This Madison Home is One of a Kind

By Melanie Radzicki McManus | Photography by Nicole Hansen Photography & Shanna Wolf

For several years, Greta Drammeh felt drawn to a vacant home four doors down from her own in Madison’s Faircrest neighborhood. The longer it remained unoccupied, the more she felt compelled to bring it back to life.

She also intuited that the trilevel structure, built in 1962 as a Parade Home, would be a better fit for the future she envisioned than the raised ranch she currently shared with her son.

So Drammeh wrote to the homeowner to inquire about purchasing it, but never heard back. A year later, a dumpster appeared in the front yard. The home had been sold to a builder, who planned to flip it. She approached the builder, begging to buy it. The builder quoted a price and gave her 24 hours to decide. As the owner of Madison’s Geode Collaborative Design — plus a realtor and rental property owner — Drammeh knew she could transform it into a space perfectly suited to her personality and preferences. So, she snapped it up.

“They had gutted it to the studs, so that was a little sad because it was a Parade Home and I would’ve loved to see the original setting,” she says. “I’m always thinking about the age of a home and its architecture, trying to make everything cohesive and in alignment with itself.”

While Drammeh didn’t plan to recreate a 1960s-era home, which would have meant tiny bathrooms and compact closets, she did reinstall one wall the builder had torn down so the floor plan wasn’t too open. She also refinished the original oak flooring, reset a built-in record player that had been removed and added six skylights and six windows to brighten things up.

“Natural light is a huge priority for me,” she says. “It’s good for your mood, and I have a lot of plants.”

When it came time for the designing and decorating, Drammeh selected neutral tones for the more permanent and expensive items, such as the cabinets, countertops and tile. She injected color and personality via paint, furniture, artwork and accessories.

“I have this creative designer brain, plus a realtor brain,” she says. “Unless you plan to live somewhere forever, don’t do anything too crazy with the home’s permanent aspects, but play a lot with the parts that are easy to change.”

Drammeh’s decorating philosophy is to make every space in a client’s home one that inspires them to be happy and productive — plus weaves in bits of their personality and interests. For her, that means some Scandinavian touches, a look she admires, but also hints of West Africa and the Caribbean, places she formerly lived while studying traditional West African dance. Asymmetry is important, because she loves nature, and nature is never symmetrical. And she needs natural lines that evoke movement, a nod to her love of dance.

“Everything I look at in this house reminds me of who I am and where I came from,” she says. “And that makes me feel at home.”

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