Love This House: Indian Village - a story of 2 homes

- Metro Detroit boasts some amazing neighborhoods with incredible homes. The diversity of architecture, history and culture truly make this a special place to live.

This summer Monica Gayle is excited to kick off a segment called  "Love This House." She will be profiling interesting homes, big and small, some on the market and some happily lived in. In this episode, we visit one Detroit neighborhood that was home to some of the city's earliest movers and shakers. Welcome to historic Indian Village for a story of two houses.

It is gem of a neighborhood on Detroit's east side. Those who make this village their home call it a way of life.

On Burns Street, the Robars on the left and the Hunts on the right share not only a driveway and backyard, but a passion for restoring their four square arts and crafts style homes.

Built in 1916, the homes were originally owned by the family that published the city's German language daily newspaper.

The Robars home features quarter sawn oak, a grand staircase, original wainscoting, ornate carvings and woodwork throughout.

"I look at the house as a big art project," Dan Robar said. "A life-long art project to build the lights, cabinets or the windows and really try to capture the period without doing a reproduction."

"It's a historic neighborhood so there are certain standards that we're supposed to meet," said Colleen Robar. "And if you change any trees or exterior of the home, you have to run it by the Detroit historic commission."

"We moved in, in 2007 and quickly became friends with the Robars and quickly found out you can't go to the local Home Depot and hardware stores and find anything," said Sean Hunt. "Pretty much everything has to be custom made."

The Robars who bought their house 25 years ago, did a gut renovation of the kitchen. A master carpenter and potter, Dan built all of the cabinetry and made the tiles by hand in his basement workshop. 

"This is our butler's pantry," Colleen said. "Dan made all the tiles. One of our focal points to our whole house is this cabinet that he made. And within the cabinets there is some beautiful stained glass - there is an artisan out in Brighton that took care of that for us.

"Dan actually made this floor, he pounded over 3,000 tiles, hand glazed every one, positioned them, laid them, did the mortar. A total labor of love. These amazing built-ins with all the leaded glass. You'll notice in our house there are a lot of king and queen wood carvings.

"In our kitchen Dan has put tiles of queens and kings in a lot of fixtures and furniture."

Colleen then shows the sunroom.

"It's a great spot to sit and read the newspaper on the weekend and then head out into the backyard," she said.

The backyard is a peaceful oasis with a natural feel and recently added koi pond.

Next door the front porch of Sean and Amber's historic 4,400-square foot home was the setting for their 2007 wedding.

"The house was kept in very good shape, we're only the third owners of the home," Sean said. "We were lucky enough that the 6-foot wainscoting was left intact, never painted. We have triple barrel vaulted ceilings that run the length of the house."

The home's original kitchen was very small and now serves as the laundry room.  The couple built an addition on the back of the house, creating a roomier more functional kitchen. 

Amber found the cabinetry while shopping online.

"I was typing in on Craigslist and this arts and crafts style kitchen popped up," she said. "And Sean cooks and so he had complained the kitchen was very small and wanted to renovate it. So we went to DeGulio (Kitchen Studio) a place in Birmingham, that was selling off their floor model - and it's exactly what we would have picked out."

The home's sunroom opens to the kitchen and features original Terrazzo tile.

In the living room Pewabic tile surrounds the large fireplace and the original built-ins feature beautiful French doors with beveled glass.

The painstaking job of restoring and enhancing a historic home isn't for everyone, but it's one both the Hunts and Robars wouldn't trade for anything.

"Living in a historic neighborhood is great, the houses are huge, they take a lot of time but overall it's a pride thing," Sean said.

"Just to come home every day and see a piece of history makes it worth it," Dan said.

Interesting note the Robars bought their home 25 years ago for $160,000 dollars. Obviously they have invested a lot of money, blood sweat and tears since then. But there are some remarkable real estate opportunities for people in the city if they're willing to put in the time and work.

Both of the homes we showed you are on the Indian Village Home & Garden tour this weekend Saturday and Sunday. You can purchase tickets online HERE.

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