A traditional Tudor is transformed into a modern, family-friendly oasis.

Popular in the early 20th century, Tudor-style homes still have plenty of appeal to homeowners, offering old-world details, solid construction, plus charm and character to spare. And they can also be quite livable, albeit with some strategic updating.

Amy Carman and her team at Amy Carman Design, a Wauwatosa design firm, were enlisted to help bring an East Side Tudor into the 21st century. Her clients’ goal, says Carman, was to preserve the home’s historic character but also pepper in a more modern design sensibility – and do so in a way that accommodated their needs as a young family with small children.

Dark woodwork is emblematic of the Tudor style, and something that the clients wanted to retain. To provide balance, Carman and her team selected bright upholstery, brass pieces and contemporary accents. In the living room, a pair of bold turquoise sofas set the tone. “We thought this [hue] was just a little different. It was more adventurous, but it’s such a deep turquoise that it still feels neutral,” says Carman.

“With all the projects that we work on, we have this mindset: It’s a big investment. You want this to last, and not age out too quickly. There was just something about that color that gives it kind of a vibrant look, but it’s also deep enough that you can layer pillows in or potentially change up the artwork.”

Carman was strategic in selecting the cushion-less Chesterfield style of sofa.

“The great thing about them is that your kids could be lounging or reading or playing [on them], and they will never lose their shape,” she says. “You’re not constantly fluffing cushions or putting pillows back where they’re supposed to go. That was really important – how can we get something that’s elegant and durable, but also just soft and family friendly?”

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A kid-friendly plush ottoman was chosen in lieu of a sharp-edged coffee table to avoid unnecessary bumps and bruises.

The juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional is best represented in the dinette – the owners’ “everyday family space,” notes Carman. Here, the clients tasked the designers with stylishly mounting a TV on the room’s most prominent wall. Carman and her team found a creative solution: a framed, customizable art TV.

“What we did was build the entire art wall around the TV,” says Carman, “and [the client] was able to find a projected art piece to dovetail into the other selections. Unless it was pointed out to you, you’d never guess the TV was there.”

Adjacent to the kitchen, the dinette also functions as the main walkway into the home from the garage, so it’s a well-traveled space. “[The owners] needed a surface to set something on, but your typical buffet, which is anywhere from 20 inches to 2 feet deep, was just too much,” explains Carman. The solution? An elegant yet shallow Design Within Reach console. “It has these great curved details, where the top follows the legs,” she adds.

Carman is quick to compliment her clients’ existing selections, too, and says the all-white kitchen renovation – a previous collaboration between the homeowners and Sazama – inspired much of the brightness woven throughout each space her team touched. “We helped to build on that [airy feel],” she concludes, “introduce some gutsier pieces, and look at that art wall and handle it in an unexpected way.”

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Photos by Elisabeth Witt

“Everything plays together really well,” Amy Carman says of the various metal finishes used throughout the home. Here, a Restoration Hardware floor mirror adds depth to the living room, while the fireplace’s iron doors are a nod toward the Tudor’s rich history.

A framed art print from Anthropologie, Kelly Wearstler floor lamps and a pair of abstract paintings introduce more pops of brass.

An exercise in mixing design styles, a cleanlined, contemporary lamp sits atop a rustic Restoration Hardware console. A cream-colored rug, also by Restoration Hardware, covers the home’s original entryway tile, further brightening the space.

The dinette is a hub of activity for the family. Note the large piece of art, which is actually a television. The shiny – and kid-friendly – brass chairs are from Jayson Home, and the area rug is from Anthropologie.

Common to Tudor- and Colonial-style homes, the shallow entryway vestibule – coupled with the radiator on its opposing wall – presented a unique challenge for Carman and her team. “[The owners] didn’t really have a meaningful coat closet,” she explains. “That piece is only 12 inches deep on the interior, and we outfitted it with hooks. It’s a really great place to grab your things and go out the door.”

Before Carman and her team were hired, the home got an extensive renovation, with Milwaukee-based Sazama as the project’s design/ build/remodel firm. A collaborative effort between the owners and Sazama, the kitchen was transformed into a crisp, all-white space that combines traditional and contemporary elements. Carman says the design was used as a jumping-off point when decorating other areas of the home.


More 2019 Home & Design Guide


The “Homes Guide” appears in the October 2019  issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning September 2, or buy a copy online.

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