As young doctors establishing a long-term career back in their hometown area of Madison, Adam and Brittany Buhalog were still living on the west coast doing medical residency when we first met. While Degnan Design-Build-Remodel has been set up for video meetings for several years, shortly after our first video meeting together, the world was shut down by COVID-19. We knew that this would make the situation more difficult, but we had clients who were moving back to their hometown no matter what with dreams of creating their perfect home.
They had selected a gracious 1980s contemporary home located in the desirable and private arboretum neighborhood of Madison. Their desire was to create the feeling of a modern mountain industrial home, something along the lines of a Utah mountain home. The long sloping roof lines of this 1980s contemporary home were perfect for that feeling, ensuring that the interior and exterior would be integrated when the project was done. They envisioned a minimalist style that would allow the design and functional elements to speak for the home, itself. Those elements would be the focal points of the design. Adam and Brittany requested that we use natural materials, like stone, wood, and metal, and bring outdoor materials indoors.
“One of the most challenging aspects of the project was the installation of a stone slab in the wall to be used as a piece of art,” says PJ Ender, lead carpenter. “It was a first for me, and I am very pleased with the results.”
The nature surrounding the home provided further inspiration for the design. Plants are a part of nearly every room in the home. They’re balanced with the use of natural wood in trim and flooring, and framed by sharp lines. From the living room to the solarium, plants allow each room to breathe while providing the comforts of being indoors. The windows of the home show off the beauty of the arboretum in all seasons, while the greenery of indoor plants is cheerful all year long.
It was clear to everyone involved that the project required a gutting and raw modeling of the kitchen. Adam and Brittany also requested that we evaluate the feasibility of opening the kitchen to the rest of the house so that it would have a modern floor plan and intuitive flow. There were also some decorative pony walls along the stairway as well as some dividing the dining area that Adam and Brittany wanted removed. The balconies used pony walls instead of railings, which left a prime opportunity to open things up in many different ways. This also allowed us to incorporate the metal railings that they desired as part of the design motif. There were also two and a half bathrooms to be remodeled.
As we designed, the scope of work expanded and became even bolder. The ensuite was remodeled to provide better closet space and straighter walls for furniture placement, and the bathroom received a new floor plan to accommodate a luxurious shower and couple’s cabinetry. In addition to this, the adjacent solarium was converted into a functional indoor living space that is fully connected to the master bedroom.
Furthermore, two screened porches became enclosed three-season rooms. The back porch, referred to as the dining porch, is now a true indoor-outdoor living space connected to the kitchen with an Andersen three-panel folding hinging patio door. When wide open, these rooms are nearly seamless. The second porch, now referred to as the conversation porch, sits off to the right-hand side of the house and is connected to both the front deck and to the main living room of the house. This porch boasts cathedral ceilings, while its knee walls provide privacy from the street. Due to the heavily wooded neighborhood, this home has minimal solar heat gain and remains very comfortable throughout the year.
While the original fireplace was replaced with a high-efficiency gas unit, the original limestone surround, cedar feature wall, mantle, and bookshelves remain. “I am happy the homeowner’s decided to keep the existing stone surround at the fireplace,” says Dave Duewel, senior designer. “I knew that the warm colors would complement all the new finishes that were selected.” The mantle and bookshelves were redesigned to bring in some of the black tones used throughout the home, in the metal railings, in the cabinetry, and in the fireplace itself. Cabinet doors were removed in favor of open shelving. The beautiful combination of the original oak and cedar and limestone contrasts beautifully with the new wood and tile floors.
Between dark, light, and natural color choices; thoughtfully woven in use of pattern; and distinct transitional elements throughout the house, the final home fits together perfectly. The end result is a warm and contemporary home which really showcases the clients’ personalities.
Abe Degnan, owner of Degnan Design-Build-Remodel, helps change lives and solve problems by remodeling homes. A father of six, his passions outside of work are orphan hosting and adoption.
128 Commerce Street
DeForest, WI 53532