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Issue Date: April 2003 Issue


Where the Wild Homes Are


Diane DiPiero

Mechanic on Duty

In this house, being handy with tools means you can fashion them into a candlestick or a towel bar.

Owner : John Taylor
City : Sandusky
Built : 1920s
Purchased by Current Owner : 1995
Extremity Factor : 10

You'd think John Taylor would tire of themes, since it's his job as a graphic designer at Cedar Point to create sets for live shows and develop signs for the amusement park. But when he bought his current home seven years ago a boxy, red-brick commercial building in the historic district of Sandusky Taylor decided to have a motif run through the design.

"At first, I was going to design it like the Acme Warehouse on Looney Tunes," he says. Then, Taylor learned that the 80-year-old building once housed an automotive repair shop. So he spent five years transforming the structure from its most recent incarnation as a first-floor warehouse and second-floor apartment into T&T Towing, his fictional gas station and repair shop.

On the first floor he created an "office," which actually serves as a walk-through from the garage entrance to the staircase. An old desk littered with papers, air-filter boxes and datebooks takes center stage. To give the space authenticity, Taylor used items from flea markets and garage sales along with personal mementos one of the black-and-white photos on the wall is of Taylor's grandfather standing beside his first car. Chipped red linoleum flooring and intentionally smudged walls add to the atmosphere. You expect a gentleman with grease-stained hands and a red handkerchief dangling from his back pocket to saunter into the room at any moment. "Everything is intentional. All the dirt and grease was put on for a reason," explains Taylor.

While chaos and untidiness reign on the lower level, the main living area is sleekly designed and neat as a pin. Red floor jacks serve as legs for a glass tabletop in the living room. A shiny silver pickup-truck box gains new life as a buffet in the dining room.

Galvanized steel roofing sheathes the walls of the powder room, where a Craftsman tool table with sliding drawers acts as a vanity. "I wanted to use as many alternative materials as possible," says Taylor.

Taylor tore out the pages of nine Rand McNally atlases and used them to wallpaper his kitchen. A stickler for details, he keeps a variety of themed accessories on hand, including mud-flap place mats.

Taylor calls his decorating style "artomotive." "I proved I could carry out a theme without making it too kitschy," he says.


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