• Jkath Design Build


This re-envisioned rustic-contemporary lower level works equally well for adults and kids. Read all about this JKath project in the 2014 Midwest Home: Remodeling Guide.

It’s a common phenomenon: As kids grow, the house seems to shrink, and soon the need for elbowroom becomes acute. Gary and Kathy Bischel had lived in their Medina home for years, but the lower level remained unfinished. Now, with two active teenage sons, space was at a premium.

The couple envisioned a room where the kids could hang out with friends and adults could entertain in style. “We were drawn to clean lines mixed with the warmth of rustic contemporary,” says Kathy. “We didn’t want the typical ‘man cave.'” They considered several firms before choosing Jesse Kath of J Kath Design/Build and interior designer Annie Graunke of Studio M Interiors to finish the lower level. “They really thought outside the box and had a great vision of how it would all come together,” Kathy says.

The centerpiece of the design is a walk-around Fond du Lac stone-veneered fireplace that separates the long, Narrow space into two main areas. One side is roomy enough for knee-hockey games and a Ping-Pong table; the other accommodates a comfortable sectional and a wet bar. Sliding pocket doors along the fireplace wall allow the two areas to be completely closed off from each other—a solution Graunke describes as “containing the chaos.”

Kath drew inspiration from the reclaimed fireplace mantel for the ceiling beams and the custom-made barn doors. Floor-to-ceiling windows complement the dark hues of the wood and allow plenty of natural light into the space.

The hand-scraped bar replicates the finish of the mantel and offers Kathy and Gary their own space for entertaining, cocktails, and conversation. Shimmery, silvery-gray, textured grasscloth wallcovering on the backs of the open cabinets and the backsplash tiles that play off the warm and cool tones throughout the room add sophistication Sophistication to the adult side of the lower level. The Art Decoinspired pendant lights add a touch of whimsy.

The Bischels are thrilled with the result. “It looks great, it’s very functional, and it has a nice flow,” says Kathy.

Heidi Losleben Midwest Home

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