Category Archives: Tips

Texture | Adding Subtle Interest to Your Home

We talk about it all the time – how can we create a space that is timeless yet intriguing?  We are believers in creating simple spaces with subtle details, so a home can stand the test of time but also stand out.  How can you create a unique space, a room that shows off your personality without falling into a fleeting trend or adding too many ornate elements?  There are many ways, but today we’re focusing on a big one: texture.

What is Texture?

Texture doesn’t just refer to materials that are rough or bumpy.  It takes many forms and can evoke different feelings.  Organic or natural materials can create an intimate space while items with a smooth texture lend themselves to a sleeker look.  Texture offers both a tactile and visual experience, and we often layer different textures to showcase an architectural detail, communicate a specific style, differentiate design elements, and add depth and dimension.  It can elevate a design without overdoing it.

Pewaukee Lake Mudroom Remodel

What Is the Impact of Texture?

Texture serves many roles.  It can add visual weight to a space, drawing attention to specific details – a vaulted ceiling, a fireplace wall, an arched opening, a built-in nook or window seat.  In a monochromatic color scheme, texture is a tool to introduce subtle variation and interest.  It can also add warmth and contrast to a space.

Elm Grove Kitchen Remodel

How Can You Use Texture?

There are endless ways to incorporate texture into your home.  Painted brick, v-groove or shiplap add dimension to a monochromatic design without straying from the color scheme, keeping the space neutral and serene while adding interest.  Natural stone, metals, and wood can balance a cooler palette.  Wallpaper is a great option for an accent wall.  You can also use juxtaposition to make elements “pop,” placing a rough surface near a smooth texture.  Architectural details are another opportunity to add texture – crown molding, a tray ceiling, beams, wainscoting, paneled openings.  However you decide to use texture in your home, it is important to remember the power of restraint.  Implementing too many textures can become distracting or overwhelming.

Elm Grove Family Room Remodel

Roll Call: A Look at Wallpaper

When you think of wallpaper does your mind drift back to the patterns and materials of a bygone era?  “Sometimes when I suggest wallpaper in a space, I brace myself, wondering if my clients are going to toss a pen at me,” says Heather Scott, Interior Designer at Bartelt.  “They are still recovering from the removal of their 1990s wallpaper.”  But in recent years, we are seeing this design element make a major comeback.  With a wider selection and creative applications, wallpaper can be a fun detail, adding dimension and interest to a space that oftentimes paint cannot achieve.

Why Wallpaper?

Wallpaper isn’t tied to one particular style.  With so many options – fabric, grass cloth, metallic, cork, subtle patterns, graphic or geometric designs – wallpaper can complement a contemporary space as well as traditional homes and everything in between.

Beyond its versatility, wallpaper is an easy way to add texture or drama to a space.  Use it on an accent wall.  Highlight an architectural detail.  Put it in an unexpected spot such as on the ceiling or in a window nook.  Wallpaper allows you to enhance a space’s style without adding more stuff to a room.

Colgate Dining Room Remodel

How Do I Choose Wallpaper?

The first step in choosing wallpaper is evaluating its role in your space.  What is your design goal?  Are you adding depth and texture?  Do you need a pop of color?  Are you trying to soften a space?  Do you want to create that “wow factor?”  Answering this question will determine the type of wallpaper that will work in your home.  If you’re trying to make a statement, a subtle pattern probably isn’t the best way to achieve that.  If you’re looking for another layer of texture, perhaps a natural material will suit your space.

Another good practice is to start a collection of inspiration photos to determine what you’re naturally drawn to.  This will help you see if certain patterns or themes emerge.  It’s important to make sure the wallpaper matches your style rather than a fad, so you won’t grow tired of your choice.  Houzz, Pinterest, home blogs and magazines are great design sources, and a professional interior designer can help you pull it all together.

Our last piece of selection advice is to pick up large samples to bring home and put on your wall.  Then you can decide if the wallpaper complements the colors, patterns and furniture in the room.  Leave the samples up for at least 24 hours, so you can see how it transforms throughout the day as the light changes.

Where Should I Incorporate It?

There are really no rules when it comes to wallpaper placement, but we often see it in rooms where you don’t necessarily spend a majority of your time to avoid “wallpaper fatigue.”  Bedrooms, guest rooms, formal dining rooms, libraries, hallways and powder rooms are all common spots to spice things up with wallpaper.

Why is an Interior Designer an Important Part of Your Project?

Choosing products and materials can be an overwhelming process, sometimes extending the project’s timeline or overreaching the budget if not done properly.  An interior designer works with homeowners to choose items based on quality, function, price and style, helping you bring your design goals to life.

At Bartelt, our in-house interior designers serve many roles – creator, project coordinator, a friendly ear – to guide you each step of the way and make the remodeling process enjoyable.  Why is it important to look to a professional interior designer for direction?  Let’s examine!

They have a process.

Your interior designer has a proven process to guide you through your project and selections, keeping you organized and using tools to help you visualize and understand how everything fits together.  They’ll ask the right questions to hone in on your style, and they’ll help you make decisions at the proper time in the project’s progression.  The designer is there to coordinate all the moving parts and make sure details don’t get missed.  There are a lot of steps between preliminary design ideas and the final space.

Pewaukee Kitchen Remodel

They keep you on track.

Your interior designer can help keep your project on time and on budget (they may even end up saving you money).  Homeowners don’t always realize the incredible amount of decisions that need to be made.  That’s where your designer is a huge asset.  They help you sort through all the options – lighting, paint colors, tile, flooring, countertops (this list goes on!) – and ensure that your selections are cohesive and within your allowance, leaving less room for errors and unnecessary spending.

They’ll also hold you accountable to make decisions in a timely manner, so your project’s timeline doesn’t get derailed.

Oconomowoc Lower Level Remodel

They bring a new perspective.

A fresh eye is important!  It can be hard to step back and look at your home from a different perspective.  You often get accustomed to the layout, color scheme and other details.  An interior designer has a trained eye and can see the potential in your space and offer creative solutions that you may have never considered.

Beyond offering ideas you may have not examined, they can also share options you may not have known even existed.  Continuing education is an important aspect of the designer’s job, and they have a great pulse on new materials, tools and methods.

Wauwatosa Master Bath Remodel

They can bring you back down to Earth (if needed).

We all have big plans for our homes, and let’s face it – sometimes, we need a reality check.  Your designer will help you set realistic goals and educate you on any design limitations.  They can also help you practice restraint, or in other words, learn how to “edit.”  What’s important to incorporate into the design?  What isn’t necessary?  Where can you take design risks?  Where should you keep it simple?  This will ensure your final space is practical while still showcasing your personality and unique style.

Wauwatosa Sunroom Remodel

LAYERING | A Well-Lit Kitchen

When making plans for that new kitchen, it’s important to think about how you’ll be using the space and where specific light sources will be needed.  A well though out lighting plan has many layers to it.  Let’s explore those layers to help you create a cohesive and functional kitchen.

A M B I E N T | Lights for Navigating

Delafield Kitchen Remodel

Recessed cans, chandeliers, wall sconces, flush mount fixtures, even natural light – ambient lighting is your foundation, a general “blanket” of light for your kitchen.  It helps you navigate your space (without running into things), and it’s really the first step to your lighting plan, serving as the base for all other layers.

T A S K | Lights for Doing

Hartford Kitchen Remodel

Task lighting may arguably be the most important layer.  It helps you complete specific jobs, like meal prep and cooking, in the kitchen.  Under cabinet lights over the countertop, pendants above the island, lights at the range – it’s important to see what you’re doing especially when working with sharp knives and other potentially dangerous tools.

A C C E N T | Lights for Feeling

Herringbone Tile Layout

Accent lighting sets the tone for your kitchen, creating a warm and inviting space.  It’s often known as the decorative layer.  It can also be considered task lighting, but it demands a bit more attention – in-cabinet lights to display dishes or collectibles, beautiful pendants, and other fixtures to highlight a unique aspect of the space.  They round off the room to make it feel complete, and with so many options, it’s a great opportunity to really show off your personality.

M O O D | Lights for Changing

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

Throughout the day, your lighting needs change.  During the day, natural light is often sufficient, but as the day progresses you’ll need help from your fixtures to illuminate the space for cooking and cleaning.  Entertaining?  You’ll want to set the mood.  That’s where dimmers come into play.  Dimmers can be incorporated into all layers of lighting, so you can adjust the light for your specific needs.  For instance, they’re a great option at night or in the early morning when you’re not quite ready for bright lights.

Now that you’re familiar with the various layers of light, it’s important to note that you don’t have to use separate fixtures for each layer.  There’s often a lot of overlap.

Happy light planning!

White & Wood Kitchens

We see white kitchens everywhere!  They are clean, airy and timeless.  But for some, they can be a bit stark.  Those homeowners are looking to add warmth and texture.  That’s where wood comes to the rescue.  White and wood can be the perfect pair to create a space that’s simple and bright yet warm and cozy.  It’s an opportunity to add natural texture and soften the formality of a space.

How can you incorporate wood?  Here are a few ideas.

  • Beams
  • Countertops/Butcher Block Tops
  • Mixed Cabinetry (i.e. stained island)
  • Doors (i.e. barn or French doors)
  • Open Shelving
  • Range Hood

Let’s look at some examples!

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

The dark stained island and the walnut top on the raised portion of the island add a warmth and richness to this classic kitchen.

Wauwatosa Butler's Pantry

The contrasting cabinetry in this butler’s pantry creates an unexpected focal point.

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

This beautiful oak floor adds subtle texture and warmth.  It’s a great contrast to the white cabinetry, cool gray tones and marble top.

Hartford Kitchen Remodel

With a distressed cherry island top, this farmhouse kitchen is a balanced mix of rustic and refined.

Elm Grove Kitchen Remodel

Oak floors, beams, open shelving and a distressed cherry island top – this kitchen blends clean lines and natural texture perfectly.  The warm wood tones also offer an intimacy to the large space.

Elm Grove Open Shelving

Here’s a close-up on those lovely wood shelves.  They make a statement, but keep the space feeling open and airy.

Elm Grove Barn Doors

One more view of this kitchen shows off the beautiful custom wood barn doors.  They are nod to the home’s barn past and add charm to the space.

The Beauty of Built-Ins

Whether it’s a window seat, bookshelf, bed, or bar, built-ins lend character and function to a home.  We love that they can be tailored to specific needs and that they offer a cohesive and seamless look.  Built-ins are a great opportunity to take advantage of every nook and cranny and can really maximize your space!  Let’s look at some examples.

W I N D O W   S E A T S

Window seats are versatile.  Incorporate them into a dining room, office, bedroom, family room, or hallway.  They are the perfect opportunity to make the most of otherwise wasted space and insert extra storage.  Plus, who hasn’t dreamed of having a window seat?  It’s a great place to curl up with a book or sip a cup of coffee.  And it can be a beautiful way to frame a view.

Hartford Library Remodel

Wauwatosa Master Bedroom

B O O K S H E L V E S

Built-in bookshelves are multi-purpose – a place to store items and a lovely way to display decor, books, and collectibles.  They truly give a room a finished and sophisticated look.

Wauwatosa Family Room Remodel

Fox Point Library Remodel

B E D S

A built-in bed is ideal for kid or guest bedrooms!  They can be tucked into an alcove or under a slanted wall. Let’s not forget to mention how cozy they are!  Bonus – they can offer extra storage.  Check out those built-in bookshelves and drawers!

Oconomowoc Guest Bedroom Remodel

M E D I A   C E N T E R S

Like all built-ins, a built-in media wall subdues clutter and makes a space feel more substantial.  It can also serve as the anchor of the room.  This example mixes in shelves, reclaimed windows, and drawers to break up the size of the wall, add interest, and offer even more storage.

Side note – the built-in cabinetry in the foreground of this photo was incorporated into the design to not only display the homeowners’ vintage treasures, but to also define two rooms while keeping them open to one another.

Waukesha Family Room Remodel

B A R S

A built-in wet bar often serves as the home’s entertaining hub.  The great thing about a built-in wet bar?  You don’t necessarily need to have ample square footage.  Big or small, a wet bar has a lot of utility in a home – extra counter space, glassware storage, an additional sink, cocktail mixing station.

Wauwatosa Family Room Remodel

B A T H R O O M   S T O R A G E

Built-in shelving, vanity towers, medicine cabinets, niches – built-ins definitely take on a large role in a well-organized and timeless bathroom.  Because bathrooms are often small, these options offer storage and style without sacrificing floor space.

Fox Point Bathroom Remodel - Vanity Towers

L O C K E R S  / /  C U B B I E S

Custom cubbies or lockers help everyone keep their belongings organized and out of other areas of the home.  Add a bench, and you have yourself the perfect “launch pad” to get your family out-the-door.

Wauwatosa Mudroom

An Ode to Herringbone

You’re looking for timeless options in your home – something that won’t be dated in a matter of a few years but still adds style and intrigue to your space. May we suggest herringbone? Before we dive into the reasons we love herringbone and show you some of our fabulous examples, let’s look at a simple definition:

[ H E R R I N G B O N E ]

NOUN | ˈher-iŋ-ˌbōn, ˈhe-riŋ-

Herringbone is a pattern made up of 45 degree angles that form a ‘V’ shape.

Now, why do we love it?

[ S T Y L E ] Whether used with simple materials or something more dynamic (such as marble), laying tile or wood in an unexpected pattern like herringbone adds an element of style and elegance. For instance, if this tile was laid in a standard grid or running bond pattern, it may not have been as interesting or unique.

Family Room Tile

[ T I M E L E S S ] Herringbone seems to be a pattern that stands the test of time. Perhaps, it’s the fact that it adds subtle interest and doesn’t overwhelm a room. You don’t grow weary of it like trendy or ornate details. It also isn’t associated with a specific time period, so in a couple of years, people won’t be saying, “That’s so 2017.”

Fox Point Kitchen Remodel

[ T E X T U R E ] If you’re looking for texture, herringbone may be the answer! Again, it’s an understated detail, adding just enough variation to create warmth and character in your home.

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

[ M O V E M E N T ] Herringbone adds movement. It commands visitors’ attention and guides their eyes through a room, giving the illusion of more space.

Wauwatosa Sunroom Remodel

[ V E R S A T I L I T Y ] Herringbone isn’t reserved for one particular style. It can complement a contemporary space as well as traditional or rustic homes.  It also has various applications in the home – giving contrast to a traditional subway tile, spicing up the interior of a fireplace, adding texture to a hardwood floor, highlighting a niche in the bathroom, offering dimension to a tile floor. There are no limits!

Wauwatosa Family Room Remodel

A Look at Bartelt’s Award-Winning Projects

May is National Home Improvement Month, so throughout the past few weeks, we have posted photos of some of Bartelt’s award-winning projects. Here is a compilation of those posts!

[  D A Y  1  ]

This 1800s farmhouse remodel has a balanced mix of rustic and refined details – barn beams, painted cabinetry, fieldstone, coffered ceilings, distressed wood.

[  D A Y  2  ]

This home is a blend of traditional elements and modern details. It features marble, painted cabinetry and gorgeous lighting. The spaces also boast unique materials like goldleaf tile and textured wallpaper!

[  D A Y  3  ]

Our clients wanted a layout more conducive to entertaining and spaces that reflected their style and setting. The first floor features custom cabinetry, wrought iron light fixtures, slate tile, textured granite, and hand-scraped beams, creating a rustic aesthetic.

[  D A Y  4  ]

This sunroom addition is the perfect spot to host family and friends. It features a bar, easy access to the kitchen, a Lannon stone fireplace, and a direct connection to outdoor entertaining spaces.

[  D A Y  5  ]

Our clients’ 1800s Victorian lake home had been turned into a four family residence. It was their goal to restore it back to a single family home and reintroduce its original charm. This project features painted cabinetry, a tin ceiling, fireplace restorations, a bed nook for the grandchildren, and other details complementing the character of the home.

[  D A Y  6  ]

This master bath features a custom vanity, a tub with a granite deck, and a frameless glass shower. The shower bench boasts porcelain- and marble-filled mosaic tile and mimics the curve of the vanity and tub.

[  D A Y  7  ]

The homeowners wanted to update the home to accommodate their modern lifestyle while complementing the home’s original charm. This remodel features a new master suite, an exterior update, a new detached garage, a family room transformed from the old garage, and an expanded kitchen.

[  D A Y  8  ]

This home was originally a 1850s barn and was converted to a home in 1938. Throughout the addition, it was important to create a rustic, yet refined aesthetic. This was achieved with beams, board and batten siding, shakes, layers of lighting, exposed wood, and other selections that acknowledge the home’s barn past.

[  D A Y  9  ]

This kitchen is ideal for entertaining. It features a large island, efficient storage, double sinks, and a large arched opening into the family room (keeping the spaces open yet defined).

[  D A Y  1 0  ]

This stunning lake home basement has it all – a bar with a copper top and a Lannon stone wall, a wine storage room, and a cozy family room for movie nights (not to mention a ton of space to entertain friends and family)!

[  D A Y  1 1  ]

The homeowners wanted to enhance the home’s original charm while highlighting their eclectic style. The remodel features a new mudroom, kitchen expansion, family room, butler’s pantry, first floor bathroom, dining room and master bathroom. Throughout the project, it was important to increase the natural light in the home and make the spaces more conducive to entertaining.

[  D A Y  1 2  ]

This remodeled lower level offers a comfortable and contemporary spot for the family. It features a bar with pepper gray cabinetry, a stacked stone backsplash, and textured granite. Neighboring the bar, a modern fireplace with a floating hearth serves as the focal point of the lower level. The lower level also includes a theater room with a “starry” ceiling – the perfect spot for the kids!

[  D A Y  1 3  ]

We created a layout conducive to entertaining and updated this kitchen without straying too far from the feel of the home’s existing spaces. The space features custom, raised panel birch cabinetry, travertine subway tile, and granite countertops. It also has a two-level island, making it multi-purpose: one level for food prep and the other with seating for six.

[  D A Y  1 4  ]

This finished lower level features a bar with leather-textured granite, character-grade cherry cabinetry, a stacked stone backsplash, and beverage refrigerators. Neighboring the bar, the family room includes a stacked stone fireplace. Arched openings, weathered beams, and travertine tile run throughout the basement, adding character to the space.

[  D A Y  1 5  ]

The homeowners wanted to update the home to accommodate their modern lifestyle, showcase their eclectic style, and take advantage of their beautiful setting. The exterior of the house was transformed with a metal roof, fieldstone, low maintenance siding, a pergola, cedar columns and brackets, and a screen porch. Inside the home, each room tells a “story,” with reclaimed pieces throughout the first floor – barn doors, beams, and boards.

[  D A Y  1 6  ]

The homeowners wanted to expand their home to accommodate their family of 7. This project doubled the size of their home and created functional spaces – a larger kitchen, a family room, a mudroom with custom lockers, a three and a half car garage, bathrooms, and other living spaces.

[  D A Y  1 7  ]

The homeowners wanted to update the kitchen for their modern lifestyle while restoring and preserving the home’s original character. The space features a copper tin ceiling, custom furniture-style cabinetry, and soapstone.

[  D A Y  1 8  ]

This beautiful lake home features a new kitchen with custom crackle-finish cabinetry, a custom cherry table, a wet bar, and toe kick lighting. The two fireplaces serve as focal points for the first floor.

[  D A Y  1 9  ]

The fireplace, the lower level’s focal point, is a carved face of Prometheus, Greek god of fire. It features votive candles inset in his hair and beard. The basement also features a full kitchen with a hutch-like sink area, copper details, and reclaimed beams.

[  D A Y  2 0  ]

The homeowners wanted their home to have an arts and crafts look. The remodeled exterior features low maintenance siding, a cedar pergola, a historically correct color scheme, and a custom quarter sawn oak door.

[  D A Y  2 1  ]

This eye-catching kitchen features custom cabinetry and paneled appliances, a limestone hood, a crackle-finished island, and a copper farmhouse sink.

[  D A Y  2 2  ]

This lower level is ideal for entertaining – bar, family room, game area. The space features granite tops, custom cherry cabinetry, a game table at the bar, custom storage for pool cues, and double crown molding at the ceiling.

The Wrong House

Turn that Fixer Upper into Your Dream Home.

You’re ready to make the move. You’ve landed on a budget and researched what you could buy or build for that price point, but the available home inventory is low or lacking those turnkey, ready-to-move-in homes.

Where do you go from here? Do you decide to build? Building is definitely an option, but there can be some trade-offs.

It may be time to consider the “fixer upper.”  What do we mean by “fixer upper?”  It’s the wrong house in the right place at the right price. It’s in an established neighborhood, a desirable location with good schools and tree-lined streets, but it doesn’t quite fit the bill. Perhaps, the previous homeowners have lived there for years. They’re comfortable and think it works, but the home needs updating (sometimes major updating) and a more functional layout.

Maybe choosing that home that’s under your means***, that’s in the right place, but needs some love seems overwhelming. But it can be a fun challenge, and the perfect opportunity to have everything you ever wanted in a home.  Let’s look at the “perks” of choosing a fixer upper.

Location, Location, Location

We all know that location is often king! It’s important to be near parks, shopping, restaurants, and good schools. Beyond your must-have location list, the fixer upper is usually in an established neighborhood, which means mature trees, landscaping, and other amenities.

Not-So-Cookie-Cutter

It may seem appealing to purchase or build a new home (perhaps, it’s the easier option – the work has already been done for you), but customization and character are definitely limited. Think about driving into a new subdivision with freshly built homes.  They’re lovely, but you may notice something – they’re all essentially the same.  Sure, they may have varying color schemes or different window configurations, but they truly lack charm and a unique “personality.”

Remodeling the fixer upper will ensure you don’t end up in that cookie cutter home.  Older homes often have hard-to-replicate architectural details and other charming features.  Plus, once you begin the remodeling process, you’ll realize there is a lot of opportunity to be creative and tailor your home to your preferences (sometimes to an overwhelming extent, which is why hiring professionals to guide you is the best approach).

Quality Over Quantity

Renovating a fixer upper can often cost as much as a building a new home, but there’s an important difference.  In a new home, you’re putting your money towards quantity items – moldings, windows, doors, hardware, flooring, cabinetry, appliances, HVAC systems, plumbing fixtures, landscaping, a driveway.  A new home needs everything!  Remodeling gives homeowners more flexibility to put their money towards quality materials and high-end finishes because there are existing details that can be saved, repurposed, or remain completely untouched.

Now, let’s look at this idea in action. Here is an example of our clients’ fixer upper that was transformed into their dream home!

Check out more photos of this project on Houzz!

***For example, you may have a $450,000 budget for a home, and you decide to purchase a $300,000 home, leaving $150,000 for renovations and an opportunity to truly customize the home to your needs and preferences.

2016 Year in Photos

2017 Year in Photos

Thank you to our team, clients, and industry partners for a wonderful 2016. Cheers to the new year!

Office Remodel

Regional CotY Winner

Regional Chrysalis Winner

Regional Chrysalis Winner

Bartelt Barn Wood

Bartelt Barn Wood

Milwaukee NARI Tour of Remodeled Homes

The Faces of Exceptional Remodeling Experiences

First Bartelt Grandchild

Note his stylish Bartelt onesie!

2016 Hunger Task Force Food Drive