Rooms for Improvement

The kitchen and bath are the most important spaces in the house, and an updated look employing clean design and natural materials is the ideal. Two Realtors also weigh in with what potential home-buyers are looking for in these rooms


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The owners of this new home requested a blend of Arts & Crafts and Asian influences. They also sought to bring the outdoors in and wanted to hide daily clutter. Designers used a simple door style in rustic alder to go with the metal, natural stone, and concrete. A panoramic window, which exposes the room to nature, was made to feel more expansive by eliminating cabinetry that would normally be next to the sink. Everyday appliance clutter is concealed behind pocket doors. Extraordinary Works by EW Kitchens, Troy; 248-649-0500, and Wixom; 248-669-1300,; James Douglas Interiors, Birmingham; 248-593-1630.


White lacquer custom cabinets and a tumbled travertine backsplash contribute to a timeless look that would suit a homeowner with traditional or contemporary sensibilities. “A white kitchen is never out of style. You can date it with things that you do, but if you keep it classic, it’s always in style,” the designer says. She used speckled granite partly because it never looks dirty. The sink island houses a double refrigerator and a wine cooler, making it function as a butler’s pantry. The second island contains additional storage. Janice Morse, Designs Unlimited, Birmingham; 248-258-3222,


This kitchen, which is under 200 square feet, had to provide ample working space, dining for six, and visual flow into adjoining rooms. The layout allowed for two sinks, two dishwashers, and commercial-grade appliances. Mahogany was used in horizontal paneling. A dark charcoal stone floor added drama and durability. The island was crafted from a solid mahogany chopping block with base cabinets in lacquered charcoal. A custom chandelier (designed by R.J. Laney and made by DS2) was crafted of steel, mahogany, and glass. Crate & Barrel counter-height chairs were reupholstered in crypton. The glass tile behind the range is “Mirage” Spectra Glass. Kevin Akey, AZD Associates, Bloomfield Hills; 248-540-6009,; R. J. Laney Design, Royal Oak; 248-549-8080,; DS2 Construction, Royal Oak; 313-231-4409.


Traditional finishes and bright colors play off the lakefront location of this summer home in northern Lower Michigan. Lime-green cabinets contrast with Calcutta gold marble. And the multicolored glass-tile backsplash adds a contemporary edge. For island seating, the designer used Richard Mulligan “Mama Bear” bar stools. Robin Wilson & Associates, Pleasant Ridge; 248-546-8802,


Pre-makeover, this kitchen was essentially a hallway with cabinets and appliances. The kitchen served as a main pathway into the home, as well as being a route to the basement. The stairway to the basement was relocated to the rear of a new addition. And a central “pod of space” is wrapped with counter and cabinetry. Exterior windows were split to flank the new range, which improved the distribution of natural light. Michael Klement, Architectural Resource, Ann Arbor; 734-769-9784,; Doug Selby, Meadowlark Builders, Ann Arbor; 734-332-1500,


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