The stark white house at the end of Plaza Drive in San Jose's
historic Palm Haven neighborhood takes you by surprise. It's small in
scale, a single story on a corner lot. But its domed tower and
decorative parapet across the roofline force you to take a second look.
This is Michael Borbely's mini masterpiece - a recently completed
Mission Revival house of stucco and tile that took years of research to
create, plus help from San Jose's Fireclay Tile to reproduce
Borbely, 45, is an architectural activist of sorts who spearheaded
an effort several years ago to restore the pillars at the entrance to
the 1930s Palm Haven in Willow Glen to their original Mission Revival
style. So when he was ready for a new project after selling his Prairie
style house in the neighborhood, "I looked for the house in the worst
condition that had the most impact on the neighborhood." He decided on
a tiny Spanish style house for sale nearby in need of a major remodel.
He wanted the house to fit into the streetscape and, taking some cues
from the pillars and an original Mission Revival house in the
neighborhood, decided to reinvent a scaled-down version.
Ratcheting screwdrivers aren't all that new, but this is by far the best one I've found. It's better made and less expensive than a lot of others out there, and - at my house at least - replaces a whole bunch of other screwdrivers in my toolbox. Its advantages over the Snap-On and Sears models are innumerable, but principally, the knob on the shaft that allows the bit to turn four times for every handle turn - it's as fast as a drill driver in this respect, and is a huge time saver for long screws. It also has far better bit storage is easier and faster and much more secure than the clips on the Sears model. $17 from Bubba Deals, probably as good a price at your local independent hardware store.
Our friend Janice Calpo has been a champion of historic homes - and especially of historic windows! - here in Sacramento for several years. She recently shared the following with me, and I'm very happy to spread this news to all historic home owners in the greater Sacramento area"
Great big news for us right here in River City: nationally renowned historic windows expert and author Terry Meany has arrived! He and his wife have decided to relocate to our sunny climate after 20 years in the Seattle rain … Terry is a window repair contractor and author of the book Working Windows: A Guide to the Repair and Restoration of Wood Windows.
Terry himself has repaired and restored over 3,000 windows in the Seattle area, including residential and small and large commercial buildings. With such experience, his approach is highly efficient, thus keeping time and costs well within reason.
Now Terry is available to work on our Sacramento windows. He can do anything from a few small repairs to complete restoration, and of course weather-stripping. For those who want to do their own windows work, he is available to guide them through it too. He is happy to talk with people about whatever their needs may be!
Terry can be reached at 206.518.3402 or via email.
About 2 1/2 years ago we started on a kitchen remodel project. If you have never done a massive kitchen remodel to an 83 year old house on hill, in a historic neighborhood, then you may doubt that it is a
process that could take more than two years. 2 1/2 ago I would have
doubted it too.
To be fair, the kitchen has been "done" for about 7 months. In fact
I started this blog right about the time the kitchen was "done".
But now the kitchen is done "done". The last painful details
(including a crack in a custom built sink) were finally completed about
3 weeks ago. So I have decided to document this kitchen. And where do I
document everything in my life? Well here of course!
I won't go into all the gory details. But basically we knocked out
walls and turned a kitchen, a laundry room and my old office into a
large kitchen and eating area. We moved the laundry room to what was
formerly a spooky little space under the garage. We blasted through the
foundation of the house to make a door that attaches the new laundry
room to the kitchen.
The finished product is a beautiful, warm room. Alternatively modern, Victorian and Prairie, it uses light and wood and tile in concert better than any other remodel I've seen in the last few years.
Congratulations to greg and his hard-working architects, Victoria Yust & Ian McIlvain of Tierra Sol y Mar, and the craftspeople who did the actual building of the room.
Last week, in our post on Greentea Design, I made a quick mention of
one specific old-house kitchen remodel using their cabinets. Since
then, Mike Ramsey at Greentea was kind enough to supply me with
comprehensive background information on this particular project, and I
thought it would be of interest to all of you - not just those
considering a kitchen remodel, but anyone interested in how this
Asian-influenced cabinetry can work in a Craftsman home.
kitchen in Kim's turn-of-the-century Ottawa bungalow was originally
attractive, I'm sure, but long before she moved in there, someone with
a surfeit of love for Formica ripped out the original cabinetry and,
unfortunately, expressed themselves all over the room. Fast forward to the both modern and at the same time classic finished product - but don't worry, we'll spell out the whole process for you below; you can read even more about it on Kim's own blog.
had already decided to remove the non-bearing wall that separated the
kitchen from the living room, which made the previous owner's kitchen
cramped and difficult to use. In doing the demolition, she found all sorts of interesting things - layers upon layers of wallpaper and newsprint dating back to 1903. Other demo-related discoveries included what appeared to be horse hair - possibly used for insulation in the ceiling - found when removing wood paneling to allow for can lights,
Soon after the demolition and basic structural changes were completed, Kim received the (very well-packed) cabinetry
from Greentea and began to put things into place. Appliances were
brought in, base cabinets were installed, and whatever minimal
modifications that were needed for plumbing were made, then sink, lighting,
and countertops came next; at this point, it was really starting to
look like the kitchen she'd been waiting for - certainly a feeling
we've all been very happy to have as a remodel starts to actually
resemble the picture we have in our heads. One neat addition at this
point: Kim had a cat hole made in the hatch to her basement, which was mounted on shock absorbers to let it move up and down smoothly - a really nice feature worth emulating.
Again, if you're at all interested in a really good deal on step tansu - my single favorite piece of cabinetry - note that Greentea is running their Step Into Summer promotion, with large discounts on all step tansu, for another two weeks (it ends on June 15!).
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 like a clear coat for kitchen cabinets 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!
Ever since last summer, the city -- specifically, Development Services
and the City Attorney's Office -- have been attempting to streamline
the process that allows for the demolition of buildings in historic
districts that it considers "an imminent threat to health or safety."
Initially, the Landmark Commission was horrified by the plan, which
essentially eliminated the commission from the conversation and allowed
the Fire Marshal's office to call in the wrecking ball. But several meetings later, the city has a compromise, which will be debuted this afternoon at the council's Public Safety Committee meeting.
short, if the city wants a property gone, the Landmark Commission still
gets a review before a certificate of demolition's granted -- but the
time line's significantly shorter, the property owner or contractor has
to show significant and continued progress on a monthly basis, and the
Fire Marshal can "order demolition of a structure, without Landmark
approval, if a clear and imminent threat exists." It's that last part
that concerns Preservation Dallas executive director Katherine Seale,
who this morning tells Unfair Park that caveat allows for the
"possibility of abuse."
photo: The City Attorney's Office had hoped to tear down 2807 Tanner St., but preservationists intervened.
Most of the woodwork was out of African Mahogany with an oxidizing treatment and an oil finish. The kitchen cabinets and trim package are an original design. The fireplace cabinets have a true divided german leaded glass door with the mullion design of the the original Thorsen House.
The backsplash is a mixture of three different shades of greenish/gold tile from North Prairie Tileworks in Minneapolis. All the tile was custom-sized to minimize cutting during installation and eliminate any visible sharp edges. The six electrical covers are made of the same tile in order to hide them as much as possible.
The color was chosen to blend with the paint coloring of the kitchen walls and the three different shades of greenish/gold paint in the adjacent great room. The three shades of gold in the great room are divided by bands of trim and the lowest portion of the wall is green. So the horizontal band of the backsplash mimics the horizontal frieze area in the great room, with the tropical green granite countertop mimicing the lower level green paint color, as well as the green tile on the fireplace (also from North Prairie) and the green Guildcraft rugs (from Northfield Carpets in Minnesota).
We chose a simple subway pattern because we wanted the backslash to be understated rather than call attention to itself. The narrow brick-like size was chosen so that the bottom row could fit effortlessly under the kitchen window trim, where we had very little space. We didn't do the narrow granite backsplash for the counter because my wife didn't like the look of it. (Enough said?)
Bargains are always alluring, and never more so than
now. But while good deals can indeed be had in today's housing market,
the "buyer beware" rule remains very much in force in regard to
fixer-uppers. An old, or even not so old, home that "needs some work"
can prove to be a great buy or a financial sinkhole, depending in part
on the dimensions of the buyer's dreams.
In deciding whether to invest in an old house, my
advice is to resist the cute-puppy syndrome and to make an
unsentimental assessment of how much a rehab will really cost. Then
weigh your willingness to bend the project to fit your budget.
Q. We need advice regarding the semicircular front hall
staircase in an old Dutch Colonial style home we recently bought. A
previous owner stained the oak steps and the entire balustrade,
including the stringer. It's a medium stain but still looks pretty
heavy in an average size entranceway with a wooden floor and with lots
of wood paneling and moldings. We had intended to cover the stairs with
a patterned carpet, but that turns out to be difficult and expensive
because of the circular turn in the staircase. Can you suggest a
A. The simplest of several options is to paint most of
the woodwork - not just the staircase itself but the adjacent moldings
as well. In a relatively small space, I'd go with a light color for all
the painted surfaces, including the stringer, the spindles on the
railing and the risers but not the tread of the stairs. Then, to
produce an attractive contrast, I would use a dark stain on the floor,
the treads of the steps and the staircase's handrail.
Paint over the wood?! This woman should not be writing a column on restoration, conservation or style in general! That's just ridiculous, and is an absolutely last-ditch option when all else fails. Why ruin future generations' enjoyment of the space just to save a few bucks? It's not worth it - we have a duty to conserve our homes, not ruin them ... I assume this person would also advocate covering coved plaster ceilings with acoustic texture, putting plastic slipcovers on furniture instead of, you know, actually sitting on it, carpeting over hardwood floors...
She starts with good advice and then veers into the ridiculous, stupid, and cruel. And to top it off, after this excerpted portion, she goes on to advocate carpeting stair treads in Arts & Crafts homes, a practice that Gustav Stickley himself once (purportedly) called "an abomination." Yes, accent and show off your beautiful wood by covering it up. Pave the backyard, too, while you're at it.
Our good friend and regular contributor Joel McDonald sends in the following, a followup to his last article - in November 2008 - on locating possible black-mold outbreaks (a must-read for anyone considering buying a home, or rehabbing an older house):
Just kidding. It's not as bad as all that. Molds and their relatives are all around us. Their spores can be dormant for long periods of
time, only to become active and start reproducing when conditions are
right. The conditions they need, as you probably know, are moisture and
not too much light. It helps if the place is poorly ventilated since
that allows moisture to build up -- but with enough moisture many molds
can grow even in a draft. Your basement, for example, is what mold
spores probably dream of when they're resting. Damp, lonely, nobody
coming around trying to bother you all the time -- absolutely heavenly,
if you're a mold spore! Even in areas of the country that you might
think of as being too dry for mold to grow, all that's needed is a
chronic spill or a little leak in an unventilated space, and moisture
buildup can lead to mold growth.
The question of how to prevent the growth of black mold is pretty easily answered - keep the environment dry. Do that and you've pretty
much got the problem solved.
What about the condition where the mold has already gotten ahead of you, and it's growing one of your interior spaces? You'll want to
remove the source of moisture, of course, and in most cases this can be
done by using a dehumidifier. If there has been a flood or leak, and
not just a normally-moist environment, then you'll have to first pump
out or mop up, and use plenty of ventilation to dry the space. Use the
biggest fans you can get. It may take days or even weeks, and you might
be able to get started on mold removal in the meantime, but there's not
much point in trying to get out all the mold if the place is still wet.
You should at least wash off the surfaces with detergent and water, and
spot-dry the affected areas as best you can while the space is being
dried out. If wallboard is affected, and it looks like it is more than
surface deep (warped or swollen panels) go ahead and remove the
worst-looking part to expose the spaces between the studs and evaluate
whether you have to remove more wallboard for drying and cleaning the
inside of the walls.
When you have the humidity under control, you can start on the serious business of killing the mold.
You might prefer to just go to the grocery or hardware store and find a commercial preparation to do the job, but some people prefer to
avoid the use of strong chemicals. The use of bleach is sometimes
thought to be a strategy for getting rid of mold, but its use has not
been recommended by the EPA and there are drawbacks to using it -- it
can be dangerous to handle anywhere outside of a washing machine, and
if combined with other common cleaning ingredients such as ammonia
(Caution: Don't!) it can produce dangerous fumes.
For absorbent and porous materials such as insulation, carpet, and acoustic ceiling tile, you may just have to get rid of the material if
is has mold growing throughout and not just on the surface. In most
jurisdictions you can discard it with other household refuse that goes
to a landfill, and it may be a good idea to put it in trashbags if you
can. You can expect to have better success with walls and floors,
particularly if they are smooth. Even with porous materials, though,
there is a chance that a good cleanup might work; depending on what the
material is and how much it will cost to replace, it could be worth
Cleaning Up Naturally
Plain white vinegar applied full strength is an effective mold killer. It may not restore the original appearance by itself, but any
stain remaining after a good dose of vinegar will have no living mold
and can be cleaned or painted over with a high degree of confidence
that the mold that was there will not grow back. Spray or brush it on,
full strength, and scrub a little if needed. The familiar smell is not
too disagreeable for most people, and it will dissipate after a while.
Other natural remedies listed by the Household Mold Guide, which has a number of useful recommendations, are tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract.
Mold should not be ignored. While you might think of it as nothing more than an unsightly mess or an inconvenience, it can cause a variety
of illnesses and -- since it relies on the digestion of organic matter
such as wood and fiber to live - it eats your house. Getting rid of
mold, and preventing its recurrence, is worth whatever effort it takes.
So you may have to move, really - move yourself to action and dry it
out, clean it up!
This article was presented by the ultimate Boulder real estate specialists of Colorado, Automated Homefinder.
I've got a big hunk of wall-hanging cabinetry that I need very solidly mounted to my kitchen wall. If you can recommend a contractor, carpenter or cabinetmaker in Sacramento, California who can do a small job like this, please drop me a line.
The Humphrey House blog details a total, top-to bottom green remodel - keeping many original features but altering the underlying materials and design to make it as energy-efficient as possible - of a beautiful 1920s Chicago bungalow. This is probably the most complete houseblog I've read in a long time. They carefully document every single project (in photos and drawings) - including the little mistakes that we all learn from - in the seemingly-endless quest to turn this drafty but pretty home into a showcase of modern green technology, techniques and materials.
They are also maintaining a list of trusted Chicago contractors in the sidebar, so if you're looking for someone to take on a modernization project on an older home in that area, this is a great place to start.
“We are proud to add this new tile collection to our already large selection of ceramic, glass, wood and metal tile,” said Steve Khan, founder and president of AnchorBayTile.com. “These tiles are available in a 3” x 6” size and come in beautiful colors that offer numerous unique design possibilities for any interior designer, architect or do-it-yourself homeowner who wants to add a classic subway tile design to any room.”
Khan also pointed out that glass subway tile is becoming more popular with his customers because of the timeless beauty it brings to any project. “Glass subway tile is a perfect choice for classic, modern and contemporary decorating styles and works well in areas such as in the kitchen as a backsplash, in the shower as a modern upgrade or as a subtle colorful complement to a tub surround or bathroom vanity backsplash,” Khan said. He added that his commercial customers find that glass subway tile works well for restaurants and hospitality projects.
and built in New Hampshire, their home's modular panels were trucked to
Weston, Mass., for on-site assembly - which went much quicker than a
customary from-the-ground-up barn raising.
Simple Fixtures with the Right Fit
a marriage of rustic charm and industrial elegance, this distinctly
21st century house (and its owners) demanded well-crafted lights that
"had the right vibe." And that's where we came in.
Now, a pair of Rivertons flank the front door, a good fit amid the sturdy beams and weathered wood. And a series of Jeffersons
look lovely hung in multiples above a stone pathway. Says Amy, "We felt
these fixtures fit in well with the overall style of our home, and we
love the warm glow they give the house at night; it's cozy and
Tradition Goes Out on a Limb
that Amy and Pete's new home is finished, it's exceeded their
expectations. "We did not want it to feel like just another house. It's
not your typical home at all. It is part barn and part tree house."
For photos and the full story of the Favat's prefab timberframe home, visit This Old House.
Our good friend and regular contributor Joel McDonald sends in the following:
Black mold can be hazardous to your health. The worst part about it is that it could be growing in your home without you even knowing it. That's because it grows in some unnoticeable places. The important thing is to find it before it gets out of control so you can stop it from spreading. Here are the five most common places where black mold tends to grow within a home so you can do some investigating for yourself.
Wallpaper Your wallpaper could possibly be a breeding ground for black mold spores. Many types of wallpaper glue tend to attract organic materials and dust particles that feed black mold and help it spread.
Ceilings A home's ceiling could have a large amount of black mold as a result of moisture or a leaky roof. If this goes unchecked, you could have a huge area of black mold in your ceiling that continues to grow. Check your ceiling and roof periodically for leaks or water damage. If you see either one, look around for mold immediately to stop it before it spreads.
Basement Most basements are damp. That's just their nature because of where they are. That's why it's common to find black mold in your basement. Mold can grow on wooden materials in your basement. In addition to causing health problems, this can also weaken the structure and of your home and reduce its stability.
Drywall Since mold often grows within your home's walls, drywall is a great place to start looking for it. Drywall that has experienced moisture or dampness is subject to mold. The mold can also spread rather quickly along the drywall. You can usually see this by noticing if the paint on the drywall cracks or peels. If you find a piece of drywall with mold on it, the only way to fix the problem is replace all affected parts of the drywall with new pieces.
Window Frames The area around your windows is a major place to find growing mold. Since cold and warm air meet here and there is often moisture surrounding the windows, mold can grow exponentially in these areas. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to inspect your window frames for toxic black mold. You essentially need to look within the seal to see if anything is growing. If your windows are drafty, it may be smart to get them replaced. This can prevent the growth of future mold, and help lower your energy bills. Consult a professional like Roofs By Rodger for all of your window needs.
Black mold isn't something to take lightly. For some, it can cause allergic reactions, asthma, skin rashes and even lung inflammation. Others have reported experiencing fever and wheezing as a result of living with black mold. That's why it's so important to catch it before it spreads too far. Just keep an eye on the moisture in your home and black mold shouldn't be a problem for you.
This blogger had a pretty mediocre experience (and I use the word "mediocre" very generously) with a housepainter, who did a shoddy job and then never showed up to finish it, so in the end it was not just shoddy but half-assed as well. How would you handle this situation? And have you ever had a similar problem with a contractor who dropped the ball or signed on for far more than they were capable of delivering?
some very funky cabinetry gets a makeover; the new stuff, though, is a bit too trendy for me; another similar kitchen simply paints the nasty old cabinets white, and while it's still a bit funky, it's still a huge improvement
a little bit of color and a change in hardware make a huge difference to this restored hutch & floor
Add a little, gain a lot. That's the
lesson Monica and David Stephenson learned when they made a small
addition to the cramped galley kitchen in their Seattle home.
along the line, the kitchen had been poorly remodeled and "had no
relationship to the rest of the house or backyard," Monica recalls. It
simply didn't work for the bustle of daily life with 2-year-old
daughter Sophia, infant daughter Annabel, and two big Akitas.
the couple yearned for an updated kitchen with more space, they wanted
it to fit the style of their 1918 Craftsman bungalow. Also on their
list: a breakfast area with a backyard view, a home office, storage
space, and a more generous back porch where muddy boots and paws could
minor updates to this article, originally from Hewn & Hammered in 2004:
People often think of the interior of Arts & Crafts period homes as austere, minimilist spaces devoid of pattern. They envision tasteful rich woods and plain walls with only a jewel tone paint shade as a foil. There may have been some interiors like that, but the height of the Arts and Crafts movement coincided with the height of Victorian decorating. Rather than homes and design books of the period only embracing one or the other style, what often occurred was a blending of the two styles. One of the finest examples of graphic art to come out of this period were the many rich and detailed wallpaper designs.
When you think of Arts & Crafts designs it is the iconic images that often come to mind. From the famous Morris chrysanthemums, pomegranates, daisies and marigolds to Frank Lloyd Wright's hollyhocks
and branch borders, these patterns from nature figure prominently in
all manner of Arts & Crafts design. Morris was said to have
considered wallpaper a 'medium of communication' and created over 144
distinctive textile designs that were reproduced in several different
mediums such as textiles, wall coverings and carpets. Historically, the
actual creation Arts and Crafts period wallpaper was a painstakingly
difficult and involved process. Long sheets of paper were rolled out on
great tables and dozens of artisans using a primitive silkscreening
process layered on paint in highly detailed repetitive patterns. This
made the wallpaper prohibitively expensive for the average decorator.
But when you have a great room sometimes painting techniques and
stencilwork just won't cut it; they just can't give that 'wow' factor -
that's when it's time to look to wallpapers.
From a ceiling frieze to a feature wall to a room done completely in
a bold pattern to mimic your favourite period estate, wallpapers is
what you are looking for. But, where do you find them? Aren't they
Not necessarily. The advent of laser printing techniques and
computer-aided design have changed all of that, and as a result prices
have come down so mere mortal restorers and decorators can work with
the medium and get the same stunning effect. Currently, several
companies are recreating these intricate designs.
A local favourite and one of the few A&C suppliers on the East Coast, J.R.. Burrows & Company and Burrows Studio
of Rockland MA consider themselves historical design merchants. The
Burrows Studio, a division of J.R. Burrows & Co., produces and
recreates designs that are representative of the Aesthetic and the
early Anglo-American Arts & Crafts movements. The wallpaper designs
are mainly English in origin, as the English A&C movement was - and
continues to be - highly influential in New England. There are graphic
samples of the papers as well as a provenance and a detailed
description of each style on their extensive website.
Heading out to the west coast one of the finer manufacturers is Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers.
As recently as 2000, Bradbury and Bradbury began using computers to
print their beautiful Arts & Crafts friezes, and they are gorgeous,
lush, rich (okay, okay, I know - enough adjectives, but I can't help
it!) full of color and bold, beautiful designs. The site is unique in
that designs are grouped by color theme. Choose an olive room and the
site will show how to coordinate various Bradbury designs into a single
cohesive look. You can view it all on the site or order a catalog to
peruse with a good cup of tea in your Morris chair.
Last stop is way up north in Canada at Charles Rupert Designs Ltd.,
dedicated to supplying "splendid items for the traditional home and
garden." Not only do they have all the paper patterns you have been
dreaming of, but they have the fabrics to match. One of their great
features is a complete wallpaper and fabric sample cutting service
which will allow you to see what you envision before you commit.
Everything they sell is top quality and they strive to use traditional
natural materials wherever possible, shunning plastic, vinyl and other
Thanks to Jo Horner of the always entertaining and often very touching Counting Sheep for this wonderful article!
Renovation Design Group, a residential architecturel firm with offices in Seattle and Salt Lake City, transformed a very bland, ho-hum 1924 bungalow in Salt Lake City into a beautiful piece of livable art. This Craftsman-style bungalow remodel involved the entire house, from the landscaping and exterior finish to the addition of Craftsman detailing in every interior room. Some modern touches are a bit anti-Craftsman (odd inset ceilings, can lights, ceiling vents, non-Arts and Crafts cabinet detailing in the kitchen and a few other places, but they don't ruin it by any means.
Aaron and Carolyn weren’t in a rush to get started. They had lived
in their 1924 Craftsman-style bungalow for about a decade and had made
several small changes that kept the space livable. But while they knew
they should probably do a major remodel, they were content to spend
lots of time thinking about it but not much time working toward it.
“We knew from the time we moved in
that we were going to remodel, but it was just the two of us, and it
was hard to get motivated,” Carolyn says.
But when their daughter came
along, they needed more room and they wanted to make the home safer for
their child. So they knew the time had come to move from dreaming about
a remodel to getting the work done. Their home was built by Carolyn’s
grandfather, and it was the home in which her mother was raised. So
there were plenty of sentimental reasons to keep the house while
modernizing it for a growing family.
engaged Renovation Design Group to help them figure out how to do that.
Architect Annie Vernon, using her own ideas and those brought by the
couple, took them through several options for updating their home. The
couple decided on a plan they loved and moved forward. But after
engineering evaluations, they could see that the original masonry walls
would not meet code and would require extensive reengineering to make
the remodel work. It would be an expensive process with no guarantees.
So they had to make the painful decision to teardown grandpa’s house—an
option they had not entertained. “It was a hard decision,” remembers
Carolyn. But since reinforcing the old walls “just didn’t make sense”
in the end, they went back to the drawing board and began planning for
a tear-down and rebuild.
If they couldn’t keep the
original house, they were definitely committed to keeping grandpa’s
spirit. “We liked the style of the house, and if we were going to have
to rebuild it, we wanted to keep the style,” says Carolyn. So with
Annie’s help, they designed another craftsman bungalow. The original
home had once had a large front porch, so they brought it back in the
new design. They also kept thematic elements from the previous design
and incorporated them into the new house, such as a half wall and
pillars separating their living, dining room, and new craftsman
bungalow kitchen, as well as lower ceilings in portions of the house to
maintain the cozy cottage feel.
Aaron and Carolyn also
salvaged materials from the old house and reused them in the new house.
The moldings around the windows are either the exact wood used in the
previous home or an exact replica. They also reused glass block for a
living room window, adorned new doors with old knobs, and kept the
fireplace mantel. And the exterior brick was meticulously preserved,
cleaned, and re-laid.
regular contributor Joel McDonald forwards us this advice on how to ensure you get good value for your home-improvement dollar:
If you are a homeowner, you have probably thought about remodeling.
If you are getting ready to sell, it could very well be the time to do
a bit of remodeling, and increase the value. Home improvements can be
expensive, so, of course, the average homeowner will try to get the
nicest improvements done with the least cost. Saving money is a big
consideration for most homeowners, but that certainly does not mean you
want a cheap job.
The cost of investing in and maintaining real estate makes it a
serious business. If you are not careful, you could over-invest,
whether a project is for a single room, the roofing or landscaping, or
the whole property. Hiring a legitimate professional is key to getting
a good remodeling job done at the right price.
The Federal Trade Commission says that homeowners should be aware of
the tricks of dishonest companies. The FTC warns about these warnings
that your contractor might be trouble:
insists on the need for a quick commitment
asks for full payment up front
offers you a cheaper price for finding other clients
offers you a special price due to (how lucky you are!) having extra materials on hand
asks you to get the building permits
only accepts cash
Any of those circumstances could be a sign that you should run and
get a different firm. Sometimes a bogus contractor will also try to get
you to borrow from a lender that they know. At its worst, a loan scam
could literally put you out of house and home.
Precautions to Take
There are several precautions you should take to keep from being taken
advantage of. Interview potential contractors thoroughly. The FTC
suggests that you ask how long they have been doing business, license
details, and insurance offerings. Check with the city or county
building office. Ask around. These things are not unlike the normal way
you normally approach any big purchase or transaction.
Another important tip is asking for recent references. Not only
should you get a list of references, but you should call and checkup on
them. Ask these references about the quality of the job. Question them
about whether there were last-minute costs, and other problems.
Terms of payment must be clear and agreed upon before the job is
started. Some local laws set limits on how much higher the actual cost
can be above the contract estimate. Check into the laws where your work
will be performed.
The Los Angeles Busines Journal tells us that old-home restoration in LA is a booming business, largely untouched by the problems that have hit home resellers and new home builders. Perhaps this is because more and more people are nesting - settling in to spend more years at homes they might have sold in previous years - and are taking renovation (and, in historical homes, restoration) much more seriously as long-term investments than they would have before. Flippers see restoration as something to be done cheaply, on the surface, for quick return; people who live in neighborhoods and care about their own quality of life and that of the area see it as an investment to be done right. Read Daniel Miller's full article:
Times are slow in the housing market, but it would be hard to tell by following Kevin Kuzma through a typical day.
historic home restoration consultant is busy from early morning to
evening, picking up raw materials, visiting construction sites, doing
estimates and meeting with clients.
“It’s gotten busier and
busier. I haven’t felt any slow down,” said Kuzma, whose Revival Arts
Restoration business is based in his Angelino Heights home.
that for folks like Ron Radziner, principal at Los Angeles architecture
firm Marmol Radziner and Associates, which specializes in restoration
and new custom residential homes.
Or Charles Fisher, who has
built a busy business helping owners of historic homes qualify for
coveted tax breaks that can lower a state property tax bill by up to 80
Builders may be practically giving away homes in
far-flung Los Angeles County subdivisions amid slow sales all around,
but there’s one corner of the housing market that so far has been
immune from it all.
Historic homes in architectural styles such
as Craftsman, Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco have all grown in
popularity in recent years. What’s more, an increased interest in famed
20th century architects has led to a blossoming of the cottage industry
that services and sells historic homes by renowned figures such as
Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright and John Lautner.
My cousin Leora was doing a bit of renovation in her Chicago bungalow and found that a previous owner had done some wood paneling - until now, covered by a newer wall - in deconstructed Bull Durham tobacco crates. Does anyone know if these are especially collectible to anyone?
What interesting objects or spaces have you found when remodeling or otherwise repairing your home?
An article by Holly Hayes in last week's San Jose Mercury News caught my eye, mostly for the photo of the very pretty period breakfast nook (photo by David M. Barreda):
stuff you find out about houses — and the people who lived in them — is
just fascinating," Tucker says. She has mined the Internet for old maps
and phone directories and even tracked down relatives of a former
resident to gather clues about what the place looked like before
several "improvements" were made.
Tucker calls the process "backdating," finding the home's true self, if you will.
latest project involves the back door and a cute little breakfast nook
— a feature they were nearly certain was once there. Indeed, they were
right. When they found the great-niece of longtime owner May Duignan,
she recalled snacking on tea and cookies there.
Tucker says the
nook — a built-in that sat under two windows on the back wall of the
kitchen — was removed when a former owner turned a service porch into a
second bathroom and rerouted the back door through the kitchen.
The new back door was a problem for both historical and practical reasons.
French doors that had been installed in the kitchen were just not
correct to the period of the house," Tucker says of the circa 1922
bungalow. "Plus, they let in too much light and heat in the summer and
too much cold in the winter."
Out they went, and in their place is a single window and a wide back door, both which still allow views to the back garden.
Losing the French doors also cleared the way for the construction of the new breakfast nook,
which Tucker and Zappe designed. Paul Davis, who Tucker describes as a
"wizard with wood," built it. Davis, who is now studying architecture
in San Diego, is the skilled handyman responsible for carrying out the
couple's ambitious projects.
Various stories on radioactivity being found in granite countertops have popped up in various places over the past several weeks, most of them pushed very strongly by a specific advocacy group (a group that lobbies on behalf of synthetic countertop makers). There's not a lot beyond the scare tactics of the story, so I don't think there's any reason to pull out your granite; that said, some scientists have gone on the record as saying there are rare cases of significantly radioactive countertops, so it is something to think about.
“It’s not that all granite is dangerous,” said Stanley Liebert, the
quality assurance director at CMT Laboratories in Clifton Park, N.Y.,
“But I’ve seen a few that might heat up your Cheerios a little.”
The E.P.A. recommends taking action if radon gas levels in the home
exceeds 4 picocuries per liter of air (a measure of radioactive
emission); about the same risk for cancer as smoking a half a pack of
cigarettes per day; a few granite countertops exceed this, but not
many. But others, like Lou Witt of the EPA, say “There is no known safe
level of radon or radiation.” Moreover, he said, scientists agree that
“any exposure increases your health risk.” New York Times
Of course, completely secondary to the radioactivity issue, Granite is not an environmentally sound choice for countertops: the mining is incredibly devastating, it's often shipped around the world for processing and cutting, and it is - obviously - completely non-renewable. The fact that it may outgas radioactive substances and contain radioactive ores is now something else to worry about, or maybe Mother Nature's revenge for being assaulted.
Thanks to Treehugger for digging a bit deeper (at least, deeper than the New York Times or anyone else had bothered to).
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.
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
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
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
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
The Sacramento Bee, full of ads for new homes, window replacements and other signifiers of the area's sprawling suburbs, recently ran this article urging homeowners to keep old windows and work with existing ventilation. Visit the Bee itself to read the whole story.
Matthew Piner's handsomely restored Victorian blends old-world charm
and state-of-the-art energy efficiency. The 1903 home, which sits on
Capitol Avenue among the so-called M Street mansions, has its original
double-hung windows with subtle imperfections such as wavy glass,
spirals and bull's-eyes. Instead of ripping out and replacing the
windows, Piner weatherstripped them with bronze springs so they would
seal tightly, boosting efficiency.
"There's an epidemic of
replacing windows going on in Sacramento," said Kathleen Green, a
preservationist and member of the Sacramento Old City Association. The
group will host a round table Saturday to highlight fruitful
energy-saving fixes that preserve a home's distinct and historic
Green said replacing old windows with vinyl ones may not reap energy savings and could decrease the value of an older dwelling.
Piner, an architect and owner of Piner Works Design Build Group,
said many Sacramento Victorians and bungalows were built with
ventilation to take advantage of the Delta breeze.
In his home,
transom windows above doors, a feature of many old homes that predate
air conditioning, offer an escape hatch for warm air and help air
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:
Brokenbungalow, aka Steve & family, are on track to finish their current restoration project - which should be done in "20 or 30 years." He's recently documented a new roof installation, the addition of many new windows, and alterations to the second floor.
Forman Lizee's beautiful brick Birmingham bungalow (say that ten times fast!) continues to get even prettier, inside and out.
With most folks Usenet access now coming through Google Groups, I guess it's easier to refer to these things as the latter than the former. Either way, check out alt.home.repair - it's a tremendously busy group, with thousands of visitors asking questions - and getting good advice - on everything from the best way to prime flashing and gutters to discussion of direct-vent gas appliances, drain installation, pointing mortar and plenty more. In addition to our own forums (above), this is a great place to get advice and share your knowledge on almost any old-house related topic.
Selling reclaimed materials (mostly wood, from slabs to milled boards and all sorts of bits and pieces of trim) and billing themselves as a "salvage boutique," Heritage Salvage certainly knows how to market themselves to Marin County. In addition to the expected salvaged materials and fixtures, they carry a pretty wide range of furniture built from salvaged materials, from modern pieces to those more specifically Mission.
I recently installed bamboo planks in my newly-remodeled kitchen. Part of me wishes I had done a bit more research - both on the material, which is very soft and was seriously scuffed by the appliance installers (thank you, Home Depot), and because the installer did a poor job of fitting the planks up against each other, many of which are now seriously gapped. That said, it is a very attractive and inexpensive material, and comes in much harder varieties, and the substandard installation is no fault of the material.
In this short video, HGTV's Angela Chee gives a run-down of various new materials available for kitchen flooring, touching on varieties of hardwood, tile, bamboo and laminates.
An article on the same HGTV Kitchen Design site gives a tutorial on cork floor installation, with a number of photographs; this is something that almost anyone can do themselves. The material is very soft but also inexpensive. One blogger shares her experience.
Forbo produces Marmoleum in sheets and click-together tiles of various sizes. This is not an inexpensive product, but it is renewable - or at least the materials it's made from are - and the manufacturing process is relatively eco-friendly; it's also a very long-lived material, and comes in an enormous array of colors. This blogger records their own decision to go with Marmoleum, and how they chose colors from the myriad choices available on the retail market; a group of folks on the Berkeley Parents Network boards chime in with their experiences with the product.
this Maryland / DC contractor shows off a few attractive kitchens, some of which mix contemporary appliances and lighting with some very pretty wood;
here's one that didn't quite work.
Purportedly in an historic bungalow in a neighborhood of historic bungalows, the kitchen is certainly
Victorian - anti-Arts & Crafts in every way - and mixes a very, very contemporary glass
mosaic tile with faux-antique cabinetry that looks like it's been
purposely grimed. Not sure what to make of that, but I hope it works with the rest of the house. It's a little scary.
Reader and regular contributor Joel McDonald - a real estate
professional who frequently writes on issues important to those
considering buying, remodeling or restoring an older home - submits the
Most people, faced with the prospect of having to spruce up their
home before selling it, have to face down the nagging thought of "Why
didn't we do this for ourselves?" It's with a bit of regret that a
homeowner will realize that work is needed, but you can't go back and
change the past. Starting from where you are, the question becomes,
"How can we get the most return from the investment of repairs and
remodeling?" There isn't an exact formula, of course, but you'll be
spending money trying to make prospective buyers, rather than yourself,
happy – at least happy enough that they will want to pay you more than
you have to spend on the work. The satisfaction that you will get from
turning over a home in top condition counts for a good part of the
bargain as well.
Be Careful in Deciding What Needs to Be Done
Just because you never liked that mirror over the guest bathroom sink,
it doesn't mean that now is the time to replace it. It may be the
someone else's favorite kind. We're talking here about the kinds of
things you have gotten used to over the years, and might not even see
any more -- broken shingles, worn carpet, the window that sticks,
cabinets that need refacing. Some of these are things that, like seeing
a child grow, change so slowly we don't realize it day-to-day. In other
cases something breaks and "I'll get it fixed later" never happens and
you adapt, work around it, and forget about it. In order to present an
inviting and pleasant appearance you have to look at your home with
studied, focused attention. Make a list.
Get the Best Prices on Things You Have to Buy for the Project
This one's a no-brainer, but it's so obvious that many people overlook
it. Don't just enter into a fog of "It's a big project and it will cost
a lot." To maximize your return, do some careful shopping for the the
best prices you can find. If you are able, even in a stretch, to do
some of the work yourself, do it. Depending on what needs to be done,
if you take your time and shop carefully you can take advantage of good
sales and discounts at home improvement stores and local suppliers.
Look for discontinued and going-out-of-season items to find deals on
things that will have appeal from a buyer's perspective and still be
If you have old, worn carpeting, that gives a bad impression. New
carpets can add significant appeal and value to your home. We're not
talking here about the possibility of finding beautiful wood flooring
hidden under the carpet – that can happen, and it's a different set of
choices with a different set of economic payback possibilities. Just on
the subject of what to do about old carpet, though, it can be more than
just a shopping chore, and more rewarding with a little effort. To
really go on the low-cost end of doing the upgrade, you can get
remnants and end pieces from an outlet store, and piece them together
at installation. If you can do a proper installation yourself, that's
all to the good, but it takes skill and experience to do a good job. If
you get a professional carpet installer to install it, you can expect
the seams to be invisible and the result will look as good as any other
When it comes to getting the biggest return for your remodeling
investment dollar, paint is in the superstar category. Shop discount
stores for reasonably-priced paint. As for your color choices, keep it
clean and simple. White, the old standby, is often the best choice
because it represents a good "default" selection for many buyers. For
buyers who have a clear sense of their own color preferences, the white
background is no impediment to them and they will be able to "see" the
room in their favorite colors. One thing you can be sure of: if you
decide to use distinctively different colors to appeal to your own
artful sensibilities, then the buyer's preferences will be wildly
different. It's a rule of nature.
Replace or Upgrade Appliances
If you have to replace appliances such as the refrigerator, washer,
dryer, dishwasher and so on, look for scratch and dent bargains. There
are always lots of appliances with minor scratches, and you can select
the ones that have the damage on a side facing a wall or next to
another appliance, where it won't be a problem. The price reduction can
be dramatic, and in many cases you can get it for even less that the
tagged price, if you ask. These are things that store managers want off
their property and out of sight.
Another consideration on appliances is that if they are in working
order they might not have to be replaced at all. Even if they are a
little outdated, as long as they work, you don't have to replace them
just to sell the house. Houses are often sold without appliances, after
all: replacing or updating appliances is an upgrade that should pay you
back right away in the price of the house, so you have to do it at a
pretty low cost or you can skip it. In the in-between, hard-to-decide
zone of whether it's worth it or not, you may consider finding
appliances at secondhand stores.
Remodeling Makes a Difference
In getting a home ready for sale, what you want to achieve is an
inviting and pleasant appearance, where buyers can imagine themselves
living with everything in perfect order. Distractions, entering from
the realm of broken, dirty or worn things in the home, impinge on this
dream-home experience. That can cost you the sale. You want to create
this experience for the buyer, though, without spending too much. The
prices you pay won't impress anyone, so spending more than you need to
can be a particularly bad choice when the main reason for doing it is
return on investment. Keep it simple, shop carefully and don't overdo
it. The money you make will be the result of not only careful choices
in what needs to be done, but also of finding smart ways to do it.
This is certainly old news to anyone who has attempted, completed or is mired in the middle of a home remodel - especially if it's your own house, and certainly if you are attempting to live there through the project:
There’s no doubt that a remodeling, addition
or new construction job brings stress to the homeowners. Just ask me.
Last spring we added a new upstairs bedroom and a downstairs entryway
and mudroom, losing our attic space, emptying our garage and losing a
bay in the process. Where to put the stuff and how to find it again
were just two of the stresses encountered. We chose to hire a project
manager, so hiring of all the subs was his problem, but we stressed and
sweated over every decision. In fact, most veterans of a remodeling
project will tell you that the two key qualities you need to survive a
home project are the ability to make decisions and spend money — fast.
Dean Dowd runs a blog devoted solely to remodeling issues at Calfinder.com. Calfinder is probably the only one of a class of sites - those that purport to find you a handyman, contractor or skilled craftsperson near you for a particular project - that actually work well, due to the extensive screening process & database that they are continually updating and finessing.
Thanks to Dean for having one of his staff write this article - specifically for Hewn & Hammered - on identifying, treating and preventing housemold mold:
Whether you are planning a bathroom remodel or have just completed one, it’s important to remember that the work doesn’t stop there. Because even the most spotless home contains some degree of mold, homeowners must stay vigilant at recognizing the signs of excessive mold growth. Mold is a substance that creeps up on old and new homes alike. When mold begins to multiply indoors, the outcome can affect your health as well as the health of your home. This includes damage to building materials, household goods, and furniture. Breathing mold in or coming into physical contact with mold can result in various health symptoms, including allergies, asthma, infection, irritation, and even toxic effects.
What is mold?
Recognizing mold begins with an understanding of what the substance is and where it comes from. Mold is a type of fungus that floats in the air and rests upon surfaces. There is no way to avoid mold altogether, as small particles of mold are found everywhere in indoor and outdoor air.
Molds thrive in areas with high moisture and humidity, such as neighborhoods in fog banks or in specific rooms of the house, such as the basement or shower. Moisture can result in a variety of ways, from faulty pipes or building leaks to poor ventilation and regular use of a humidifier. Mold spores spread via water particles and act like seeds in search of the right conditions to spread.
To grow and multiply, mold needs 3 things:
moisture for growth
space for growth
nutrients for growth, such as wood or sheetrock
When should you worry?
Now that you know the basic character of mold, what should you do about it? If you can easily see and smell your mold, you may have an issue that needs fixing. Mold stains look fuzzy, cottony, or leathery and can appear in various colors. Since it normally appears where there’s moisture, check for mold in areas exposed to water. Mold has a pungent musty smell. The good news is that visible indoor mold can usually be cleaned off hard surfaces.
Some forms of mold produce chemicals called mycotoxins. These can result in more serious health effects. Sampling the air for mold cannot be done visually and would require professional testing.
What should I do about it?
Simply cleaning mold as soon as it appears can prevent it from becoming a problem. Check for mold between bathroom tiles and even in the folds of your shower curtain. Wear rubber gloves and goggles and use a regular cleaning detergent or commercial mold remover to wash it off. Afterwards, throw away the rag or sponge you used to do the clean-up and dry the area thoroughly. Wet surfaces in the home should be dried completely within 24 hrs.
Prevention is an important precaution to take to keep the nasty mold spores away. Some simple ways to prevent mold include the following:
regularly open windows to ventilate the house
immediately clean small and large spills
maintain a 30-60 percent humidity level
avoid carpeting in basements and carpets
add mold inhibitors to paint
replace carpets or other water-absorbent materials after soaking
quickly investigate and address underlying problems, such as leaks
If you’re worried about having a mold variety with mycotoxins, hire a professional to extract a sample and test it for dangerous substances. Attempting this alone can increase your risk of exposure.
Want more information? Here are some helpful links about mold:
I'm in the process of remodeling my own kitchen, and found an enormous variety of prices for very similar items. Some sinks - European brands, mostly - were ridiculously expensive, when the exact same sink (in this case, an enormous 36" stainless steel apron-fron) was 1/2 the price or less from an American vendor. I took a closer look - the metal looked the same, it was the same weight and construction, and was probably built at the same factory by the same people!
You really do need to shop around, and don't let your contractor suggest an expensive item when you can find the exact same thing for a fraction of the price. I found my beautiful sink from Matt Roberts' Lavello Sinks and really couldn't be happier with the sink or the service. Matt is a commercial contractor and property manager who found a great source for sinks that would otherwise go for $1500; he realized that there was a huge need for affordable but good quality stainless sinks, and I'm sure that his business will thrive. His prices are far better than anything else I've found elsewhere, and the shipping was super-fast and very affordable. If every transaction and interaction I had to engage with over the course of this remodel was as pleasant, painless (and, again, affordable) as my interaction with Matt, it sure would make the whole process a lot easier!
Once my kitchen is done - I'm thinking we're about eight weeks away - I'll post pictures of the sink installation and the finished project. Until then, if you're looking for a pretty and modern stainless sink that works very well with an historic kitchen, check him out, and tell him I sent you!
My constant urging to check Flickr out for design ideas is probably getting pretty old at this point - sorry about that. Here are three attractive working kitchens, wholly or partially documented in photographs on Flickr:
Tackling home repairs and improvements begins with making a very
personal decision. Are you capable of doing the job, or do you need
help? How much help do you need? Maybe another experienced
do-it-yourselfer can provide assistance, or perhaps you can take a
course at your a local college or night school and learn how to do the
work. Or maybe not. Professional help is expensive, but in some cases,
you have no choice but to suck it up and call a repairperson. These are the things to consider:
Most repair work and maintenance jobs are a matter of understanding how things work and having the right tools to fix them.
Anyone can learn basic painting, plumbing, masonry, electrical or
construction work, but for complex tasks, consider the specialized
knowledge, testing equipment, and tools that might be needed. If it's a
radio, television, photographic equipment, camera, computer, or the oil
burner in your furnace that's on the fritz, you should call a qualified
repairperson. Even if you have the courage to try and do the work, the
cost of the testing equipment and specialized tools are probably
prohibitive. If you want to rewire the house, there are safety issues
involved and you really should consult a professional.
How accessible is the item to be repaired? If it's something
that is built into the house and you have to tear the wall apart to get
at it, you had better know exactly what you are going to do when you
get there; otherwise call a professional right away. It's probably less
expensive in the long run.
Home Repairs – How to Get Started Can you really save money after laying down what seems like a fortune for tools and materials? Yes, you can.
Find a safe, protected work area, such as the garage, the basement, or
an insulated and well-lit shed. You need to store tools and supplies
and keep them dry and safe; and you need a place to saw, sand, and
basically make a mess that won't interfere with the daily lives of
those who share your home.
Begin by stocking your work area and tool kit with the basics:
You need a hammer, various sizes and styles of screwdrivers (at least
four or five), an adjustable wrench, a crosscut saw, a
two or three sizes of paint brushes, spackle paste or fill, duct tape,
silicone caulking, penetrating oil and machine oil, glue, sandpaper,
electrical tape, masking tape, and an assortment of screws, anchors,
nails, washers, and o-rings. And that's just the start. You will need
to add other items as repair jobs and home improvement projects crop
Start with the easy stuff: replace the socket on that
flickering lamp; paint a small room, replace the washer and the o-ring
on that dripping tap; put together an easy-to-assemble doll house. Once
you master simple repair tasks, you will have the confidence to try
more complex jobs.
The Sky is the Limit
As you become
familiar with hand tools and simple home repairs and improvements, you
will develop a taste for more complex do-it-yourself projects and
hunger after speed and efficiency. You'll realize that it's easy to
improve the resale value of your home by adding a deck, but first, you
need to add power tools to your tool arsenal. And you can afford them
now because you no longer throw out things that don't work and don't
have to pay for professional repairs.
Check out Bosch cordless drills
for drilling holes and driving in screws, and do some comparison
shopping like reading reviews and reports on models by Hitachi, Makita,
Delta, DeWalt, Ridgid, Ryobi, etc.
Don't think about adding crown molding to your house without
investing in a sliding miter saw, and again, check major brands and
read reviews before you buy.
For almost every hand tool there is
a power tool, and you will love them all. And before you know it,
you'll be able to assemble a doll house in no time at all.
Scott Gray is currently a home
improvement handyman enthusiast and freelance writer who enjoys
providing tips to consumers who are in the market for hand and power
compound miter saws.
Reader and regular contributor Joel McDonald - a real estate professional who frequently writes on issues important to those considering buying, remodeling or restoring an older home - submits the following:
Even though lead-based paint has been outlawed for a long time, it is still a very real issue for both homeowners and real estate agents. In 1992, the Housing and Community Development Act made it so that seller of real estate had to disclose potential lead-based paint hazards to the purchaser at the time of sale. Lead was used as a paint additive for nearly 125 years before it was linked to health problems around 1978. That year, it was determined that lead would not be added to paint as an additive any longer. Any home that was built prior to 1978 could potentially have a lead-based paint problem.
The Hazards of Lead-Based Paint
The presence of lead-based paint in a home environment can lead to lead poisoning. Children under the age of six run the greatest risk of developing lead poisoning from lead-based paint because young, growing bodies absorb many of the minerals that they come into contact with, whether it is much needed calcium or very dangerous lead. Continuously high levels of lead in the body can lead to brain damage, behavior problems, hearing problems, and damage to the nervous system. These problems can occur in both adults and children, and additionally in children, normal growth can be impaired.
Any home built prior to 1978 that has cracked, peeling, or chipping paint should be treated as a potential hazard and should be repaired immediately. If paint containing lead was used around the window or door frames in the home, the process of opening and closing these items may be creating a surprisingly large amount of dust containing lead. This dust is potentially hazardous and can be difficult to get rid of. Vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting can cause the lead dust to reenter the air and dust will be kicked up every time you take a step within the home. The dust can also be tracked outside where it will contaminate the soil around the home.
Does Your Home Have a Lead-Based Paint Problem?
In order to discover whether your home has a lead-based paint problem, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that every home built prior to 1978 receive a paint inspection conducted by a trained professional. A paint inspection will let the homeowner know the lead content of every painted surface in the home and will uncover any areas or sources of serious lead exposure.
Although there are kits available commercially that allow the homeowner to conduct the testing on their own, the EPA recommends an inspection conducted by a professional inspector to uncover any dangerous areas that may be overlooked by the untrained eye. Some states have very specific rules and regulations dealing with the discovery and remedy of a lead-based paint issue, and the professional inspectors will be able to advise the homeowner of these rules and let them know the next step in the process of removing lead-based paint from their home.
Fourth in our series on kitchen remodels (and about the 25th article on the subject; previous episodes here), this time we're taking a look at Southern California. High-end kitchens from the area's best contractors, relatively inexpensive DIY projects and various steps in between:
Qualified Remodeler magazine's 2007 Chrysalis Awards - the 14th year these awards have been given to residential and commercial modelers across the country - include a number of great Southern California remodels. A lot of the remodels are pretty hideous, in my own opinion - cabinets that clash with the style of the house, ridiculous French and English country cottage motifs that are inconsistent with the house and neighborhood, things like that. I understand that designers have to do what owners want, but there's no reason to submit that kind of work for an award. It's not all overdone, glitzy and ridiculous, though; for example, the winner of the 2007 Best Whole House Remodel under $200,000 award, Moving Mountains Design in Pasadena, did a pretty good job.
Stefan Hammerschmidt remodeled his 1924 Venice bungalow, including a spare and functional kitchen. Check out the marble counters and the beautiful stove & giant range hood. Read more about it at the LA Times' great remodel-focused blog, Pardon Our Dust, by Kathy Price-Robinson. Another recent column looks at "the best-looking DIY kitchen (they've) seen yet." Now, why can't some big fancy magazine or newspaper hire me to blog for them?
A good article by Kytja Weir in last week's Charlotte Observer, on the constant butting of heads between historic preservationists who look at a neighborhood as an organic whole and selfish me-firsters who want the freedom to do whatever they want with their own property, damn the neighbors and everyone else. Gee, can you tell which camp I fit into? An excerpt:
Tim Griffin, the association president, had invited builders,
architects and others, trying to inspire his neighbors about how to
renovate their homes without changing the feel of the newly popular
"I'm just so adamant about no more McMansions," he said.
he knows his neighborhood has no power to restrict renovations. "We're
not a homeowners' association. We're not a historic district. So the
next best thing is to educate."
The neighborhood of small homes,
many dating from the 1930s, is starting to feel a tension already
experienced in Charlotte's older neighborhoods around uptown such as
Dilworth, Myers Park, Elizabeth, Plaza-Midwood and Wesley Heights as
people with bigger tastes move in.
Today Americans seek more space than their parents. In new developments bigger homes can be built without hindrances.
the desire for more space creates a tension in some older
neighborhoods, built for the needs of the past. Neighbors there find
themselves walking a line between preserving the past and maintaining
property rights, promoting growth yet controlling how it takes shape.
The Healthy House Institute has an interesting article on a recent series of eight episodes of This Old House devoted to the "greening" of a 1926 Craftsman bungalow in Austin, Texas:
Taking on its first-ever project in Austin, Texas, This Old House shares
strategies and solutions for transforming a historic house into a low
maintenance, healthy, and comfortable eco-friendly home.
The renovation of a 1926 Craftsman-style bungalow for newly married
homeowners Michele Grieshaber and Michael Klug will be “green” in
nature, while making room for a growing family — including Michael’s two
young sons, Sam and David — with the addition of two bedrooms and a
modest full bath on a new second floor.
technologies that conserve energy and water, and opting for durable and
sustainable materials, This Old House is taking an outdated house and
giving it an energy-efficient future, while showing that “green” does
not have to be experimental, or expensive.
Since this ground-up remodel included low-maintenance, low-water xeriscaping, that became one episode all by itself; another was dedicated solely to the planning process - something worthy of extra attention whenever you're working with new and unorthodox materials and techniques. The episode also generated plenty of materials for articles on subjects as varied as lighting and remodeling with and for families with children on the TOH website.
Yesterday, HGTV ran an episode of their reZONED program on Richard Baumhofer & Cindy Bechtel's beautiful Curtis Park home in a remodeled and restored firehouse, which we originally wrote about this week last year. Marybeth Bizjak has more on the house in her September 2006 article in Sacramento Magazine. Later in the article, Rich notes his favorite northern California salvage yards - which happen to be mine, too - Ohmega Salvage and Urban Ore, both in Berkeley:
Vision. Some people have it; some don’t.
Rich Baumhofer and
Cindy Bechtel fall squarely into the “have vision” category. When the
couple stumbled upon a dilapidated old house in Curtis Park, they could
see it had major potential.
Their friends told them they were
crazy to consider buying the structure, which had been built in 1917 as
a fire station and later converted to a private home. But buy it they
did, setting out to restore its “firehouse charm.”
succeeded so spectacularly that HGTV will feature their house on an
upcoming episode of “reZONED,” a show about people who turn commercial
spaces into one-of-a-kind homes.
“My intention was to
rebuild in the spirit of the original firehouse,” says Baumhofer, a
builder and general contractor who has worked on many old houses. He
kept the shell of the Craftsman-style building intact while gutting the
inside to create a spacious, family-friendly home.
Congratulations to both Rich and Cindy - it's nice when the rest of the world acknowledges all your hard work. And thanks, too, for sharing your home with all of us!
There are several different commercial formulations of concrete on the market for countertops, flooring and other interior architectural uses. Some are aerated or mixed by varying but mostly-similar techniques, some are molded or installed in different ways, and some are aerated, or treated with dyes or special sealants. But one in particular is as attractive as real stone, is made in a range of mineral shades and has a natural texture from inclusions such as recycled paper, glass and coal fly-ash.
Squak Mountain Stone's fibrous-cement material is beautiful and just as visually appealing as real stone - but it's a truly environmentally-friendly countertop that makes great (re)use of some otherwise-ignored ingredients. It is available both in slabs and as tiles, and the maker is happy to work with clients on custom applications and mixtures. In that respect, it's even more appealing than real or manufactured stone!
According to developer and owner Ameé Quiriconi, the ingredients list reads like a how-to book for those interested in establishing a truly green, environmentally-friendly business:
Fly-ash is generated at a Washington-state coal-fired electrical generation facility. It's collected and bagged for sale in Seattle.
The mixed waste paper comes from a small home-based document destruction business staffed by four young women with developmental disabilities (with the help of a job coach and the women's parents.)This business is located in Issaquah, WA.
The recycled glass is mainly waste from local window manufacturers that is collected and processed by a local glass recycling company.
We've put together a whole Flickr album of high-res images showing the product in use - if you are planning a kitchen or bath remodel, you really should take a look at this material before you finalize your countertop material plans.
Taunton publishes lots and lots of good books devoted to historic architecture in general and the Arts & Crafts movement specifically. I was happy but not surprised, then, to pick up a few back issues of The Inspired House, an (unfortunately out of print?) at a local used bookshop.
The magazine seems to have halted publication mid-2006, but mining their online archive yielded lots of good stuff, including this article by Debra Judge Silber on a very modern yet classically attractive Craftsman kitchen remodel in a 1915 historic foursquare:
When they found their brick foursquare in the
mid-1980s, Ed and Kathy Friedman couldn’t believe their luck. They’d
spent 10 years building a collection of Arts and Crafts furniture and
decorative objects, and here was the perfect home in which to display
it. The 1915 foursquare, with its built-in benches and bookcases, was
as well preserved as if it had been locked in a time capsule.
Except for the kitchen. Remodeled in the ’50s, the boxy room had plastic tiles running halfway around it and
white metal cabinets backed awkwardly against the walls. Not just
outdated, it was completely at odds with the purposeful beauty of the
rest of the house.
Visit their site for the full article. Floorplan by Martha Garstang Hill, whose illustrations and architectural drawings adorn many Taunton books.