The Design Thought-Process behind this Coastal European Cottage Style Home
This one-of-a-kind, functional custom home was designed, built and fully decorated by our full-service, in-house design/build team at WLH Custom Homes. This home is one of our two BCHBA Spring 2018 showcase homes we are presenting. During the first weekend of Showcase, we had so many questions regarding our homes and our full-service approach, so we thought we’d do a blog explaining our team’s design thought-process throughout the creation of our showcase homes over the last several months.
This home... when describing it in one word, we choose “peaceful.” As you walk in you feel like you’re walking into this sanctuary. It seems to make you relax and feel like you have more time. You get that instant “I’m in my happy place” sort of feeling, which is exactly what the owners wanted.
First, a little backstory about the evolution of this “Coastal European Cottage” style home and how it came to be. The owners fell in love with one of our previous showcase homes. Actually, you can video tour it on the home page of our website (it’s called the “Crown Pointe II” home). At the time (about 4 years ago), this design style was new-to-the-industry; it was a very unique look with rustic shiplap and barn style ceiling beams throughout. We combined rustic, modern, coastal and industrial styles…and rolled them all into one. The owners wanted and trusted us to achieve that same overall feeling while creating something completely new and original to them. They hired our full-service, in-house team to take on the mission of designing, building and fully decorating the home within the budget parameters and specifications they set forth, and didn’t want to make any decisions along the way.
The open concept floor plan was designed for indoor/outdoor living and entertaining. It’s clean, comfortable and functional. We added large, expansive patio doors in both the living and sunroom so they can be opened wide to the (soon-to-be) screened-in deck. When you open the large doors, you feel like you’re outside from the comfort of your own home. An excellent feature especially for a warm Spring or Fall day in Wisconsin.
The main level is open and airy, and full of large windows. The clients are empty nesters, so the first floor makes everyday living comfortable for just the two of them; and then space expands to the lower level with 3 additional bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a large family room when their kids, grandkids and other family and friends are visiting. Did we mention storage? There’s tons. There’s even a secondary mudroom entrance coming in to the lower level from the garage, which makes it extra functional for guests staying with the couple and helps keep the grandkids organized. Rather than going up with the bedrooms, we went down as it’s more economical. The lower level is bright, has 9-foot ceilings and doesn’t feel anything like a “basement.”
One of the very first finish items chosen was the over-grouted, “old-world” stone for the exterior, the fireplace, and the two stone columns between the dining and sunroom. We kept the stone consistent throughout to make sure that all spaces would flow together (and because we love it so much – in all honesty!). Natural shapes of large stones in neutral tones were chosen along with an over-grout technique to make the stone look old and like its “been there.” That was the overall goal of this home right from the start, to make it look like it had some history and wasn’t a newly built home. We even hand-brushed all the trim and timbers throughout the home and purposely accentuated the brush strokes so they would be visible.
The rustic (not-so-perfect) shiplap walls and massive, full sawn timbers and beams (handcrafted from our own Sawmill through our parent company, Wisconsin Log Homes) are covered in white paint, but just enough so you can still see the grain of the wood and knots slightly coming through. We’ve finished our solid wood beams with a white-washed transparent stain before, but we decided to take a risk and cover them fully with paint for this home. Typically, everyone feels our beams are too beautiful to cover up (and we agree), but this house just had to be white-white to help create that Coastal European Cottage style look we were going for, which blends elegance with a relaxed attitude. We wanted the wood to be present just enough to give the space character and texture, without overpowering the home or becoming a focal point in this case.
The dark hardwood floor literally “grounds” the surrounding white finishes and coordinates with the deeper tones in the stone. Engineered European Oak hardwood flooring was chosen to be installed throughout the entire main level, except for in the master bathroom. Having the same flooring flow consistently from room to room makes spaces feel larger and keeps room transitions clean and seamless. Also, we chose flooring that would be timeless. As much as we love fun, trendy floors, we feel it’s so important to give our clients a look that will last. The glass railing system keeps the main living area open, doesn't compete with the deck's visible railing system, and allows the gorgeous rustic wood and shiplap staircase to shine through.
The master bathroom: Polished ivory and beige oblong tiles laid in perfect rows, a warm gray stain over beautiful hickory cabinetry, a large makeup counter across from double vanities, and a large walk-in tile shower makes this space feel like you’re in an actual spa. It’s gorgeous. Sometimes less design is truly more, and that proves to be the case in this space.
Lighting…the jewelry of the home! We sourced the light fixtures through both our local and national vendors. The oversized black metal pendants over the kitchen Island provides an industrial element to the white backdrop of the kitchen, and also coordinates perfectly with the visible barn lights over the sunroom’s window wall. The rope and metal lighting over the dining room table and in the foyer also coordinate with one another and adds coastal flare throughout the home. The shiny copper lights outside are a true conversation piece for anyone walking up to the home and our personal favorites! We haven’t seen them used on a house before this, and they couldn’t be more fitting for this eye-catching, Cape Cod exterior.
Each piece of furniture and all the accessories were carefully selected for each space throughout the home by our in-house Interior Designers. First we determined how each room would be used, and then we created a furniture layout that would suit the daily lifestyle of the owners. When designing any home, our first priority is always to make sure the home will live as well as it looks. All the furniture was ordered and put in storage before framing even begun as we picked out items determined by dimensions on the floor plan. Our goal was to keep the furniture and décor organic, simplistic and charming. The fabrics and styles all flow from room to room. We combined rustic, modern, vintage and antique décor; each unique piece provides interest and accents one another quite naturally.
To pull in yet another rustic-modern and unique touch, we used our in-house Craftsmen to create the natural-edge bench tops in both the foyer and mudroom, and also had custom paintings created by the co-founder of Wisconsin Log Homes, Kathy Janczak (also the mother of Nate Janczak – our owner/General Contractor).
This home is truly special to us. We are deeply grateful to the owners for the complete trust they placed in our team and are very thankful they love the final product just as much as we do! This project has a big piece of our heart and has been so much fun to work on over the last few months. We hope you can come out to see both our Showcase homes (House #8 and House #35) this coming weekend!
Design Note: We’ve built many different variations similar to this versatile design throughout Wisconsin. Whether you work with our team to customize a home to be built on the water or in a subdivision, as a primary residence or secondary home, for empty nesters or a larger family; we will create a floor plan unique to your personal needs, style, property and budget.