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Published: Sunday, 1/17/2010

Picture perfect renovations: Maumee designer's work featured in national magazine

Michele Rose's renovation of Matt and Lee Zelina's kitchen and bath was featured nationally. Michele Rose's renovation of Matt and Lee Zelina's kitchen and bath was featured nationally.
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The nation was invited to use Lee and Matt Zelina's guest bathroom recently.

Just for inspiration, though.

The Whitehouse couple's renovated bath was pictured in the Winter, 2009, issue of Better Homes & Gardens' Kitchen and Bath Makeovers, along with a second area project, a kitchen renovation in the home of Kevin and Debra Westrick, also of Whitehouse.

Both were guided by Maumee freelance interior designer Michele Rose-Sprunk, who is known professionally as Michele Rose. These are her second and third projects to be featured in the special publication — an achievement that had the magazine's photography crew asking her who she knows on the staff.

The answer is no one — and her clients are just as surprised and pleased as she is by the national attention.

Mr. Westrick said they had no idea their kitchen renovation would turn out to be in a magazine. "It was kind of neat," said Mr. Westrick, who did most of the construction on the $37,255 project with his brother-in-law, Mark Lehman of Swanton.

Michele Rose shows the pages of Better Homes & Gardens' Kitchen and Bath Makeovers that feature her renovation of the Westricks' kitchen. Michele Rose shows the pages of Better Homes & Gardens' Kitchen and Bath Makeovers that feature her renovation of the Westricks' kitchen.

The work involved major structural changes, including removing two walls and a half bath to open the kitchen to a dining area and family room. A new, two-tiered island defines the kitchen's borders within the open space.

Natural cherry cabinets are on the two perimeter walls, while the island has maple cabinets painted an antique soft cream with a pewter glaze. On the back of the island is beadboard to create a cottage look, in keeping with the home's location on a private lake.

With the room's limited wall space, storage was a challenge. Ms. Rose designed a tall pantry with five adjustable rollout trays and open space above the trays for small appliances and cookware. Space between the refrigerator and the wall cabinet above it was used for a wine rack.

Unusual design elements include using two different styles of drawer fronts on the base cabinets, and staggering the height of the pantry and wall cabinets to avoid a horizontal line along the top "that can make a kitchen look rigid and static," Ms. Rose said.


The Zelinas' project pictured in the same publication is an $8,779 makeover of a bathroom used by guests and the couple's sons.

The Zelinas' renovated bathroom. The Zelinas' renovated bathroom.
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To control costs, the layout was not changed. Out went the dated gold-color bathtub, toilet, double sinks, wall tile, and flooring. In came a three-piece tub/shower surround, toilet, and two undermounted sinks in bisque.

The old laminate vanity top was replaced with a solid surface. The new cabinet is distressed red oak in charcoal with red undertones.

Accents include custom framed mirrors and decorative tile backsplash and border above the tub/shower.

One wall of the bathroom is painted a rich red; the other three are taupe.

It was Ms. Rose's first project for the Zelinas, a kitchen makeover in 2007, that opened the door to Better Homes and Gardens' special publications.

Ms. Rose said she wrote a letter to the editor saying the Zelinas' kitchen had been inspired by a makeover that was featured in a previous issue. The editor decided to run photos of the Zelinas' kitchen on the "Show & Tell" back page of the Fall, 2008, issue of what was then called Kitchen Makeovers.

The "inspiration photo" that led Mrs. Zelina to her dream kitchen illustrates one of the "do's" of renovation: Do your homework.

Mrs. Zelina and her husband were living in Tucson when they got a chance to buy her childhood home in Whitehouse in 2007. Planning to update the 1970s-era house, Mrs. Zelina recalled that she picked up a makeover magazine at a home improvement store. "I just opened it up to this ‘before' picture [that] looked very similar to the setup at mom and dad's."

Later, after visiting stores to look for cabinets, countertops, and flooring, she took the magazine to Ms. Rose, telling her, "This is what I think I want. What do you think?"

‘So many choices'

Likewise, Mrs. Westrick did exhaustive research to get the kitchen she wanted.

"She had mounds and mounds of magazines and layouts she developed," her husband said. Her work sheets included both the features she dreamed of having and the alternatives she could live with.

By the time she contacted Ms. Rose about designing her kitchen in the fall of 2007, Mrs. Westrick had come up with 17 possible layouts. From those, Ms. Rose developed three floor plans for her to consider.

Designers say that inspiration photos are a good starting point for renovation or new construction because they provide a vision for the finished room. Otherwise, it's easy for homeowners to get overwhelmed and harder for designers to determine what they're after.

"There are so many choices out there," Ms. Rose pointed out, adding that part of her job in the early stage is to narrow them down by identifying the homeowners' style and color preferences and the items on their wish list for the room.

"Start with the cabinets," she said. "Hands down, that's first, because it's the biggest element."

Choosing the cabinet hardware comes last, she went on, "because that's like the jewelry."

In between, be sure not to skimp on what you might think of as a minor detail: the faucet.

It's "your second-most-used appliance in the room," Ms. Rose said. (The refrigerator is No. 1.) "Spend that little bit extra for a better faucet."

‘Be prepared'

Determining your makeover budget is a critical step in the planning process, according to Amy Wuest, showroom manager and a kitchen and bath designer for KSI Kitchen & Bath on West Central Avenue.

"There's really a large range of prices," she pointed out. "You can do a kitchen for about $10,000, but you can also spend $100,000."

High-end appliances, expensive materials, and structural changes drive up prices, she said, along with unanticipated costs that come along during construction with the discovery of such problems as rotted wood or plumbing leaks.

"We try to tell people to be prepared," Ms. Wuest said. "There is no such thing as a perfect renovation. There's always a chance there's some hidden surprises."

Contact Ann Weber at: aweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6126.

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