Last August, a little Texan-based oddity came to Detroit. The inaugural Weird Homes Tour, which runs one-day-only tours in five other cities around the country. Think a Home & Garden tour, but for all the homes that are sweet as hell, yet never quite make the cut. It’s for the weirdos. The type of people I’d surely call friend.
And, this year the tour is back with what can only be described as a ‘All Star’ line-up.
My home is an oddity too. So is my lifestyle. And when I see Home & Garden tours designed to show grandeur, history, and opulence, one major repeating voice in the back of my head says “you’ll never obtain this, this isn’t for you, this is outta your league”. It’s true, most of the homes are large, higher income estates, the kind someone who lives in poverty may never obtain.
One resoundingly clear message about a ‘weird’ home is that it is different, often Do-It-Yourself, and shows real creativity, and maybe a bit of lawlessness too. What it doesn’t show is a “Keeping up with the Joneses” aesthetic. All the ‘weird’ tidbits of creativity, to me, feel attainable, and sane.
One story in particular is that of Ron Shelton, an eastside resident, living on the quiet, farm-feeling street of Farnsworth. This few block area, is one of my favorites among the many green fields in Detroit. Ron bought his house for next to nothing. And at the time it was abandoned and literally falling over, condemned by the City.
He had just come from years living in the Leland, Downtown Detroit, before Bedrock blew the top off of real estate in the area. And for the next few years, Ron, equipped with bicycles, friends, and rickety truck beds, rebuilt his two-story house into a breathable, quaint, and no longer condemned, work of art. And he did it with almost exclusively reclaimed, recycled, and donated materials from ‘to be demolished’ Detroit buildings, trash piles, and scrap yards.
Last I visited Ron, he told me of the time he peddled an eight foot tree strapped to the back of his bicycle across town, the few tumbles he had along the way – all just to add some more greenery in his front yard. It cost him zero dollars and a lot of effort. Today, that tree is thriving.
It’s because of these dedicated ‘making home’ trials, his home is full of Detroit reliquary, in true DIY fashion. Furnished with old tile work, mosaic lath board walls, colorfully painted appliances, and homely details. All with a familiar message of ‘let live’.
There is something beautiful about it all. Raw, humble and transformative. Ron’s spot, named ‘Ron’s Recycled Roost’ on the tour’s website, breathes brightness, with a strong sense of anti-Home Depotness, Because, let’s be honest, there is nothing at Home Depot that is special, or unique.
Weird to me can mean organic, uplifting and certainly imaginative. And Ron’s house is all of those wrapped up together into a dream-like state of actual reality. A reality that is right here for all of us to enjoy, and be inspired by. Come explore with me something other than a can of beige paint, and be a thinker of child-bright thought.
The Second Annual Detroit Weird Homes Tour, takes place Saturday, August 24, 10am-5pm. More info and tickets can be found at www.weirdhomestour.com.
Featured photo by Thanin Viriyaki Photography