How This Tosa Couple Transformed the Kitchen in Their 1930s Colonial

Dana and Amanda Fritz chose a modern take on a farmhouse kitchen to replace their choppy, closed-off pre-renovation space.

Whenever they booked vacation homes through vrbo.com, Dana and Amanda Fritz paid special attention to their hosts’ kitchens – thinking about how they might want to redo their own space one day. The couple fell in love with certain materials and layouts, also taking note of what didn’t feel right for their 1930s brick Colonial in Wauwatosa.

And they are not ashamed to admit that they looked to HGTV shows like “Fixer Upper” for inspiration. “Chip and Joanna Gaines’ style is spot on for us,” Dana says of two of the Network’s biggest stars.

Turning what Dana says felt like “a 12 -by-12-foot square in the back of the house” into a modern-farmhouse open concept space was a challenge Kowalske Kitchen & Bath designer Christina Kolb readily embraced. “The way that we use kitchens is very different from [the 1930s],” she says. “It’s really important to have that prep space.” An island for rolling our cookie dough and double ovens (what Amanda calls “a game-changer”) to keep meals warm are just two examples of key additions. Balancing “what was traditionally done versus what you want to find in a modern home” became Kolb’s mantra.

Photo courtesy of Kowalske Kitchen & Bath
Photo courtesy of Kowalske Kitchen & Bath

“They really love the farmhouse style,” says Kolb. “But their house has very traditional roots.” Kolb wanted to make sure that any changes blended well with the bones of the house. Original wood trim was replicated. Modern matte-black drawer pulls and a contemporary faucet can always be switched out, says Kolb, should trends change. White Shaker-style cabinetry and a subway-tile backsplash honor the home’s architectural roots. To help the kitchen appear timeless, the couple opted for maple on the range hood, island and flooring.

A wall separating the kitchen from a small eating area was torn down to open up the space, create more storage and allow the family to move more freely around the area.

The makeover also extended to the home’s side entrance. The cramped and poorly lit space wasn’t a good t for a modern family with young children. And so a new mudroom was created, with shiplap walls, twin gooseneck light fixtures and a new patio door that allows more natural light into a formerly dark corner of the house.

“This was a couple of years in the making,” Amanda says of the project. “We kept adding to our vision.”

Now, though, the Fritzes are happy to have finished the space, and con dent that their family will continue to love it for many years to come.

“This is going to be perfect” as the couple’s two young kids grow up, Amanda says.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s April issue.

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A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine), FoodRepublic.com, CNN.com and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.