By Lauren Eve | Photos by Victoria McHugh and Chris Kayser, Kayser Photography
Pulling into the driveway of the cozy 1920’s era, Cape Cod-style cottage felt like home right away to Theresa Hansen, owner of Theresa Hansen Interiors, and her husband Matt. At first glance, it was clear the house was a fixer-upper, and the Hansens decided they would live in the home for several months before beginning renovations in order to help them think more purposefully about each room. “The best way to design any home,” she explains, “is thinking about what is needed in a space first. Function before aesthetics.” Ultimately, they chose to focus on maximizing indoor and outdoor living within the home’s existing structure, drawing inspiration from the location of the house in the charming, historic Indian Hills subdivision on the south shore of Geneva Lake in Fontana.
Tackling the exterior of the home was one of the largest overhauls of the renovation. The entire home was wrapped in stucco that was in dire need of repair. The home’s large windows also needed a refresh. The Hansens replaced most of the windows and installed LP SmartSide to the exterior to give the home a smoother finish. Deep windowsills were added to each window and custom millwork framed the windows inside. The Hansens also renovated the home’s two existing outdoor decks, replacing the traditional wood with Trex decking material, and added more square footage in the process, including a unique, bird’s-eye view of the neighborhood from the deck’s upper level.
However, the interior renovations presented a bigger creative challenge. The large living room ceiling contained an off-center, load-bearing beam that could not be removed. The surrounding walls were cracked and would require extensive repairs. “You can make lemonade out of lemons,” Theresa explains. “There’s always a creative solution.” They decided to integrate the beam into a beautiful new coffered ceiling that is now one of the most eye-catching features of the room.
Next, they added white shiplap to the walls for texture and replaced the dated flooring with hickory floors, then opted for a large sectional sofa from Hansen’s own custom upholstery line, Berhan Designs, to provide more seating for guests. In the bedroom, they swapped out a window for a large, sliding-glass door that now leads to the deck and lets in a lot more light. Theresa says that the decor throughout the home was chosen to reflect the natural environment, with a color palette of greens, blues and whites. “Every time I walk in the house, I feel like it’s a sunny day on the water,” she says.
In the kitchen, function and organization remained a top priority. “It’s like solving a puzzle,” she explains. “Plan your design around storage, making sure there’s a place for everything.” The Hansens removed a large wall between the kitchen and the dining area, expanding the space for improved flow, and replaced the kitchen cabinets with custom-built maple cabinets from Berhan Designs. Theresa opted for Calcutta subway tile on the kitchen counters and backsplash, extending it all the way to the ceiling for a seamless aesthetic. A convenient coffee and wet bar area just off the kitchen also provides space for an ice maker and prep sink — all strategically concealed behind cabinets.
The Hansens feel their renovations have been a huge success. While the original home provided many challenges to navigate, they were able to design a space that allows their family and guests to enjoy both outdoor and indoor living spaces. “I’m happy that we got what we truly wanted,” Theresa says. “You don’t always have to tear down the history. When you face a design challenge, it’s not about eliminating — instead you get creative.”