Renovating couple took their place from demo disaster to dream home

This renovating couple didn’t feel a spark for this Nakoma fixer-upper until it was already partially gutted. Then they turned it into a house tailor-made for their family.
interior space with a dining room table
Photo by Nikki Hansen

Matt Winzenried and Abby Felix Winzenried said no to this 1930 Tudor when they first found it on the market.

It was in the right spot — the couple wanted to stay in the Nakoma neighborhood they’d fallen in love with — but Felix Winzenried wasn’t totally in love with the dark Tudor style. She’s more into Cape Cod homes and a midcentury modern look. So they moved on, watching someone else buy the house and start a remodel that left the back half gutted. When it came back on the market, the half-demolished house presented new potential in the couple’s eyes. “I was intrigued,” Felix Winzenried says. They bought it in June 2019.

The couple had prior home renovation experience — they’ve flipped two houses and renovated two others they moved into for a while. He’s in real estate and she’s a budding home designer looking to get into the industry. For this fifth house, they thought less about resale potential and more about designing specifically for their family, which includes 5-year-old daughter Teddy, Tuck the dog and Cork the cat.

Matt and Abby with their daughter in their living room

Matt Winzenried, Abby Felix Winzenried and their daughter, Teddy. Photo by Nikki Hansen

The original demo hadn’t really scratched the surface. Nearly every wall had to come down (the plaster walls weren’t salvageable), and they added a new roof and replaced every window. The wood floors had to come up and a sunroom was torn down. They added onto the back of the house and relocated the kitchen and added a family room there, reconfigured the downstairs hallway and upstairs bedrooms, and finished the attic. They worked with Trimcraft Builders, which had remodeled their last home. “They’re craftsmen, they’re creative and they really like design,” Felix Winzenried says. She designed the house and they helped bring it to life, she says.

She’s achieved the light and airy feel that she wanted (plus a green kitchen that’s long been on her wish list). The main entrance opens up to a series of wide arched doorways that allow a sightline from the front sitting area to the dining room and through to the kitchen on the back wall. Light paint, maple floors and a soft, neutral color palette allow for just enough contrast with dark trim and accents so as not to lose the Tudor touch. Felix Winzenried is a Habitat ReStore, Facebook Marketplace and estate sale scrounger, so you’ll find a lot of fixtures and furniture that have more character than cookie-cutter options. She also displays sentimental pieces around the house, including a hutch her father made, a salt and pepper shaker from her grandparents and a desk and dresser set that were wedding gifts her grandparents received.

exterior of the nakoma home

From the outside, their home has a traditional dark Tudor style, but once inside, you’ll find a light, airy look. Photo by Nikki Hansen

She’s also proud of the muted purple chair she found on the side of the road 12 years ago that’s now the focal point of an adorable reading nook above their master suite. The finished attic allowed them to add a lofted sitting area (Cork is a big fan) and an office.

Felix Winzenried says she felt a bit more pressure planning a home she knew they’d be in for a while, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the house or talking to her. Her style feels as calm, cool and collected as her personality. She keeps the rooms simple, but there’s still a lot to look at in the details. Family and travel pictures make the house feel more cozy, like they’ve lived there for years. That same feeling strikes when you encounter the neighbor kid, who, during the home tour for this story, could be seen darting around the back of the house. “He’s probably going to fill up his water gun,” Felix Winzenried says. This is part of the reason they chose this house in this neighborhood, where Teddy has friends all around her. “I don’t know why they have to come to our house to fill up their water guns, but I love it. Our backyard is littered with toys and half of them are not ours. I just really love that.”

The couple hopes to add another name to the list of Nakoma neighbor kids soon. They hope to adopt, Felix Winzenried says.

Andrea Behling is the editor of Madison Magazine.

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