It takes patient dog lovers and a functional home to manage a household with five dogs. For homeowners Linda Axnick and Todd Whitney of Racine, the busy household they manage needed modifications to create practical efficiencies for improved quality of life for themselves and their five dogs, three Flat Coated Retrievers and two Golden Retrievers. “We needed to needed to regain control, but still indulge the dogs,” Whitney said.
Both homeowners work in the veterinary field during the day, but they realized they wanted to enjoy their free time at home with the dogs even more. Most activities in their home revolved around the kitchen and bathtubs when feeding and bathing their dogs. They needed a solution to provide more space and create a functional, durable, and low maintenance design.
The dogs had their meals and water in the kitchen. “As you can imagine, the five dogs had taken over the entire space,” said Nathan Wachtl, UDCP, Senior Design Consultant from the S.J. Janis Company, Inc., a full-service design/build company in Wauwatosa, Wis. Working with the homeowners, Wachtl developed a plan to update the kitchen to a traditional design with modern appliances. “The next step was to design and construct a mud room addition to provide plenty of resources for the dogs,” Wachtl said. “Todd and Linda were excited by the thought of not only having an updated kitchen, but also a new mudroom addition tailored to their four legged family.
“Nathan’s plans were specific to our needs, turning our thoughts into reality,” said Whitney.
S.J. Janis, with two Universal Design Certified Professionals (UDCP) on staff, has vast experience creating functional living spaces for homeowners with unique ideas. “Universal custom design is very important when taking into consideration each family member’s pain points and wish list with their current home,” Wachtl said. “From aging in place, to busy veterinarians with five dogs, each has their own unique challenges, which are solved through a functional design approach.”
The kitchen’s Santa Cecelia granite countertops matched the new bright white Plato Prelude kitchen cabinets. Stainless steel appliances were a must for Axnick and Whitney’s transitional kitchen. A 36" GE Monogram five-burner gas cooktop provided a large cooking area with integrated ventilation from Vent-a-hood.
Additional food warming and baking can be performed with the stacked GE Monogram Speedcook microwave and convection oven combination. A GE Monogram Top Control dishwasher adds the last stainless touch for a clean look. For food preparation and cleaning, a ProFlo undermount double bowl stainless sink was used with a Delta Leland pullout single lever kitchen faucet in Arctic steel. “Undermount sinks are the now the standard issue for kitchens. We lead with stainless and Silgranit, but now even engineered quartz can be used for a seamless look,” Wachtl said.
New Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring was selected for the kitchen and dinette, adding the proper contrast while providing a clean and satin look. A new island was designed for the dinette, including built-in seating with chairs at a comfortable height. Santa Cecelia granite matches the kitchen countertops as well as the new corner cabinet used as a phone charging station.
Similar colors were used throughout the new spaces creating a cohesive flow. A single pocket door opens into the new mudroom, allowing the five dogs to gravitate into their own personalized domain. Porcelain fired earth ceramic 18-inch field tile was installed for a durable and low maintenance floor. Each dog has its own food bowl built into the LG Solid Surface material used for the mudroom countertops.
The new mudroom also features a customized washing and staging area for the dogs when they enter from outside. “S.J. Janis added a bit of engineering to the equation by configuring the lower cabinet to be pulled out, exposing retractable stairs for the retrievers,” Whitney said.
To further emphasize functionality, the standing height dog washing station includes a Sterling shower base and Delta wall mount hand shower for easy washing without back pain. “Washing five dogs is a no longer an agonizing task!,” said Whitney.
The constant refilling of water bowls was another pain point that was eliminated by the new design. An Elkay undermount sink for fresh water and easy draining was complimented by a Kohler Purist Lavatory faucet. “These dogs quite possibly are the only ones with their own undermount sink,” Wachtl said.
“Having the additional dog room has been wonderful, especially the elevated dog wash station, which is so much better than carrying a muddy dog up stairs to the bathtub,” Whitney said. “The dog water sink is easy to fill and maintain, especially with five dogs drinking so much.”
The opposite wall to the washing station was designed to offer plenty of cabinet space for dog food and other bulky items. “Two Golden Retrievers and three Flat Coated Retrievers equals a lot of needed food storage,” Wachtl said. “Organizational efficiencies were implemented with food separators and special Tupperware inside the drawers and cabinets. To support the extra weight, additional consideration was made in regards to the heavy-duty tracks on the cabinet drawers. Durability was another key theme emphasized by the homeowners during the initial design phase and was successfully implemented in the new addition.”
As the dogs come and go, a leash rack was added near the door for easy hanging. In addition, the dogs can exit the mudroom and run into the fenced backyard with their new in-ground pool.
“The dogs love the new amenities and we couldn’t be happier with the functional, low maintenance dog center,” Whitney said. “Plus, we have a spectacular kitchen, an improved dining and coffee experience, and an efficient flow from the kitchen to the backyard.”
For more information, call S. J. Janis Company at 414-259-0300 or visit www.sjjanis.com.
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