By Shayna Mace | Photography by Shanna Wolf
When Gina Gaspardo and Matt Miller decided to rebuild their lake home, it was actually out of necessity: in 2013, a fire destroyed about half of the property. Luckily the couple was living full-time in Bristlecone Pines and weren’t living there when it happened, but it was still a shock. The couple debated about what to do: renovate the current home or rebuild from scratch.
They found out that they would have to adjust the home’s square footage and comply with the current lake setbacks which were different from when the house was originally built. But the previous home’s layout was quite choppy, so in the end Gaspardo and Miller decided to rebuild and eventually make the lake home their fulltime residence.
“As we started to build and add upgrades to make the home what we wanted, including heated floors throughout, Matt thought, ‘well, let’s move out here sooner rather than later,’” says Gaspardo. By chance the couple was approached by someone interested in purchasing their Bristlecone Pines home even though they hadn’t put it on the market yet. They jumped at the chance to sell, and the timing worked out.
For the Okauchee Lake home the couple decided to work with Tony Federspill of Anthony Thomas Builders, who had built their home in Bristlecone Pines. “It was kind of a no-brainer, because he knows the rules and regulations for building lake properties very well, he’s detailed and works hard to keep the project on time and within budget,” says Gaspardo.
Gaspardo and Miller originally wanted a Spanish contemporary abode, “but the lines weren’t working when we sketched it out,” says Gaspardo. “Tony helped us with that, and using a more contemporary design seemed to fit the structure. We knew we wanted a neutral palette. Our other house was … French country, so for this house we wanted it to have clean lines and be comfortable. And take advantage of this awesome view.”
The couple considered other important factors in the layout including ease of entertaining and having enough room for their combined five children.
“When the five kids all have their friends over, you can reach 20 people pretty quickly on the weekend! So we were like, the layout has to be big, open, inviting, able to accommodate a lot of people, and also bring the outdoors in as much as we could,” says Gaspardo.
The main level is the heart of the home, with the kitchen and great room connected as one. Gaspardo wanted to make sure two things were in the spacious kitchen: a large island where all seven family members could eat together, and an attached sitting area for guests to hang out in.
“We don’t have a dining room or a kitchen table, but some of the specs we gave to the builder included having enough room at the bar and island for everyone when we entertain. The sitting area next to the kitchen is nice since it’s a comfortable place where people can relax and hang out with me while I am preparing dinner.”
Gaspardo and Miller began working with Jill Kowalcyzk of Jill K. Interiors to start the design of the room around the stunning 12-by-4-foot light granite island from Designs in Marble (“we both thought it was so beautiful and unique,” she says). They chose darker granite for the back countertop for contrast. A row of dove gray custom cabinetry (done by John Lestina of Carrington Corporation) is along the back wall and is juxtaposed against the stainless-steel Jenn-Air oversized refrigerator, Viking range and stainless range hood. The tiled backsplash was selected from Colleen Horner Kitchen and Bath. “We originally thought we wanted something simple with clean lines like subway tile, but Jill brought a sample of this over and it’s so different—I love it. It pulls out every color in the granite,” says Gaspardo. Three pendant lamps from BBC Lighting add some sparkle to the space.
The adjacent sitting area and bar is entertaining central with a grouping of nail head-trim leather chairs, Perlick wine fridge, bar with storage and even a service window that opens to outside with a small ledge (seen on page 40). The couple placed barstools right underneath it for seating. “It’s the notion of bringing the outdoors in. So the window opens up, and you can literally put all your barware and drinks out on the ledge so that when people are wet from the lake, they don’t have to traipse into the house,” says Gaspardo.
In the great room, soaring 19-foot ceilings open to the second floor, where cable railings reinforce the airiness of the floorplan. The natural flintstone floor-to-ceiling fireplace surround anchors the room beautifully and cabinets and floating shelves with custom LED lights on either side add eye-pleasing symmetry to the room. Gaspardo and Kowalcyzk’s goal was to build a contemporary look with touches of rustic décor, like in the Z. Gallerie wood coffee table (finished in silver) and touches of greenery and yellow flowers throughout. The yellow hue is a nod to Gaspardo’s profession: she owns three Board and Brush studios in Wisconsin Dells, Sun Prairie and Mequon.
“Jill’s idea was to bring in greens because we didn’t want this room to be a completely muted palette of grays. And Matt wanted to bring in some color, too,” says Gaspardo. “I’m a big fan of yellow and that is Board and Brush’s signature color so in summer, we bring out yellows and then in winter, we accent with an eggplant color.”
During warm weather the great room can virtually double in size because it opens up to the spacious deck with a pergola. The custom folding glass doors by Kolbe were imperative to let the outside in with no barriers. For the deck, the couple added an outdoor TV and chose Lane Venture living room-like furnishings to make the space feel like a second living room. The coolest part of the setup? The couple had custom retractable screens installed that come down on all sides of the pergola, so bugs stay out, and they can still enjoy the outdoors and the lake view—which also has amazing sunsets, Gaspardo adds.
The master suite takes a slightly more glamorous turn than the kitchen and great room with gray walls and carpeting, an upholstered nail-trim headboard, mirrored storage bench, faux fur throw pillows and sleek minimalist pendant lamps from BBC Lighting beside the bed. Gaspardo also incorporated her beloved eggplant hue in throw pillows and other accents. The master bedroom also has access to the large deck.
The master bathroom melds seamlessly with the bedroom with show-stopping marbled granite countertops, dark custom cabinetry, large tiled walk-in shower, his-and-hers closets and a neutral palette. The modern cylindrical faucets that look like sleek works of art were actually pulled from their previous lake house, says Gaspardo.
Outside of the master bedroom’s entrance is the petite powder room with an architectural concrete ramp sink that Gaspardo had custom-made. “I saw a similar sink at Story Hill BKC, called the restaurant, found out who made the sink and called the designer. It’s a guy in Milwaukee! So I went to his warehouse and worked with him on it,” she says.
Upstairs has four bedrooms and a den for Miller’s college-age kids when they come home and Gaspardo’s high school-age girls who live with them. When the kids’ friends are over, they head down to the lower level, which is one large room with a custom-made Pharoah pool table, poker table, couches and bar area. The bar is equipped with a dishwasher, refrigerator, sink and professional-grade Scotsman ice machine (“we didn’t want to be running to the store every time we needed ice,” she says).
Once again Gaspardo pulled in gray and purple down here, but added in pops of red that tie in nicely to the art pieces they’ve purchased throughout the years, like the cherry sculpture by local artist Marc Sijan. (Sijan’s lifelike “Security Guard” sculpture is featured at the Wisconsin Center and his hyper-realistic works are also in galleries and museums all over the world). On one wall hangs an art piece the couple purchased in Hawaii that has custom lighting that changes colors to coordinate with the piece. “We’re not in a hurry to add to the art collection—we just add as we go,” she says.
“Matt wanted this to be a home where we could live for the long term, with room for our children, future grandkids and friends to enjoy time on the lake, so he upgraded many features including installing heated floors and high-end amenities,” says Gaspardo. “He calls our home ‘Sunset Place’ since we have the best lake frontage for sunsets, and that’s positively the best feature of our home.”
This home was featured in the Lake Country: Summer 2018 issue. For more photos of featured Lake Geneva homes, visit the Lake Country Gallery page.
The Lakeshore Living publications are published by Nei-Turner Media Group, a full-service agency located in Lake Geneva, WI. Our four publications cover the picturesque lake communities of Lake Geneva, Madison, Lake Country and Northwoods.
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