interior designInteriors

A Home Designed For Family In Wisconsin

by Tawnee Madlen Walker

After traveling to Ethiopia to adopt their daughter Charlotte, Jamie and AJ Fink fell in love with the country’s culture and people. Their affinity for Ethiopia not only inspired their design aesthetic, but drew them back in when they wanted to adopt again. They endured a long, painful, and discouraging process, but in the end prevailed by bringing home their two baby boys. The Finks became a family of seven plus two dogs and were in need of a space large enough for everyone.

With the right number of bedrooms and baths, a side entry, 2.5 car garage, extra recreational spaces for the kids, and set on an acre less than 20 minutes outside of Milwaukee, WI, the Finks found their dream home. Despite feeling like the home was in a time warp from 1968, the couple decided to take it on as a fixer-upper. Since Jamie works as a freelance interior designer and her husband AJ is a corporate interiors sales manager, it was easy for the couple to see the home’s potential.

The house was a full and complete gut job. “The day that we closed, AJ and I walked through with tears in our eyes and almost immediately began tearing out the wall-to-wall carpeting!” Jamie recalls. In order to accommodate seven people and four animals, an open-concept floor plan was a must. They tore down walls to open up their formal living and dining room, giving them space to create a huge open-concept kitchen and dining area. They also removed paneling in the living room and basement, painted every wall and ceiling, installed all new hardwood and tile throughout the house, and replaced a former closet with a first-floor laundry. After 10 solid months of nonstop work, the Finks were able to get their house to a place where they could move in and decorate.

Enhancing the newly remodeled home, Jamie aimed for a “clean, eclectically modern” aesthetic that tells stories by “incorporating personal items collected through travels or moments.” As you click through and explore each room, it’s easy to recognize that the Finks designed their space to maximize their family’s life in both the shared and private spaces. —Tawnee

Photography by Denise Fink


Sunroom (chalet)
Paint (walls): Benjamin Moore China White
Paint (ceiling): Benjamin Moore Decorators White
Paint (trim): Benjamin Moore White Dove
Sectional: Ikea
Pillows: Ikea
Side Chair: World Market
Sheepskin Throw: World Market
Pillow: Vintage (Turkey) Etsy
Rug: World Market
Coffee Table: West Elm
Lanterns: Pier 1
Side Table: Target
Lighting: Shades of Light
Moroccan Pouf: Overstock

Dining Room
Paint: Benjamin Moore China White
Table: World Market
Kilim Rug: World Market
Solid Rug: Crate and Barrel
Light Fixture over Table: Shades of Light – Hinckley Lighting
Black Cabinet: Crate and Barrel
Bamboo Blinds: Blinds.com
Pottery on top of Black Cabinet: Tuesday Morning
Table Tray: Crate and Barrel
Chairs: West Elm
Table Decor: Ikea

Kitchen Area
Flooring: Hardwood Bargains (Engineered Acacia Wood to honor Ethiopian Acacia trees)
Mirror: Crate and Barrel
Settee: Wayfair
Pillows: Vintage
Paint: Benjamin Moore White Dove
Cabinets: Cabinets to Go
Pendant Lighting over Island and Sink: Restoration Hardware
Countertops: Quartz
Beam: Reclaimed Barn Wood / Craig’s List
Countertop Accessories: Crate and Barrel and Target
Paint: Benjamin Moore China White
Pendant Light: Restoration Hardware
Bamboo Blind: Blinds.com
Rug: Kaya Kilims
Coffee Maker: Crate and Barrel
Counter Accessories: Target

Paint: Benjamin Moore Halo
Shelf: Crate and Barrel
Yellow Vase: Vintage
Letter Basket: Target
Books: Williams and Sonoma
Bonsai: Steins Gardens and Gifts
Accessories: Vintage
Baskets: Target
Books: Williams and Sonoma
Frames: Target and Ikea
Art: Photos of our travels
Felt Message Board: Letterfolk
Desk Lamp: Ikea
Chair: World Market
Pillow: Vintage Etsy
Travel Books: Barnes and Noble

Living Room
Paint: Benjamin Moore Halo
Rug: Pottery Barn
Chaise: Ikea
Throw Pillows: Pottery Barn and Ikea
Side Table: Kohls
Woven Poufs: Ikea
Built in Bookshelf Paint: Benjamin Moore White Dove
Artwork and Decor: Vintage
Fireplace Tools: Target
TV Cabinet: Crate and Barrel
Turquoise Planter: West Elm
Curtains: Ikea
Blinds: Blinds.com
Artwork: Home Goods, Society6, Vintage

Sophia and Charlotte’s room
Paint: Sherwin Williams Seasalt
Curtains: Ikea
Fabric Banner: Made by me from left over fabric scraps
Bookcase: Target
Wallpaper Lining back of Bookcase: Anthropologie
Bedding: Target
Side Table: Anthropologie
Artwork: Collected
Rug: Home Goods
Chandelier: Pottery Barn
Bedside Lights: Ikea

Laurent and Nicasio’s bunk bedroom
Paint: Benjamin Moore Simply White
Chandelier: West Elm
Bed Lights: Ikea
Bunk Bed: Ikea
Bedding: Target
Rolling Book Cart: Target
Stickers on Cart: Redbubble
Wall Decals: Etsy
Rug: Home Goods
Curtains: Lowes

Etienne’s room
Paint: Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
Bed: Restoration Hardware Teen
Black and White Rug: Target
Kilim Rug: Kaya Kilims
Bedding: Target
Bean Bag: Target
Side Table: World Market
Lamp: World Market

What we love about our home
Scarf: Ethiopian village shop obtained during our travels
Message Board: Letterfolk
Gold Thimble: Vintage heirloom

Master Bedroom
Paint: Benjamin Moore French Canvas
Bed: Vintage Heirloom
Bedding: West Elm
Throw Pillow: Pottery Barn
Artwork: Ethan Allen
Bedside Lights: Ikea
Bedside Tabels: Crate and Barrel
Planter: Anthropologie

The family's light and airy sunroom started off dark, dingy, and ugly. They traded in heavy window treatments and mauve carpet for white walls and light fabrics.
"This is us. We may not all look the same, but we are a family. The family that was always intended and the family that will always be," Jamie said. Pictured is Jamie and AJ, their daughters Sophia and Charlotte, and their sons Etienne, Laurent, and Nicasio. (Pets: Oliver, Audrey, Napoleon and Greta)
This space is designed for conversation and reflection — all things you need when you have a family of seven.
This little vignette in their sunroom alludes to AJ's musical background.
It's easy to relax and enjoy small moments in the sunroom's bistro nook.
Jamie and AJ opened up the formal living room and dining room. For the Finks, open concept isn't just a desired layout, but absolutely necessary for their large family to entertain without feeling cramped.
This trestle table has room for the entire family and then some!
The mixture of caramel leather and indigo mud cloth mixed with the texture of a sheepskin equals perfection.
"This is where the original sink was located, so we maintained its location in order to not have to rerun the plumbing. Its proximity to the dishwasher makes cleanup a breeze and the window overlooking the acre yard provides an uninterrupted sight line to see the kiddos playing."
The bar off the kitchen allows AJ to show off his mixology skills to friends.
Opening up the dining room meant that Jamie could entirely rethink the layout of the kitchen. "We created a huge island with a prep sink sans seating to allow for loads of preparation and serving opportunities."
Jamie can work while being a part of the action in the kitchen. "It’s both functional and beautiful, complementing the rest of the house," Jamie adds.
The Finks needed a room centered around entertainment, so they could enjoy a movie or show together as a family. They seamlessly incorporated the TV into their gallery wall.
Jamie updated the look of her dated and dark living room. "Originally it was a brown-paneled disaster of a room, with drop box fluorescent lighting and brown carpet. I whitewashed the fireplace and removed the mantel to simplify its appearance."
"What our home means to us is ever-evolving and always a reminder of where we’ve been."
In their last home, Sophia and Charlotte shared a room larger than this one, so Jamie and AJ had to be strategic with the layout and utilizing storage space.
Jamie added a homemade torn fabric banner draped over the curtains for a colorful, textural detail.
This gallery wall is comprised of art and treasures curated from their family travels — the Mona Lisa is from Paris, the "A Small World" painting is from Disney World, and the handprinted Ethiopian scene is obviously from Ethiopia. Jamie adds that the wall "...tells a story and can be added to over time and passed down for generations to come."
"As the only kiddo with his own room, [Etienne] got the smallest space but it houses all of his belongings without feeling cluttered or over-designed," Jamie explains.
This graffiti mural features Etienne's original artwork. He can add to it with paint pens as a creative outlet to document moments in his life.
Although this room is small, Jamie used clever storage solutions and bunk beds to maximize Laurent and Nicasio’s bedroom. She added a geometric element to the wall to keep the room youthful and fun.
"I kept the design minimal because the fact that there are two boys is chaotic in nature therefore, their room is a simplistic retreat."
Along with the other bedrooms, Jamie and AJ's master bedroom suite is on the second floor. They have their own master bath and a huge walk-in closet with an attic crawl space.
In decorating, Jamie wanted to make the home a place where they could relax, saying, "The idea was to make the space feel like a boutique hotel retreat."

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