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Home Portfolio's home of the week

Image1400Geri Hadley and Ron Coté's bay area bungalow, built by Architect Robert Wylie, features some really beautiful tile throughout in decidedly non-traditional installations. "Usually," writes Wylie, "tile is an afterthought, a utilitarian choice, but here it was integral to the house's connection with the visual grammar and the philosophy of the Craftsman movement."

The full text of the article, originally printed in Traditional Home magazine, is also available online.

Object Fetish: Ebay, April 2005


Lots of good stuff on Ebay this week - tomorrow I'll go through A&C items on various Craigslist regional sites, but today I've got a few deals from ebay to share.

Craftsman in the Movies

Zathurahousethe new Columbia/Tristar kids' film Zathura, based on the childrens book of the same name, seems (at least from the trailer) to take place primarily inside a beautiful Greene-style Craftsman home. Take a look at the beautiful stained glass in the front door and the cloud lifts throughout the house! The film is directed by actor (and now director) Jon Favreau, who I have been told lives in a gorgeous Craftsman in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

What are some other films that feature Craftsman structures in supporting roles?

Urban Hardwoods

Pic3Seattle's Urban Hardwoods make furniture with a variety of reclaimed woods, primarily urban trees felled for a variety of reasons, from disease to construction to weather. Some of their work is very contemporary in design, but even if modern isn't your thing, there's plenty of beautiful grain and hand-work to see on their site.

Urban Hardwoods was founded in 2002 to reclaim urban trees and to make enduring furniture that honors the natural beauty of the wood. (The company) grew naturally out of the vision of ... founder Jim Newsom, who began salvaging beached logs with his tugboat from the shores of Elliot Bay in the late 1990s. What he discovered in the process of acquiring and using urban wood is the incredible beauty of local trees. Combining these materials with fresh designs and exceptional craftsmanship is a synergistic endeavor with delightful results.

Berkeley Brown Shingle


I've probably mentioned the houses I grew up in before - Spanish revival stucco bungalows, mostly - but I recently found a few online resources devoted to a particularly popular style of Craftsman home in my hometown: the brown-shingle craftsman. After my parents separated, my father lived (and still lives) in a brown-shingle home built by James Plachek, a contemporary of Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck, a specialist in churches and libraries (and who experimented with some early techniques for improving energy efficiency), who as a young man was a student of Morgan's or perhaps an apprentice of some sort.

Berkeley's mild weather fades the shingles from a hearty golden hue to, over time, a beautiful deep red-brown, a very specific color that I grew up associating with comfort and security. These houses dapple Berkeley's neighborhoods, from West Berkeley all the way up into the top of the hills, usually getting larger (due to the income of their owners / builders) and more integrated with the landscape (due to Berkeley's steep hills, rocky outcroppings and dense Eucalyptus, pine and redwood thickets) the further up you go. You don't often find too many in one place (although there are a few concentrated little pockets of them here and there) - they seem to be arranged almost artistically throughout the city and its neighbors, Oakland, El Cerrito, Piedmont, Kensington and Albany. Some haven't been changed in a generation, and others have been updated with modern floorplans and accessories. And even one of my favorite restaurants is a brown shingle! I suppose once I win the lottery ...

book review: The New Bungalow

book-iconessays by Matthew Bialecki, Christian Gladu, Jill Kessenich, Jim McCord, Su Bacon

"Could anyone have predicted in the early 1920s, when the original Arts & Crafts movement died out, that it would enjoy a revival that would start some fifty years later and last longer than the original movement?" So begins architect Matthew Bialecki's introduction to Gibbs-Smith's The New Bungalow. In this and other essays, the authors investigate not so much the classic designs and styles of the American Arts & Crafts movement, but rather their modern and contemporary reinterpretations in architectural, interior and furniture design.

As Bialecki points out, A&C style "has evolved into a national style phenomenon," where cheap and often poorly-made "Mission-style" furniture is available even at big-box retailers, and local restaurants and hotels across the country are designed in modernized variants of the Prairie, Craftsman and Mission aesthetic. Bialecki, in the first essay, proposes that a modern proto-luddite rejection of the mass-produced-in-appearance (which also, ironically, drives sales of mass-produced faux-Craftsman goods) might be promoting the increasing popularity of nature-based architecture, specifically the Craftsman-styled open plans that emphasize natural materials, light and landscape. (read the rest of the review after the link, below)

Continue reading "book review: The New Bungalow" »

Catalina Tile

7622798_1c44deb7a4I spent a number of childhood summers at Toyon Bay on Catalina Island, and in Catalina's biggest (almost only) town of Avalon first saw the colorful tile that was made there at the beginning of this century. I was back in Avalon a little over a week ago and was able to get pictures of a few examples of Catalina tile, most of which are up in the Hewn & Hammered Flickr group.

Even though the Catalina Tile Co. stopped making tile many years ago, a number of talented artists are making both faithful reproductions of hand-glazed Catalina tile and designs (including some pretty amazing murals) based on the Catalina style.

I've seen more and more Catalina tile in private collections and at museums recently - I guess folks are dusting off pieces that their parents and grandparents picked up on weekend vacations earlier in the century. A few books on the subject - both general histories and collecting guides - are available.

Missouri Bungalows

632bonton003fI live in Sacramento, California where a well-built and maintained vintage Craftsman home in one of the older, tree-lined neighborhoods of Midtown runs at quite a premium. I grew up in Berkeley, California, where such houses are even more in demand and real estate costs are so high that dual-earner families must often come close to indenturing themselves or selling off a child to afford a home. However, there are parts of the country where beautiful homes are affordable: for example, this beautiful home, 632 Bonton St. in the charming town of St. Joseph, Missouri, is for sale for $120,000, which makes me shiver when I consider what I paid for my smaller and plainer Mission Revival home. The Bonton house has some unique features, such as this sort of Craftsman / Queen Anne facade with a recessed dormer, an inglenook and a beautiful tiled fireplace, a second fireplace in a formal parlor, a second-floor sleeping porch, sliding pocket doors, and some great internal woodwork. I wonder if I could telecommute from St. Joseph?

Sugartop Furniture


I'm not sure exactly how to classify much of the work of Meredith, NH based Sugartop Furniture; a lot of owner/proprietor Jeff McAllister's work is a sort of modern Shaker, but there are very strong elements of Asian-influenced Mission and Craftsman design present as well. Some of his work – a cherry and curly maple coffee table, a curly maple computer desk, a cherry and maple blanket chest - are recognizeably Shaker, with the clean and spare and very modern looking lines of that style. However, items such as these inlaid media shelves are much more fanciful and expressive.

And when visiting Jeff's site, make sure and read his illustrated article showing the entire tree-to-finished-furniture process.

Ma_3711_tigThere are a number of really fine artists and craftspeople making doors in traditional Craftsman styles right now (we've got a few photos up in the galleries of Brian Lee's excellent and very creative work at Mendocino Doors), but what stood out about was more their business model and application than anyhing else - the doors are nice, the glass good-looking if limited, but they have this "door quote wizard" on their site that allows you to go through a 10-12 step process of specifying everything from finish to sidelights and transom, size, drip cap, hardware and of course general design. Owners Todd and Lori Preimsberg sell only over the Internet and keep their stock in Renton, Washington.