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A place for everything

Lights flicker on and off.

And again.

'Oh, here it is - I think,' Norm Weseloh said, looking at his wife, Kathy, and flicking a lightswitch in his kitchen.

'We're not used to having this many lights,' Norm said.

Crevices beneath cabinets illuminate, and then those within cabinets - and on the ceiling. The couple finds it hard to believe that just a few months ago the kitchen they've known for 20 years looked dramatically different.

As shopping bags became filled with magazine clippings of kitchens - before and after photos, cabinets, layouts, trends - the Weselohs said, 'it was time,' to remodel their kitchen.

They hired Barb Friedman, a general contractor and designer with Oswego Design and Remodeling, to take their tired, 1969 kitchen, with dark cabinetry, little room and lack of light, and transform it into a beautiful space that's functional for today.

Staying within the original footprint of the house, Friedman created a kitchen that combined their needs and wants, and then some.

'Cooking has become more of a hobby and couples are getting more involved together with food preparation,' Friedman said. 'Kitchens need to accommodate (several people) so if you're fixing something, people can stand around and chat - have a glass of wine.'

The Weselohs and Friedman will do just that when they host an 'open kitchen' for their friends and neighbors on Oct. 28 to share their new environment and passion for cooking.

Letting go of take-out

Even though it's only been two weeks since completion, the Weselohs said their lives have gotten much easier.

'We were tired of eating pizza,' Norm said.

Kathy agreed, saying, 'the bakery knew our orders. They'd have stuff ready for us before we even got there.'

Going without a kitchen for a few months was an adjustment, they said, but one well worth it.

Originally their kitchen was organized in the shape of an upside down 'u' pattern - cabinets on the two sides, a sink and window in the middle. A small nook area was to the right and a dining room was in back, separated by a wall.

Friedman suggested opening the space up; the couple rarely used their nook and were always in the dining room. So why not use that nook space for the kitchen and continue eating in the same place?

A row of hanging cabinets seemed to cut the original kitchen in half, so they were removed and an oversized island was added. Maple cabinets with a black glaze set the neutral pallet, something Kathy wanted so she could paint an accent wall in a brighter color - like red. Kitchen counters were constructed from large pieces of porcelain floor tile.

'They look like limestone slabs, don't they?' Friedman said.

Before, there weren't many electric outlets in the kitchen. Now there's plenty of power for all appliances.

A KitchenAid stand-up mixed now resides within a lower cupboard that can be lifted up in one swooping motion and secured to begin baking immediately.

'It's already plugged in and ready to go,' Friedman said. 'When you do inventory for kitchen remodeling, clients go through what they have, what they're getting rid of and their wish list. She's always wanted that mixer.'

Results that lights

up the room

Lower cabinets were once difficult to maneuver within but now swivel out to expose all items tucked in the back. The access to pots and pans is also less cumbersome with new drawers. Small utensils roll out from beneath the stove. And food sits upon full-extension drawers so even items in the back can roll into the cook's fingertips.

To better view all these changes, light was essential. Before there were two overhead lights, and a light near the sink.

'Cooking with the light behind me was difficult,' Kathy said.

Now, with lights above the island, in the ceiling, below cabinets and within corner cabinetry, the room glows.

The wall that once divided the kitchen from the dining room was removed, letting in more natural light from a large window.

And the door leading from the garage into the house was scooted to the left, as to not interrupt the new kitchen and placement of the refrigerator.

Oswego Design and Remodeling was awarded the NARI National Contractor of the Year in 2007 for the best kitchen in the U.S. over $100,000.

With Friedman on their speed dial now - instead of take-out restaurants - the Weselohs said that through their kitchen remodel, they not only rediscovered their love for their home but made a new friend.

'I enjoy the beauty of spaces we transform but really it's about relationships - it's about finding out what's really going to 'do it' for each client,' Friedman said, 'and making that happen - making their dream space.'

For more information about Oswego Design and Remodeling, visit www.oswe

godesign.com.