Input Home Tours: A Fort Wayne artist shares his Craftsman bungalow with a self-made speakeasy bar

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, shuttering bars and restaurants across the U.S., a stained-glass artist in Fort Wayne began working on a home project to give himself hope for better times. 

Kevin Christon constructed a small speakeasy bar in the basement of his Craftsman bungalow in The 05, dreaming of entertaining guests someday. Now that those dreams are becoming a reality, friends are begging him to share the results of his handiwork.

Kevin Christon

This week, we tour Christon’s home in the 1800 block of Alabama Avenue where he lives with his “cool cat” Patsy.

How long have you lived in this home?

I’ve lived here for 10 years.

Kevin Christon spends time with friends in the dining room of his home in The '05.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How long you’ve lived in Fort Wayne and where you work around town.

I moved back to Fort Wayne from Dahlonega, Georgia, as a teen and have lived in the area ever since. I’m an SME at a dairy manufacturing plant here in Fort Wayne. I’m also a stained-glass artist and handyman to friends and family who need a little (sometimes a lot of) help with projects of their own.

A stained-glass window that Kevin Christon created in the living room of his home in The '05.

A stained-glass window that Kevin Christon created in the living room of his home in The '05.

Do you work from home?

I don’t work from home but when I’m home, I’m usually working ON my home!

The kitchen of Kevin Christon's home.

Tell us about your space: How old it is, what type of house/unit it is, how many beds and baths.

This is a 1,100 sq. ft. Craftsman Bungalow with two bedrooms and one bath. It was built from 1929-1931. After a little research, I found that construction came to a halt during the stock crash of 1929.

Kevin Christon spends time with friends in the dining room of his home in The '05.

What inspired you to move into this home, of all places?

When I saw this house, I couldn’t get it off my mind. Craftsman architecture is my absolute favorite. I’ve always been attracted to the substantial, yet simple details throughout Craftsman homes. This house had great bones and all of the chunky woodwork and charm that I was looking for.  

The charcuterie board set-up that Kevin Christon created for guests in the dining room of his home.

Tell us about your neighborhood and what you love about living there.

I can’t say enough about how amazing this neighborhood, and street in particular, is. It’s like looking through a portal of a 1950’s lifestyle with kids playing in the street on a nice day and neighbors getting together on porches. We even have Persian cats, with their own Instagram account, that regularly visit our porches and passers-by. (Shout out to @the05fluffyandfancy!)

Mantle decor in Kevin Christon's speakeasy style bar space.

During COVID-19, at a time when so many Americans are spending more time in their homes than usual, have you found yourself making design updates to your space? If so, what are they?

My updates have been constant during the pandemic. When a project is finished, I feel a sense of accomplishment that lessens the anxiety of what’s going on in the world. It’s nice to have something I’m solely in control of when things seem out of control.

When the lockdowns began, I knew I needed a big project. I began finishing a portion of my wide-open basement into a speakeasy bar. The thought of entertaining my friends in that intimate space, during better times, kept me distracted and inspired enough to finish the task. 

Details on the shelving behind Kevin Christon's basement bar.
How would you describe your design style?

I’d say traditional with a modern spin. I appreciate less cluttered classic form.

Where do you find your design inspiration?

My inspiration is fed by trends I like while incorporating pieces that have special meaning to me. I’ve edited lots of less meaningful pieces over the years in favor of things that have sentimental value. 

Have you faced any design challenges in your current space, and if so, how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge was finding quality furniture that was scaled down for smaller spaces. It took some extra time to find the perfect fit, but it was worth the wait.

Kevin Christon's home is located in The 05 neighborhood of Fort Wayne.

What is your favorite room/space in your home? Tell us about it.

My favorite part of the house varies from season to season. In the summer, my front porch is the star. In this neighborhood, if you’re on the porch, you have no excuse not to visit! Recently, I’m really enjoying the new basement bar. I host dinners and gatherings with friends and family quite often, and it’s proving to be a great place for a little nightcap. It’s like taking a trip to the local watering-hole without leaving the house!

When the pandemic began, stained-glass artist Kevin Christon constructed a speakeasy bar in his basement to build hope for better times.

What is your favorite piece of furniture or décor in your home? Tell us about it.

It would have to be my copper still. I inherited it from my late grandmother who shared lots of stories about her life as a bootlegger’s daughter during Prohibition. This still, along with many others in operation, were part of an interesting (and criminal) time in my family and Fort Wayne’s history. It was also the inspiration for my speakeasy bar, and its copper theme. 

A still that belonged to Kevin Christon's grandmother during the Prohibition Era.

What advice do you have for others looking to update their space in Fort Wayne? Any local shops or resources you would recommend?

Vintage shops and antique stores are always fun places to find a project piece or something I didn’t know I even needed. Niche Market in New Haven has been my go-to for customizable, quality furniture. Also, Contract Interiors is a great place to find flooring choices you can’t find anywhere else in our area.  

Any fun tips or tricks for home updates on a budget?

Painting a room or piece of furniture is the most effective and least expensive way to transform it into something completely new. Learning the basics of a few trades can also stretch your budget in a huge way. Adding your own sweat equity and elbow grease not only saves money, it can give your confidence (maybe ego?) a big boost, too!

Kevin Christon spends time with friends in the kitchen of his home in The '05.

Last but not least, tell us what you love about Fort Wayne and why you are choosing to make your home here?

Fort Wayne IS home. I was born here and have spent much of my life in the Fort Wayne area. I didn’t always want to stick around, but the focus on community and urban development has been fantastic these past few years. The future looks bright for this city, and I’m excited to see what our future here has in store.

Kevin Christon spends time with friends in the dining room of his home in The '05.

Share your space!

As residents “rediscover” their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're seizing the opportunity to explore some of the coolest and most interesting living spaces in Northeast Indiana as a part of our Input Home Tours series.

Want to give us a virtual tour of your cool living space? Send us a picture and brief description at [email protected] for consideration.

Read more articles by Kara Hackett.

Kara Hackett is a Fort Wayne native fascinated by what's next for northeast Indiana how it relates to other up-and-coming places around the world. After working briefly in New York City and Indianapolis, she moved back to her hometown where she has discovered interesting people, projects, and innovations shaping the future of this place—and has been writing about them ever since. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karahackett.