Shoreline Sublime

A marriage of contemporary styles shines on Pewaukee Lake.


The home’s layout is the perfect recipe for lakeside living: a middle floor with main living areas, a top floor and private master suite, and a bottom floor to grow into.

This inviting whiskey bar becomes a gathering focal point — and an entree into the home’s eclectic contemporary style. 

Peter and Edit Olaxz Harken

BY RICK ROMANO  |  PHOTOS BY TRICIA SHAY

recent addition to the Pewaukee Lake shoreline is a sleekly crafted home that blends Scandinavian-modern and Euro-contemporary sensibilities. The result is a nautically inspired residence that emphasizes natural and enhanced light, specialized furnishings, neutral hues, and an invitation for family and friends to gather in an inviting, open-concept space.

Resource center:
How to re-create the look

» Pendant light fixtures featured in
the bar and kitchen are by Tom Dixon. tomdixon.net

» The Meurice chandelier over the dining room table is by Jonathan Adler. jonathanadler.com

» The white Eero Saarinen dining room chairs are from Rove Concepts. roveconcepts.com

» The ecru bar chairs are sourced from Richardson Seating in Chicago. richardsonseating.com 

» The porthole between the dining room and bar, one of three in the home, is from Burmeister Woodwork Company in Hales Corners. burmeisterwoordwork.com

This abode perfectly reflects its owners’ personalities and storied backgrounds. Homeowner Peter Harken was born in Indonesia to Dutch and Swedish parents before living most of his life in the U.S. He is president of Harken Inc., a Pewaukee-based, international manufacturer of performance sailing hardware and industrial solutions. His wife and fellow homeowner, Hungarian-born Dr. Edit Olasz Harken, is chief of dermatology at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center and sees patients and teaches at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. 

Situated next to their former home, which originally doubled as Peter’s bachelor pad decades ago, the new residence features architectural design work by Milwaukee-based Bruce Jackson Architecture and Johnson Design Inc., an Oconomowoc company. The home took 18 months to design and construct, and the couple moved in last summer.

The 5,500-square-foot home includes three bedrooms, four bathrooms, an open entertainment space that combines a linear fireplace below a big-screen television, an expansive living room flowing into the kitchen and dining room, and, oh yes, a whiskey bar that has become a favorite. 

Like most interior touches, the bar is Edit’s brainchild. 

“From the beginning, we wanted a bar on the same floor as the kitchen,” says Edit, noting that visitors then experience other living spaces. 

The bar sports textures and shades of black, bronze and ecru, suggesting this sophisticated watering hole could be from a bygone era.

That exotic detail is threaded throughout the rest of the home.

The living room is awash in comfortably calm gray tones, with Italian-crafted sectional armchairs, side tables and bookshelves as well an Eames lounge chair by Herman Miller. Lustrous chandelier lighting and an Italian-designed table are paired with Eero Saarinen armchairs to create a unique dining room environment. The kitchen’s island countertop surfaces include cement and quartzite. 

Wood is king. The home’s interior is wrapped in rift sawn oak floors and walls of tongue-and-groove cedar shiplap finished in a high-gloss varnish. 

A whimsical chandelier and porthole help frame the
dining experience.

Enveloped in a sleek skin, this kitchen offers added function with multiple food preparation areas. 

 

Are we on land or water? The wood-wrapped master bedroom, warmed by a linear
fireplace and paired with soft, white accessories, suggests drifting off to dreamland.
The adjoining bath is a perfectly paired amenity.

The soaking tub is a favorite respite for homeowner Dr. Edit Olasz Harken, who,
along with husband Peter Harken, has created a home that combines their personal tastes. 

 

“We were advised against (the high-gloss finish) because it would show all the imperfections in the wood, but that’s exactly what we wanted,” says Peter, who loves the nautical aspect of that outcome.

The exterior’s expansive glass windows and curved roof were an architectural challenge for Kent Johnson and builder Peter Feichtmeier, owner of Delafield’s Colby Construction.

“The roof is a modified butterfly construction, (creating a valley near the middle of the roof), so we had to construct a way for water to run off,” Feichtmeier explains.

Johnson says structural engineering was key.  

“Peter (Harken) is big in the sailboat world, and we wanted to bring that into the picture,” he adds, noting that the exterior — and its emphasis on natural wood — has the elements of a piece of furniture.   

Although Peter visited the construction site daily, as the pair lived just next door, he is quick to point out that Edit drove interior selections, sometimes staying up to pore over details until 3 a.m. She credits a number of experts with turning her ideas into reality, including Burmeister Woodwork Company for the cabinets and bar, Amy Seckinger for assisting in cabinet and surface design, and Annamaria Dekaney, a Budapest-based interior designer, for overall inspiration.

Edit says all of the home’s details, such as the Audrey Hepburn portrait she found in Slovenia that hangs in one of the bathrooms, define the couple’s life.  

“We really enjoy (the home),” she says. “We are close enough to Milwaukee, and Pewaukee Lake is a great lake to live on.”

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