Fine Grained

tep inside Tom and Diane Busse’s home and one fact becomes immediately evident. “I really love wood,” Tom says.  

Indeed, the couple’s Verona home pays homage to the beauty of wood—of red birch, cherry, tiger maple and more—through a variety of shades, grains and textures found in everything from trim to cabinetry to custom furniture.

In August 2004 Tom moved into his new house, which his nephew, Travis Hendricks of Hendricks Construction, had framed up. “I then spent the next two years building all the cabinetry and built-ins, installing doors and trim, tile and wood flooring, finishing the basement and garage, doing landscaping and building decks,” Tom says.

Working on this labor-intensive project was a dream for Tom, who was a high school physics teacher in Madison for thirty years and did construction jobs on the side. Now he’s retired and focuses his energy on Busse Construction, working on cabinetry, remodeling and additions.

Despite Tom’s carpentry skills, it took two years to create the four-thousand-square-foot house that he and Diane, an elementary school bookkeeper, enjoy today. Inside the ranch, twelve-foot-high ceilings offer an airy feel, but the Busses like that the majority of living space is spread over one floor. “We can grow old here,” Tom says.

Tom and Diane created the house to suit their needs, as their grown children—a pediatrician daughter and CPA son—had already moved out. They wanted a place where they could entertain, with an open kitchen and living room.

The home’s core design is based on a staircase Tom built. Its curved form—contemporary yet organic—inspired the shape of soffits in the kitchen, an eating nook and a deck outside.

And Tom is also proud of the basement, which houses his wood shop. He plans to continue his love of woodworking, his hobby-turned-second-career, for years to come. “This is going to keep my mind and my body active,” he says.

Katie Vaughn is associate editor at Madison Magazine.