Get to It!

Remodeling tips for the preservationist, the eco-conscious, the stylish, and the organized


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Tempaper's Zoe Bios wallpaper collection
Tempaper’s Zoe Bios wallpaper collection, inspired by the paintings of Franz Klein. features a painterly motif. Turn the page to learn more.


Green Scene

Consider the planet before you hit the remodel button

Greenlife Building County Farm

Dave Eifrid, a LEED-accredited professional and founder of Wixom-based Greenlife Building, LLC, believes everyone’s contributions to resource-conserving building and renovation — from federal, state, and municipal levels to homeowners — make a difference.

Dave Eifrid

“Upgraded insulation and smart systems in homes, like smart thermostats, and efficient appliances and lighting, might be more cost-effective than imagined,” says Eifrid, above. “(You can) swap out an incandescent bulb that uses 60 watts for an LED that uses 5. Also, allow yourself to have an eye for reclaimed wood for floors, cabinets, tables, and accents. You can’t buy that unique and extraordinary quality, some (of it) from forests that were depleted in the 1800s.” Eifrid, a team member of Thrive Collaborative’s Veridian at County Farm (see rendering above), planned as a net zero-energy, self-sustaining, and mixed-income community in Ann Arbor, believes in building — and remodeling — what’s right.“It’s by no means always easy,” he says, “but we need to keep pushing ourselves.”

More information:,

— By Honey Murray


Steve Bester
Steve Bester, of Troy-based The Educated Garage, puts the finishing touches on a garage face-lift in Birmingham. // Photograph by Debbie Sipes

Organized Living

A Birmingham couple now has plenty of utility space

“A lot of the older homes in Birmingham were built with detached garages with no drywall,” says Steve Bester, owner of Troy-based The Educated Garage. That said, Bester explains that for a recent detached garage project in Birmingham, he and the homeowners, Kathy and Jim Remski,  decided to use his company’s slat wall system from Gladiator. “Rather than drywalling it, we were able to kill two birds with one stone. The slat wall provides both a cosmetic and a functional solution,” Bester says. “Kathy’s goal was storage and organization. The Gladiator system allowed us to plug in a variety of components, from cabinets to hooks to shelving. We also put in an epoxy floor, which is made to drive on and offers easy cleanup.”

“The garage adds value, organization, and a polish that we never thought was possible,” Kathy Remski says. “Neighbors tell us they have garage envy!”

For those looking to update and organize their garages, Bester says to first ask yourself what you use your garage for. Sports items for the kids? Gardening/landscaping equipment? A classic car collection? Patio décor storage? Parties?  “Then we can go from there,” he says. (Gladiator products, incidentally, are from the Michigan-based Whirlpool product line.)

A simple garage redo can cost as little as $1,500, although Bester says he’s done systems that cost closer to $20,000. “A common number for a floor and a lot of paneling and cabinetry is $10,000,” he adds.

More information: (248) 842-9580,, showroom at Maple and Rochester roads, Troy.

— By Megan Swoyer


Bathroom designed by Wendy Ryan
Located in a northern Michigan vacation home that overlooks Boyne River, this redesigned bathroom by Wendy Ryan, top, is welcoming, with its natural materials and salvaged elements // Photograph by Bob Foran Photography

Nature’s Way

Wendy Ryan reveals how she imbued rustic-chic in a northern Michigan bathroom

Twenty-five-year interior design veteran Wendy Ryan, of Ann Arbor-based Wendy Ryan Interior Design, was recently tasked with adding a two-person soaking tub to a master bath in her client’s Boyne City vacation home. That meant tearing out a closet and updating the overall look by replacing dark wood and old gold marble countertops. Here she shares a few secrets on pulling off this restful retreat remodel.

Q: What was the main remodeling goal?

A: There wasn’t a bathtub in the home, and the client wanted a soaking tub. We also wanted to add an Up North feel to the space.

Wendy Ryan
Wendy Ryan // Portrait by Bob Foran Photography

Q: What were the steps and some of the elements you brought in to attain that goal?

A: We got rid of a 6- by 5-foot closet in the bath and replaced that space with the soaking tub (construction: Matt Johnecheck, Conquest Builders Inc., Charlevoix; bathtub: Meridian 60, Builders Plumbing & Heating Supply, Ann Arbor), and added a closet to the bedroom. We created a capiz-shell chandelier, added a window, changed the color palette to grays, creams, and stark whites, and gave it an outdoor-ish theme. The tub surround and shower floor are stone, while the gray tile looks like barn wood.

Q: What’s a favorite feature in the space?

A: The wood we used on the walls. It’s (salvaged) from a century-old barn in Chelsea that was torn down. The design for the walls was inspired by a love of the outdoors and barns, and we wanted to try to replicate how they have cracks where sunlight comes through and how beautiful that is. We mirrored the walls first and then put the barn wood over it, so when sunlight shines through the window it reflects on the mirror and looks like light coming through the barn wood.

More information:

— By Megan Swoyer


Bungalow Beauty

A deteriorating Pleasant Ridge Craftsman is now ship-shape

Steve RamaekersWhen Alicia Gbur and Christian Doble purchased their beautiful 1920s Pleasant Ridge bungalow, they did so with the intention of restoring the Craftsman home while remaining architecturally faithful to its original exterior character. Enter Birmingham-based MainStreet Design Build, whose president and founder, Steve Ramaekers, right, offers insights on how the MainStreet team restored this treasured style. “There were no photos of how the home originally looked, so we had to conduct extensive research on the Craftsman style, to ensure the new covered front porch and new exterior materials were architecturally correct,” says Ramaekers, whose company specializes in restoring old homes.

Here are other important considerations:

Perfect Porch: “It was vital to document the stone porch foundation. We verified all existing dimensions and had an engineer evaluate the structural integrity of the foundation to ensure it would support a new covered porch structure. We designed a porch that precisely fit the ‘unlevel’ and ‘out of square’ (not at right angles) remains of this old stone porch,” Ramaekers explains.

Pleasant Ridge Craftsman - Before

Stunning Stairway:  A front-entry stairway was added to change the flow of traffic from the original side staircase (off the driveway). “This creates a more inviting symmetrical entryway and complements the new landscape design plan,” Ramaekers says.

Beauty and the Blend: “We introduced a horizontal band around the perimeter of the home, which created a perfect separation from the new cedar shake and clapboard siding, as well as the color scheme,” Ramaekers explains.

Pleasant Ridge Craftsman - After

Partner Up: The homeowners’ involvement equals success. “They allowed us to push the creative boundaries and were excitedly involved.”

More information:

— By Megan Swoyer

Home-related Tips, Trends, and Tidbits

CUPBOARD FACE-LIFT: “An updated kitchen is a top-selling advantage,” says Jon Knoppe, of Knoppe Cabinet Refinishing ( in Auburn Hills. “Refinishing, not re-facing, cupboards offers a greener way for durability, and  the color you want.”


PAINTERLY WALLS: Tempaper ( removable wallpaper has launched the Zoe Bios Collection, a series of removable wall murals inspired by hand-painted artwork (see below and previous page). Shop at Leon & Lulu in Clawson or

Tempaper Wallpaper


EARTHly goods: According to Ron Sadler, of Clawson’s Advanced Landscape and Builders Supply Co. (, “Younger homeowners are more environmentally conscious and take a more organic approach, often using  stone, which is extremely low-maintenance, or naturally compounded, composting mulch, which continuously feeds the soil.”


HAVE A SEAT: Santa Fe, N.M.-based Stone Forest ( is taking to the outdoors with new garden benches (see below) that are as attractive as they are useful. Whether it’s the elegant Quad or the artfully adaptable Puzzle Cube, each bench has a distinctive look.

Stone Forest garden benches


NOT JUST FOR BOTTLE TOPPERS: “Cork flooring is an excellent (green) option, as it’s made of harvested bark, which doesn’t damage trees. And the beautiful floors provide a comfortable walking surface,” says Steve McNamara, VP of hard surfaces for Riemer Floors ( in Bloomfield Hills.


TOTALLY OFF THE WALL: Samplize’s ( peel-and-stick paint samples (including Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, and Farrow & Ball) are a favorite with homeowners. “Best of all,” says CEO Taylor Thomas, “they eliminate waste from sample paint.”


TREE-MENDOUS: “A home can look and feel ‘remodeled’ with tree and shrub trimming or removal,” says Mike Drabek, of Woodsman Services ( of Royal Oak. “When the work is done with a dedication to the safe and healthy upkeep of the ‘Urban Forest,’ property values are enhanced, as well as the health of the environment.”

— By Honey Murray

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