Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Sweet Homes: Monclova couple's home is all curves and natural light

The Blade will periodically feature intriguing homes and gardens that reflect the creativity of their owners. Tell us about your abode by writing Tahree Lane at or calling 419-724-6075.

Straight walls. Crisp 90-degree corners.

Not for Randy and Donna Taylor. For years, these former high school teachers mulled aesthetic concepts for their future home, but linear and perpendicular weren't at the top of the list.

Arches and curves were.

Interior stone work and drywall sculptures were. Natural light, and a flow of materials from one room to the next. And decorative soffits, the drop-downs that add dimension to interior ceilings.

"Randy had to put 50 years of ideas and features in this house," Mrs. Taylor says.

In 1997, the Taylors broke ground on the Monclova Township home they spent three years constructing. Its 5,200 square feet, they admit, is an indulgence.

"You don't need it, but it goes back to: I got a chance to do my own house," says Mr. Taylor, 65. Sharing their home are daughter and granddaughter Joy and Cagney McGurk, and their two dogs.

Nestled on six rolling acres (they added the roll with dirt from the pond), the contemporary design is inspired by a drawing they tore out of a magazine 20 years ago.

"We kept playing with the idea," he says. It incorporates three semi-circular "silos" and a curved 24-foot-high wall of windows in the great room. A freestanding 3,900-square-foot workshop is an architectural compliment: it too includes a silo shape, and it shares the taupe color with the house.

A problem quickly arose: concrete companies refused to build the rounded forms required to pour the basement of the silos, so Mr. Taylor made them.

"I like those challenges. To figure them out and make them work," he says. "Very few things are frustrating to me."

Making the leap

The home's exterior is an attractive synthetic stucco applied over two-inch-thick Styrofoam sheets that provide insulation. Often used commercially, the stucco is hard and doesn't need painting.

The front entrance features one of Randy’s sculptures, a long bit of geometry 30 inches wide by 12 feet high, fashioned from the stucco.

The Taylors - he's a Whitmer grad, she went to Libbey — met when they were 18. Donna and her mother had gone to a bar to listen to The Biscaynes, a rock-and-roll band in which Randy played bass. By 20, they were married. She went on to teach business at Northwood High School and he taught art at his alma mater.

As they raised three children in South Toledo, Mr. Taylor moonlighted for his late father, Ora Taylor, a landscaper who built stone patios and garden walls.

He had painted menu boards for the former Dominic’s Restaurant, and when the place needed remodeling, the owner hired him. He crafted something special for the main dining room: Italian scenes from wood and stained glass. Another restaurateur saw it and had him fabricate columns and arches and customized his office.

People who visited the Taylors’ former home on Glendale Avenue and saw his stone bathtub and fireplace hired him. He remodeled dozens of basements into family rooms. When projects included an architect, he offered his ideas, and clients granted him artistic freedom.

"To me, work is not work. I get to produce what I think about."

By 1990, the Taylors decided to make the leap: Randy left the classroom to forge ahead with the business while Donna continued teaching. He didn’t advertise and never got a business card, but landed word-of-mouth requests for pergolas, fireplaces, interior stone walls, patios, floors, bathrooms, ponds, and waterfalls. He made stone sculptures for two hotel lobbies, and two high-end ($45,000 and $90,000) home theaters that seat eight and have wet bars accommodating another eight.

From wood, he’s made caskets, graceful memorial urns, beds, tables, and wrap-around booths. Joining him in the workshop with its close view of the pond are sons Chad and Wade and a third man, who occasionally take breaks with fishing poles.

‘Inside was ours’

Once the home was framed in, Mr. Taylor worked on it evenings and weekends. "The inside was ours," he says.

"A lot of things evolved as construction went on," adds Mrs. Taylor. "Randy comes up with ideas and then I OK them or not."

The kitchen is centered by a zig-zaggy island with a granite counter. Sassy chartreuse walls bounce against white Amish-made cupboards. Between the kitchen and dining room, a half-arch buttresses out from the wall, a suggestion from the arch in the great room. The dining room has just one wall of its own, on which is installed a 5-by-8-foot rectangle of sandstone, limestone, and old city sidewalk. Weighing about 600 pounds, the wall required additional reinforcement below.

When the great room was roughed in, it turned out to be too great: 26 feet from floor to domed ceiling.

"The big shock of the whole house was how tall this room was," Mrs. Taylor says "It looked like a silo."

To lower it, Mr. Taylor installed a flat section three feet below the dome, and added eight 12-foot-long decorative braces that arch out from near the center and appear to be structural supports.

The stunning feature is a curved bank of 21 windows in three tiers; each window is more than five feet long and two feet wide. The window-wall extends into the basement, providing plenty of light. A high arch "floats" in front of this window-wall; the idea of son Chad.

Light walls, leather furniture, and carpet in the great room are a canvas for the gorgeous glass collection flanking the fireplace. The Taylors’ first piece of art glass was a red Murano vase they got in Venice

"Most of the art was purchased at art shows and art fairs," says Mrs. Taylor. "We have a meeting of the minds on artwork."

In one of the silos, upper and lower stairway walls are curved and covered with dark gray soapstone and blond wooden railings.

Tucked into another silo is the master bedroom on the main floor. Mr. Taylor built the bed’s wooden headboard and faux painted the concave wall behind the bed: it’s an abstract of browns, oranges, and reds, inspired by what might be seen on an autumnal drive through the mountains of Tennessee, he says. The ceiling has three tiers of sculpted soffits.

"I never could understand why no one ever played with ceilings. I have straight walls but the soffits become a sculptural thing because they create shapes."

A walk-in stone shower sans door is in the master bathroom.

The 2,600 square-foot basement is for R&R — big-screen TV, pool table, card table, darts, pinball machines. The bar’s facing is wood affixed with oak leaves and branches he made with a band saw. "I found I could get three leaves out of a three-quarter-inch oak board," he notes. The bar’s top is inset with angular quartzite slabs separated by slender curves of wood.

A rounded wall leads to a large office and a den. A door opens onto a stone patio and the long grassy length of yard.

The sinuous pond is -acre with two 16-foot-deep sections, and stocked with blue gill, bass, and catfish.

The workshop with 12-foot overhead doors is divided into a concrete-floored, finish-work area overlooking the pond, and a rough-work area housing big power tools and vertically-stored sheets of wood and drywall.

"I’ve been very, very fortunate in my life," says Mr. Taylor, of the home. "To buy it, I couldn’t afford it."

Contact Tahree Lane at:

or 419-724-6075.

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