8 lies estate agents will tell you

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Note: this is a partnered post and consideration was received for its publication. Creative Commons-licensed photograph by Paul Mison.

House sellers can make terrible mistakes when dealing with property. These errors in judgement and holes in their knowledge can cost them thousands or tens of thousands of pounds and one of the most desperate is the use of a scurrilous estate agent. Regular studies into the behaviour of an average agent rarely show a positive side, simply because of commonly heard falsehoods such as these:

Idyllic/rustic/peaceful

The art of the short property description is a skilled one. And some words and phraseology, while undoubtedly correct, just don’t sell (‘must sell’, for example).

So other, more effervescent wordsmithery is employed, such as ‘manicured gardens’ or ‘elegant’, even if the former is a patch of grass and the latter is about as dignified as an abattoir. The key lesson; don’t believe anything until you’ve seen it with your own two eyes.

“We’ve already had several people looking around the house already”

or

“We had another offer just after yours that was higher, do you want to match it or beat it?”

Two heads of the same beast, both designed to extract more money. They may not have had anyone even look at the property for three months or longer, but it just so happens that on that particular day a glut of visitors decided to book spots. Or bizarrely, table an offer a couple of thousands of pounds north of yours. Totally unproved, of course.

“You like this place, don’t you? We’ll get a good deal for you”

If they’ve picked up on the fact that it’s perfect for you, then they know that they can exploit your emotions, especially if you’ve spent some period of time searching before landing here. Some clients look at 40 houses over a weekend, others get excited by the first they see and don’t search any further – just be careful not to reveal your hand too early.

“Selling a home is too complex for a non-estate agent.”

It’s 2015. Knowledge on every process and step in selling a home can be obtained online, from advice on photography and writing, to templates of forms, to legal clarification. Companies such as HouseSimple.com can also negotiate and manage the entire process for you – it’s worth looking around before diving in.

‘The fffsss sound’

Estate agent David Pollock writes here about this sound that an agent might make, in the form of a sharp intake of breath, when a buyer puts in a low offer. Sometimes that one sound convinces the buyer that their bid is unrealistic or silly and they bump up the price, costing them several thousand pounds in the process.

“You have to get a mortgage with xx company for this house”

“…because I’ll get a commission that way” is the unsaid communication. Many estate agents have connections with mortgage companies and are keen to pick up a little slice of the transaction.  

“We’ve searched all the mortgage companies and arrived at the best deal”

…which is coincidentally the same mortgage provider mentioned above. It’s very possible that they have scanned hundreds of lenders for deals, but not all of them will benefit the agent or broker.

Before signing up to a mortgage that could cost you thousands of pounds, have a quick search on the Internet, using exactly the same information you gave the estate agent. You might be surprised.


for sale: Mediterranean Revival in Berkeley, CA

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The house I grew up in, in Berkeley, California, is for sale. We moved out in the 1980s, and the current owner/seller has been there since; the house looks mostly unchanged. It's probably the nicest neighborhood in the East Bay, but I am biased ... if you're looking for a beautiful Mediterranean Revival home for a small family, though, you could do much worse. Supposedly it needs about $60,000 worth of work, but if it actually goes for anything near the asking price of $575,000, it'll be a steal; similar houses in the neighborhood frequently sell for over $800,000. My dad planted that gingko tree in the front yard, and the bougainvillea at the base of the steps. I'd love to grab it up myself, but it's both out of my price range and 100 miles away from my office.


ed & alice syszynski: ready to build

We've been big fans of Alice Suszynski's cabinetry ever since we first saw a small cabinet of hers at a bungalow show in San Francisco. Now, Alice has teamed up with her engineer husband Ed to produce a line of ready-to-build kits - small chests, cabinets and boxes intended for jewelry and other precious small items - showing off some of her signature styles. Dream Mountain Studios' ready-to-build line currently includes almost a dozen different designs, all firmly part of the Arts & Crafts tradition - Alice's prairie, bird and floral motifs are my personal favorite.

While you're at it, take a look at Alice's larger (and often custom) case goods.


the appeal of the wooden library card catalog

My parents met while students at UC Berkeley and I was born while they were in graduate school; my father stayed on at the university, eventually becoming a faculty member and administrator there. It's no surprise, then, that I spent a lot of time roaming libraries and their stacks.

One of my fondest memories of that time is of the wooden card catalogs that used to document the holdings of the graduate and undergraduate libraries - vast, long room-fulls of tiny little drawers, all in cases polished smooth by generations of student fingers and hands.

Since then, I've always loved these things; it might be that they offer an ideal of secure compartmentalization of everything, with each item having its own correct place, certainly an ideal for a perfectionist like me. Or it could be the inflexible grid that they are designed along, which appeals to my technician side. The grain of the wood, the warmth of it, always seemed to match that beautiful Craftsman finish, the fumed oak look that has become the hallmark of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Whatever the reason, these things are beautiful, and you don't find them in good shape all that often. Certainly, you get them more often than a decade ago, with so many libraries going all-digital, but they're still hard to find.

Here are a few that are up for sale right now:

  • a 60-drawer catalog in Palm Beach Gardens, FL ($300)
  • a gorgeous set of 3 60-drawer catalogs in Minneapolis, MN ($150 ea)
  • an interesting and well-kept card catalog / file cabinet with inconsistently-sized drawers in Minneapolis, MN ($800)
  • a small tabletop 15-drawer unit with pretty brass hardware in Detroit, MI ($299)
  • a "library bureau card catalog" that is actually a refinished/restored printer's cabinet - drawers for type and cuts and sorts (although not full-size type drawers); inclined top for composing - absolutely beautiful! - in Long Island, NY ($900, and a good deal at that price)
  • an "immaculate" all-cherry 70-drawer cabinet with pull-out shelves in Cleveland, OH ($975)
  • an interesting 60-drawer unit, looks like 1930s or '40s design, in San Antonio, TX ($1500)
  • a table-top 15-drawer cabinet with attractive stainless steel or nickel hardware in Milwaukee, MN ($250)
  • A good looking, circa 1930 20-drawer unit on top of a pretty, decorative stand/table in Annapolis, MD ($800)
  • a small unit with large drawers, this 4-drawer piece is rather original, in Sarasota, FL ($145)

Rago Arts & Auctions: Highlights

 

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Rago Arts & Auctions recently updated and enhanced their website, offering a more complete catalog of available "passed lots" - items not sold at previous auctions - as well as memorable highlights from recent auctions. Some amazing stuff, there; kind of neat to see price records for really excellent examples.

The most recent Early 20th Auction was this past Friday, October 1 2010. Some highlights are pictured above.


this weeks' Craigslist finds!

Plenty of gorgeous bits & pieces of furniture on sale around the country this week; here's a rundown of some Stickley pieces that stood out:


for sale: Coxhead home in Pacific Heights, $3.4m

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from the listing and article:

Built in 1894, this home was designed by renowned Arts and Crafts-style architect Ernest Coxhead. The property has been remodeled but still maintains many of its original details, starting with an entrance that features a carved front gate. The foyer opens up to a bright living area. It has a fireplace, as does the formal dining area. One more fireplace can be found in the home, which also has dark hardwood flooring. All four bedrooms are on the second level, including the master bedroom with two dormer windows that look out through the front of the home. A third-floor play room could function as an office. The property is two blocks from Alta Plaza park.

As our friend The Jaundiced Eye notes, "Doubtlessly, the place has been "modernized" and every square inch of original woodwork has been painted. From the photos posted, this house is a beautiful arts and crafts shell waiting for a new owner to further destroy Coxheads original vision."

Yeah, you know something is wrong when the big selling points for an historic home by a famous architect are "the kitchen ... features a Sub-Zero refrigerator (and) a Thermador range."

photos by Samantha Lawson


Alice Roth Suszynski's boxes & chests

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We last ran a piece on Alice Suszynski's work a few years ago - at the time, she had recently produced an absolutely stunning wooden Arts & Crafts chandelier. Her newest venture is on a slightly smaller scale, although the work is no less intricate and attractive. Recently Alice has been busy making jewelry boxes that are quite a bit different from any you've seen before; some are inlaid, others etched or decorated with interesting dark wood accents; all are hand-made from top-quality woods with beautiful grain, and many include nods to Asian, Prairie and Arts & Crafts forms, although several are firmly modern and would be an excellent gift for an aficionado of almost any style.

Her Rye Grass flatware storage box is also particularly attractive. Alice is open to commissions for a wide range of woodwork projects.


Greentea Design Winter Sale

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Just got an email today from one of my favorite retailers, Greentea Design: they're having a big winter sale, with some furniture items as much as 30% off! While much of what they sell is a mixture of traditional and contemporary Asian-inflected wooden furniture, the vast majority of it is a perfect fit for traditional Craftsman homes - remember, there's a long tradition, going back to Greene & Greene, of mixing Japanese and Chinese themes with the Craftsman look.

One of my favorite product lines at Greentea is their Maru collection, which consists of various tables (and other items) made from wood reclaimed from floors in old Korean homes and other buildings. Beautiful, classic, and green, too! The sale even includes 20% off on Greentea's stock kitchens, all of which are gorgeous and many of which are a perfect modernizing feature which won't overwhelm the look & feel of an older home.

I'm writing to let you know that Greentea Design's Winter Sale starts on January 6th. This is one of our biggest sales of the year. We're offering up to 30% off throughout the entire website. I had hoped to send this off earlier, but the sale start date got bumped up suddenly.
 
The Winter Sale discounts are offered based on the collection the furniture is in. The Kuryo Collection gets the biggest discount at 30% off. The popular Maru Table Collection, made directly from reclaimed Korean floors has a discount of 10%.  The Sakura lighting collection and Antiques Section are both 10% off as well.  The rest of Greentea Design's line is 20% off. The sale only applies to stock pieces; custom orders are excluded from any discounts.


book: Shop Class as Soulcraft

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Last weekend, the NY Times Magazine included a short excerpt from a terrific new book by Matthew Crawford, a motorcycle mechanic with a Ph.D. in philosophy.

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work addresses issues of craft and work that will be important and thought-provoking to anyone interested in the philosophies behind the Arts & Crafts movement, and I look forward to getting my copy as soon as my local bookshop has it in stock.

High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.

When we praise people who do work that is straightforwardly useful, the praise often betrays an assumption that they had no other options. We idealize them as the salt of the earth and emphasize the sacrifice for others their work may entail. Such sacrifice does indeed occur — the hazards faced by a lineman restoring power during a storm come to mind. But what if such work answers as well to a basic human need of the one who does it? I take this to be the suggestion of Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use,” which concludes with the lines “the pitcher longs for water to carry/and a person for work that is real.” Beneath our gratitude for the lineman may rest envy.

This seems to be a moment when the useful arts have an especially compelling economic rationale. A car mechanics’ trade association reports that repair shops have seen their business jump significantly in the current recession: people aren’t buying new cars; they are fixing the ones they have. The current downturn is likely to pass eventually. But there are also systemic changes in the economy, arising from information technology, that have the surprising effect of making the manual trades — plumbing, electrical work, car repair — more attractive as careers. The Princeton economist Alan Blinder argues that the crucial distinction in the emerging labor market is not between those with more or less education, but between those whose services can be delivered over a wire and those who must do their work in person or on site. The latter will find their livelihoods more secure against outsourcing to distant countries. As Blinder puts it, “You can’t hammer a nail over the Internet.” Nor can the Indians fix your car. Because they are in India.

If the goal is to earn a living, then, maybe it isn’t really true that 18-year-olds need to be imparted with a sense of panic about getting into college (though they certainly need to learn). Some people are hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, when they would rather be learning to build things or fix things. One shop teacher suggested to me that “in schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement. Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”

A gifted young person who chooses to become a mechanic rather than to accumulate academic credentials is viewed as eccentric, if not self-destructive. There is a pervasive anxiety among parents that there is only one track to success for their children. It runs through a series of gates controlled by prestigious institutions. Further, there is wide use of drugs to medicate boys, especially, against their natural tendency toward action, the better to “keep things on track.” I taught briefly in a public high school and would have loved to have set up a Ritalin fogger in my classroom. It is a rare person, male or female, who is naturally inclined to sit still for 17 years in school, and then indefinitely at work.

Frank Lloyd masterworks available in lego form

6a00d8341bf72a53ef0115708abde9970b-800wiOur friends at Prairie Mod, always hep to news in the tiny overlapping center of the Frank Lloyd Wright / Lego Venn diagram, have noted two additions to Lego's classic architecture line. Both are Frank Lloyd Wright designs, of course: the Guggenheim model is now on sale for $55 shipped, and Fallingwater will be available soon.

Brickstructures, the folks who are collaborating with Lego and the Frank Lloyd Wright folks on these models, has several other structures available to view on their website, including 7 South Dearborn, the Burj Dubai, the Chicago Spire, the Empire State Building, Jin Mao Tower, the John Hancokc, Marina City, the M.B. Skyneedle, Sears Tower, the St. Louis Arch, San Francisco's Transamerica Pyramid, Trump Tower and the World Trade Center.

No idea if these others will be available for sale; for most, it's doubtful, given the huge number of blocks


Greentea Design: spectacular custom kitchens

Toronto-based Greentea Design has a special place in my heart: not only do they design, build and sell some of the most beautiful kitchen cabinetry available anywhere - in beautiful Japanese-influenced styles that are a perfect match for any Mission or Craftsman home - but they also carry a range of both antique and contemporary reclaimed-wood furniture, some in historic Craftsman and Japanese designs and others in more contemporary shapes. And the prices, even including the (very professional and speedy) shipping from Canada are surprisingly low, making them competitive with any of the larger semi-custom cabinet makers out there, even while using better materials and sturdier building techniques.

While many of their signature pieces - step tansu and other room-defining wood furniture items - are gorgeous, it's that line of kitchen cabinets that I keep coming back to. Sold as custom kitchen sets or as individual stock pieces, the grain of the wood, beautiful (and exclusive to Greentea) hand-forged hardware and trim detail is both Asian and Craftsman at the same time, with enough character to be beautiful and enough attention to design to be eminently useful. Their Loft Kitchen custom design, above, is a combination of the various Mizuya cabinets, including an island and a full range of wall cabinets and accessories; other past custom kitchens have included the simplified Asian Bistro, minimalist Zen Modern, and Chalet Chic, which was tailored for a more open, airy space. Of course, each piece is available by itself as well - all the islands, hutches, wall and base cabinets and pantries you could possibly need are available piecemeal should you wish to design your own kitchen, amd all can be installed in a fixed position or left free-standing (for a movable island, for example). The custom design services offered are impressive - Greentea's staff of furniture and room designers are more than happy to assist with your own custom project or do the work for you; their staff worked extensively with Kim Johnson, owner of a 100-year-old home in Ottawa, on her recent remodel, and the results were very impressive; Kim blogged the entire process on her website, Design to Inspire.

I'm very happy to have a piece of theirs up in my own modern Craftsman kitchen, and I hope to have a few photographs of it soon; a smaller version of the Dana cabinet (pictured above; mine is a similar to what sits above the glass cabinets on the right and left of this unit) completes the rear wall of that recently-remodeled room in my 1925 Mission Revival bungalow in Sacramento, California, and it's a perfect complement for the bamboo floors, stone countertops and glass tile backsplash that round out the project. Some day, I'd like to own one of their step tansus, which I have always maintained are the perfect bridge between an austere Asian design style and the earthy workmanship of the Craftsman aesthetic. And they're running a special "Stepping Into Summer" promotion right now, with 20% discounts on these unique pieces, including the Elm Burl step tansu, shown below.



Owner Dale Storer has worked hard to make sure that Greentea's products complement a wide range of architectural styles, though, and much of their more contemporary designs would look at home whether in a traditional Japanese home, a Craftsman bungalow, or a modern high-tech apartment. The Lattice TV Stand, pictured below, hides components behind a latticed sliding door that still allows remote controls to function, and is just as good a match for an urban loft as it is for a 90-year-old brown-shingle Craftsman bungalow. Every one of these pieces is made from reclaimed wood, and all come in a variety of finishes with different types of hardware available as well. Mike Ramsey writes that the reclaimed wood usually comes from "aging rural structures that are being taken down to make way for Asia's rapidly expanding urban centers. The Maru tables are the best example since they're turned into tables directly from being reclaimed. The original supports are cut into legs who have correspondingly sized holes cut in the base of the slabs of floor."

Their antiques stock, some of which is on hand at their Toronto showroom, is also worth checking out; I'm partial to the large selection of all sorts of Japanese tansu, but they also carry plenty of Chinese and Korean pieces as well.

I'm not so used to giving such praise to a business - as regular readers know, I'm pretty stingy with compliments and generous with criticism, which is certainly a fault. However, after dealing with this company myself and going gaga over their website, I just wanted to make sure you were all as familiar with them as I've become. After seeing so many (primarily) Japanese antiques blend so well with the large shingled Craftsman homes of California, but noticing the absence of same elsewhere in the country, I thought perhaps most people didn't realize that the two styles matched so well.

If you're in or near Toronto, definitely check out the Greentea showroom; otherwise, spend a few minutes browsing their website, or call them at 1.866.426.7286 to talk with someone about your kitchen design or furniture needs.

I've made a small Flickr album for photos of their work; I'll soon add a good shot of the Dana cabinet in my own kitchen; those of you who already have Greentea cabinets, please do send me your photos, and I'll add them as well!


4th Annual Arts & Crafts Chicago show & sale

Just got this press release in my inbox. If any of you go, please send me photographs! And remember, the Frank Lloyd Wright home & studio is in River Forest, too, so you could easily make a nice weekend out of this:

The 4th Annual Arts and Crafts Chicago Show and Sale is coming back to Concordia University in River Forest on Saturday, May 30th and Sunday, May 31st 2009. Focusing on mission furniture and accessories of the American Arts and Crafts Movement (approximately 1890-1920), this show will truly be one you won’t want to miss. You’ll find 20th Century Decorative Arts including furniture, metalwork, pottery, textiles, art and lighting; everything from Stickley, Limbert, Roycroft, Rookwood and much more. Over 50 of the nations leading dealers will be on hand to answer questions and advise on how to decorate your home. This specialized event has proven to be one of the premiere antique and contemporary shows in the Midwest.

Dealers attending this year’s show are coming from all across the country. We have dealers from Massachusetts, New York, California, Texas as well as the best dealers from the Midwest. JMW and Crones Collectibles from Massachusetts will be featuring high-end pottery from the Northeast such as Grueby, Saturday Evening Girls and Marblehead, as well as furniture and accessories. Jack Papadinis Antiques, Connecticut, will be showcasing some of the premiere lighting in the country and David Surgan from New York will offer the best Heintz Collection for sale in the country. Paramour Fine Arts, which specializes in arts and crafts era woodblocks and art, will be on hand showcasing some fabulous artwork from the era. Local dealers such as John Toomey Gallery will be exhibiting as well, highlighting Midwest artists such as Frank Lloyd Wright, TECO and Jarvie.

Not only is this an antique show, but the weekend will showcase the highest quality contemporary craftsfirms as well. Ephraim Faience Pottery, Door Pottery, Arts and Crafts Hardware and Dard Hunter Studios will be in attendance, just to name a few.

With the success of the show over the last three years and with the rich tradition of bungalows, as well as the Prairie School heritage of Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago has proven to be a perfect fit for this specialized show.

Homeowners interested in educating themselves as to the appropriate furnishings for their turn of the century bungalows and craftsman style homes shouldn’t miss the 4th Annual Arts and Crafts Chicago Show and Sale, Saturday May 30th, 2009, from 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday May 31st from 11 am – 4 pm at Concordia University at Geiseman Gym in River Forest, Illinois. Admission price is only $7 each. Free parking on site in a 5-level garage. No parking on Monroe.

Fawcett House, FLW California ranch, for sale: $2.7 million

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Los Banos ("the baths," named after no longer active mineral springs, apparently) sits on the outer edge of Merced County, a few hours from San Francisco. It's farmland - the soil is black and loamy, and the slight scent of cattle will assail your nose, sometimes, when you're driving these dusty roads. It's not where you would expect to find a Frank Lloyd Wright home, but the master architect did design and build a house here at the end of his career, amid the feedlots and windmills. James Temple has the story in last weekend's San Francisco Chronicle:

It is the third-to-last California residence drawn by the master of suburban homes, and one of only two currently on the market.

Obscured from the road by a cluster of walnut trees, the cinderblock structure forms an angular, shallow U. The living room at the base looks onto the garden through a wall of windows and French doors. Twin wings swing open to 120 degrees, a row of bedrooms radiating outward on the north side, the kitchen and play room on the south, before giving way to a palm-shaded swimming pool.

...

The elongated structure and the lines of the low-pitched roof, banded with a copper fascia, echo the flatness of the fields around it. The wings stretch out like open arms to the Coast Range in the distance. Where the sections of typical homes feel squared off and self contained, the obtuse angles, walls of windows, loggia and terrace open up the space, blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior.

"He softened the whole effect of the place on that barren center of a valley by using the 120-degree angles," said William Storrer, author of "The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion." "It just seemed to be right for the space."

The centerpiece of the family room is a 6-foot-high, 12-foot-wide fireplace, a veritable cave where Randall Fawcett would tend massive walnut logs that burned for days. Built-in mahogany cabinetry and furniture accent corners and spaces throughout the home.

The 6 bedroom, 4.5 bath, 3700 square foot home - on 80 acres - is listed for $2.7 million. For more photographs and information check out the official website & listing.


for sale: Greenway House, Bisbee AZ - $1.25 million

Reader Scott Cahill writes to tell us that he recently visited the 1906 Greenway House in Bisbee AZ, which is currently up for sale for what seems like a good deal to someone who wants to live in that part of the country. American Bungalow recently ran a nice spread on the house, which sits on about 2.5 acres of attractively landscaped high desert. This enormous (10 bed / 13 bath) brick Craftsman "bungalow" - I use that term with some trepidation given the complexity and size of the place - has been well-maintained and is an excellent example of the style, with Western details taking the place of the Asian influence often seen in Southern California's similarly-sized "ultimate bungalows." Almost all of the original features - including Victorian stamped tin ceilings and rococo gingerbread to gorgeous custom-made stained glass, light fixtures, tilework and beautiful painted / stenciled trim - are still in place.

The original owner, Brigadier General John Campbell Greenway, was a fellow Rough Rider to Teddy Roosevelt and the latter is believed to have visited this home on several occasions. The house is handicap-accessible and includes a fully-functional 1930s Shepard Elevator to the second floor. Main house is approximately 8550 sq ft, not including: carriage house, 2500 sq ft; attic, 4000 sq ft; basement, 1000 sq ft.


Live Auctioneers has plenty of treats

Picture 1 Live Auctioneers are a gateway / aggregator to hundreds of live (and non-live) antique auctions. Among the thousands of items viewable and biddable, there are hundreds of terrific items of interest to Arts & Crafts aficionados. Here are a few of my favorites from upcoming auctions:


for sale: 4 bed/2.5 bath, Los Angeles CA, $899,000

First of all: real estate agent Marty Walker has one of the best heads of hair I've ever seen. I'd commit crimes to have that hair on my head. Same goes for this house, except I wouldn't want it on my head. This beautiful 3,000+ sq ft, 4/2.5 1907 Craftsman is simply gorgeous, and the newly-restored interior woodwork really shines. Marty, if you read this, send us some high res photos - we'd love to see the rest of it!


for sale: 1915 Cox Estate Home, Saratoga CA: $1,095,000

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This is the first time the Cox Estate Home is being offered to someone outside of the Cox family. Built in 1915, this home has been designated an historical property by the City of Saratoga.

Neglected for many years, this home is now looking for someone to restore her to the beauty that she deserves! According to the Saratoga Heritage Website, this is an excellent example of the Craftsman style of architecture, with its squat creekstone pillars, stone chimney and broad low pitched roof. It was built by Joseph Cox on part of the Cox family’s 315 acre Saratoga holdings. Joseph’s father, William, had come to California by covered wagon in 1852 and had become a prosperous rancher. Up until July 2008 the house was still occupied by members of the Cox family.

  • home: 2174 sq. ft. / lot: 17,305 sq. ft.
  • 3 car detached garage
  • 4 bedrooms
  • lovely wood surfaces throughout, original glass in much of the house
  • new composition roof
  • new copper repipe throughout
  • possible candidate for Mills Act

For more information visit 19161cox.com and see photos in our Flickr set.


library card catalogs for sale on Craigslist & elsewhere, part 3

I'm not sure if it's the amount of knickknacks we tend to accrue these days or just an innate interest in the grid, but whatever the reason is, folks really seem to like old wooden library card catalogs. I've seen them repurposed for storing everything from digital media to art objects to painting supplies and even small books. One collector of postcards used a large unit to house his more than 10,000 historic postcards, all organized by topic and cross-referenced by year of printing! I'm sure Baudrillard would find something amusingly meta in using a device that once held references to other objects to hold the objects themselves.

In 2007, I combed Craigslist and a few other vendors for these items of furniture and I did the same earlier this year; consider this part 3 in an ongoing series.

  • you can pay a premium for provenance, if you wish; this card catalog supposedly comes from Yale University, and costs about four times what a similar card catalog from any university might cost (with the exception of the architecturally significant one listed next): $1300 / New Haven CT
  • enormous, almost sculptural / architectural 312-drawer double-sided catalog, circa 1910, from UC Berkeley; includes brass fittings and multiple pull-out shelves & corner pillars designed to match those at the Doe library, "works well as a room divider" - for a big enoug room, no doubt, and makes the Yale model above look like a bargain: $5000 / Berkeley CA
  • three oak catalogs, in a 1950s design: $offers / Middlebury CT
  • two somewhat similar 15-drawer cabinets: $65 ea / Omaha NB
  • vintage Globe Mfg cabinet, 24 extra-large drawers: $600 / Raleigh NC
  • possibly "library style" chest: $190 / Charlotte NC
  • attractive & enormous 84-drawer catalog with pull-out tables/drawer-rests: $155 / Crozet VA
  • overpriced but big well-used large oak ex-school card catalog: $499 / Austin TX
  • interesting vertical file (or are they stacked?) with extra legs, tops & case: $350 / Schertz TX
  • single 15-drawer catalog section with platic handles, some broken: $25 / St. Louis MO
  • pretty and well-maintained maple catalog with pull-out tables & shiny brass fittings circa 1972: $650 / Springfield MO
  • vertical 4-(large) drawer catalog: $125 / Wichita KS
  • 30-drawer catalog with pull-out table: $200 / Chicago IL
  • mid-century / modern design 24-drawer cabinet: $100 / Colorado Springs CO
  • 12-drawer catalog with brass fittings: $60 / Portland OR
  • big 60-drawer oak catalog with brass fittings: $400 / Stockton CA

the Dishmaster: gateway to a 1948 kitchen

Reader Pam Kueber emailed us about a new faucet design she's selling. While the era is just a bit past what most Hewn & Hammered readers might be looking for, it's still a very neat product. The circa late 1940s Dishmaster comes in several models, and has spawned an entire fan site.

What is Dishmaster Living? Slow down. Cook up a storm. Make a happy mess in your kitchen – then have some more fun cleaning up. Yes – the Dishmaster's circa-1948 faucet makes washing the dishes fun via the "Push Button Dishwashing" action of the special aerator brush wand – which dispenses soapy sudsy water and rinses clean, too. Feel good about use of precious resources as well: The Dishmaster conserves water, energy and detergent. And, it's Made in America, by a small company right in Indiana. If you need a new-old kitchen faucet – I hope you will consider buying a Dishmaster from Pam of RetroRenovation.com. Read more at RetroRenovation.com or at her special new site, DishmasterLiving.com.


for sale: Long Beach Bungalow, $899800 wtf?

I get lots of entertainment from laughing at stupid people, but of course I know that are plenty of people laughing at my mistakes too. Helps to have a sense of humor.

The blogger behind Real Estate in the LBC gives me today's dose of humor, lambasting a seller or agent whose sense of economic reality is equal to our president - who last week famously said that our economy was "strong."


for sale: bungalow on 1.5 acres in The Dalles, $275,000

Unfortunately, these architecture-ambivalent real estate agents are billing this attractive 1925 bungalow (on a 1.5 acre lot!) as a "developers (sic) dream." Save this 1,832 sq. ft. home from the wrecking ball (and The Dalles from hastily-built new development) for the bargain price of $275,000. Or maybe that just sounds like a bargain because the same house and lot would go for about a million dollars in midtown Sacramento...


hot on Craigslist today - October 15 2008

various bits and pieces from all over the US:

  • oak settle by Paul Varney at Black River Mission: $1200, Torrance CA
  • signed Limbert armchair: $200, Washington DC
  • Limbert china cabinet: $1200, Maui HI
  • signed Limbert table (w/ 5 extensions) & 5 chairs: $3500, Kirkland WA
  • contemporary Stickley dining set - table & 6 chairs: $7600, Denver CO
  • signed Stickley Bros. 36 inch round lamp table: $1600 or trade for vintage guitar, Daytona Beach FL
  • signed L&JG Stickley rocker: $145, Clovis CA
  • signed Gustav Stickley side or library table: $1500, Murray IA
  • signed L&JG Stickley 1-drawer library desk: $800, Nyack NY
  • signed Roycroft copper letter opener: $45, Yakima WA

historic homes for sale, September 2008

L_13138_g This week's historic home standouts:

  • recently modernized 1860 bungalow (?) in Batavia, Illinois: $299,000
  • 1916 Craftsman 2-story in Geneva, Illinois: $438,000
  • intricate & beautiful ultimate bungalow, c. 1918, in Bethlehem, New Hampshire: $402,900
  • unique 1928 Tudor/storybook in Geneva, Illinois: $1,795,000
  • Frnk Lloyd Wright 1911 Prairie bungalow in West Chicago, Illinois: $474,000
  • 1912 classic Prairie home in Danville, Illinois: $85,000
  • huge 1890 brick late Victorian mansion in Fitchburg, Massachusetts: $1,050,000
  • charming 1870 Mission Revival adobe in Santa Fe, New Mexico: $499,000
  • 1870s brick Queen Anne in Madison, Indiana: $599,000
  • 1920 renovated bungalow with beautiful built-ins in Highland, Illinois: $224,900
  • eclectic 1930 Craftsman stone / log / shingle cabin in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania: $189,500
  • enormous 1890 Tudor revival mansion (14 bedrooms, 9 baths, over 17000 square feet heated) in the Adirondacks: $1,750,000
  • gorgeous 1914 bungalow in San Pedro, California: $495,900
  • 1916 four-square brick Craftsman in Crawfordsville, Indiana: $154,000
  • 1917 "airplane" bungalow with great features in Whittier, California: $849,000

finding a real estate agent

regular contributor Joel McDonald forwards us some good advice on selecting the best real estate agent to work with you:

When you want to buy or sell real estate, having the right Realtor on your side makes it easier to find the perfect new place to make your home, or bringing buyers to the table as the case may be. Having helpful and reliable assistance and resources in any endeavor can make all the difference. For some people, it may seem too hard to get a good agent to help them with their purchase or sale needs. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid when shopping for the right Realtor.

Ask Questions -- Lots of Questions
The final mistake which anyone shopping for an agent should steer clear of is being hesitant to ask the ones they are interviewing a lot of questions. Some feel as if they are being too much trouble and do not want to ask a lot of questions regarding fees, procedures, etc. Asking questions is the only way to really know if you've found the one you can best work with.

The Belief That Only Big Real Estate Operators Have Really Good Realtors
Some who are looking for an agent may think that only the biggest realty firms will have the good Realtors. Although they may have some excellent people in their employ, you should also evaluate smaller firms as well as large ones in your search.

Failing to Ask About the Fee
Before you decide on someone to work with, you must be sure to find out about their fee arrangement. A seller's agent will charge a set percentage of the price as a fee for their expenses and effort. It is in your best interest as a seller to make sure the percentage is a favorable number. It might seem strange, but a fee that is too low can be a warning sign too; a lowball fee offer will most likely short you when it comes to service. The buyer's representative, on the other hand, is paid from the commission amount set by the seller. For this reason, if you are a buyer, there is no extra cost for having an agent represent you.

Not Inquiring About The Realtor's Qualifications
It is definitely worthwhile to ask the Realtor questions concerning their professional experience and accomplishments in the business. Answers about length of time working as a real estate agent, how long with the company and any type of business specialties they may have in their resume are all good ones. An experienced Realtor will be proud to mention any professional awards.

Deciding on a Realtor Too Quickly
An all too common mistake is selecting the first Realtor you come across. Some people are so anxious to buy or sell a home that they get a name and go with that person without looking into even a little bit of the wide spectrum of choices available. This is a mistake which anyone who is looking for the best Realtor should avoid. You need to look around, a little at least, even if only to add some depth to your education on the subject.

Article provided by your Colorado Louisville real estate experts at Automated Homefinder.


Harris Allen house for sale in Berkeley: $1.2 million

Picture_3 from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The tall, redwood clapboard house on Hilgard Avenue in the North Berkeley hills is an East Bay landmark in more ways than one.

First, it is a highly individual interpretation of the Arts and Crafts style by an architect known for his unique designs, Harris Allen. Second, the old redwood that rises majestically from the backyard can be seen from miles way, and is one of the tallest trees in Berkeley.

Now this home is on the market for the first time in 38 years.

The house was built in 1927 for Gladys Campbell, according to Berkeley building records. It was designed by Allen, an eclectic East Bay architect whose graceful homes throughout Berkeley and Marin County are noteworthy for their distinctive qualities. Although Allen often incorporated elements from various periods, his designs are not mere copies of past styles. read the full article here

Real estate agent Barbara Hopper is listing the house for its owner, Dorothy Nash Shack, who bought the house with her husband Dr. William Shack in 1970. Mrs. Shack was a school psychologist with the Oakland Public Schools for many years, and her husband was a professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley (and later dean of the graduate division).

See the listing for this 2,084 sq ft, 4/2 house (on a 4,750 sq ft lot) here. The agent has a virtual tour up where you can see some terrific shots of the interior, too; please check out the entire photo gallery - some of the interior architecture is especially interesting and the overall effect, when combined with the terrific views, is really impressive.


win this home

Remarinraffle07_0499089235 Community Action Marin, that county's official anti-poverty agency, has lost much of its public budget due to a changing political climate and recent cuts. To make ends meet, they are selling $150 raffle tickets - with a prize of a $2 million home in San Rafael. Last year's winner chose to take cash instead, so the same house is up again this year. It's a 4-bedroom contemporary craftsman on a quarter-acre lot.


good deals from Craigslist, 08.08

A few well-priced deals on Craigslist:

  • secretary / desk in Pensacola FL: $275
  • library table with interesting legs in Austin TX: $150
  • qs oak rocker in Seattle WA: $75
  • attractive desk in Boston MA: $200
  • wood & glass panel interior door in Columbus OH: $40
  • set of 6 side chairs in St. Louis MO: $400
  • long bench in Honokaa HI: $500
  • sideboard with mirror in Minneapolis MN: $350
  • attractive desk in Monmouth OR: $500
  • faux-antiqued large china cabinet in St. Paul MN: $700
  • similar to above in Sacramento CA: $400
  • short armoire in Minneapolis MN: $200
  • display / china cabinet in Sunnyvale CA: $159
  • unique oak armchair in Seattle: $220
  • long & tall bench from salvaged oak in Detroit: $659
  • 300 sq ft salvaged top-nail oak flooring in Portland OR: $350

Greene & Greene reproduction dining set: $16,700

Originally designed for Greene & Greene's Robinson House (original plans, including drawings for this table), the table this particular item was patterned after resides in Pasadena. However, a duplicate - made by master craftsman Jim Ipekjian (who is responsible for much of the recent repair work at the Blacker House) - is for sale (along with 4 leaves; it seats up to 16, altogether; the price also includes 6 high-backed Mission chairs and 2 armchairs).

Check out the listing on Craigslist, or contact the seller in Altadena, CA.


"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).


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

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.


stuff I like: Stiletto titanium clawbar, $70

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I'm not so good at building things (at least not if you want them to work or look decent), but I'm your guy for demolition. This might be why my 40-lb tool bag consists of sledges, wedges, hammers and prybars.

Here's a new tool I'm going to need: Stiletto's titanium clawbar is five times stronger than steel, and it's the young handsome King Arthur to your unpullable nail (not like the jealous old Sean Connery version). There ain't nothing it can't pull, pry, or generally smash. It's also light enough to keep my toolbag liftable - maybe I can replace a few heavier items with it.


selected homes for sale

June brings several new listings to the few dozen I've been tracking for the last month or two; now is certainly a good time to buy. Of course, the biggest savings are to be found in the $1 million plus homes, many of whom are priced at half or two-thirds of what they would have been five years ago.

for the too-rich

  • pristine, well-maintained and absolutely beautiful 4/2 bungalow in Portland OR: $699,950
  • gorgeously landscaped 2/1.5 historic bungalow in San Diego CA: 689,000
  • pretty Craftsman on a 10,000 sq ft lot, especially attractive conservation-landscaped grounds; original built-ins; 3/2 in Pasadena CA: $780,000
  • interesting 1908 fieldstone cottage, 4/2 in 1765 sq ft, in Pasadena CA: $834,450
  • 4 / 3 in a 1915, 3145 sq ft bungalow with some interesting features in Seattle WA: $850,000
  • amazing cabin/superbungalow, new construction, 3/2.5, great light in Seattle WA: $1,049,000
  • some markets refuse to drop, though: witness this 2/1, 1237 sq ft pretty but modest Mission Revival bungalow in Berkeley CA: $725,000
  • and the award for riduclousness goes to Palo Alto, California, where this pretty and relatively simple 3/2, 2130 sqt ft Mission Revival home is going for $2,195,000

for the comfortable

  • a representative highwater stucco bungalow in Sacramento CA, 3/2, in a terrific neighborhood: $449,000
  • an attractive wide 4/2.5 bungalow with many updates in Hendersonville NC: $429,900
  • gorgeous but small 1200 sq ft, 2/1 1911 brown-shingle bungalow in Portland OR: $374,900
  • 1949 brick Tudor/Edwardian/Craftsman attractive mishmash, 4/2 in 2200 sq ft in Rochester MI: $324,900

for the rest of us working people

  • beautiful 3/2 1932 Craftsman with some well-maintained original interior features in Ansonia CT: $259,900
  • accurately-restored 1926 bunaglow, 3/2 in Phoenix AZ: $249,000
  • a very attractive and huge 3/2, 6750 sq ft 1920 bungalow in Tampa FL: $239,000
  • modest but well-maintained 1925, 1800 sq ft bungalow in Memphis TN: $190,000
  • pretty 1930 3/1.5 bungalow with attractive yards & new kitchen in Caribou ME: $139900

Stickley on Craigslist: June 2, 2008

As usual, I've tried to edit out everything that is not authentic - shame on all the folks who try to hoodwink (or simply get more traffic) by disengenously labeling anything vaguely Mission as "Stickley style" or "Stickley era."

  • single Stickley spindle-backed armchair, $250: Minneapolis MN
  • cherry Stickley etagere / open bookcase, $750: San Diego CA
  • 2002 Stickley slat-sided, shelf-armed cherry & red leather settle, $2500: San Diego CA
  • 2006 Stickley spindle-backed dark wood settee, $700: Manhattan NY
  • "Quaint Furniture" slat-back settle / bench, $9000: Chicago IL
  • Stickley A&C / Deco daybed, $700: Manhattan NY
  • two beautiful Stickley tables - the Commemorative Library Table (#89-0407) and Cocktail Table (#89-0411), $2650 for both (an excellent deal; these retail for a combined $6300): Philadelphia PA
  • Stickley single-door bookcase (#89-633R-32), $1200: Boston MA

a bargain for telecommuters: $88800 in Temple, TX

Xl_13995_maryse5jpg This 1917 bungalow in Temple, Texas (about halfway between Dalls/Ft. Worth and Austin) includes the original hardwood throughout, a pretty front porch, an attractive upstairs loft and a decent-sized yard. at just under 1600 square feet (3 bedrooms & 2 baths), it's got more than enough room for a small family. Spoon fans should note that Temple is the home town of Britt Daniel, lead singer of America's best rock & roll band, as well as Rip Torn and a disproportionately large number of professional football players (probably due to the Temple Wildcats' excessive awesomeness).

$88,800 is a steal anywhere. If you can telecommute, and would enjoy living in a small town on the edge of a large military reservation in Texas, go for it. I'd do it if I could get a decent bowl of pho down there.