Home Elements & Concepts August–October 2021

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VOL. 19

publisher Amy S. Johnson ajohnson@homeelementsandconcepts.com editorial director Amy S. Johnson info@homeelementsandconcepts.com lead designer Barbara Wilson senior copy editor & lead staff writer Kyle Jacobson copy editor Krystle Naab

Photograph provided by Coyle Carpet One

Photograph by A&J Photography

sales & marketing director Amy S. Johnson ajohnson@homeelementsandconcepts.com designers Jennifer Denman, Crea Stellmacher, Linda Walker


administration Debora Knutson

workspaces that are both comfortable and functional

contributing writers Coyle Carpet One, Abe Degnan, Dreamhouse Dreamkitchens, Iconi Interiors and Consignment, Karina Mae, MGE, Jason Scott, Sketchworks Architecture, Waunakee Furniture ETC photographs A&J Photography, Coyle Carpet One, Degnan Design-Build-Remodel, Dreamhouse Dreamkitchens, Iconi Interiors and Consignment, MGE, Chad Renly: C| R Prints & Photography LLC, Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), Vanessa Tortolano, Understanding Roots (robertkourik.com), Waunakee Furniture ETC subscriptions Home Elements & Concepts is available free at over 150 locations. To purchase an annual subscription (4 issues), send mailing information and $16 (payable to Towns & Associates) to Home Elements & Concepts, c/o Towns & Associates, Inc., PO Box 174, Baraboo, WI 539130174. Or sign up for a FREE online subscription at homeelementsandconcepts.com. comments We welcome your questions and comments. Please submit to Home Elements & Concepts, c/o Towns & Associates, Inc., PO Box 174, Baraboo, WI 53913-0174 or email info@homeelementsandconcepts.com.

From Weary Spaces to Wow-Worthy Offices FINANCIAL

Maximize Your Home's Return on Investment: Living Spaces 36

living space projects that offer a strong return on investment


Design Services for Every Budget Kitchen Storage


open shelves for the convenience of having items easily accessible

Simplifying Rug Shopping


how to find the perfect rug to pull a room together


What's Going on Down There? A Glimpse at the Soil Layer and Below


complex myriad of networks; communities; exchange systems; and a small constant struggle for space, nutrients, water, and survival


Hardwood Floors


symbolic of luxury and style, hardwood floors have grown in their versatility

Modern Mountain Industrial

all rights reserved. ©2021 No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without prior written permission by Home Elements & Concepts.


Cover photograph provided by Dreamhouse Dreamkitchens.


benefits to hiring an interior designer

advertise To place an advertisement, please call 608.356.8757 or email ajohnson@homeelementsandconcepts.com.

Watch for the next issue November 2021.



a minimalist style that allows the design and functional elements to speak for the home, itself

Sustainable Living: Plan Now to Get Energy Efficiency Upgrades Done Before Winter 20 steps to getting energy efficient upgrades done early

4 Advertiser Index 38 From The Publisher



from the publisher While the summer saw a joyous return to travel and activities after more than a year of seclusion due to the pandemic, the increased time we had spent in our homes likely connected us more to them and increased our desire for them to fit our lifestyles and needs. In this issue, Degnan Design-Build-Remodel shares their project for a couple who returned from the West Coast to their roots in Madison. Their wish? To transform their newly purchased arboretum home into one that would provide them with the feeling of the Utah mountains. We also discuss a very popular topic—hardwood floors—brought to you by Coyle Carpet One. Once you’ve made the hardwood decision, then you’ll want to explore types of wood, plank width, color, and gloss. There are so many options, and Coyle provides some key information to help guide you to the choices that best fit your home and finances. You’ll also find some wonderful content regarding storage, energy-efficiency upgrades, seeking interior design services, rug shopping, achieving maximum home ROI, and the importance of better understanding your soil. Finally, the summer also saw a return to external work spaces, and Sketchworks Architecture shares their update of the Monona Bank offices at their Bridge Road branch in Monona. With so many having recently had a work-from-home experience, it’s prudent for businesses to consider making employees’ in-office experiences more desirable. It’s a great time to consider fall and winter projects as contractors’ schedules lighten up, or to get a head start on your spring and summer 2022 planning. I hope that this and all of our issues help get your creative juices stirring, whether it’s in determining the projects themselves or in contacting our talented contributors to provide you with the services you seek.

Amy Johnson

4 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

Find Energy Savings Here. Partner with MGE to save energy. Make mge.com your first stop. • Get easy, low-cost ways to save energy. • Use calculators to estimate your savings. • Learn about incentives from Focus on Energy. Join us in creating a more sustainable future. Visit mge2050.com.

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Modern Mountain

Industrial by Abe Degnan

6 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

As young doctors establishing a long-term career back in their hometown area of Madison, Adam and Brittany Buhalog were still living on the west coast doing medical residency when we first met. While Degnan Design-BuildRemodel has been set up for video meetings for several years, shortly after our first video meeting together, the world was shut down by COVID-19. We knew that this would make the situation more difficult, but we had clients who were moving back to their hometown no matter what with dreams of creating their perfect home.

Photograph provided by Degnan Design-Build-Remodel


They had selected a gracious 1980s contemporary home located in the desirable and private arboretum neighborhood of Madison. Their desire was to create the feeling of a modern mountain industrial home, something along the lines of a Utah mountain home. The long sloping roof lines of this 1980s contemporary home were perfect for that feeling, ensuring that the interior and exterior would be integrated when the project was done. They envisioned a minimalist style that would allow the design and functional elements to speak for the home, itself. Those elements would be the focal points of the design. Adam and Brittany requested that we use natural materials, like stone, wood, and metal, and bring outdoor materials indoors.


Photograph by A&J Photography

Photograph by A&J Photography

“One of the most challenging aspects of the project was the installation of a stone slab in the wall to be used as a piece of art,” says PJ Ender, lead carpenter. “It was a first for me, and I am very pleased with the results.”




The nature surrounding the home provided further inspiration for the design. Plants are a part of nearly every room in the home. They’re balanced with the use of natural wood in trim and flooring, and framed by sharp lines. From the living room to the solarium, plants allow each room to breathe while providing the comforts of being indoors. The

It was clear to everyone involved that the project required a gutting and raw modeling of the kitchen. Adam and Brittany also requested that we evaluate the feasibility of opening the kitchen to the rest of the house so that it would have a modern floor plan and intuitive flow. There were also some decorative pony walls along the stairway as well as some dividing the dining area that Adam and Brittany wanted removed. The balconies used pony walls instead of railings, which left a prime opportunity to open things up in many



8 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

Photograph by A&J Photography


Photograph provided by Degnan Design-Build-Remodel

Photograph by A&J Photography

windows of the home show off the beauty of the arboretum in all seasons, while the greenery of indoor plants is cheerful all year long.

Photograph provided by Degnan Design-Build-Remodel

Photograph by A&J Photography


different ways. This also allowed us to incorporate the metal railings that they desired as part of the design motif. There were also two and a half bathrooms to be remodeled. As we designed, the scope of work expanded and became even bolder. The ensuite was remodeled to provide better closet space and straighter walls for furniture placement, and the bathroom received a new floor plan to accommodate a luxurious shower and couple’s cabinetry. In addition to this, the adjacent solarium was converted into a functional indoor living space that is fully connected to the master bedroom. Furthermore, two screened porches became enclosed three-season rooms. The back porch, referred to as the dining porch, is now a true indoor-outdoor living space connected to the kitchen with an Andersen three-panel folding hinging patio door. When wide open, these rooms are nearly seamless. The second porch, now referred to as the conversation porch, sits off to the right-hand side of the


house and is connected to both the front deck and to the main living room of the house. This porch boasts cathedral ceilings, while its knee walls provide privacy from the street. Due to the heavily wooded neighborhood, this home has minimal solar heat gain and remains very comfortable throughout the year. While the original fireplace was replaced with a highefficiency gas unit, the original limestone surround, cedar feature wall, mantle, and bookshelves remain. “I am happy the homeowner’s decided to keep the existing stone surround at the fireplace,” says Dave Duewel, senior designer. “I knew that the warm colors would complement all the new finishes that were selected.” The mantle and bookshelves were redesigned to bring in some of the black



Photograph provided by Degnan Design-Build-Remodel

Photograph by A&J Photography


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. View additional photographs at homeelementsandconcepts.com


tones used throughout the home, in the metal railings, in the cabinetry, and in the fireplace itself. Cabinet doors were removed in favor of open shelving. The beautiful combination of the original oak and cedar and limestone contrasts beautifully with the new wood and tile floors. Between dark, light, and natural color choices; thoughtfully woven in use of pattern; and distinct transitional elements throughout the house, the final home fits together perfectly. The end result is a warm and contemporary home which really showcases the clients’ personalities.

10 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

Degnan Design-Build-Remodel 128 Commerce Street DeForest, WI 53532 608.846.5963 degnandesignbuildremodel.com


Abe Degnan, CGR, CGB, CAPS

Project Designer

Dave Duewel, Senior Designer

Lead Carpenter


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Design Services for Every Budget Are you building your dream home? Embarking on a remodel/renovation? Overwhelmed by endless choices? There are many benefits to hiring an interior designer, including: • They can save you money and help you avoid costly mistakes. • They can save you time, telling you what needs to be done and when. • You’ll get a assessment.




• You’ll have a qualified liaison which is beneficial in communication between the trades. • You’ll have a wealth of resources and contacts that the general public doesn’t have access to. • You’ll have a wow factor; interior designers are trained to think creatively and spatially. • Our designers are experts in furniture design and can plan for your space.

Submitted by the Design Team at Waunakee Furniture ETC, who can help you choose the fabrics and leathers that best suit your needs. waunakeefurniture.com

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HARDWOOD FLOORS When it comes to livening up a room, nothing compares to the unrivaled beauty and richness offered by hardwood flooring. Still symbolic of luxury and style, hardwood floors have grown in their versatility, able to even more aptly suit any homeowner’s tastes while requiring less maintenance than ever before. Most people start with picking a wood species. One of the advantages of hardwood over luxury vinyl plank is there are no repeated patterns on the face of the boards, making 16 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

each room truly its own. Some common domestic species, like white oak, maple, and cherry, create a consistent look across the room as they have less-prominent grains and more-even coloring. However, if you want something more exciting while staying domestic, hickory is known for having eye-catching color variation and red oak for having a wide range of deep grain patterns. Exotic hardwoods, like Brazilian cherry, tigerwood, and Santos mahogany, offer the most unique grains, rich colors, and typically have a high hardness rating, but aren’t right for every homeowner and budget.

Another factor is the plank width. Narrow planks create a formal or traditional style, and wide planks create a more casual or relaxed atmosphere. Most opt for an in-between size (five to seven inches) to capture the appeal of narrow planks while keeping things comfortable. Probably the most crucial design element comes down to color. Staining the floor can mean working with the grain for some extra pop or highlighting characteristics inherent in the wood species chosen. Darker floors make a large space feel cozy, and lighter colors feel casual and open. Of course, it’s important to consider how the floor will work with your walls, furniture, appliances, and other accents. The last thing to consider is how much luster, or gloss, to give the floor. Higher gloss means the light will be more reflective, giving a shine that works well in modern and formal spaces. But if a room has a lot of foot traffic, consider going with a low luster finish to hide footprints, scratches, and scruffs—very important if kids and pets are a factor. As mentioned, one thing everyone who owns hardwood floors is quick to appreciate is how quick and easy they are to care for and maintain. Some might think it’s necessary to have all sorts of wood-floor cleaners, cleaning solutions, and other homemade cleaning supplies, but that’s not the case. In fact, homemade hardwood-floor cleaners HOME ELEMENTS & CONCEPTS


between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll want to use interior and exterior doormats at entrances to keep sand, dirt, grit, grease, and oil off the floor, but be mindful of the material; stay away from rubber, foam back, or plastic mats, as they may trap moisture. And if you’re a pet-owner, keep nails trimmed and paws clean. Dogs tend to do the most damage to hardwood flooring, especially large breeds. Steer away from softwoods and try to stick to harder species. Another option is distressed or reclaimed wood, which already has blemishes and scratches, so your pet will just add to the beauty of a floor you already love. Hardwood floors can make a home feel like anything from a rustic cabin to a chic contemporary bar and lounge, and they maintain a flow and look throughout each floor, giving cohesion to all spaces. With such a range of options and modern conveniences in technologies, there’s never been a better time to invest in a hardwood floor. Submitted by Coyle Carpet One. Photographs provided by Coyle Carpet One. and other nonrecommended cleaners can damage the finish or void the floor’s warranty.

View additional photographs at homeelementsandconcepts.com

To properly care for hardwood flooring, vacuuming with a hard-surface vacuum (brushless) or sweeping twice a week will give you the best results to ensure your space is free and clear of loose debris. These floors are also ideal for robot vacuums, especially if you have a pet. A microfiber mop is also nice to have for picking up dust and allergens from crevices and seams.

Coyle Carpet One 250 W. Beltline Highway Madison, WI 53713 608.257.0291 coylecarpet.com

Always keep in mind that hardwood is susceptible to warping when exposed to water. Though most discoloration can be fixed through resurfacing or refinishing, once warping occurs, there is nothing practical that can be done aside from replacing the plank. Also be sure to stay clear of ammonia-based cleaners, acrylic finishes, wax-based products, detergents, bleach, polishes, oil soaps, abrasive cleaning soaps, and acidic materials. To further prevent warping, keep the relative humidity in the area between 30 to 50 percent and the temperature

18 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com




Sustainable Living Plan Now to Get Energy Efficiency Upgrades Done Before Winter While you may not be ready to embrace the frigid temperatures the upcoming season will bring, planning ahead is the best way to get your energy efficiency upgrades done before Jack Frost arrives. Think about last winter. Did you have ice dams? Did a particular area of your home often feel cold? Were your

20 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

doors drafty? The following strategies can help you save energy and keep your home comfortable. • Consider those warm, sunny windows around your home that soon will turn cold. There are many options available today for window coverings to reduce infiltration. • What about the attic? Does it have enough insulation? If you are going to air seal and add insulation, keep in mind other upgrades that can be done at the same time. One example is upgrading any electrical that runs in the attic, such as replacing outdated lighting with LED options. Or if you plan to add ceiling fans in the future, consider adding extra support for them in the attic before installing more insulation. • Do you have an unused chimney? It could be a major source of heat loss. Consider hiring a contractor to bring it down at least below the attic floor.

How do you know the best way to identify which projects to tackle first and how to go about them? Start with an energy assessment. Schedule an Assessment Many people don’t know where heat loss is occurring in their homes. To achieve maximum energy efficiency, each room in your home should be evaluated. An energy assessment will provide you with a clear roadmap of the problem areas and recommended improvements. It’s a good idea to schedule an assessment in August or September so there is enough time to complete upgrades by October, when the chilly weather arrives. FOCUS ON ENERGY® can connect you with a reliable contractor to perform the assessment. Wisconsin utilities’ statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program works with residents on cost-saving energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus on Energy also offers incentives for making energy-saving improvements and provides guidance to help you use energy wisely. While a professional energy assessment gives the most comprehensive look at your home’s energy use, a selfassessment can help you identify some issues too. Visit energy.gov/energysaver/weatherize for more details about this process. Implement the Plan Sooner Rather Than Later From insulators to heating technicians, contractors get busier the closer it gets to the heating season. Contact them early to allow time to complete your projects before or early in the heating season. Consider getting bids from three contractors to help you make an informed decision. If you are looking for qualified contractors, check out the Focus on Energy Trade Ally search tool, focusonenergy.com/trade-ally. Focus on Energy partners with professionals in a variety of areas, including construction, energy efficiency, and heating and cooling. Focus on Energy also offers financial incentives to homeowners for making qualified energy-saving upgrades. Learn more at focusonenergy.com. Making Other Improvements Do you remember last winter imagining how nice it would be to start up a cozy fireplace? Now also is a good time to plan for other improvements, like installing a new fireplace or updating an older, inefficient model. Do your shopping

and planning early for these types of improvements too, as installers get busier further into the fall and winter. Don’t forget some of the simple no- or low-cost strategies you can implement to help save energy and weatherize your home. • Adjust ceiling fans to turn clockwise, which pushes warm air down to your living space. • If your health permits, keep your thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or below. • The furnace filter is a small part of your heating system, but an important one. A clogged filter can inhibit airflow. It causes your furnace to work harder and use more energy. During heating season, check your filter monthly. Change or clean the filter when it’s dirty. • Check vents. Properly opening and closing high and low vent returns will help your furnace operate efficiently. If your home has these vents, you will see low vents on the wall near the floor. Straight up from the low vents toward the ceiling will be the high vents. Remember that hot air rises and cold air falls. In winter, open low vents and close top vents to draw cold air through the return registers so the furnace can heat it. • Clean warm air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed. Make sure they are not blocked by furniture or drapes. • Turn off outdoor water spigots to prevent freezing and costly plumbing repairs. Ask the Experts MGE is available to answer your questions and provide tips on managing energy use in your home. • MGE Home Energy Line: MGE’s Energy Experts are available 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 608.252.7117 or email AskExperts@mge.com. • More energy efficiency tips at mge.com/saving-energy and mge2050.com/en/our-energy-use. Photographs provided by MGE.



Photograph by Vanessa Tortolano


What's Going on Down There? A GLIMPSE AT THE SOIL LAYER AND BELOW by Karina Mae What lies below the ground is a complex myriad of networks; communities; exchange systems; and a small constant struggle for space, nutrients, water, and survival. We often think of this as a void with some nonpersonal disregard, almost not really thinking of it at all until we want to move it, use it for our own benefit, or we have a problem with the surface. Once we’ve broken ground, we find roots; small rodents; insects; rocks (cement or debris); nutrients; chemicals, possibly both manmade and plantmade; and 22 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

organic matter, like twigs, leaves, and decaying plant fragments. Not to mention the millions upon millions of bacteria and fungi greasing the wheels and literally feeding this massive metropolis. This system is so intricate that it resembles a tornado if drawn out with arrows circling back on themselves and off in wild directions. Even today, we are still learning new interactions and symbiotic or beneficial relationships.

What’s for sure is soil is better fed naturally and left alone as much as possible. It’s important to distinguish soil from dirt. Whereas soil is a teeming mixture of minerals, organic matter, animal and vegetable life, moisture, mycelium, bacteria, and gases/ chemicals, dirt is often treated as a lifeless medium to which must be added ample amounts of water and soluble amendments in order to promote growth. The former is meant for survival, and the latter is crying for help. So how do we attain this lovely myriad of nonstop movement and growth? There are a few small things anyone can apply; however, it may sound contrary to everything you’ve been taught. For example, start avoiding extensive digging or tilling, as it disrupts any of the fungal layer that has started to feed and protect roots, which is also crucial in maintaining moisture in the groundwater, the sustenance of all life on this planet. This fungal layer is far, far from anything bad and, in fact, creates what’s called a rhizosphere, a safe haven and nursery for new roots to carry on their venture into the soil. There are now products on the market to help you add this beneficial mycelium to anything new you plant or to top-dress existing species. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides,

From Understanding Roots (with permission). robertkourik.com

27-year-old cherry tree (B) is intercropped with two 20-year-old hazelnut trees (A).

From Understanding Roots (with permission). robertkourik.com

Mature root system of a 10-year-old plant of horseradish.

Photograph by Vanessa Tortolano



Photograph by Vanessa Tortolano From Understanding Roots (with permission). robertkourik.com

insecticides, and even herbicides can be toxic, suffocating the natural rhythm that wants to inhabit there.

Here we have Juglans regia (English or Persian walnut). This drawing shows the roots of an ungrafted tree grown in the wild from seed.

24 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

For the surface, consider leaves, straw, small amounts of lawn clippings (nontreated), aerated compost, steel oats can promote quick mycelium, plant debris (somewhat aged is best), and pine needles all topped with nontreated aged bark mulch to keep it safely in place and relieve the city of harmful runoff. These sandwich layers will continue to work for years, adding so much moisture and nutrients that watering demands decrease substantially and weeds either cease to grow or are removed with ease. This can be repeated as frequently as you have material available, just avoiding the crowns of any plant or tree. Compacted, treated dirt is lifeless, hard, and unforgiving in comparison. Scaling up, let’s talk insects. These little, bitty critters are so crucial to any functioning soil food web that their presence, both in type and numbers, is a direct indication that the community (your soil) is healthy, working, and thriving. Healthy soil can have many hundreds of insects in one square foot, and over 90 percent of them are harmless to humans. The other 10 percent aren’t all bad either, as much of them make up the food source for the rest. When a

to plants that couldn’t access and cycle them back down, creating literal feet of moving nutrients. They often tell us what’s wrong with the soil or missing in the nutrient chain. Dig less, relax more—what I call lazy gardening—is the act of eliminating your task list; increasing bounty; and shedding labor, cost, and backache. Soil is a living, breathing, and growing metropolis. One we should honor, feed, and respect. It’s home to the bottom of everything we see. Hopefully we shed a bit of light into the darkness so your adventures above are much more fruitful. Karina Mae is the designer and team leader at Garden Search & Rescue. Garden Search & Rescue Madison, WI 608.438.9571 gardensearchandrescue.com

Image by Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS).

system is allowed to have such a polyculture, it’s often selfmoderated in numbers. Roots go deep, and when I say deep, it’s much more than you’re probably thinking. Given the right setting, roots can and will far surpass anything you can see above the surface. Tomatoes grown in one season in Madison can have 5- to 6-foot-deep roots. Oaks and some of our larger trees are often mimicked in dimension by 60 to 90 percent below the ground. Soil conditions can drastically alter this, and there are ways to train roots to grow deeper so they are more climatically stable and resilient in the case of drought or storms. Insects are also imperative here, as they create looser soil for these roots to go so deep. Noninvasive weed species are often seen as evil, but they really do wondrous work for us. Pesky weeds grow quick and die quick, providing loads of organic matter to the soil. They are biodynamic accumulators that make nutrients available




Simplifying Rug Shopping Choosing area rugs for your home often feels overwhelming due to the vast array of choices available to the consumer. Where the perfect rug can be the element that pulls a room together, choosing the wrong rug can throw off the feel and continuity of the entire room. But by taking some basics into consideration, you’ll find the perfect rug to help set the tone and mood you’re looking for. Color/Contrast/Pattern • If your room has a lighter feel, choose a rug in a similar palette. • If you're going for contrast, choose a rug that still has a connection with the existing neutral tones. • If you're going for bold (pattern or multiple colors), take inspiration from fabric or an art piece already in the room. • Consider the existing flooring. Choose a rug that doesn’t disappear into or compete with the flooring color, pattern, or grain. Layering Textures/Creating Depth • Natural fiber rugs make the perfect base for layering (sisal, jute, and flat weaves). • Combining smooth surfaces (leather upholstered furniture) with softer, textured, or fluffy rugs softens the overall feel. • For open-floor concept with multiple rugs, a textured rug is a nice complement to other colorful or patterned rugs. Size/Scale Choosing an undersized rug for a space can make the room feel small and awkward. Here are some guidelines for how to choose the appropriate size for different spaces. • Living Room/Seating Areas: Your rug should be large enough to have the front legs of your larger furniture pieces actually on the rug— 8- by 10-foot or 9- by 12-foot sizes are common. • Dining Rooms: A simple rule is to take your dining table size and add two feet all around so that when you pull your chair out, you are still on the rug. • Foyers: Often a forgotten space. Placing a larger rug in your entryway that will accommodate two people standing on the rug at the same time will make your guests feel comfortable and welcome. We recommend a 3 by 5 foot or larger. • Bedrooms: One larger rug at the foot of the bed or multiple smaller rugs on each side of the bed works best.

Items sourced from Iconi Interiors and Consignment. iconiinteriors.com

26 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com


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From Weary Spaces to

WOW-WORTHY OFFICES by Sketchworks Architecture

Although working from home has become the new norm, it doesn’t mean that working from the office has completely gone away. As the pandemic fog slowly starts to lift, companies are bringing employees back to the office to foster a sense of camaraderie and provide crucial in-person collaboration for teams. Monona Bank, a local community bank founded in 1991 with nine locations in and around Dane County, recently refreshed and updated office spaces due to anticipated

30 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

employee need in two of their bank locations: Middleton and Bridge Road in Monona. Julie Redfern, Monona Bank’s EVP and chief operations officer, feels Monona Bank works hard to provide associates with workspaces that are both comfortable and functional. She says, “Our bank’s culture is based on collaboration and teamwork, so we have been updating our offices over the past several years to ensure associates have the space and tools they need [now], and will need in the future, to [work] effectively.”

Open offices and adjacent supervisor private offices all receive daylighting in this intentional layout.

Julie Redfern and her team turned to Middleton-based Sketchworks Architecture, who they worked with on their renovation at their Middleton location last year, to revamp their Bridge Road bank. Because Sketchworks’ team was familiar with Monona Bank’s needs, the partnership was a great fit. And with more than 80 percent of their associates working from home due to the pandemic, the bank was able to take advantage of the mostly empty floors to quickly complete the work with no impact on the bank’s employees. The overall scope of the Bridge Road location included renovating the second and third floors of the building, which accommodates around 35 employees, including their corporate staff. “[Monona Bank was] looking to bring their corporate headquarters to the Bridge Road location and include more departments while also providing the best layouts for team coordination and collaboration,” explains Nick Badura, project manager with Sketchworks Architecture. “With having a new space, they wanted to bring modern workplace concepts that would benefit their

A chic conference room takes full advantage of the floor-to-ceiling windows with a view.



staff, such as sit-to-stand workstations, a wellness/mother’s room, hot desking spaces, a coffee bar, collaboration spaces, and more conference rooms.” It was also important that the renovation provided their offices a cohesive look that would match their other locations. “The office buildout was designed to be brighter, lighter, and to have pops of Monona Bank blue in functional elements, such as the acoustical ceiling clouds and accent paints in all of the private offices that are within view of the open office spaces,” says Michelle Schildgen, Sketchworks’ director of interior design and branding.

Michelle says the second floor underwent dramatic changes, including an entirely new layout in the center of the floor plan for private offices, while opening up some of the perimeter spaces to provide employees with natural light and views to the exterior. She’s a proponent of bringing the outdoors in, noting that natural light is soothing and beneficial for working conditions. “The building has so many great glazed walls and large windows that we were happy to enhance access to the natural light and views.” Natural elements, such as red stained cherry wood, tie together the second and third floors in offices and

A central core of reception and private offices cased in cherry wood connects the corridors, open office, and hospitality nook.

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A third floor lobby area doubles as a working café.

woodwork throughout, and nods to the building’s Craftsman style even pop up in door designs throughout the building. In addition to overall attractiveness and functionality, employees will enjoy their new improved spaces. On the second floor, LED lighting was replaced throughout, a coffee bar was added at the front desk, and hot desking options are available in two offices, accommodating future hires as well as employees stopping in from other Monona Bank locations to work on site. Nick and Michelle both say that the employee response has been enthusiastic, noting that staff say the space feels more connected and that the design details, such as a stunning wood wall that wraps the core offices, is visually appealing. And as a project manager and interior designer, that is always the goal—to hear that your client is loving their new space for its intended use and that it’s even better than it was before.

“The overall look is modern, sleek and classy,” says Michelle. Sketchworks Architecture is a local architectural and interior design firm specializing in living, working, and entertaining environments. Our award-winning portfolio spans corporate, hospitality + retail, multifamily, government, and brewery + distillery projects. Photographs provided by Chad Renly: C|R Prints & Photography LLC. Sketchworks Architecture 7780 Elmwood Avenue Suite #208 Middleton, WI 53562 608.836.7570 sketchworksarch.com




Kitchen Storage Mastering Your Storage Spaces Brought to You by

Organization for every

room in your home!

You don’t have to be a professional chef to take pride in your kitchen. These days, the kitchen isn’t just a room to make food, it’s a chance to show off. Maybe you’re into coffee, so you have an attractive mug rack. Maybe it’s wine, so you display your wine glasses. Ever thought about showing off tableware? These days, people are finding that keeping everything cooped up isn’t just unnecessary, it’s a missed opportunity. Linda Eberle, certified kitchen and bathroom designer at Dreamhouse Dreamkitchens, says, “It used to be that open shelves were purely for display items, but now people are finding more and more the convenience of having those items easily accessible.”

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Having open shelves mixed in with closed doors gives a contemporary look with a utilitarian backbone. Sometimes these shelves are used to store matching canisters that contain rice and lentils or oft-used spices. In addition, the look “makes smaller kitchens feel bigger because you can see that back wall. It gives your eyes some breathing space.” To really make the open shelves stand out, it helps to get everything off the counter. Using pullout spice racks and utensil dividers keeps things organized and off the countertop. “You can get backsplash rails for people that want their utensils out and easily accessible,” says Linda. “It is a nice look, like a commercial-chef-looking kitchen." Kitchens can say a lot about the homeowner, whether they’re a from-scratch cook or a microwave aficionado, so why not create the one that fits your lifestyle? Photographs provided by Dreamhouse Dreamkitchens.





Your Home's Return on Investment:

LIVING SPACES by Jason Scott

36 Additional photos at homeelementsandconcepts.com

If you’re looking to improve your home in a way that will make your experience living in it more enjoyable and provide a solid return on your investment, you may want to consider making an upgrade to your living space. Real estate professionals agree that tackling such a project can pay off—particularly if it adds living space to your home. “A lot of the requests that we get are for improvements of that kind,” says Lori Eberly, consumer lending manager with UW Credit Union, describing the conversations she’s been having with loan seekers in recent months. Finishing Your Basement According to homelight.com, 44 percent of real estate agents cited a desire for more space as the number one thing motivating home buyers into making a move in 2020. Especially after a year in which many Americans spent more time at home than perhaps ever before, it’s no wonder that more space is high on the wish lists of those seeking to purchase a new home. Adding more finished square footage is one way to catch the eye of prospective buyers, and unfinished basements are prime candidates for these upgrades.

No two basements are exactly alike, and the cost of tackling such a project will vary depending on the square footage of the space you’re planning to finish and other factors. In general, a basement-finishing project will involve framing, insulation, electrical work, and installing drywall and flooring. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of remodeling an unfinished basement is $18,400. However, you can expect to recoup up to 75 percent of the money you put into the project on the value of your home.

Creating a more open floor plan can make your home feel more spacious and allow for more natural light to flood common areas. But don’t just go swinging around that sledgehammer without first consulting an expert. That wall you’ve got your eye on may provide important structural support to your home.

While remodeling a basement will undoubtedly provide a boost to the value of your home, it may not pack the same punch as an addition or other above-ground change. Lori says, “Below-ground space is not calculated at the same rate as above-ground space. If the changes or improvements or the increase in square footage to the living space is above ground, that’s going to have a higher value than belowground space.”

Understanding Your Options If a renovation to your living space is on your to-do list, there are several lending products and spending strategies that can help you turn your project idea into a reality. Lori recommends a home equity line of credit (HELOC) for most would-be borrowers. This flexible lending product leverages your existing home equity and allows you to pay for your project in stages.

Opening Your Floor Plan A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders found that floor plans that provide plenty of space around a living room, dining room, kitchen, and similar areas are highly desired by prospective buyers. “Usually, it’s a kitchen remodel that will end up knocking out walls or creating that open floor plan instead of a closed-off floor plan for a dining area,” says Lori.

“The HELOC gives you a credit limit that you can use, and you’re only paying interest on it when you’ve borrowed,” Lori says. “If you have the limit but you’re only part of the way through your project, you’re only going to pay the interest on what you’ve paid so far to the contractor.” HELOCs can also provide you with a cushion to absorb additional costs in the event that an estimate is too low to cover what turns out to be the actual cost. Using a HELOC in tandem with a credit card that provides rewards is an effective spending strategy with even more benefits. ​​ “If they’re buying their own materials, or they’re doing some of the work themselves, or whoever they’re doing business with will accept a credit card, it’s a great tie-in. They can pay for it with the credit card, get the reward, and then they pay it off when the bill comes due the following month from their HELOC and start accruing interest then. But they’re getting a nice little bonus on that credit card that they can apply however they want.” Jason Scott writes about financial wellness for UW Credit Union, a not-for-profit financial institution that offers homeequity products, mortgages, auto loans, and more. UW Credit Union 3500 University Avenue Madison, WI 53705 800.533.6773 uwcu.org



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Abel Contemporary Gallery 28 AmeriDown Factory Outlet 14


Housewares • Hardware • Garden • Time Center

Coyle Carpet One 19 Dallman Plumbing 11 Dane Buy Local 28 Dane County Humane Society


Degnan Design-Build-Remodel


Dreamhouse Dreamkitchens 2,


Garden Search & Rescue 19 Hallman Lindsay Paints


Janus Galleries


Madison Lighting


MGE 5 Monroe Street Framing 29 The Patio Warehouse 14 Tree Health Management 28 UW Credit Union 40 Waunakee Furniture ETC 19 Waunakee Remodeling 5 Wolff Kubly Hardware


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Win 4 gallons of Benjamin Moore Regal Select Paint A value of up to $248. Submit your name, mailing address, phone number, and email at homeelementsandconcepts.com, or by mail to: Home Elements & Concepts c/o Towns & Associates, Inc. PO Box 174 Baraboo, WI 53913-0174 All entries will be entered into a drawing. Deadline is September 24, 2021.

Good Luck!

Winner Thank you to everyone who entered our previous drawing. The winner of the 4 gallons of Benjamin Moore Regal Select Paint from Wolff Kubly is Kathy Taylor of Riceville, IA.


Get A ReFi As Fast As Your WiFi. Whether you want to lower your interest rate, lower your monthly payment, or pay off your home sooner, it’s a great time to refinance your loan with UW Credit Union. Our local team of expert loan officers help streamline the process, with quotes tailored to you. Apply online to get started.

Mortgages For Every You. | uwcu.org