Pasadena's Bungalow Heaven in Photographs

Pasadena, like Santa Barbara and a few other communities in southern California, has a very large number of beautiful, well-preserved Craftsman homes. Home to several Greene & Greene masterworks, the town also hosts an annual Craftsman Heritage Weekend (this year's just ended) which is always worth a visit should you be in the area.

With its combination of typical Southern California sun, wide streets and the overhanging canopy of huge old trees, Pasadena is also a photographer's heaven. Here's a little gallery I'm in the process of building on Flickr.

William Livingstone House, aka "Slumpy"

William Livingstone House

Pictured: demolished in 2007, the often-photographed William Livingstone House - a good example of Detroit's (and especially Brush Park's) long, slow, and ongoing architectural apocalypse. Incidentally, the house was the first commission by eventually very well known architect Albert Kahn. Photograph above is uncredited and was passed on to us by Fipi Lele; if you can tell us who shot it, please do in the comments below.

Sacramento home of the day


There's a movement afoot against stucco bungalows - folks advocating stripping the stucco and reshingling homes like this one. Personally, I like this style; it's a symbol of how the popularity Mission Revival grew, eventually subsuming the shingled bungalow styles that take their popularity from England and the Eastern US. This house might have been shingled, once, but I'd bet that it was first stuccoed sometime in the 1930s, when the craze for Latin American-inspired homes reached a high point.

Sacramento home of the day


This recently painted Mission Revival home is in Curtis Park, one of Sacramento's several Arts & Crafts neighborhoods near the city center. I like the decidedly modern paintjob, and the low wall enclosing the front porch area - a signature feature of many similar homes - and the mostly-native (and certainly thematic) landscaping are perfect.

Sacramento home of the day


We're still in the Fabulous Forties here, with a pretty and well-maintained home that's a bit more Spanish Revival than Mission. The roof, with two layers of tile, looks original to the home - one more reason why a tile roof, while expensive to install, might end up being a great investment.

Sacramento home of the day


Here's a good example of why I'm not calling this "bungalow of the day." This Tudor revival home in Sacramento's Fabulous Forties neighborhood is pretty representative of the several dozen homes in that style and that area, with gothic front doors, a mix of rough-hewn timbers, brickwork, and some Spanish roof tiling here and there. The leaded windows and other Storybook touches are the details that I enjoy most.

Sacramento home of the day


I wanted to get a bit closer but the dog was a bit barky and didn't want me on the sidewalk. I like the nice wide porch here, and the stone around the porch, which matches the base of the chimney. I wish I had a porch like that!

Sacramento home of the day


The sun was starting to set, so Gaela and I had to hurry to catch a few more before it got too dark; this pretty midtown highwater was one of a whole block of newly-painted homes, most of which were built in the early 1920s. Two of them - to be posted later - were actually new homes built to duplicate the design of the homes originally on the lot, which were unfortunately not salvageable.

Gustav Stickley library table, from the Metropolitan Museum collection


Library table, ca. 1906
Gustav Stickley (American, 1858–1942); Craftsman Workshops
Syracuse, New York
Oak, leather; H. 30 in. (76.2 cm), Diam. 55 in. (139.7 cm)
Gift of Cyril Farny, in memory of his wife, Phyllis Holt Farny, 1976 (1976.389.1)

Inspired by William Morris, Gustav Stickley founded The United Crafts (later known as Craftsman Workshops) in 1898. Stickley was greatly influenced by Ruskin and Morris, his travels to Europe, and important contemporary journals such as The Studio and Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration. Initially managing the firm as a guild, Stickley participated in profit-sharing with his employees, but as the operation grew, regular factory standards were implemented. The Craftsman line was introduced to the public in 1900. This hexagonal library table is made of oak with a leather top ostensibly adhered by overt circular tacks, and utilizes visible joinery with tenon-and-key joints. Illustrated in the November 1902 issue of The Craftsman, the Arts and Crafts periodical published by Gustav Stickley between 1901 and 1916, the hexagonal library table became a popular item in Stickley's sales inventory.

Sacramento home of the day


I've written about this home before - it was a firehouse, originally, and one of Sacramento's most talented housebuilders / contractors converted it and lives here today. I like that he mixes some modern features - the slate walls, a more contemporary roof, minimal landscaping - with the dentil moulding, traditional fixtures and other design aspects influenced by the original design. It's a perfect fit for its neighborhood, and it eye-catching without being too flashy.

Check out the fireplug in the front yard - a nice little in-joke toward its original incarnation. If it's actually hooked up to a water main, that's a great way to lower your home insurance bill, too!

Sacramento home of the day


This pretty paintjob adorns a nice wide bungalow in Curtis Park, a neighborhood where many of the bungalows are a bit lower as this part of town isn't flood plain like much of midtown. I really like the mix of brown shingle, salmon paint, and two-tone trim.

Sacramento home of the day


I love this house. It's colorful without being garish, the little featured - beam ends, trapezoidal columns, the shingle, the old brick (which looks like someone who cared stripped a layer of paint off it), the big porch. It's gorgeous.

Sacramento home of the day


For the most part, this is a perfect Midtown bungalow - love the clinker brick chimney & the paint job. However, unfortunately the front is partially ruined by two things: the unsightly mass of sprinkler controls at the right of the stairway, and the totally inconsistent and historically wrong front door. Still, though, it's a very pretty house that's obviously been well cared for and loved.

Sacramento home of the day


This pretty Midtown highwater - a typical design in a downtown built on reclaimed flood plain - was cleaned up, partially reshingled & painted recently, and is adorned with a number of drought-resistant plants, many of them native.

Sacramento home of the day


the paint job, for the most part, isn't as inspired as some of its neighbors, and the landscaping is a bit pedestrian, but the design of the home is beautiful, and the addition works reasonably well with the rest of the house - and I just really liked that red door!

Sacramento home of the day


This large walled compound is one of the stars of Sacramento's "Fabulous Forties" neighborhood (so named for the fact that 38th through 49th Streets, between J and Folsom, have some of the prettiest large homes in the area).

Sacramento home of the day


My trusty sidekick Gaela and I spent Saturday afternoon driving through Midtown, the Fabulous Forties, Poverty Ridge and Curtis Park, and took enough photos to run one a day for the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy them.

bungalow remodels - in pictures

As regular readers know, I'm a Flickr junkie - and I proselytize regularly about what a good idea resource it is. The past month brings many dozens of new remodel projects (note that I can only search by tags, and only 1/20th of the photos on Flickr are tagged, so a little browsing may find you plenty more) to the photo-sharing site:

remodel snapshots

A bit of digging around over at Flickr found three large groups (agglomerations of photos from dozens of different users) devoted to remodels. Many of the remodels documented are in and of historic homes, and some are better than others.

here are a few favorites (links are at the bottom):


1. 2003-2006, 2. A cabinet with glass doors and light makes a nice addition to the otherwise clean kitchen, 3. wide br, 4. Feb 28 2008 010, 5. my kitchen confession, 6. another view of the shelves , 7. before & after bedroom, 8. br stair, 9. my own new kitchen, story to come, 10. The Arch, she is done!! 02.15.08, 11. Quality - 05 - Seamless Copper Rain Gutter and Downspout, 12. Our New Old House AFTER- Living Room, 13. fixing the lights, 14. Our New Old House AFTER- 2nd bedroom, 15. Basement Remodel, 16. Guest Bathroom, 17. Kitchen, 18. Stair Railing

Panama Pottery in Sacramento, CA

Sacramento's Panama Pottery has been producing simple, Arts & Crafts inspired decorative pottery and a huge range of plain old terracotta (in dozens of shapes and sizes) for many generations. My friend Michael Kressner recently visited their shop and took some terrific photographs:

photography bits & pieces

To fill a few minutes while I'm off recovering from the holidays:

happy accidents: bird spirit


Reader Russ Billington writes:

I thought you might like this - I took it this morning whilst basking in a rare ray of November sunshine. It might even bring a smile to your members. I call it 'Bird Spirit', but it is such a happy accident that the nail was hammered in at just the right place and the smear of putty round the hole just accentuates the rusting nail head. It's an old potting shed in the back yard. I better take my medication now..

You can also see some of Russ' wonderful lettering and painting work at Ford Craftsman Studios, one of my favorite retailers of home decoration. There are also a few very nice bits of free period artwork in editable vector forms on Russ' own site.

we're #1 (for houseporn, at least)

I noticed today that we were getting an awful lot of visitors who found us from Google searches for "houseporn." 200 today alone! After checking, I found that we were the number 1 result for this rather odd search term. Not that I'm complaining.

So, to accomodate all of you, some very G-rated houseporn (my favorite kind):


This was created with BigHugeLabs' neat Mosaic Maker. Too bad it doesn't generate a clickable html/javascript mosaic!

The photographers are as follows. Click on each link to see the original photo:

1. Heintz Art Metal Collection, 2. details, 3. IMG 1431, 4. Detailed woodwork, 5. Our Dining Room, 6. Arts & Crafts door, 7. Secessionist style Art Glass Door, 8. Plinthy, 9. Roycroft Hanging Lantern, 10. MG 0447, 11. Rockridge - 30, 12. Kitchen Remodel - After, 13. Maybeck church

new bungalow kitchens on Flickr

Several recent remodel shots / sets on Flickr for those of you looking for inspiration:


carved door, Berkeley CA

Saw this terrific carving on Acton Street in north Berkeley, California the other day; nobody was home. Anyone familiar with this craftsperson's work? Let me know if you think you might know who is responsible - I'd like to see more of his or her work.

The carving is not particularly deep, yet the details all really stand out - not sure if it's the light or the wood or a combination of the two, but the delicacy of the design is visible all the way from out in the street. every detail of the irises is clear, as well as the gently scalloped hex-pattern in the ground behind them.

TurnHere Brings Neighborhoods to Video

TurnHere ("short films - cool places") is a well-organized library of short video snapshots of residential neighborhoods around the world, mostly shot and narrated by the people who live there. This would be the perfect tool for real estate agents - especially those who handle lots of corporate inter-city relocations - to help their clients pick where they want to concentrate a property search. It's also a great way for real estate voyeurs like us to peek into neighborhoods throughout our country and the rest of the world.

Here's Albany, California, where I grew up; one of my dad's favorite restaurants; and my wife's favorite deli. Pasadena has several films, including one that touches on the Gamble House; you can poke through almost every San Francisco neighborhood in a few dozen short bites, and even take a walk through downtown Santa Barbara - a town with some of the nicest bungalow-full neighborhoods on the west coast.

It'd be great to get more architecture-centric tours - maybe video versions of your own home town's historic home tours? - up on the site. Every film on the site was shot and edited by volunteers, though, so there's certainly plenty of room to contribute an architectural tour of your favorite bungalow neighborhood.

Set in Stone and Tile

The Los Angeles Times has a nice photo album of shots taken at historian Robert Winter's Pasadena home. There are a number of nice pieces of Batchelder tile, a wonderful cave-like living room full of great rugs and furniture, and more. There's also a neat photo of the Lloyd Wright House  which follows the six of Winter's home (it relates to the article in the latter link).

If Winter's name rings a bell, then you've probably read at least one of the books he's made with longtime collaborator, photographer Alexander Vertikoff- The Architecture of Entertainment: LA in the Twenties, American Bungalow Style, Craftsman Style, Batchelder Tilemaker, and plenty more.

Highwater Bungalow, Sacramento

Seen on a drive through an east Sacramento neighborhood recently. Apparently, the homeowner wanted to make it even taller (amazing that the city allowed this to begin with...). The neighbors "talked him down" (ouch, bad pun, sorry). Note that it will be the tallest structure within several blocks, and is totally and completely out of character with the rest of the neighborhood - every single house on this street is a modest bungalow on a relatively small lot.

I noticed the owner kept the electricity connected and the front porch light on; maybe he's worried that a low-flying plane might hit it.

It will be interesting to see how the project turns out!

Recent Flickr Finds

Lots of great new additions to Flickr lately - there are thousands of images added every day to the immense collection here; much of it is pretty badly tagged, so who knows how many neat Arts & Crafts related photographs are really here - I can only search for those that are well-tagged. Here's what I found today:

Rejuvenation Hardware on Flickr

I've said it before: oh, how I love Portland's Rejuvenation Hardware. Not only do they have one of the best collections of period Arts & Crafts lighting available anywhere (all of which is sold through their wonderful catalog, which I always look forward to!), but they also have a wonderful showroom in Portland. The showroom, though, sells an awful lot more than just lights and hardware. Furniture, signage and mantels, grills and registers, architectural salvage - all sorts of treasures! Flickr user Madduxdavid recently visited the shop and took these great pictures - you should stop by, too, if you visit Portland.