By Shayna Mace | Photography by Shanna Wolf
Sometimes when you find the perfect home, you have to see its potential, hidden beneath the lack of landscaping, old paint colors and less-than-ideal layout. And that’s exactly what happened to Beth Sawant and her husband, who were living in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood but wanted to move to the Lake Country region. Sawant grew up in Sussex and her husband in Hartland, so they started scouting lake homes in the area.
“Lake access or a lake property was ideal for us when we were coming back because of the hustle and bustle of Chicago—we wanted to come somewhere a little quieter. We don’t have kids, but we’re not the type of people that want to live in a subdivision,” Sawant says. “So we were looking for something on the lake and something unique—not a cookie-cutter type of house.”
They found it in a quaint property on Nagawicka Lake with water access across the street and its own pier. But the home needed a lot of work.
“It was kind of a mess when we bought it; [it was] very dated,” she says. “The yard had a dilapidated fence and there were trees in the front that had to be taken down. There were some dead pine trees, too. In the [backyard] we had to re-landscape all of that. We had to paint the house, add a new roof, a new furnace, a new air conditioner—everything you can imagine!”
But the couple liked the home’s location, which was close to running and hiking trails and downtown Delafield. And the home’s potential seemed to outweigh the projects the couple would have to do, so they set to work on a sixyear improvement plan to tackle all that needed to be done.
The front of the home badly needed to be reconfigured, which included the kitchen, dining room and small entertaining area. Sawant says when you walked into the home previously “you actually looked straight at a wall. And there was a little corner where there was an opening for the kitchen.”
So they knocked the wall down which opened up the whole front of the home. Now there’s a pleasant entryway and drop zone with hooks and a bench right off the front door. On the left is a bar with honed marble countertops, putty-colored cabinetry and wine fridge that the couple installed, which expands the entertaining area to right outside of the kitchen.
“[This space] needed to be comfortable and fit our lifestyle. We like to do a lot of entertaining, so it was nice to have the bar area when people come over, and have space to put food out,” says Sawant.
The kitchen underwent a complete overhaul, including moving all of the appliances around, ripping out the “pinkish-coral” cabinetry, adding a pantry and even changing the size of the powder room that was on the side of the kitchen. Now the cheery, functional space fits all of their needs. And the details are what make the space feel custom, like the putty-colored cabinetry, honed marble countertops, half-moon cabinet hardware, built-in black walnut cutting board (that was Sawant’s idea), hand-made gray subway tiles (with a subtle crackle pattern on them) and lighting from Rejuvenation and Restoration Hardware. They got the stainless steel appliances through Abel K|B|S Kitchen & Bath Showplace. White beadboard is used throughout the front of the home (like on the walls and the underneath part of the high-top counter) to unify the space.
Connected to the kitchen is the tidy dining room, painted barn red for impact. The couple chose that shade (which Beth calls a little “vintage”) to riff off of the old paint color in that room, which was a bolder red. The rustic dining table with bench seating on one side is from Pottery Barn, and the statement light fixture is from Restoration Hardware. Throughout the first floor the couple installed new, white maple flooring with a walnut stain that gently complements the space.
In the back of the home, the peaceful living room is a respite that has French doors (to close out any noise) a comfortable leather sectional and seating, and great views of the beautifully landscaped backyard. You can frequently find the couple’s vizslas Montgomery and Greta lounging on the couch in here. The couple worked with Michael Carter from Ken Michaels Furniture in Brookfield to not only select the furnishings but choreograph the look of the room, right down to the custom ostrich leather ottoman Carter recommended. A petite yet bright sunroom is attached to the living room that allows access to the front and back of the home through two separate doors.
Out back the couple did extensive landscape and hardscape work with the assistance of John Tomasicyk of Arbor Experts, including laying down the blue flagstone patio. He even custommade the couple the fence in their front yard, too. “I would recommend him, hands down! He’s amazing. In the summer, it’s really lush and private back here,” says Sawant.
Upstairs is also a quiet retreat with the master bedroom and bathroom, guest bedroom and another bedroom that is used for her husband’s office. The couple didn’t change the floor plan besides expanding the master closet and reconfiguring the master bathroom. Now Sawant has a closet all to herself, and her husband has another slightly smaller one, too.
The bedroom is painted taupe and is light and bright with several interesting windows and even a cool loft space that lets in even more light. The rustic furnishings are her husband’s from growing up, and other assorted vintage pieces pepper the room. The windmill print on the wall was her grandmother’s and is an image of the Paris town she grew up in.
Now that they’ve finished all of the major house projects, Sawant is relieved they’re done. “It was little by little, chipping away at it,” she says. “I’m happy it’s done, because it took us a long time to get here.”
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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