Home Of The Month: Hitting The Right Note


Photo By Tony Valainis

THEY SAY good things come your way when you least expect them. That’s certainly the story of how a Carmel family ended up in their current home. Mind you, they moved just after a top-to-bottom renovation of their previous house was complete. They gutted and revamped it because they were certain their dream home didn’t exist. And it wasn’t for a lack of searching—Rhonda Kuchik went as far as to leave notes in her neighbors’ mailboxes asking if they were willing to sell.

Moving out of Waterstone, a lakefront neighborhood near 126th Street and Gray Road, wasn’t an option for the Kuchik family. They initially moved to Waterstone in 1996 and have since owned a series of three different houses within the development. In their minds, nothing can beat the location and amenities, and the sense of community they developed over the last 27 years is unmatched. The one thing they couldn’t make work in their previous home was a basement, but then they found a house with more than 3,000 square feet of below-ground space that fit their vision.

Photo By Tony Valainis


Having just lived through a major construction project, Rhonda struck a deal with her husband, Mark, to complete renovation on the main level of the new home before moving. One of her first calls was to J.D. Dick from Cabinetry Ideas, who has worked with the family for decades. Early on in design discussions, they got stuck on layout details, so Dick called in reinforcements: designer Debra Maley from A New Arrangement.

Maley recalls the layout idea that won over her clients. “Every house has sight lines to enhance, a visual weight where design should concentrate,” she says. “At the Kuchiks’, that is the lake view. It’s natural to want to see that from the moment you walk in the door, but I offered up a different vision.”

Maley suggested setting up a delayed, wow-factor reveal of that sparkling scene rather than showing it all immediately upon entry. By making the foyer a semi-closed area, there’s a natural moment of pause. Then, when guests step through to the open dining and living space, they experience the lake views with more of a punch.

With the help of Dick, Maley, and contractor Gordie Ranek of Trim It Up in Carmel, Mark and Rhonda created spaces to entertain, areas for their two daughters to host friends, and a home where they could play and have fun as a family. They wanted the house to be multifunctional and accessible to adults and kids alike. “The Kuchiks are playful and interactive, and they love to entertain,” says Maley.

In the kitchen, the design team got creative by taking down walls to reconfigure the layout. The island was repositioned to face toward the lake, allowing an easy conversation area with maximized water views in the background. “It’s thinking smart about design. It’s not only about how it looks, but how you enjoy it day to day,” Dick explains.

The unexpected mix of Lucite, stone, and metal elements made of brass, stainless steel, and chrome show off the couple’s boldness and flare for modernity. Dick describes the room as “vibrant and full of energy, yet still sophisticated.” The large, white statement island is untraditionally overlapped by a darker buffet counter. The Kuchiks wanted this piece to be wood but quickly switched focus to a natural stone. “It has movement and nods toward wood, but with the livability and beauty of stone,” Dick says.

Stainless steel tile, etched with a traditional pattern, blankets the back wall. Pop-out touch outlets were added in the counter to allow the unconventional backsplash to remain one continuous piece of material. To even out the tone of the room and maintain an elegant vibe, the cabinets are painted a bright white and reach high to the ceiling. Another key entertainment-friendly feature of the room is the hidden pantry, offering the homeowners the perfect stow-away spot for their prep mess.

Elsewhere on the main level, yellow upholstery, royal blue credenzas, funky wallpaper, and vibrant rugs add a joyful warmth to the modern design.

Photo By Tony Valainis


Once the family settled into the new digs, they headed downstairs to begin phase two of the remodeling project. “We ripped the lower level apart and made it an entertainer’s dream,” Rhonda says. “There’s an openness to it, yet there are different areas for entertaining.”

The basement sports a ladies’ lounge, a bar, a billiards area, a home gym, a guest suite, and a music room. Rhonda describes the latter as being completed “Extreme Room Makeover style.” Mark left for a work trip on a Wednesday morning, and the second his car left the driveway, a whole entourage of support arrived. The Kuchiks’ friends helped Rhonda move storage boxes, and contractors got to work putting up paneling and a wood ceiling, sound proofing the space, and finishing the concrete floors. But what’s a music room without an instrument?

A surprise drum set from Mark’s brother, a professional drummer, isn’t just any old kit. With his industry connections, he could have given Mark a set from nearly any famous musician. While searching for a special gift, Mark’s brother stumbled upon a Craigslist post for a kit they built together in their youth. Now, Mark can play the same set the duo  thumped together as teenagers, side-by-side in their beginner days. The revamped room was unveiled during a surprise party on Saturday evening when Mark returned from his trip. In less than four days, Rhonda brought her husband’s dream room to life as a space where he can fully enjoy both listening to and playing music.

Musical notes spill out into the rest of the basement, too. At the bottom of the staircase hangs a large canvas that fellow rockers will recognize as a Led Zeppelin album cover. Rhonda worked with a company to turn Mark’s actual copy of Physical Graffiti into an image. A close look exposes worn corners and wrinkle lines.

A commissioned piece called Prince Forever by album cover artist Jim Warren was gifted to Rhonda from Mark. Prince sayings and song titles stream over the colorful canvas. Rhonda requested to have a favorite Prince quote included: “I don’t get intimidated, I get inspired.”

Interestingly enough, Maley would describe Rhonda’s personality in a similar way. “She’s bold and doesn’t get intimidated,” Maley says of her client’s approach to design. The two were able to collaborate throughout the entire project, pushing boundaries to get a space that uniquely reflects the Kuchiks’ style.

Photo By Tony Valainis


While Rhonda loved having a hand in designing the industrial pub table and the ceiling-high, textured fireplace, she really keys in on fine details, like light fixtures. “Lighting is like the jewelry you put on after you’re dressed,” she explains. “Lighting amplifies the overall look you’re trying to achieve.”

The unique fixtures catch the eye, too, when you look around. In some cases, Rhonda worked backward, as she did with a basement bar light she had eyed for years, happy to give it a home. Antique sconces procured on a trip to North Carolina now provide a warm glow by the bathroom sink. And the low-profile entryway light offers a high-impact visual statement with its ribbon-like curves.

Although thoughtful in her design choices, Rhonda can’t seem to drum up a specific summary of her style. “I just like special furniture, artwork, and accessories. Nothing looks like anything else you’ve seen,” Rhonda says. “I like to bring in pieces that have a story and then mix and match for different looks and feels.”


Exterior of the home

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Photo By Tony Valainis