For Joanna Peterman, duct tape is much more than an adhesive.
"I redid my whole kitchen with duct tape," said 68-year-old Peterman, of Warren, gesturing to the zebra print duct tape that accents the bright colors splashed on her ceiling, walls and cabinets.
"It started about a year ago when she saw the zebra print seat covers I got for Christmas," said Kira Demetruk of Girard, a close friend who helped her execute her remodel.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Jennifer Shima
Joanna Peterman is shown in the bedroom of her Warren home. Peterman reuses materials in her home for decor. She recently redecorated her kitchen using duct tape.
"I saw her seat covers in her car and I said, 'Ooh, zebra!' And I got this idea," said Peterman.
"I duct taped the kitchen because I kept tearing up the cabinets," Peterman said. "When I got the wheelchair, I'd accidentally back into the cabinets and just tear up everything. I didn't have the money to use regular materials to redo it, so I used plastic, duct tape, and a little bit of fabric. I call it a poor woman's decorations."
"This is some of my handiwork, right here," Peterman said as she pointed to gashes in the doorframe hidden by plastic and fabric curtains.
Peterman was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 1978, and she's been in a wheelchair for three years.
"I don't want to just give up because I have muscular dystrophy and Graves disease, and I just found out that I have a type of dystrophy that will cause me to be paralyzed from the neck down," said Peterman. "It just keeps me going. I'm always doing something and trying to make something out of nothing."
Her kitchen explodes with creativity, from duct-taped ceiling fan blades to a nightlight made entirely from duct tape to placemats made of the same.
"Everyone knows that you can do anything with duct tape and it's absolutely true," said Amy DeWille, senior brand manager for Duck brand duct tape, based in Avon, Ohio.
DeWille said that some of the most popular projects are purses, wallets, and flowers made of duct tape, but that she's seen unusual projects as well. "I saw a person on Facebook who made an enormous deer out of Duck brand duct tape, but I would say the kitchen is one of the most unique that I've heard of."
"I loved working on it, it was a lot of fun," said Demetruk. "Little by little, it got done and every day she'd have a different idea or I'd have a different idea. She likes everything bright and different. The doors are my favorite. I love the little stripes and stuff. She let me do (the kitchen) door pretty much how I want it. She brought my creativity side back.
"Duct tape is good decoration," Demetruk said. "They have all the fun kinds of duct tape now."
"It used to be just your grandfather's silver duct tape and now we have over 240 colors, designs, and patterns; everything from paw prints to elves, to Justin Bieber and One Direction," said DeWille. "I'm a 20 year veteran of the fashion industry and if you had told me that I would be this close to fashion and creativity by working with tape ... I would have been like, no way! If I hadn't been here for this ride, I wouldn't believe it."
Peterman's unique and vivacious home decor doesn't stop with the kitchen. Every room in Peterman's home is an elaborate demonstration of creativity and resourcefulness.
"It's all used," said Peterman. "I try to tell my grandkids that you can make your house look nice with next to nothing."
"The pillows are made out of pants," she said, gesturing to the pillows on her bed. "Those are pant legs. One of these pillows was a sweater, one was a dress. That's my mind. I can't walk, so this is what I do."
Peterman's home is decorated exclusively with found items and things she's made herself.
"I sat on the bed with the sewing machine and I sewed every stitch in here, including the bedspread and I made all the curtains in the house.
"I'm always thinking, what can I do with this?" said Peterman. "Everybody who comes in here likes it. I haven't met anybody yet who didn't like it."