Previous month:
June 2008
Next month:
August 2008

Shell Lake Furniture

Fireplace Wisconsin's Beaver Manufacturing produces several lines of furniture under the name Shell Lake - including a number very attractive, sturdy & well-designed Mission Revival pieces. This slat bed, hall bench, bookcase and "gentleman's chest" are some of my favorites, but all of their pieces are very nice.

They also sell a line of Shaker-inspired goods in the Lakeside Furniture line, and take custom commissions on a regular basis. Should you be near Shell Lake, Wisconsin, please do stop and visit their showroom & factory.

a little Mission can go a long way


The New York Times' Marianne Rohrlich had a nice article on contemporary furniture makers producing new pieces of Mission Revival furniture - some original designs & some based on historical patterns. Read the full article.

In the early 20th century, between Art Nouveau and Art Deco, furniture was produced in the Arts and Crafts, Mission and Craftsman styles. Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, Greene & Greene and others from that era have inspired generations of furniture makers whose designs bear great resemblance to theirs. This heavy wood furniture — either the original pieces or the many reproductions — can be used to decorate an entire living space, or, used sparingly in eclectic homes, make a big statement.

1. The Craftsman Three-Drawer Buffet with glass doors has a dark oak finish; $379 from (877) 537-8539 or

2. A company called From the Source, with stores in Chelsea and Dumbo, will hold a sale in its Greenpoint, Brooklyn, warehouse from Oct. 5 to 12. Merchandise includes dining chairs, tables and cabinets, some produced in the spirit of Arts and Crafts. The teak chairs shown will be $99 each (they were $185 to $215), and the teak chest, 59 inches wide by 22 inches deep by 32 ½ inches high, will be $1,280 (regularly $1,600); 69 West Street (Noble Street), (718) 729-3026 or

(several other firms are profiled in the article)

"ultimate Craftsman" in Manhattan Beach CA: $2,425,000

A nice bit of 1997 conspicuous consumption: 4100 square feet on a 5400 sf lot, 6 bedrooms & 5 1/2 baths (including a detached guest apartment over the three car garage. Designed by Apollo Guizot (whoever that is - I've never heard of him) "after Pasadena's Gamble House." High-end kitchen, cherry built-ins, large wine cooler; Honduran Mahogany & Indonesian Teak accents, stained-glass windows, the required spa tub for two and large master closet. Unfortunately, it looks a bit thrown-together, as if it were designed by several different architects; the master bath, all white-on-white, is straight out of 1979, while some rooms have a generic character broken up only by pretty light fixtures or built-ins.

It's at 560 35th (at Blanche) in Manhattan Beach's Tree Section; next to Sand Dune Park, and unfortunately just a few blocks away from one of the Southern California's largest oil refineries (and, on a positive note, the beach).

spec solar windows in your next unlimited-budget project

Solarwindow Folks have been talking about solar windows for a long time - glass windows that act as solar collectors and electrical generators. They've finally made it to the consumer market, but they are - for now at least - prohibitively expensive. As Crunchgear reports,

According to the company, the electricity produced through the panes will be just enough to power a PC and recharge a cell phone. The electricity will be tapped via USB ports.

On sunny days, the new windowpanes are supposed to generate up to 70 watts of electricity per square meter of glass. The solar cells have a power generation efficiency of 7 to 8%. The glass (thickness: 10.5mm) will prevent up to 90% of sunlight coming into a room and therefore reduce air conditioning costs.

The invention comes at a high price, though. Nihon Telecommunication System charges $1,900 per square meter in average but still expects to sell 10,000 windowpanes annually.

So, given the price, you'll have to "power a PC and recharge a cell phone" continuously for the next 60 years or so just to break even. Maybe, now that the technology is out there, they'll be ready for real-world applications at real-world prices within a few years.

living in a bigger home - without remodeling

Our friend Joel McDonald sends the following dispatch:

Does your house seem too small? There are a few inexpensive things you can do that will make your home seem larger to guests and prospective buyers. This can certainly be an advantage when you are selling a smaller home. You may well like the results enough to reduce the urgency of moving!

  1. Wall Color – Use colors that give a warm feeling such as red, orange and browns. These colors can make a room look larger and more welcoming. To give a room added depth, you might want to try the approach of using light shades on three walls of the room and a coordinated darker tone of the same color on the other one.
  2. Using Light – When your home is small, lighting becomes very important. To make a room appear larger there should be plenty of light to increase an impression of being unconfined. Shine lights on walls so they will look brighter. Consider having controls installed that will allow you to adjust the intensity of the lighting in each room for different times of day.
  3. Minimize the Furniture – Rooms that have too much furniture in them will look smaller. The more crowded a room is, the smaller it will appear. Be sure not to crowd your furniture together when you want to make a room look larger. Avoid putting large armchairs and sofas in small spaces. To maximize space, try to use dual purpose furniture. An example would be a that opens up for magazine or pillow storage avoids the need for space that would be taken by a second dedicated item.
  4. Accessories – The accessories you use to decorate your house have an impact on how large or small it appears. Use light colored curtains to allow light to come in during the daytime. Choose light colored furniture, or as an expedient you can use light colored covers and accent pieces for the furniture, because choosing light colors will usually give a more relaxed, open appearance to the room.
  5. Storage Plan – Having efficient storage is an important consideration in limited spaces. The more clutter in your home, the smaller and less attractive it will look. Select storage systems and solutions that fit your family's needs and lifestyle. When you eliminate clutter, your house will seem more appealing to guests and prospective buyers – and you will be happier there too.
  6. Mirrors Can Add Size – Use wall mirrors in carefully planned locations to give the appearance of depth to a room. There is hardly anything you can do that will be more effective in making a room appear to be larger. Mirrors can be attractive in themselves, and they serve the additional and very pertinent purpose of adding apparent size rather directly to a small room.

These techniques can save you a lot of expense and effort in the necessary task of making it more attractive and marketable. Given all the things you have to do in preparing a home for sale, these suggestions are among the best ways to improve the value of your home as well as simply making it look great.

This content was provided by your Denver real estate experts in Colorado, Automated Homefinder.

Flesher + Foster Architecture: Pacific Grove remodel

1106craftsman_e Daniel Gregory's article, excerpted Sunset magazine (visit the site for the full article and a photo tour & more):

There it sat — a forlorn and decaying stucco-and-shingle house with a sagging roof and disintegrating entry porch. That’s what Polly Moore saw on her hunt for a home in Pacific Grove, California.

But Moore sensed potential: The house had good bones, a great location on Monterey Bay, and most intriguing of all — the 1914 structure was designed by Julia Morgan, the architect of San Simeon’s Hearst Castle. With the help of architect Gretchen Flesher, Moore and her husband, Stuart Builder, looked past the disrepair to find a one-of-a-kind Craftsman-style treasure well worth restoring.

Bringing back the home’s original beauty, however, required a long list of projects: building a new entry porch; strengthening the roof; resheathing the exterior; replacing the 90-year-old plumbing and electrical systems; and updating the bathrooms.

Flesher + Foster, the firm hired to do the majority of the work on this project, has a long history of historically-accurate remodels and even some conservation work. Unfortunately - and for no good reason - their website doesn't do more than give a quick slideshow of a few of their more impressive projects. Too bad!

photograph by Thomas J. Story, from Sunset magazine

woodworking injuries - aka "stupid tablesaw tricks"

As always, please use proper safety procedures and gear when using tools that are sharp, pointy, or that could otherwise hurt you or anyone in the vicinity (click for the full, gory thing):


l-r, top to bottom: a b ? d e f

Thanks to the many clumsy woodworkers (and I include myself in that number) on Flickr for these images. Please note that I have left off the most graphic, just so you don't lose your lunch.

world's tiniest violin playing for UK estate owners

Apparently, the descendents of the English super-rich are burdened with the maintenance costs of their rapidly-crumbling estates, and must nibble away at their fortunes - accrued, as one Metafilter commenter notes, "through centuries of feudalism, tenanting and clearances," - just to keep these structures from falling down. And the National Trust isn't well funded to cover the costs of maintaining any but the most "exceptional" properties.

It comes down to the rich looking for handouts while the thousands of historic homes owned and lived in by working people must be maintained on our own dime. "To those who have much, more will be given; to those who have little, more will be taken away" - the key to socialism for the rich, the only kind of socialism we have here in the US, and apparently something the rich require more of in the UK.

Stickley on Craigslist, West Coast

A few tidbits to crave:

  • L&JG Stickley daybed; Westwood CA: $4950
  • early Stickley rocker, needs work; Cottage Grove OR: $500
  • contemporary Stickley Morris-style recliner by La-Z-Boy; Redmond WA: $150
  • pair of signed L&JG sidechairs; Seattle WA: $775
  • spindle-sided Morris chair; Los Angeles CA: $3200
  • 12-year-old rocker; Monrovia CA: $350
  • Stickley #706 reproduction drop-front desk, mahogany; San Luis Obispo CA: $2250
  • contemporary Stickley TV cabinet; Mission Viejo CA: $900
  • signed Gustav Stickley #626 round table; Burlingame CA: $2600

looking for a Stickley #634 or similar

0185 Now that their kids have graduated from drawing on the kitchen table, a family in Culver City CA is looking for a reproduction Stickley #634 (the 5-leg dining table) or similar - a round, expandable-with-leaves trestle dining table.

Know of a craftsperson who makes one? Seen one in an antique store recently? Email the prospective buyer.

And if there's something you've been hunting for, please do let us know and we'll do our best to help you find it!

for sale: 1922 bungalow in Fairfax CA, $1,295,000

Yes, it's beautiful. In point of fact, it's absolutely gorgeous. Nice lawns; great brickwork and interior architecture; a nice kitchen and the landscaping is attractive too. 1800 square feet, 3/2.5. And of course, my inner consumer who always wants, wants, wants - he wants this house.

But ... it's well over a million dollars. Something its builder, who subscribed to the idea of simple, straightforward living for a price that most people could afford, would shudder at. This house has been reinvented as something so grand and rare that it requires a real estate agent with a Harvard JD to sell it.

I'm not against rewarding people for their work (or, I guess, for holding onto property until it reaches ridiculous heights of "value"). But it is shocking to see something like this - a perfect example of a populist architecture, something built to last but also to be affordable, selling for a price that less than 1/4 of 1% of the population can ever hope to pay. An entire middle-class movement made precious by collectors, to the point that none of the people such homes were imagined to be for could possibly even participate.