Fueled by its residents’ love of cars, a loft becomes equal parts garage and dwelling
Kyle Evans and Michael Chetcuti don’t curb their enthusiasm; they park it in the living room.
Their Royal Oak loft, a sort of high-end drive-thru, showcases their shared affinity for automotive art. Among the many original aspects of the industrial-turned-residential space is its ability to accommodate a vehicle indoors, where it becomes “sculpture,” as Evans says.
“It’s not saying, ‘I’m a gearhead.’ It says that what people see as a piece of machinery becomes a piece of sculpture in the living room,” Evans says.
Evans, an exterior stylist for Chrysler and a transportation design instructor at the College for Creative Studies, and Chetcuti, the CEO of Quality Metalcraft Inc., in Livonia, and a principal in Streetcar USA, bring their work home from the office in a big way.
“A lot of us car guys, when we’re hanging out, where do we end up? The garage,” Evans says. “We’re always surrounded by cars. We like to see, feel, and touch the cars we like to have.
“And it’s Detroit. It’s something we’re proud of.”
That said, the pair didn’t want the house to become a museum of kitschy car collectibles. The finishes and furnishings reflect a Detroit-style ability to design and build things.
At Quality Metalcraft, a stamping, engineering, and development company founded by his father, Chetcuti worked his way up from the tool room. The growing company is involved in specialty and niche vehicles and aftermarket parts. In partnership with designer Camilo Pardo, Quality Metalcraft manufactured key stampings for Pardo’s design of the Ford GT.
With Streetcar USA, Chetcuti acquires, manufactures, and markets concepts in the aftermarket and specialty vehicle industries, including the Montana-based Jeep aftermarket legends American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). He’s also a licensed builder.
Their combined skills are reflected in most aspects of the 5,600-square-foot loft that formerly housed Hinson Heating & Air Conditioning. The partners spent two years gutting and refitting the building.
“When I need to find something, nine times out of 10 I’m building it instead of buying it,” Evans says. “I’m conscious about the environment. I like to recycle. We’re always on the lookout for vintage furniture or things we can design.”
The home is a work in progress. Evans says they plan to attach a light fixture to the existing overhead crane so that the fixture can illuminate the dining table on casters (yet to be built) wherever they place it.
“I want the space to be very transformable,” Evans says.
That flexibility makes the loft an automatic hit with children. When young family members visit, “they can drive their remote-control cars all over the place or play with their dolls and not worry about hurting anything. It’s like an enormous basement.”
Although the home is part basement and part garage, it also manages to be sophisticated. The gourmet-quality kitchen is a magnet for guests. The courtyard and second-floor terrace are an asset for summer parties.
Although the loft has industrial underpinnings, it’s remarkably airy, with expansive windows and window walls that open to create indoor-outdoor living.
“I can look across the room and see outside,” Evans says. “It makes me feel comfortable and relaxed,” like the pleasure of the open road.