Living Large in a Smaller Home

Photos courtesy of Stebnitz Builders

Touring a 1940’s ranch farmhouse on 7 acres in Elkhorn, Stebnitz Builders remodeling and design consultant Jeff Auberger was most inspired by the nearly 300-year-old oak trees on the property, which were impressive enough to convince him to restore the 1,100-square-foot home and adjacent outbuilding that sat undisturbed beneath their towering branches. Using the original footprint of the home, Auberger wanted to preserve the surrounding landscape while improving the design layout. With his plan in place and a strong desire to maintain the integrity of the property, Auberger felt that partnering with Stebnitz Builders was the logical choice for the project.

With each project, the Stebnitz team starts by applying intentional focus to understand a client’s specific renovation aspirations. Stebnitz Builders is the remodeling industry leader in Walworth County and the surrounding areas. Chris Stebnitz, third-generation president of the company, says that Stebnitz Builders provides its clients a personal experience designing and remodeling the home of their dreams. “We’ve championed the Art of Listening to our clients,” he explains. “Communication is our priority. The Stebnitz process is vital to achieve the desired outcome. Our projects are a deep reflection of ourselves, but more importantly, our clients.”

Since 1972, Stebnitz Builders’ expertise has continued to evolve, but one thing has remained the same — their commitment to maintaining this quality by hiring and retaining the best people. This year, the company celebrates 50 years in business, and Stebnitz says they have flourished due to a strong investment in their employees. “We are a great team because of how we work together,” he says.“Company values are enhanced by choosing and investing in the right people. We would not be where we are today without them.”

One characteristic found in every member of the Stebnitz Builders’ team is a strong commitment to giving back to the community. Partnering with the United Way of Walworth County and the many agencies they support, Stebnitz Builders matches 100% of all financial contributions made by its team and is always ready to serve the community through fundraisers, scholarships and building projects when asked. This commitment to community has earned the company several recognitions, including the David Bretl Community Betterment Award, the United Way of Walworth County’s Vanguard Volunteer Award, Wisconsin Athletic Service Award for their work with youth sports and an annual recognition for their support of students participating in the Meat Animal Sale at the Walworth County Fair.

In tackling Auberger’s remodel project, with strategic demolition complete, Stebnitz Builders began restoring the existing architecture, foundation and framing. These changes were followed by updating the exterior siding and trim with white LP SmartSide siding paired with black H3 Series Sierra Pacific windows. These gave the home an updated and timeless aesthetic with the benefits of improved energy efficiency. Modifying the existing roof structure allowed the team to vault the ceilings to create more interior volume and visual space. An existing crawl space and partial basement were combined and expanded to create more space, which allowed for the addition of two bedrooms and a media entertainment room in the new lower level.

A new three-season room also includes two sides of floor- to-ceiling glass windows, as well as uninterrupted views of the serene landscape and the beautiful oak trees that inspired the project. A reclaimed brick fireplace adds a cozy, historic feel and allows Auberger to enjoy the breathtaking late-autumn sunsets comfortably. Extending from the three-season room, an outdoor patio features an outdoor kitchen and a fire pit for cooler nights.

Having worked many decades in the remodeling industry, Auberger admits this is the smallest home he’s designed, but he says it is by far one of his favorites. “It’s not always about the square footage of a home,” he explains. “It’s the quality of life within the home. Good design and planning allow us to live large in a smaller space. We can choose to think differently and more strategically.”

The house was finished in modern farmhouse décor, including classic white shiplap, and hanging wooden barn doors. An array of locally harvested wood was used throughout the home to add warmth and texture. The new primary bedroom suite boasts custom built-ins with deep drawers to provide an abundance of excellent storage.

“With our clients in mind, we pay close attention to every detail, helping them achieve their objectives,” Stebnitz explains. “We recognize that every client’s needs are unique. We’re here to help understand those needs and ultimately create a home they love.”


204 Commerce Ct., #3 Elkhorn, WI 53121

Author: atthelake

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