Artisan Kitchens

Adding personal touches to the heart of the home 

Tod Galloway’s kitchen. Photo by Phil Weston of Weston Imaging.

Fox Cities homeowners are modernizing their kitchens with artisan features such as customized cabinetry, handmade tile backsplashes and reclaimed light fixtures. These bespoke details reflect the personal tastes of the inhabitants and infuse an element of artistry into the heart of the home. 

Design Meets Function 

The successful marriage of elegant design and easy function is essential for any kitchen, but particularly when those artistic details are top priority. 

“Anyone can walk into a room and see four blank walls and put cabinets around those walls. However, design is stepping back and asking, what can I do to make it beautiful,” says Jane Baken, designer at Studio Kitchens in Appleton. 

Baken emphasizes that along with eye-pleasing design, there has to be function. Work habits in the kitchen don’t always align with the designs customers initially desire.

As Vice President of Engineering at Galloway Company in Neenah, Tod Galloway found it easy to focus on his kitchen project’s goals dealing primarily with function. “This was supposed to be a functional kitchen, not a trophy kitchen,” Galloway says. 

Galloway kitchen. Photo by Phil Weston of Weston Imaging.

His design choices proved to be functional while also showing personalized details. When putting in the vent above the cooking surface, the builder brainstormed how to hold various pieces of the ductwork together. Galloway immediately began thinking how the issue would be handled at his factory. This resulted in the builder using clamps similar to what Galloway has seen on machines at the factory. 

“What makes it personal is that it reflects the industrial design aesthetic that I have at my factory,” Galloway says. 

Galloway kitchen. Photo by Phil Weston of Weston Imaging.

Baken says many times personal touches in a kitchen remodel result from something preexisting in the home. For Galloway, it was his love of art collecting. Much of the wall space was reserved for his collection of paintings. 

Galloway also chose to include a custom made glass backsplash by Studio Glassworks in Madison. Statement backsplashes are becoming more of an artistic and eye-catching aspect of kitchens and are one of the year’s most popular home trends. The glass backsplash is also functional as it is low maintenance and easy to clean. 

Harmony in Style 

RH Design Build kitchen. Photo by Phil Weston of Weston Imaging.

Susan Hirschberg is an architect at RH Design Build in Oshkosh who recently worked with a local couple on a home addition and kitchen remodel. For the project, the husband wanted a popular rustic-style kitchen while the wife wanted it to be more decorative.

“The goal is to make the clients completely happy with the project,” Hirschberg says. “Sometimes couples can be on the same wavelength, and other times on different ones.”

Hirschberg was able to incorporate both styles through certain elements of the kitchen. While the veneer stones on the walls were to bring out the rustic element, the design of the island with the concrete countertops was made to be more decorative. Marbled quartz countertops are another popular choice of homeowners because they can be designed to look like marble and make the countertops appear seamless.

RH Design Build kitchen. Photo by Phil Weston of Weston Imaging.

When customized, range hoods can become a centerpiece for the kitchen. The range hood in this project is a mix of both rustic and decorative elements. Hammered copper makes it appear rustic, while the clean lines are traditional and elegant. 

Hirschberg explains that every project she works on is unique when incorporating personalized details. As one of the most used rooms in a home, kitchens with personality are more in demand than ever. “The kitchen has almost become the living room,” Hirschberg says. “It’s where the majority of people spend their time.” 

How to Achieve the Artisan Kitchen of Your Dreams

  • Think outside the box. Baken says, “Clients can struggle with contemporary, modern things because neighbors or friends don’t have them in their kitchens, but sometimes it’s an act of bravery to do something different.” 
  • Baken also suggests visiting online inspiration sites like The site offers thousands of kitchen pictures and can help people start to determine their likes and dislikes. 
  • For rustic looks, Hirschberg recommends looking at architectural salvage shops such as Urban Evolutions in Appleton or Crescent Moon in Oshkosh. “When homeowners are creative and put in the work, there can be tons of ideas that can stem from these raw materials.” 
  • Hiring both a good designer and builder is essential to the project. Doing general research on projects they have done before and talking to other clients can help with the process of finding the team who will be the best fit. 
  • Know that it’s normal for emotions to change throughout the process. While looking for ideas and designing might be exciting, living through a months-long kitchen remodel might be difficult and frustrating at times. Keep your eye on the prize and take one day at a time. 


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