As Bill West showed me around his 1950s Elmwood ranch house, he pointed out the work he and his partner, Martin Guerra, have done since they moved in 11 years ago. There are built-in shelves, covered patios, new lighting, a remodeled bathroom. All the things you’d expect to find in an updated house. But what makes this one especially intriguing is that West has done all of the work himself. And I don’t mean he and a helper. He really does it all by himself. And his magic doesn’t stop with installing cabinets and building patios. He also redesigned the home’s landscaping, without drawing any plans. He makes fountains out of flower pots. He erected a tool shed that looks like a miniature cottage, and he turns trash heap finds into hand-lettered signs that would retail for hundreds of dollars. But wait. There’s more. West also restores old cars — his garage currently holds an award winning 1950s Thunderbird that West rebuilt entirely by himself.

So I ask him, all agog, "How did you learn to do all this stuff?" A humble grin comes across his face, and in a soft voice that belies his hulky frame, he says, "Somehow, I just figure it out." He learned a lot growing up in an old Victorian house in Ohio. "My mother always had us scraping paint or something," he says.

West agreed to put his home on the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League’s home tour, which is this weekend, in part to promote his new business, Designs West. After years in the corporate world, West recently was laid off, and he’s using his talents to make a living. If you want to hire Bill West as a handyman, carpenter, mechanic, home stager or anything else you can think of, give him a call at 214.333.2200.

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