Remodeling tour shows conventional Columbus home transformed to modern

Marice Phelipe

In 1998, Susan and Tim Willeke bought a brand-new 1,864-square-foot house in Westerville from M/I Homes.

Little by little over the years, the couple updated the home. Working on their own or with family members, they added a Florida room, finished the basement and installed a patio.

But many of the changes were design touches that transformed the conventional four-bedroom home into a sleek contemporary space with dark wood floors, clean modern doors, swirling geometric light fixtures, cable-rail banisters, a marble fireplace surround in the living room, and a fireplace mounted on a stone wall in the dining room. 

“When you look at these photos in magazines of these contemporary houses, they’re all these 6,000-square-foot, million-dollar homes,” Susan said. “We never had the urge to live in a huge house. We believed we could pull off modern in a modest house.” 

By the start of the pandemic, the home had been transformed with the exception of the hardest room: the kitchen, with its original natural oak cabinets, off-white tile floor and laminate countertop.

“When we looked at the kitchen, with all that oak, it just didn’t fit the rest of the house,” said Susan, who works for the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Susan and Tim Willeke's Westerville home is featured on the upcoming annual NARI remodeling tour. It's a relatively modest home with a dynamic modern kitchen.

“We wanted to get rid of the oak and go modern,” added Tim, a business consultant with JPMorgan Chase. 

For that step, they turned to the Upper Arlington remodeling firm J.S. Brown & Co., who helped them extend the clean black-and-white look of the rest of the house into the kitchen. 

“It was exciting,” said J.S. Brown design consultant Wendy Sorenson, who worked with the couple on the project. “We’re in the Midwest. Having a client who wants something modern — we don’t get to work in that arena much.” 

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