Fixer-upper is just right


Canton: A lot of work turned a dilapidated rowhouse into a fun spot in a hot neighborhood.

July 28, 2002|By Colleen Freyvogel | Colleen Freyvogel,SUN STAFF

When Daniel Taylor bought his three-story rowhouse on South Ellwood Avenue in Canton almost eight years ago, it was anything but a dream.

The 2,200-square-foot house was full of outdated plumbing, holes in the half-painted walls, garbage, rats and cockroaches.

Taylor, a manager for a local radio station, was renting a first-floor apartment from his brother Mike in 1994 when the house next door went up for sale.

Taylor was determined to buy it with the aid of a 203(k) rehab loan from the Federal Housing Administration and the help of his other brother, Kevin, who had a contracting company.

Though his family questioned his judgment, he bought the 100-year-old Canton home for $32,000. Similar homes in the trendy area now sell for $175,000 or more.

Heaps of work

However, when he started the project, the first thing he had to do was get rid of the heaping pile of trash at the bottom of the basement stairs.

He recruited three contractors who worked on the house for a little more than six weeks straight until major renovations on the ceiling, electrical wiring, plumbing and structural aspects were finished.

"When they would leave for the day, I would come in and work," Taylor said.

One large project that he tackled alone was exposing the brick in the living room. Using a sledgehammer, it took a week and a half to break up the horsehair plaster that covered the brick.

"It was like when you hit a windshield and there are all of those little broken pieces," he said.

There were a few more cosmetic things like painting, plus installation of central air-conditioning.

The renovation was completed in March 1995.

His and hers offices

Now Taylor and his wife, Angela, who were married in 1998, are debating whether this would be a good house in which to start a family. They're still in the thinking stage, but the big question isn't when to have children but who would give up a home office.

His office is on the first floor. Hers is on the third.

Angela Taylor runs her record label and her Web design company, Taylor Interactive, from her office. Her walls are lined with pictures from her record album, as well as calendars of events. Her large black desk is packed with an assortment of computers and other electronics for her businesses.

Also on the third floor is the master bedroom, which had holes in the walls when the house was purchased. The only downside to third floor is its lack of a bathroom.

A room to play

To find the bathroom in this house, you must walk down the slender staircase to the second story, where the Taylors have their "pub and game room." They do most of their entertaining on the second floor.

The pub and game room is by far their favorite room and happens to be the room where the most work was done during renovation. They took out a door, finished off a wall and exposed the brick.

A collection of collages from each year with their friends lines one wall of the room. Daniel Taylor said his friends seem to enjoy seeing pictures of the memories they have all shared.

In one corner near the exposed brick sits the "Irish pub," which is the focal point of the room. Stools line the bar. For more competitive types, the room has a foosball table and an official 1981 arcade game, Gorf.

The off-white walls of the game room are complemented by copper-color trim along the floor and around the doorways. The color scheme extends to the trim in the living room, where a dividing wall was knocked down to provide more space for entertaining. The Taylors furnished the room using feng shui principles to bestow a feeling of relaxation on their guests.

Much of the home's decor reflects the Taylors' love of traveling. They have brought home mementos from Italy, Mexico, Ireland and England.

"Every time we go somewhere cool, we bring stuff back and hang it up," Angela Taylor said.

The dining room's colors were chosen with feng shui and decorator magazines in mind. The room is painted a rose color that matches perfectly with a picture of a flower framed on the wall.

Kitchen renovations

The kitchen has been a work in progress. When Daniel Taylor moved in, he did an inexpensive remodeling of the room.

He later moved a window, relocated the sink, added a French door and used wedding money to redo the kitchen for a second time. The room adds a contemporary flair with stark white cabinets and appliances.

By the late 1990s, he realized that the neighborhood had become a hot spot. The Taylors realize that some have lived in the area all their lives, while others - like themselves - are just beginning to build their futures there.

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