As long as he can remember, Michael Belzowski has had a passion for woodworking.
“I was building forts and things when I was three,” he said. “I rode my bike to get the latest issues of Fine Homebuilding magazine, and my first job out of high school was with my building trades teacher from LaPorte High School.”
While working as a foreman on the job, Belzowski earned an Associates Degree in Building Construction Technology from Purdue University North Central. In 1999, he realized his lifelong dream of becoming a self-employed carpenter.
Already well on his way to becoming a respected woodworker, Belzowski set out to earn his Master’s designation from the world-renown Marc Adams School of Woodworking (MASW) in 2008.
“Their workshops are taught by the most recognized authors, artists and woodworking legends the craft has to offer,” he said. “When I was there, I had the great fortune of working with world-class instructors. At that time, just over 200 people from all across the country had completed their program.”
Located just 12 miles south of Indianapolis, MASW now enrolls over 1,000 people annually for the Master’s designation program as well as advanced Fellowship training, which Belzowski continues to attend.
“More of these specialized schools have been popping up over the last decade, and Marc Adams still brings together the best craftsman in the country and maybe even the world,” he added. “I know I’ve been able to apply all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in everything from a smaller bathroom remodel to a whole house remodel and building from the ground up.”
Now one of the 265,000 subscribers to what Fine Homebuilding publisher Taunton proudly refers to as their only publication where the majority of readers are professionals who use the magazine as part of their livelihood, Belzowski proudly shares photographs of his work in their online gallery.
“The editors are always looking for new and unique ways of doing things that teach builders methods they might not be familiar with,” he said. “When they chose one of my projects for the magazine’s gallery, that was exciting. They feature a different gallery each issue, so when they were looking for ceiling detail, I posted some more pictures.”
After reading the publication for more than 25 years, Belzowski was thrilled to learn that Fine Homebuilding was going to feature his work in their gallery for a second time in the same year.
“Then they called to say they changed their mind,” he said. “They wanted to put it on the back cover. Since they only publish eight issues a year and just seven have projects on the back cover, I was ecstatic! This particular remodel started with the master bath and closet, and ended up encompassing the master bedroom, the second floor hallway and main floor foyer, powder room, library, living room and dining room.”
Throughout the entire project, Belzowski worked closely with local artist Timothy Gray, who he considers to be an expert in decorative painting and color matching.
“We collaborated on a number of projects throughout this particular home,” he explained. “When we changed the colors of the master bedroom and other areas, he was able to match the finish on some of the existing fixtures. There’s also an incredible Tuscan village mural in the main floor powder room. In the dining room they wanted to match the wall color to the specific shade of blue in an impressionist painting they had. We came up with the idea of a mural for the ceiling, and Tim presented a couple of different ideas. They chose the one that incorporated a cherry tree that can be seen from a window, making it appear like it’s leaning over a domed ceiling.”
To complete the effect at nighttime, special colored LED lights were installed around the entire rim of the trim. Along with pleasing the homeowners, Fine Homebuilding found the results noteworthy.
“It’s the leading magazine in my craft, so it’s a big deal to me,” Belzowski said. “All the schooling and experience allows me to do one-of-a-kind projects. The fact that I also have relationships with a full gamut of other professionals like Tim who delivers quality work gives me all the tools I need to bring these unique projects to life.”