Located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, this project provided a unique challenge in that the clients requested their luxury sports car be displayed on the first floor, combining the garage with the open-living space to create a true motorsport condo.

Seeing as though the home is located across from the Road America speedway, we knew we had to showcase our clients’ love of cars and racing but also create a fun and relaxed yet upscale getaway. This is a second home for the clients, who are passionate about racing and have loved visiting Road America and the small resort town of Elkhart Lake for the last 30 years.

The project started out as a simple, wide-open, non-functional, “white box” unit with a generic garage door. We were tasked with turning the unit into a two-story home, maximizing the vertical space to provide a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath condo complete with a full kitchen and custom built-in climate-controlled wine cabinet, all while incorporating a gearhead vibe to show off their collectible car, motorcycle and other memorabilia.

Collaborating with the client, our architecture and interior design departments worked in tandem during all phases of the project, allowing us to easily navigate any adjustments made throughout the project and create a cohesive finished product. Each project has its own nuances, but this was a first for us in how to seamlessly incorporate the client’s Porsche into the main floor.

We wanted to focus on how it would flow and connect with the rest of the location, especially the adjacent kitchen space. No one wants to feel like they are eating their morning bowl of Cheerios in the garage. Our first step in achieving this goal was to somehow hide the garage door yet still have it be operational.

To do that, the “garage” space needed to feel cohesive and blend in with the rest of the home’s aesthetic. We converted the garage door to a vertical lift system, paving the way for the cool cantilevered loft above, and we also camouflaged the garage door with a wood cladding that mimics the warm wood tones found throughout the rest of the condo.

Since the unit is quite narrow as is, we wanted the space to open vertically, making it feel larger and more inviting as you walk through. Establishing the rounded cantilevered loft allowed us to maximize the vertical area the condo had to offer while giving unique perspectives to the car and architectural details, such as the industrial stairwell and brick wall. The brick wall that spans the open stairwell, along with the statement chandelier hanging above the Porsche, allows your eye to be drawn up to the second floor, tying the two zones together.

Placing the kitchen directly underneath the loft provides a nice ceiling-height change and gives the kitchen the definition it needed. Since there was not a lot of square footage to work with, we had to maximize storage while creating ample working space without diminishing the style and refinement the client was looking for.

By utilizing all custom cabinetry, we were able to create an exceptional but very functional kitchen that includes a large-enough island to function as both a prep and dining space. There is no formal dining spot beyond what the island provides, so we made sure to dedicate a large run of horizontal surface for seating. We also housed the sink in the island to be able to utilize this large work surface for both prep and entertainment.

We flanked both ends of the kitchen in black, ceiling-height cabinets. The tall cabinets optimize the vertical space and provide the kind of storage the client needs while the darker, contrasting color anchors and defines the kitchen within the open-concept first floor.

In addition to the juxtaposition of painted and stained cabinetry, this incorporation of a clean quartz countertop and mix of quartz and wood backsplash gave us the warm and inviting yet edgy feel that welcomes every visitor coming through the front door.

With the first floor acting as a multi-purpose space, the flooring needed to reflect that. We ended up choosing a porcelain tile for its robust qualities. It is durable enough for a car to drive on but also maintains a stylish appearance and is relatively low maintenance.

We’ve come to learn that when working with small spaces, it is important to use every square foot to its fullest. When our clients told us they needed a climate-controlled area for their wine collection, we knew we had to get creative.
The solution was to custom-build a wine cabinet with angled metal doors into the unused niche beneath the stairwell. This took extra planning and attention to detail to allow for proper cooling, ventilation and sealing within the small alcove, but the final outcome was well worth it.

Given the nature of the items that would be on display, the condo needed a design aesthetic that would be compatible. We played with different textures and materials, resulting in an edgy yet warm and relaxed design. The composition and juxtaposition of materials made all the difference in this environment.

From the classic, red-brick flanking the industrial timber tread and iron railing stairwell to the incorporation of the various wood tones that bring a rustic warmth to the otherwise modern looking space, when we approach a project like this, our goal is to be unique but cohesive. The project was both fun and challenging for our team, and while we love how it turned out, there is nothing better than creating a design for your clients that completely fulfills their needs and wishes. QR

Steven Peskie is principal of Distinctive Design Studio. As a full-service architecture and interior design firm, the company is dedicated to creating elevated and authentic spaces for its clients. Their work is shaped by the connections they establish with each client as they create environments that are elevated, intentional and complete reflections of those who occupy them.

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