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and now for something a little different

I'm trying a little test today - "automatically" selected video from YouTube, that will hopefully be on-topic and at least somewhat interesting. I won't use this too often, just as a space filler to give you folks something to look at when I'm out of town or on a slow news day. The video may be different for different viewers and at different times, so feel free to reload the page for something new if the first channel isn't doing it for you.

A&C home gets modern upgrades in Alameda, CA

Picture_1 Zahid Sardar, the San Francisco Chronicle's design editor, is one of the few architecture journalists out there who understands the Arts & Crafts Movement and its importance to the Bay Area.

Yesterday's paper included the following article by Sardar on a recent remodel of Berkeley architect David Burton's 1908 home; visit for the whole story.

Berkeley architect David Burton's 1908 Arts and Crafts house in Alameda, which he and his wife, Jordan Battani, purchased in 2001, had been altered in the shag carpet, avocado green and harvest gold era of the late '70s. Outside, the shingles were painted powder blue.

With new paint to mitigate all that, they made do until five years ago, when they needed more space for Battani's mother, who moved into the 2,700-square-foot home. "It was easy. We felt we are rattling around in a large space," says Burton, 43, whose son was only 3 then.

Burton used to work for Bob Swatt, an architect whose taste for modernism he shares, and so the skylit, eat-in kitchen he and Battani envisioned was to be modern. But, he also wanted it to mesh with their Arts and Crafts home, whose roomy closets, oak floors, dark wood built-ins and leaded glass details are intact.

Anyone who reads this site regularly (OK, I flatter myself, I realize there are only a half dozen of you and my mom) knows that I take a pretty dim view of redesigning old homes in anything but an at least attempted orthodox fashion. However, this is an attractive remodel. For the most part, the materials complement the house's own materials and design, and the architect added light to focus attention more on historic detail, and only in a few cases (such as the removal of dark exposed beams) removed what I consider attractive portions of the original design. All in all, very pretty and very effective.

Wende Cragg's Arts & Crafts appliques

Wende Cragg designs and creates unique Arts & Crafts appliques, which she sells on pillows and other textiles. While it looks like all her designs are originals, they are certainly not contemporary and would fit well in any Arts & Crafts home.

Cragg recently bought a computer that helps her immensely in printing the patterns. She cuts, glues and sews everything by hand and works mostly in dupioni silk. Prices for her pillows begin at $270 (Daffodils, upper left, $450)...

Contact Cragg by phone at (415) 453-6762 or online at [email protected].

Thanks to reader Tobie Lurie, who sent in an article on Cragg's work from this past Wednesday's San Francisco Chronicle. Visit that link for photographs.

a very special bungalow in Oakland, California

Stephen Coles (whose eyes, unfortunately, are drawn much more to what I often remind him are the sterile, soulless lines of Mid Century Modern) emailed me yesterday with a heads-up on a particularly pretty bungalow in Oakland, California's Rockridge district, photographed inside and out by Flickr user The Jaundiced Eye, a regular in the Hewn & Hammered photo pool on that site. The house is, of course, TJE's own residence, and it really is an especially comfortable, attractive and well-designed space. It is, in the author's own words,

A Japanese pagoda-influenced California Craftsman. Get a load of the sleeping porch up top. This place is huge, but what makes it really remarkable is how intact it is. No one screwed it up. Not even the kitchen!

And how did he manage to snag such a showpiece home in one of the most architecturally desirable neighborhoods in the Bay Area? Therein lies a story:

This happened very quickly. I found it on the web while I was in Florida visiting my parents and sent Len an email. He dealt with the rest of it himself. When he picked me up from the airport he drove me to the place and parked in front (about 11:30pm). encouragingly, we drew the attention of several suspicious neighbors who actually came out of their houses. I liked that people obviously keep an eye on the neighborhood. The next day Len met the realtors and the owner and brought our house resume that showed all of the work we did on our 1910 Edwardian in SF. The owners really like Len. About two days later they offered it to us. They had rejected over 25 other offers because they didn't think the people understood what the house is, or how to care for it. Fortunately the lease on our SF townhouse expires on April 14th, so we are ready to go. The new house is in Rockridge which is part of Oakland. It is a largely Arts & Crafts neighborhood that is right next to Berkeley, a block away from College Avenue which is a hopping little street with restaurants,clubs and a European style market. I think we will be very happy here. I already have dibs on the top room with the sleeping porch for my office.

foreclosure tours in Stockton, CA (via NPR)

A few weeks ago, Rachel Myrow reported on NPR's Morning Edition that a company is giving bus tours - called "Repo Home Tours" - of foreclosed homes in Stockton, California. The tours are operated by a realtor to show groups of ballsy buyers the kinds of values that can be had in the foreclosure capitol of the USA. One in 27 Stockton households, according to Realtytrac, is either in the process of being foreclosed upon or has already lost their primary residence.

Check out the short article and listen to the report here.

2 bed, 1* ba in St. Helena CA: $899,000

You too can own a pretty but very modest bungalow in California's wine country (map) for the bargain price of just under a million dollars. This 1,223 square foot brown shingle highwater has 2 bedrooms, one bathroom and sits on a 5,663 square foot lot. The gourmet kitchen is attractive, although the black cabinets are a little overdramatic and don't work all that well with the rest of the house. A full basement includes an (additional? not sure - the listing says only one bath, so maybe the primary is in the basement) bathroom, an office and a wine storage area.

Kevin O'Connor (This Old House) on Charles & Hudson

Charles & Hudson is one of the few house-issue blogs I read regularly, and today provides another reason why you should too: yesterday, they published a very interesting interview with Kevin O'Connor, host of the television program This Old House.

C&H: What is your take on the growth of online DIY sites especially independent publishers such as ourselves or Do you ever refer to any particular online resources besides

Kevin: The growth in DIY is remarkable. On the one hand I love it because I think it's vindication for all of us house lovers and do-it-yourselfers. There are a lot of great shows and web sites out there that never existed and that's great.

On the other hand there's a lot of crap out there too. I can think of a dozen shows and web sites that wouldn't hold my interest for a nanosecond.

Wow, I sure hope he's not talking about us.

great moments in remodeling: a very pretty cutout

Cutoutkitchentrim Chris Henry, aka Flickr user somefoolonline, recently finished a bit of remodeling that included a cutout between his kitchen and dining room. Not a big deal, you say. I've seen plenty of cutouts, you say. But have you ever seen one as nice as this? I don't think so. The combination of paint color, vintage stove, the beautifully-finished wood and the rooms themselves are absolutely sublime. I'd certainly like to see more of their home if it looks anything like this!

stuff I like: glass shades from Berkeley's Ohmega Too


Ohmega Too - near the similarly-named Omega Salvage on San Pablo Avenue near the Berkeley / Oakland border - is a treasure-trove of houseparts. Doors, medicine cabinets, a constantly-changing stock of restored antique bath fixtures and plenty of new hardware, they've got it all. But what they're really known for is lighting. The sheer immensity of their collection of shades at almost any size you can imagine will be a delight to any owner of an historic home; I dare you to go and not buy something.

more library card catalogs & other storage - craigslist


I know people love these things. I do too ... I just don't have anywhere to fit more furniture in my house, especially not with the step tansu that I'd like to wedge into the living room somehow. Here are several I've found this week on Craigslists around the country:

west coast


east coast

  • petite tabletop 6-drawer card file in Ithaca NY: $50enormous, ex-built-in 19th-century dark wood
  • 72-drawer library card file near Boston MA: $1200
  • 14-drawer library card file (5x8 cards) with two missing drawers in Browns Mills NJ: $45

south & southwest

  • tabletop 2-drawer Remington Rand oak card file in Crawfordville FL: $80
  • wood and plastic 60-drawer & 3-shelf library card file in Jacksonville FL: $650
  • two large four-drawer wooden file cabinets from Library Bureau SoleMalers, early 20th century, near Orlando FL: $335 each
  • 15-drawer, 2-shelf tabletop library card file, includes table, near San Antonio TX: $200

ask an expert: caring for hardwood floors

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's always-useful Ask an Expert column dealt this past week with something we all need to be concerned about but often overlook: caring for our hardwood floors.

Q: I have a beautiful 1925 Craftsman bungalow. The house is blessed with wood floors. I have noticed a black spot near the doorway to the kitchen (a heavy-traffic area) and also in the corner of the family room (a not-so-heavy-traffic area). What are my options in dealing with theses spots? And, more importantly, where do they come from so I can stop them from coming back? There are no leaks anywhere near the spots, and the floor is always dry (except when I mop). Do you have any suggestions on types of cleaners I can use to keep the floors looking shiny and new? I've been using Murphy's Oil Soap. - D.W., Bedford

A: From Roger Somogyi of Lamb Floor Fashion Center (30840 Lake Shore Blvd., Willowick, 440-943-6722):

As you know, hardwood floors are natural, beautiful and timeless. Caring and consistent proper cleaning and maintenance will ensure that they remain that way.

As for the black spots, I would have to assume that it is some type of moisture-related problem, possibly pet urine or mold. With your home being a 1925 vintage, it is likely that whatever has caused the black spots has penetrated the surface, and a plank replacement is the best way to permanently solve the problem. The wood planks that show the spots can be removed, new, unfinished planks can be installed, and the new planks can be custom stained to match the color and finish of your existing floor. A reputable wood repair and refinishing company should be able to help.

Cleaning techniques vary depending on the type of finish that is on the uppermost layer of the floor, which is called the wear layer. Knowing the type of finish is important to properly clean a wood floor.

read the entire column with information on caring for a variety of finishes

for sale: restored Knoxville shingle bungalow, $289,000

Knoxville is a great town with some really terrific old neighborhoods, and for the most part, citizens who delight in historic preservation and are trying consistently to keep chains, strip-malls, big boxes and other detritus out of historic districts full of pretty old homes.

Knox Heritage is the most active of the city-wide architecture rejuvenation and conservation development companies, regularly buying old properties and cleaning them up for resale as part of their Vintage Homes Program. They also regularly offer neighborhood tours, raise money to preserve endangered properties and keep track of threatened structures throughout the region.

Metro Pulse, Knoxville's alt weekly, recently ran a note & listing for one such home that has to change hands due to an unfortunate job relocation - the owner, Amy Quimby (who knows old homes - she's an executive at Home & Garden Television) - is very sad to leave it, but she's got to move on to Denver.

The 2650 sq ft, 4 bed, 2.5 bath home - at 321 E. Oklahoma in Knoxville - is going for $289,000, and it's gorgeous inside and out.

Crow House named to National Register of Historic Places

American ceramicist and painter Henry Varnum Poor's Rockland NY home - known semi-affectionately as "crow house," after the birds that harassed Poor during the construction of the structure - has been added to the NRHP. Oddly, the town that hosts it - Clarkstown NY - either refused or was unable to purchase it themselves, so a neighbor (either richer or more interested in historic preservation), the town of Ramapo, is in the process of buying it from current owner Arthur Wagner. Wagner bought it a year ago from Peter Poor, son of the artist, for $1.15 million; let's hope he didn't feel a need to make a profit off the public by selling it at a huge mark-up.

The brick home includes some interesting Tudor and castle-like features, including archways, circular stairways, exposed beams, and plenty of hand-crafted furniture made specifically for the site. According to visitors, the hand-made ceramic doorknobs, tiled windowsills and other stone and ceramic inlays are especially attractive; all the decorative ceramics were made by Poor specifically for this project at a kiln on the property. Much of the furniture is American Arts & Crafts.

The New York Times ran an article in 2006 on the race to save the building, which Wagner originally planned to destroy; it includes several photographs.

photo courtesy of the Preservation League of New York State