Bringing Up the Past

kitchen/breakfast bar remodel by Degnan Design-Build-Remodel
Photograph by A&J Photography

John and Amy bought a century-old Craftsman home in the heart of DeForest. The location, lifestyle, and beauty fit right in with their love of old houses. After living there for about a year, they were ready to turn the house into their dream home—into a new version of itself. The house needed a total exterior makeover as well as a new main-level floorplan on the interior.

To create the home they envisioned, several goals would need to be met: a main-level bedroom suite with a remodeled bathroom, a larger kitchen not so closed off from the living spaces, an enlarged family room, and an attached garage, all while maintaining the best of the house’s character. Given the layout, a bit of creativity would be necessary, but Degnan Design-Build-Remodel were up to the task.

Straightening up the rear-entry floorplan was only one step of reclaiming wasted space in the home. There were several key areas to address. At the front door, a very small interior foyer provided little benefit. By moving the front door to the other side of the house and giving it a more direct entrance to the home, the reclaimed space gave what was needed for the master suite. Degnan was able to work in the main-level powder room, keeping guests separate from the master bathroom.

At the back of the house, a porch had been enclosed and there was a maze of doors at the top of the basement stairway. This was simplified with an entry from the garage into kitchen-adjacent mudroom. The back porch was weatherized properly to provide an exit out to a new deck for grilling and to the backyard, with direct access to both the kitchen and basement without the excess doorways.

With the doorway closed off, the primary living space could be relocated to the back of the home, where it looks out to the deck and private backyard. Because Degnan was doing the foundation for the garage, a delicate addition to the back of the family room provided just the right amount of space to give a generous, yet proportional, living space.

To further provide the desired privacy from the family room to the rest of the house, a large barn door was created. The door itself is actually two 32-inch doors joined together, discovered unfinished in the basement.

Preserving the original wood floors in the house was important to John and Amy, and a pass through from the kitchen to the dining room helps to show it off. Worth noting, the formally dark and cluttered kitchen, complete with inadequate countertops and too many doors, is now an efficient galley—beautifully appointed with counter-depth appliances, a gas range, bold colors, and an attractive backsplash.

Back at the front of the house, the master bedroom suite occupies space that had been a retrofitted bathroom, which originally would not have had indoor plumbing. The bedroom suite boasts a walkthrough closet; full bathroom, with a striking tiled shower and separate water closet; and even a stacked washer and dryer in a laundry closet. The clients now have the convenience of being able to live on the main level of the house without having to routinely go to the basement.

Considering the house was built before the luxury of indoor plumbing, it should also come as no surprise that heating was provided by an ancient boiler and there was no air conditioning. A rarity in our area, a high-efficiency boiler was installed and existing radiators were relocated to work with the new floor plan. Comprehensively, the home was retrofitted to be more airtight and energy efficient with new windows, housewrap, insulation, and siding.

“Working with Degnan Design-Build-Remodel made our dreams into a reality,” say John and Amy. “In a project of this magnitude, there will always be bumps along the way, especially during COVID-19, but Degnan’s team was responsive, thoughtful, and hardworking throughout.” Their home is an amazing example of how reinvestment in an older part of the community can yield comfortable and efficient results, letting them live every bit as well as those in newer homes, but with the character and beauty that can only be achieved through an authentic remodel.

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.

Degnan Design-Build-Remodel
128 Commerce Street
DeForest, WI 53532