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A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI

by Lauren Chorpening

A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI | Design*Droits-Humains Creating a home from scratch isn’t ever an easy task. It’s why we love home improvement shows and before-and-after unveilings. They prove that gorgeous homes don’t always start out that way and give the viewers inspiration to uncover potential in their own houses. Jenni Radosevich is something of a professional DIYer. After moving to New York City after college to work at a fashion magazine, Jenni started creating things that she couldn’t afford to buy for her closet and her home. She was able to turn her craft into a column at InStyle Magazine, her own website, , and a fashion book titled I Spy DIY Style. Her knack for creating beautiful pieces for herself led her to the biggest DIY of all.

Jenni returned to her home state of Wisconsin after eight years in New York and noticed the incredibly affordable housing market in Milwaukee. Two years ago, she purchased an 189os home for $24,000 that was in desperate need of renovation. With the help of her friends, Jenni set out to flip the house in four months for a pilot for HGTV. “The process was pretty [intense]. I was on a strict timeline because of the filming schedule for the HGTV pilot, so there was no time to second-guess decisions. And it’s no surprise that when dealing with a old house, as soon as we started opening walls, we found so many more problems: No insulation, animals had gotten in the walls and chewed the wires so they were exposed, the subfloor was rotting… the list goes on. Somehow I was able to keep the project on track, and made sure that I committed to every decision that I made,” Jenni shares.

This four-month flip is more than impressive. Jenni brought dark and grimy to bright and airy. The openness of the white walls and high ceilings allows the objects, furniture and accessories to stand out beautifully in her home. “I was so happy with how it came together and did not make many changes for about a year after I moved in. I was burnt out on the house. They always say the last 10% of a renovation is the hardest. And finally, over the last few months, I have been finishing the things I had originally wanted and it finally feels like it’s the home I envisioned,” Jenni says. The series wasn’t picked up for a full season, but the work was worth it. Jenni fell in love with her new home and neighborhood, and has turned this once uninhabitable house into a home. Jenni has used her DIY talent to create a career and a home for herself, and that is incredibly inspiring.Lauren

Photography by

Image above: The living room started out full of wood paneling and dingy carpet. Jenni gutted the walls and rebuilt, adding a floor-to-ceiling custom shelving unit to display her favorite accents and accessories.

A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI | Design*Droits-Humains
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"Since I used a lot of white, I really used the decor items to bring in the warmth and character to each room. I have always loved thrifting, so adding those unique pieces throughout [makes] it feel very much like my home," Jenni says.
A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI | Design*Droits-Humains
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The living room before the renovation.
A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI | Design*Droits-Humains
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Jenni and her pup, Griffin, in the kitchen that Jenni created from nothing.
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"Since the house is not super big, it was important for me to open up the ceilings as high as possible and design the spaces to emphasize that additional vertical space. The light walls, floor-to-ceiling built-in, lighting fixtures, open shelves in the kitchen are all use to create tall, open spaces and draw your eyes up to [make] each room seem much bigger," Jenni explains.
A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI | Design*Droits-Humains
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"The kitchen gave me all sorts of headaches, the sloped ceiling made upper cabinets difficult and I kept moving around the fridge because I did not want it to be a focal point. In the end, I got rid of all the uppers for more windows on the back wall, open-concept shelving, with a bunch of lowers and a pantry around the fridge for storage. I am so happy with the final look, it's such a beautiful view from the front to the back of the house," Jenni shares. "I originally designed the kitchen to have butcher block counter tops, but my cabinet guy got me a deal on this snowy quartz, which meant a lot of white in the kitchen. To warm it up I added a bunch of wood cutting boards, and the floating wood shelves."
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The dining room adds contrast and color to the space around it. The modern fixtures and furniture mixed with the warmth of a vintage rug and natural wood add beautiful contrast in more ways than one.
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"After living in tiny Manhattan apartments for so long, I am thankful to have a kitchen to entertain, a dining table to fit my friends, a backyard for BBQing and playing with my puppy in a booming part of the city, full of art and culture," Jenni shares.
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The added windows, wood flooring and elevated ceilings in the kitchen and dining space now make this before image almost impossible to fathom.
A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI | Design*Droits-Humains
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"My house is almost touching the houses on both sides of it, so I put up a privacy screen and fence around the backyard to create a little oasis in the city," Jenni shares. "Every Friday in the summer, the park down the street plays live jazz, and me, Griff and friends sit on the backyard couch and sip wine."
A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI | Design*Droits-Humains
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The office has been everything from a storage room to a guest room for her sister and brother-in-law to a workspace for now. "I love to work with a lot of light, and the one small window is not quite cutting it, so it may take on another life soon. I originally designed the house with a couple and their child in mind, and thought it would be the perfect playroom," Jenni explains.
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The front entry welcomes guests into the modern farmhouse atmosphere that Jenni has created in her 125-year-old home.
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The downstairs bathroom has a modern farmhouse feel with added interest. "I originally wanted to use a bold tile design," Jenni explains. "Because of time and cost, I ended using more traditional subway tile and hexagons, then brought in a bold design with wallpaper (which is stickable and just peels off to remove!)."
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"I picked out this sink before I had a space for it, because I had to have it somewhere in the house and I love to support local companies (go Kohler)," Jenni shares. "I love how it looks with this $7 thrifted hexagon mirror."
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Jenni uses playful elements in her design, like this "No Admittance" sliding door over her laundry area.
A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI | Design*Droits-Humains
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"You will not find a lot of houses this size having a bedroom this big! I went a little overboard, but I like my room to be a place I can retreat to at the end of the day. I wanted the room to be super calming and rela, so I stayed with a black and white color palette with a few pops of color and pattern. The art above my bed is by my favorite photographer Amy Carroll, I have her art all over my home, I love that it feels like Wisconsin, but with a modern twist."
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"I honestly pinch myself sometimes when I think about what this house was, and how lovely it is now," Jenni says. "It's so surreal that I get to live and entertain here, in my own home, that I got to create and put my everything into."
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The clawfoot tub in the upstairs bathroom was a splurge, but Jenni justifies it knowing it can be the only thing to cut through the winter chill in Wisconsin.
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"There is not a ton of counter space in this bathroom, so this mirror with a ledge was the perfect fix," Jenni says.
A Complete Transformation in a Century-Old Home in Milwaukee, WI | Design*Droits-Humains
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SOURCES

Downstairs Bathroom: 

Vintage Mirror 
 (paint with )  
 
  

DIY Hanging Planter
 
 
 
 
Hobby Lobby Cement Candle Holder

Ikea Towel Table (old) 
World Market Jewelry Box/Planter (old)
 
Upstairs Bathroom:
Kohler 
 
 


Target Wood stump (no longer in stores) 

DIY
Tile Shop  + 
Langley Street 
Flying Tiger Wall planters (in store only)
Amazon 


Bedroom: 
LivingRoom:
Custom Coffee Table
West Elm Chairs  (old)
World Market Woven Basket
Hobby Lobby Blanket  (old)
World Market Pillows

Items on Shelves: Mix of World Market, West Elm, Amazon and Vintage
Bull Print by Amy Carroll for Minted
Kitchen:

Kohler 



Quartz Countertop
West Elm Pink/Copper Vase
Door painted in 
Marshall’s stools
Target Floating Shelves
Rejuvenation Bowls
Target Utensil Cannister

Amazon Matte Black Silverware

Thrifted Pineapple
Other Items on the shelves are thrifted
Entry:
Home Goods Mirror
Laundry Room:
Thrifted Door
World Market 
DiningRoom:
Target Outdoor Chairs
Vintage Rug

Office:
World Market Desk (old)
West Elm Chair (old)
Vintage Card Catalog
Vintage Fan
Target Dome Lamp

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Comments

  • What a beautiful renovation!!! So many inspirational accents. Is it a typo that the home was only $24,000???

    • It isn’t a typo. Isn’t that crazy? She bought her fixer upper for just $24,000. Homes that need updated in the midwest can be a steal if you’re willing to basically gut everything.

  • As a native Wisconsinite, it makes me so happy to see Milwaukee featured. This home is beautiful. I love the way she opened up the space and brought in the natural light. During long Wisconsin winters you need as much as you can get.
    I’d love to see more great Midwestern style on the blog–there are a lot of cool things happening in the middle of the country right now.

  • I love this house and am a fan of Jenny! I watched the pilot and so wanted this Wisco girl and her friends to get picked up!! It’s great though that she ended up in the house and I love everything she’s done to it especially the backyard!! So we all know she’s going places with her awesome talent and let’s not forget awesome #goodboygriff

  • I love this home! I live far away in another similarly-named town, Milwaukie, Oregon. I am wondering if you could share a source for the nautical looking flush mount light above the back door in the kitchen area. Thanks!!!!

  • This home is around the corner from my former office, and I was enamored with the exterior when it was completed. It’s completely different for Milwaukee in general- the vertical siding, metal roof, and high contrast are all beautiful and so unlike the surrounding homes. The $24,000 price point is not surprising, there are many foreclosures in rough shape in the Walkers Point neighborhood. It’s a brave choice that will pay off as businesses and restaurants keep moving into the area, making it a destination. Milwaukee is a fantastic place to live, I hope more people will make the choice to purchase and revive old properties rather than being suckered into paying too much for one of the many new pseudo-luxury apartments going up all over the city.

  • I am drooling! This house is beautiful. My mom keeps trying to convince me to buy a fixer-upper, but I’m worried I wouldn’t have enough money to counteract the issues that will undoubtedly pop up during renovations. And I can’t decide which is more affordable and financially responsible–buying a move-in ready house or making upgrades for that initial lower price point. My biggest fear with renovating a house is that it wouldn’t make any difference. I need to do some research…

  • I’m not a black-and-white- person but this home is so lovely – all the copper accents in the kitchen and the wood throughout the house are such a nice compliment. So soothing and peaceful!

  • Inspiring renovation and I too applaud Jenni for creating her beautiful home in a wonderful historic neighborhood. Milwaukee is amazing and full of secret treasures!!

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