines for the kitchen. The only entry was from the outside, so the homeowners couldn’t close and insulate the crawl space. Renovating the kitchen (and basement) allowed them to close the foundation and create access from within the basement.

Challenge: Reorganizing the kitchen required removing a support post in order to make room for a new island.

Solution: An engineered beam was added to support the weight of the floor above. A Craftsman-style coffered ceiling camouflages the new beam.

Challenge: New design elements should look as though they are original to a home built over 100 years ago.


  • Two leaded glass windows were created to match an original window from the first floor. Using salvaged leaded glass, they were made by taking a new Marvin custom frame and sandwiching the salvaged piece of leaded glass between two new pieces of plain glass. Each window was placed in a renovated area, marrying it to the rest of the home’s design.

  • All new cabinetry and woodwork were custom-made in the Craftsman-style. This included doors, a coat rack-bench in the mudroom and all the cabinetry in the kitchen and primary bathroom. Painted cabinets were artfully aged using a multi-stepped technique that included abrading, staining, sealing, painting, rubbing, glazing and finally sealing the wood.

  • The handmade and hand-glazed tiling in the new bathroom was chosen for its color variations, which is authentic to the time period. To match the original rooms in the home, the outer tile was applied in a basket weave with a square border surrounding the main hexagonal tile. There are two subtle hat tips to the time period in the shower. One is the mud cap, which is what you step over to enter the shower. The second is that there isn’t any horizontally cut tile in the shower, a technique used in Craftsman-style homes in the early 19th Century.

Challenge: Originally, another builder was being considered for this remodel. The only way they could add space for the renovation was by demolishing the sleeping porch and rebuilding. This would cost the homeowner hundreds of thousands of dollars extra. Our approach involved keeping the existing structure, greatly reducing the cost of renovating.

Solution: The sleeping porch on the second floor was renovated to become the primary bathroom and a walk-in closet. Repurposing the sleeping porch was the logical and economical solution.

Challenge: The basement was underutilized and uninviting, only used for storage and laundry.

Solution: The laundry room was updated to make it more welcoming and functional. The space was reorganized to make it more efficient and effective.

Opportunity: Because of the construction in the basement, the homeowners decided it would be a good time to upgrade their turn of the century sewer and water lines.

The goal of this renovation was to update this historic home with 21st Century technology, with an early 20th Century design aesthetic. The final results were beyond all expectations. The kitchen, primary bathroom and basement look as though they have always been in this home. The history and artistry is in the details of the cabinetry, the woodwork and the tiling.

This project has won the following awards:
2019 NARI National CotY Award for Residential Historical Renovation $250,000 and Over
2019 Qualified Remodeler Master Design Silver Award for Residential Historical Renovation

2019 NARI Regional CotY Award for Residential Historical Renovation $250,000+
2018 NARI Milwaukee RotY Award for Residential Historical Renovation $250,000+

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