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Decor Score: A Little Effort Turns Home Into an Arts & Crafts Showplace

Decor200604101apby Rose Bennett Gilbert, Copley News Service
reprinted with permission

Q: Can you fix my broken heart? We both fell in love with the cutest little 1920s bungalow, all Arts and Crafts, but it only has two bedrooms and one bath and we just found out we're expecting twins! We've given in and decided to buy a house that's now under construction in a development. While we have a chance to choose our own materials, in the kitchen, for example, what can you suggest that's Arts and Craftsy?

A: Funny you should ask. I've just been browsing a couple of informational and inspirational books on the very subject of the Arts and Crafts aesthetic and how to have it in your own home.

(Printed in 2002) Bungalows is part of the "Updating Classic America" series from Taunton Books. Co-authors M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman include a chapter on building brand-new bungalows: how to incorporate modern technology without compromising the style and vintage charm of this most-American of home styles.

The authors show and tell how to add the details that distinguish the Arts and Crafts attitude inside the signature low-lying profile and porch found on most authentically old bungalows. For examples, you'll want abundant wood mouldings around windows, doors, floors and ceilings; fireplaces faced with stone or tile; prairie-style windows and expanses of hardwood floors, usually made of oak. Stained glass windows here and there are also of the look.

The second book well worth consulting focuses on Stickley Style (Simon & Schuster, $40). David Cathers, who co-authored the book with architectural photographer Alexander Vertikoff, certainly knows his stuff: he's also a trustee of Craftsman Farms, Gustav Stickley's experimental farm in New Jersey, now a National Historic Landmark.

Responding to the surge of interest in Arts and Crafts buildings and furnishings, a number of manufacturers have revived styles from the period. The once-deceased Stickley Furniture Co. itself now thrums anew, turning out Craftsman classics along with other traditional styles up in Manlius, N.Y. (

Arts and Crafts kitchen cabinetry is another notable revival. Even David Cathers might be fooled by the kitchen in the photo we show here. What looks like a historic site is really a recently fitted-out new kitchen that features oak cabinets from Wood-Mode ( With its straight lines, simple detailing and appropriate use of such background materials as the iridescent tiles over the cooktop and flat timbering on the ceiling, it looks for all the world like the real, old thing.

Bottom line: do a little homework and you can easily work up your new home in classic Arts & Crafts style.

Q: Ever see something in the trash that's just too good to be thrown away?

A: All the time, say New Yorkers, whose sidewalk curbs may constitute the world's longest flea market or, better yet, recycling center. Entire apartments have been furnished with finds from the street, where the free shopping's not just for the funky. Top interior design Albert Hadley (whose clients have included the Astors and the Rockefellers) once told me, "My friends are used to having me stop cabs and race back to pick up something I've seen on the curb."

No surprise then that an eco-minded recycler named Jim Nachlin has started, a Web site that alerts others to good spottings on the sidewalk, say, a pile of old wooden shutters on East 63rd Street, or two French-style chairs down on Bleecker. Speed is of the essence in the city that never sleeps. Spotters photograph the treasures with their cell phones, then e-mail location details and - most crucial - the time of the sighting. "Sometimes things will be gone in five minutes," Nachlin told New York Times reporter Michael Cannell.

But scavengers who can get there in a New York minute, not only take home free treasures, they "reduce landfill, save money and clean up the streets," reasons Nachlin, a computer programmer who lives in a tiny apartment with a lot of clutter of his own.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at [email protected]. © Copley News Service