"cannibalizing my Craftsman bungalow" on alt.home.repair

from the Usenet group alt.home.repair:

I have a modest 90yr. old Craftsman bungalow that I have owned for over 15 years. I recently bit the bullet and took the time (months!) and  money (you don't even want to know) to have the old composite shingle  siding removed to expose the original redwood clapboard. My
painter/restorer filled every nail hole, scraped every nook and cranny,  carefully and conservatively sanded off every layer, repaired every  corner of old window frame, etc. and finally completed a new coat of  paint that does my little place justice. It is constructed of solid old  growth redwood and feels like it will go another 90 years, no worries.

Until today. My roofers came out today. This is a company I have used before - they re-roofed my detached garage a few yers back. I don't have any leaks, but I'm trying to be proactive and not wait for trouble, so I signed up for a new 30 year shingle. After about two hours of banging I decided to go out and have a look at progress. I was stunned to see two workers in the process of nailing up a dinky piece of pine in the place where my front fascia used to be. This was a 12
ft. long 2x8 that completed 1/2 of my front roofline - nice and wide with an angled rafter end tail. Gasping, I asked "What have you done with my redwood "Oh, there was some dry rot on the end" Well, I had known about that - my painter had informed me and we felt that during
the re-roof would be the time to address it, repair and repaint. The involved area was about 1-2" deep along about 6" of the rafter tail.

For this they removed the WHOLE thing. Just ripped it off - and were nailing up a piece of typical modern day lumber - in other words, too small in two dimensions. A 2x8 doesn't measure 2x8 these days, but my old one did. Can you imagine how inadequate that was? I felt like someone had cut off my foot - being a preservationist is not easy. They looked at me like I was cockeyed, I was trying not to shoot anyone. :)

My contract specifically notes that the owner is to be informed immediately if any latent damage is discovered, requiring any wood work. What happened!?! They acted as though they were doing me a favor - "Oh, we thought you'd want to go with the lowest cost option" Ack!
Removing an irreplaceable lengtht of redwood is an option?! Gawd, if they'd only asked me first.

Read the full article and folks' advice for fixing this enormous cock-up.

3 easy-to-install green insulation options

GreenHomeGuide, one of the best general information sites for folks trying to maintain, restore or remodel their home in an environmentally conscious way, has a great article on three safe and renewable insulation products.

If you’ve ever struggled with huge, unwieldy bats of fiberglass insulation or forced your way through a crawlspace, wrestling with a hose and trying to blow fluffy white fibers into every corner — all the while wondering what those toxic chemicals and shards of fiberglass are doing to your body — you’ll be relieved to know that there are green alternatives. Here are three of our favorites for do-it-yourselfers.

Rest & Restoration: Volunteer Vacations at Historic Sites in Need of Some TLC

Jamie Donahoe at the Heritage Conservation Network sends us the following note on their hands-on building conservation workshops. A number of photographs from recent workshops are available in a special Flickr set. Thanks, Jamie!

If you had driven by the Francis Mill in Waynesville, North Carolina in July 2003, you might have stopped to take a photo of the picturesque but dilapidated structure nestled in Francis Cove. If you were to pass by the mill this summer, you would see a structure that’s neat and square, strong and weathertight. The difference: volunteers who joined a series of summertime hands-on building conservation workshops organized by Heritage Conservation Network in partnership with the Francis Mill Preservation Society.

HCN, a Boulder, Colorado-based non-profit dedicated to the conservation of the world’s architectural heritage, specializes in recruiting volunteers to assist with hands-on preservation projects in association with local preservation partners. Volunteers spend a week or more at the site, working under the guidance of a technical expert.

Back in 2003, with the mill in danger of imminent collapse, Tanna Timbes, great granddaughter of the man who built it and founder of the FMPS, contacted HCN and asked for assistance in saving it. Over the course of three workshops at Francis Mill, a total of 48 volunteers contributed more than 3,700 hours of labor, and that made all the difference.

HCN volunteers are not necessarily experienced preservationists, with only half having experience in the field. Instruction and supervision are provided by the technical expert leading the hands-on work, and participants – of all ages – quickly find themselves replastering walls,
documenting decorative paintings, shaping adobe bricks, chiseling mortises and tenons, or chipping out old cement mortar to replace it with lime mortar. The focus is on the use of traditional techniques and materials – the prescription for keeping historic buildings sound for many generations to use and appreciate.

HCN has organized workshops at more than a dozen historic sites in the past four years. In Oplotnica, Slovenia, last year, volunteers worked painstakingly to discover the original decorative paint scheme of a 17th century chapel. The workshop, led by one of Slovenia’s foremost conservators, brought nationwide attention not only to the project but also to the need to safeguard Slovenia’s cultural heritage.

HCN will return to Slovenia in 2008, when volunteers will help restore the oldest known vintner’s cottage in the Šmarško-Virštanj wine district; it dates to the 16th century and is in poor condition, much like the Francis Mill was four years ago.

Volunteer opportunities this year include work at a Queen Anne style parsonage in Jonesboro, Illinois; the Old West town of Virginia City, Montana; and colonial and traditional buildings in Ghana. All still have space available and can also accommodate groups looking for a meaningful way to volunteer. Information about these and other opportunities to help build a future for the past can be found on HCN’s website or by calling HCN at +1 303 444 0128.

installing Romex & receptacles in a plaster-on-brick wall

Our friend Matt Wyczalkowski with the St. Louis Rehabbers Club has a new set of photographs up on Flickr, detailing two different projects in the same room: running new Romex inside a wall from the basement and across a ceiling to a light fixture, going around a few corners on the way (something that many old-house owners have either had to do or SHOULD be doing soon - before our houses burn down, at least), and installing a receptacle in a plaster-on-brick wall (no easy task).

Jackson / Klauber home restored in San Diego

Thomas Shess has a nice article in San Diego magazine on Graham Downes' remodel (more a restoration and updating, really) of the 1910 Train-Williams Jackson / Klauber home. There are some small photos, also, but unfortunately San Diego doesn't include larger versions so you can really see some of the detail of this beautiful home.

“MY ARCHITECTURAL STYLE EVOLVES so quickly,” says architect Graham Downes, one of San Diego’s top hospitality designers. “I didn’t want our home to be one particular style. Then in 10 years I’d have to move because I was no longer happy living with that mood.”

So what did San Diego’s leading 21st-century minimalist architect do to remodel one of San Diego’s first great homes of the 20th century? First, he didn’t do anything alone. The revamping of their newly purchased 1910 Jackson/Klauber home is a “we” effort of Downes and Tracy Borkum. ...

Ninety-five years later, the clean stucco lines designed by Los Angeles architects Train & Williams remain contemporary, as do many of the homes built by the firm’s contemporaries, Irving Gill, Frank Lloyd Wright and Pasadena’s Greene brothers. Downes and Borkum did little to alter the exterior, and passersby will be hard pressed to see any modernization of its wisteria-covered pergolas and Craftsman- style perimeter fencing. A design necklace outside is the surrounding frieze molding under the eaves, shaped as a Greek key. That pattern is repeated throughout the house and its grounds.

“Overall, we improved the interior functionality of the home by asking the termites to leave and by wiring and lighting the home with the latest high-tech wizardry,” Downes says. “As for the interior woodwork, we caught a break. The red mahogany in the paneling, wainscoting, moldings, frames, doors and windows remained fairly pristine. In fact, if there was damage to the woodwork, we did it—and had to quickly repair it.

“Of the 118 windows and doors [facing the exterior], we redid them all. We replaced what was broken and refurbished what we could to the period.”

new bungalow kitchens on Flickr

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


updating knob and tube wiring

Matt Wyczalkowski over on the always-helpful Rehabbers Club Yahoo group - which is devoted to sharing info among old-home rehabilitators in and around St. Louis, Missouri - sent us a short report on the ongoing and extensive electrical upgrades in his home:

I am in the process of updating the knob and tube wiring in my 1923 bungalow. Room by room, I am replacing the existing wiring with modern Romex, and adding new receptacles and lights where they are needed. When the house was built, one outlet per (large) room was considered to be perfectly adequate!

One of the challenges of adding receptacles is making accurate cutouts in plaster walls; the cutouts need to fit snugly around the old-work boxes being installed, and this can be a challenge with brittle plaster-and-lathe walls. I found that using a template for the cutout, along with different drill bits for cutting the plaster and the lathe, is an efficient and reliable way to go. It also keeps sawing, which could separate the lathe from the plaster, to a minimum. Finally, an expanding foam sealer helps to keep the box secure and cut down on drafts.

I documented a recent project - installing a sconce light on a wall - with photographs.

Thanks, Matt! I am sure your photo-documentary will be helpful for other folks going through the same process. This is an accurate and relatively easy way to make cutouts for old boxes, which are often irregular and in odd shapes.

Craftsman Kitchen Remodels II

David Singley writes of his new kitchen:

IMHO, a kitchen is something you either have a dream for, or need to look at hundreds of ideas, you will  be living with it for a while!  There are a few shots of mine here [ 1 / 2 ]

Top are original to the house, (1908) in the original kitchen, now pantry. The base was a trashed, cheap metal one, so we found the unfinished oak cabinets at one of the home improvement stores that were a pretty close match, and painted. The laundry area is connected, the same new cabinets painted again match pretty well, as we used five 12" x 30" to fill the space and made edge trim to match the original.

Countertop is Boos Block. We had looked at Ikea, but it looked 'cheap.' The Boos is 1.5" thick, with no splices. Cost was only slightly more than Ikea, because they have much cheaper shipping (Ikea shipping cost was as much as top!). Warning on thick countertop - you will need the long screw kit to mount some sinks ($4), as standard is for up to 1".
Kitchen (was '70s disco style kitchen, when I bought it, original dining room) has custom made cabinets, more Boos [photos: 1, 2].

Because of the low windows, it was hard to fit a real working space + dining area in the room. We have vintage lighting in both area (no cans) and with dimmers we have great work and dining light.

For an idea of the size of the top cabinets above ref & ovens, take a look at this shot.

IMO, the new Kenmore Pro line would fit great with a old style kitchen.Very square simple design. I feel the stainless works very well with wood, and while I like white with painted cabinets, most white appliances have to much design/ trim for my taste. IIRC Frigidare is making refrigerators with slightly rounded tops & fronts.

more (disorganized) photos of the house & kitchen: 1, 2, 3

Plan,plan plan, there will still be problems.

Craftsman Kitchen Remodels I

I asked the folks on the excellent Style 1900 Yahoo group to talk about their own kitchen remodel projects, and got some excellent responses; I'll be posting them throughout the coming week.

Brad Iwafuchi writes about the kitchen remodel in his 1922 California bungalow, which he and his wife are right in the middle of:

We were limited with funds, so it is a minor retrofit. The kitchen is 12' x 12' and includes the small dining table. The counter area is L shape with the Fridge on an opposite wall.

We replaced out the vinyl flooring. It was an ugly black and grey 12" pattern. We purchased a Congoleum Xclusive 5 star vinyl that has a pattern close to a green Dard Hunter rose. I guess we lucked out. I just checked their website and it is no longer for sale. It is an subdue sand base color and stem and "flower."

The '70s cathedral-style doors and cabinets were still in good shape so we sanded them down and restained them a Mission oak color.

We replace the handles with bronze Mission kitchen door knobs and pulls purchased from EXPO [Editor's note - Expo is Home Depot's design superstore wing].

We replaced the 70s faux vinyl butcher block counter with a Corian countertop (Burnt Amber) and a Franke composite granite sink. (White) We got a slightly used KitchenAid smoothtop cooktop. We still have to buy a new wall oven, since the old one is a '70s Harvest Gold 27" oven.

We also still need to put the backsplash on, but I have purchased the tile. It is 3 x 6 white tiles. We also have a nice tile purchase from the Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel that we are planning to use as the centerpiece behind the cooktop backsplash area.

As an accent we are also thinking of adding two horizontal strips of 1" muted brown glass tile about halfway up the backsplash.

We still have some work to do but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

design does not mean decoration

Using current fashions and styles rather than something tried and true (or in context with your home) as the basis for an expensive remodel is almost always a bad idea. But unfortunately, many designers only care about the surface - that is, they forget that design is about making the useful accessible, and creating spaces and objects that just work. They lose sight of context, tradition and historic preservation issues just to pad their bottom line and keep up with the newest and best materials and styles - and of course to add to their own portfolios.

Terri Sapienza's article in the Arizona Republic purportedly details a "meeting of the minds" between a designer/client and an architect/designer, but ends up being about how ego and a "need" for it to be expressed by one party sublimated another. I'm glad both parties are happy with the result. Of course, I'm orthodox about this sort of thing; there's nothing stupider than designing and ultra-modern Asian glass and lacquer kitchen for a classic Craftsman bungalow.

Originally, Gilmer planned a classic bungalow kitchen. Then Gardner, who had worked on the house's first minor interior renovations three years before Gilmer owned it, helped Gilmer recognize her fondness for contemporary design, and the remodel went from Arts and Crafts to Asian and modern. "It was an immediate meeting of the minds," Gardner said. "We were instinctively on the same page, broadening the ideas of the original project visually, functionally and structurally."

Gilmer said it would cost about $105,000 to replicate her kitchen/butler's pantry.

Palm Beach bungalow wins renovation award

Robert Janjigian's article this past week in Palm Beach Life details one couple's "shock and flattery" when they were surprised with the 2007 Polly Earl Award for historic preservation. Award winners receive $10,000, which must have been very helpful after the Phillipses has invested so much time and money on their very pretty 1,600 square foot bungalow. We need more awards for neighborhood- appropriate design and historic preservation in residential architecture and less of the pat-on-the-back professional ego-stroking awards given out by most design, architecture and remodeling associations!

The plan of the one-story, 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom house, currently under renovation, will remain relatively unchanged, although it will be completely updated with new bathrooms, kitchen, interior walls and ceilings, flooring and hurricane-resistant windows. A wood-burning fireplace is also being added in the living room.

"The location offset the obstacles of restoring the house," Phillips said.

The exterior will be cleaned up and restored in authentic fashion, with an enclosed porch across the house's front facade that will be built with the same look as the pre-existing enclosure added in 1958. The only change to the house's lines will be the addition of a chimney on the west wall.

The construction project is expected to be completed in late May to early June.

"This is one Polly would have loved," said John Mashek, Preservation Foundation president, who heads up the selection committee for the Earl Award.


Gamble House restoration is finally complete

I hate to reprint stories from other sites in total, but unfortunately the Pasadena Star-News makes all their content inaccessible very quickly, and I can't think of another way to share this with all of you. A photo album accompanies the article.

By Janette Williams, Staff Writer        

PASADENA - After six years of planning, a year of work and a $2.5 million exterior makeover, the Gamble House now looks exactly as it used to.    

Just as it should, said Ted Bosley, curator of Pasadena's iconic 1908 Greene and Greene house, as preparations for its approaching 100-year anniversary, in collaboration with the Huntington Library, get under way.

"It's so funny, my daughter Julia, \ said, `Papa, it doesn't look like you've done anything!"' Bosley said. "But when I thought about it, I decided that was the desired effect, that it didn't look as though we'd used a heavy hand."

The exterior doesn't look exactly as it did when Charles and Henry Greene started work in 1907 on an 8,000-square-foot Craftsman-style "bungalow" for David and Mary Gamble at 4 Westmoreland Place.

A 1930s paint job on the exterior wooden shingles, courtesy of Aunt Julia - Mary Gamble's sister Julia Huggins - forever changed the color. Even the sophisticated techniques used in the present conservation project couldn't reverse the effect, although treatment with sealant slightly deepened the shade for a more authentic contrast to the lightened window frames.    

"It's something we have to live with," Bosley said. "We didn't try to remove the lead-based paint. We used to say, sarcastically `Thanks, Aunt Julia,' but now we say it with some sincerity. It's the kind of paint you can't buy today, awful stuff, but it's been extremely protective of the underlying wood."

The fishpond on the back patio, which was leaking into the house's foundations, has been restored and refilled, windows and roof repaired, and 262 rotting wooden beams and rafters that protrude beyond the roof-line restored, using epoxy blended into the wood with dental tools for a "feathering" effect.

The entire conservation effort was documented by filmmaker Jon Wilkman, who tracked it from day one for USC, joint owners with the city of the house and its furnishings.

"It was intriguing to document all the latest, most sophisticated techniques on this great big work of art," said Wilkman, who "fell in love" with the Gamble House as a young man. "They approached it like restoring a Rembrandt or a Michelangelo statue, and didn't do anything that wasn't the absolute best."

About 90 hours of unused footage shot for the documentary, which has aired on KCET and is available at the Gamble House gift store, has been donated to USC's School of Architecture for future reference, Wilkman said.

Anyone tackling a similar restoration or conservation could learn from the sophisticated approach to the Gamble House project, Wilkman said.

"One of the funniest moments in the film is when the person restoring the screens had taken one of the hinges, rusted and covered in dirt, and shined it up so it looked brand new," Wilkman said. "They said, `That's exactly what we don't want - we want it to look like it aged gracefully."'

Even some of the signs the house was a family home until the 1960s remain: The worn area where a garden hose was always dragged around the corner of the house, holes drilled in the outside window frames to hold string to pull back the bamboo shades.

"People actually lived here, things went on here," Bosley said.    

Visitors, about 30,000 a year, come to the Gamble House from all over the world, and Bosley called it a vital part of Pasadena's patrimony and a symbol of the city.

Almost all the original furnishings, except for a few dining room chairs, were donated by the Gamble family along with the house in 1966, Bosley said, so they are not in the market for acquisitions.

"But sometimes people leave us things - we can't control bequests," Bosley said. And although they were never part of the house, a recent set of "very beautiful" Dirk Van Erp copper pots from the estate of philanthropist David Whitney fit into the kitchen quite well, Bosley said.

The Huntington Library's close relationship with the Gamble House comes from shared roots in early Pasadena and interest in the Arts and Crafts Movement, library spokeswoman Lisa Blackburn said.

The Huntington and the Gamble House opened a joint permanent exhibit of the Greenes' work in 1990, and the Huntington plans a special exhibition and other events next year on the architecture and decorative arts of Charles and Henry Greene.

Pacific Columns in Brea, California

While many millwork firms can produce decorative columns for interior use, not as many companies also produce exterior structural columns as well. Pacific Columns does both - as well as shutters, railing, balustrades and other related architectural knickknacks. Their columns are available in wood or composite construction, and you can get matching capitals in the full range of classical designs - use their neat web-based column builder to construct the perfect column for your backyard Temple of the Winds recreation, or perhaps something a bit more modest.

The same folks also run The Architectural Depot, an online "do-it-yourselfer superstore" with an emphasis on historic home remodeling and restoration. They carry an especially large range of wood corbels, tin ceiling tiles and the little bits and pieces that finish a project.

Fortitude & Inspiration: Home Renovation in South Pasadena

The following excerpt comes from the Los Angeles Times; you can read Robin McMacken's full article there, and there's also a photo gallery of the Riddle/Ledner house.

“Don’t do it,” said Kyle Riddle  with a laugh when asked to offer advice for homeowners. “I would recommend that anyone buying a two-story house have a structural  engineer inspect the property - as well as a traditional house inspection,” he said. “Had we known up front that our foundation and structure were seriously compromised, we would have never bought the house in the first place.”

Kyle Riddle and wife Catherine Ledner’s South Pasadena home, a 2,700-square-foot, two-story bungalow home reflects the turn-of-the-century transition from Victorian architecture to the Craftsman style so well-known in Pasadena.

Yet what makes the 1890s home undoubtedly unusual is that it underwent a massive transformation a couple of years ago, making it an intriguing blend of old and modern construction.

When Riddle and Ledner purchased the home in July 2000, they were eager to renovate their new residence. Ledner said things went alarmingly awry, however, when they realized the home was not as structurally sound as they had believed. The old-home blues were heightened by the fact that an update in the 1950s had been less than desirable.

Architectural Salvage V: Turning Trash Into Treasure


From Kaleena Cote at Yankee magazine comes this article on everyone's favorite weekend pastime, bargain-hunting at architectural salvage yards:

Home salvage yards are like garage sales. Once you find that hidden treasure, the whole trip becomes worthwhile. For more than two decades, homeowners have searched for treasure at Vermont Salvage, an architectural Warehouse For Lease that has stores in White River Junction, Vermont, and Manchester, New Hampshire. Doors, windows, appliances - items that have outlived the houses and buildings they used to grace - fill each warehouse, much of it tagged with bargain prices.

Bargains are what I’m after on a damp and dreary February afternoon as I drive up to the half-brick, half-concrete Vermont
Salvage store in Manchester. Old toilets, tubs, and trash lie out in the yard, as well as a few abandoned vehicles and an old rusting trailer, while a few red spray-painted squiggles splatter the sides of the building. The place looks as if it needs to be salvaged itself.

But inside, it’s easy to see why people enjoy searching through the rows of different colored doors, walking past the pastel pink and yellow toilets, and toying with the little trinkets ranging from outlet faces to small brass hooks for hanging clothes. The place has character, and the employees there are eager to please. They're not the in-your-face “buy this now” types of salesmen; they let the customers browse freely. At the same time, they're willing to help and offer suggestions. Just ask.

Read the full article and see pictures at Yankee magazine’s site. They’ve also compiled a good list of New England salvage firms and shops, which follows the article.

Chicago Bungalow lecture tonight

The fine folks at Prairie Mod have alerted us to tonight's lecture (which will also be held on Thursday), a good follup-up for the recent bungalow-related events in the Windy City:

Practical Interior Design Solutions for the Chicago Bungalow
with Maribeth Brewer, interior designer

Learn how to undo bad interior remodels from previous owners, and create something that is bungalow appropriate on a limited budget.

Tuesday, Oct 3: 7 - 8:30 pm
Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted Ave.

Thursday, Oct 5: 7 - 8:30 pm
Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Ave.

Both events are free; call 312.642.9900 for more information.

Home Matters: House With a Past, and Now With a Future

from Julie Foster's Home Matters column in the July 2006 issue of Inside East Sacramento, and republished here with the publisher's kind permission. Note that other images of the home, all courtesy of that publication, are available on Flickr.

Curtis Park is home to a house with a past.

The structure at the corner of Portola Way and 26th Street was built in 1917 to serve as a volunteer fire station. It later did duty as a Boy Scout headquarters, from 1950 to 1970. Over the years, it was neglected and fell into disrepair. Following a total makeover, it’s now a stunning one-of-a-kind home that’s reclaimed its history.

Several years ago, while riding their bikes through Curtis Park, Cindy Bechtel and Rich Baumhofer spotted the dilapidated firehouse and dreamed of restoring it. But it wasn’t on the market.

“Friends called us a couple of years later and said, ‘Your house is for sale. That’s what they called it, because we’d been talking about it for so long,’” Bechtel said Baumhofer, a general contractor, has a soft spot for the tough job of remodeling old houses.

“New construction is easier and cleaner — your subs are happier and you probably make more money. But then I get drawn to these old things and I just like the work,” he explained.

It took seven months for the city to grant all the building permits, and a year to gut and rebuild the structure. The couple moved into the house in November 2005.

Originally, the building was 3,300 square feet. By adding a dormer and a stairway, the couple created a secondfloor living space with three bedrooms and a bath. They built a new garage and also created a 750-square-foot apartment from a structure that was added during the Boy Scout period. Now, the 1917 firehouse is a stylishly renovated 4,400-square-foot Craftsman-style home.

The couple did most of the work themselves. “He’s the general contractor, I’m the designer and we are the architect,” Bechtel explained. As owners of a beautiful but derelict shell, they had the opportunity to exercise choices. “We really could have done anything in here. We could have gone urban or really modern, but we like the Craftsman style and Rich has experience with that, so we decided to go that way,” Bechtel noted. While they had some leeway to choose a style, the existing building materials imposed limitations. The structure is built of interlocking clay tile brick nine inches thick, with a stucco exterior and plaster interior. Bechtel explained, “You don’t add or move many windows or doors, but work with the existing openings.” The search for windows sent them to Urban Ore, a Berkeley salvage yard.

“This is a really cool place where people from the Bay Area bring their stuff when they tear down their houses,” she said. “There are thousands of windows and they have tried to sort them by size and shape.” It took several trips. While looking for windows, they were sidetracked by other treasures, including a salvaged laundry sink of which Bechtel is especially proud.

Several years ago, while acting as general contractor on a project to remodel Sacramento’s only Greene and Greene house, Baumhofer salvaged some architectural gems: two doors, which he was able to use in the firehouse.

The couple’s great room once housed two fire engines. They converted what could have been a large, dark space into a room filled with light and warm color. They poured a new concrete floor, which Bechtel and her daughter stained to look like worn leather. Dividing the sitting area from the kitchen is an alder bar, topped with a spectacular piece of honey-colored onyx that’s illuminated from below. This was an element Baumhofer badly wanted to incorporate into the home - the couple had seen a similar bar at San Francisco’s Fog City Diner. Four pendant lights are suspended over bar. A Craftsman-inspired skylight, installed in the 15-foot-high ceiling, allows light to pour into the room. The original entrance for the fire trucks provided a challenge.

“We looked at airplane hangar doors and barn doors, but none of them would have worked,” Bechtel said. They ended up with four custom doors made by a company in Oregon. A local shop made the jambs. What had been the firehouse office is now a stunning living room topped with a new tin ceiling. It boasts a beautiful bay window with an oversized window seat.

The ceiling remains an in-the-works project.

“It was too shiny, so we wiped it with muriatic acid to tone it down,” Baumhofer said. “But it’s still changing slowly so now we have to put something on it to stop the process.”

And though Bechtel’s color choices in most of the house are in the warm family, including autumn vineyard, restrained gold, chamois and bamboo shoot, she took a different tack in what was the firehouse kitchen. That room is now her office. She left one wall of exposed clay tile alone, along with the brick chimney. She painted the other walls a cool blue. The upper level was attic space. They considered staying on just one floor, but history got the better of them.

“We couldn’t have had a fire pole with just one floor, and the attic space was just too good to not use,” Baumhofer explained.

In the entry, visitors are greeted by a 16-foot-tall brass fire pole. Historic photos of the firehouse line the staircase. A mosaic made out of floor tile bears the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” and eagle emblem. It’s inset in the landing beside the fire pole.

They discovered it in the floor during the demolition of the building. Baumhofer explained it had been covered by plywood, linoleum and funky shag carpet.

For those considering the restoration of a historical structure, Bechtel offers this advice. “Try to maintain the building’s original integrity, since you will encounter some unforeseen obstacles and limitations,” she said. “Try to enjoy the process of overcoming them while you’re transforming the space.” “This was a lot of work and a lot of fun, and it came out the way we wanted it.” Bechtel said. “There’s really nothing that we would’ve done differently.”

Everett House, San Francisco CA

Nancy and Richard Everett bought their Bernal Heights home in 2000, and it had been owned by just two families previously. The original owners built it in 1908; the Italian family had moved to Bernal Heights after the earthquake, upon noticing that no homes in that neighborhood fell down during the earthquake.

Luckily, not much of the paneling or moldings had been painted over, and as you can see from the many photographs of the home in our Flickr set, it was a lot of work to turn (or return) the home to its current / past glory, but less than it could have been, had previous owners not been sensitive to these types of details.

The wonderful detail in the fir paneling and other details throughout the home were one of the selling points for the Everetts, who fell in love with that and the various other built-ins. It's lucky they bought it when they did, as the folks they bought it from - contractors who were trying to flip the property as quickly as possible - had intended to whitewash all the wood features within a few days!

Every room has been restored - gone are the bright tropical colors that the previous owner had been so proud of; bubblegum-pink paint was sandblasted off the fireplace, which is now visible in its original beige. Richard, a museum curator, began the meticulous process of restoring the woodwork, using dental picks to remove old paint chips from mouldings and other architectural woodwork. The underside lips of the moldings, of course, had been damaged by so many layers of paint, so wood tape stained to match were ironed onto the lower surface - talk about improvisation! Bradbury & Bradbury paper was installed on the dining room walls, and a B&B frieze was installed in the living room. Two years later, Bradbury & Bradbury's William Morris designs were installed in the hallway, as well.

All the fixtures but one upstairs light were purchased by the current owners, and most are  reproductions, although  a few - those in the living room and hallway ceiling - are antiques. Lundberg Art Glass in Davenport produced the sconces around the fireplace, and their Nouveau shape certainly works with the house, which incorporates elements of Italiante Victorian and Craftsman.

Architectural Salvage in Providence & Elsewhere

Jeanine and Harry James own New England Demolition and Salvage in East Wareham, MA. Along with other such businesses all over the country, they do a brisk business in everything from farmhouse sinks and clawfoot tubs to windows, doors, columns, architectural millwork and hardware.

I think there are a number of forces driving the newfound popularity of such businesses (you should see how the google searches for "architectural salvage" and related terms have increased in the past three years!). Certainly a sensitivity to waste as well as increased awareness of historical accuracy and more of an interest in restoration vs. renovation are a big part of it. The cost savings that spring from using salvaged materials are another, and possibly even more appealing for many budget-minded folks invovled in do-it-yourself projects.

  • Michael Mello has an article in the Providence Journal on the Jameses and a number of other architectural salvage firms in the New England area
  • InfoLink, an Australian architecture and design site, has a short article on the Australian Salvage Company, which looks to be one of the larger such businesses in the country, proving that this is not just an American trend.
  • In fact, the trend toward using salvaged materials for aesthetic purposes - not just stone and brick and beams, but millwork and fixtures and the like - is far more popular in the UK than it is here, proportionally. We recently ran an article on architectural salvage in Britain, with plenty of links to firms all over the UK.
  • Timothy Puko writes on an architectural salvage yard in Barnegat Township in the The Atlantic City Press; the same firm, Recycling the Past, is profiled by Shannon Mullen in the Asbury Park Press.
  • American Public Media recently had a radio program on architectural salvage in Baltimore, specifically a non-profit called Second Chance that rescues, rehabs and resells important bits of detail from buildings throughout the area. The program, with reporter Trent Wolbe, is available online in transcript and Real Audio form.

More on Classic Stoves

A thread on Metafilter this week explores classic kitchen appliances. The comments include lots and lots of good info on restoration, finding a good deal, various problems and their solutions, etc; a must-read for anyone thinking of installing a classic stove in their classic kitchen, or contemplating fixing up that chrome beauty in the garage.

"The best selling stoves and refrigerators at Jowers Appliances these days aren't sleek models with computerized controls. What folks can't get enough of are the stoves and refrigerators that the store would have sold when it opened more than 50 years ago." Welcome to the world of vintage appliances! Stove/range porn (SFW): O'Keefe & Merritt, Wedgewood, Western Holly. How about doing your own old stove restoration? Need some guidance? Want to see what your vintage stove might be worth? It might surprise you!

Architectural Salvage on Craigslist

Lots of good stuff on Craigslist this week - including a number of salvage items all over the country. Should you need a clawfoot tub, sash window, or pedestal sink, you may be in luck...

Charles & Hudson

Charles & Hudson recently linked to us - I was wondering where that extra traffic was coming from! - and I'm sorry to report that I was not familiar with that house-centric do-it-yourself web magazine before visiting today. I should have been, though: it's a good, interesting read, with short notes on lots of remodeling issues - from how to select various types of moulding, to DIY tips on mixing your own concrete, installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen, installing and cleaning rain gutters, the proper use of a paint sprayer, and plenty more. This weeks' articles give tips on using wood and ceramic deck tiles; links to big directories of bathroom and kitchen remodel resources in the UK, and "DIY bathroom renovation," which sounds scary.

Bungalow Garden Revival

Katherine Endicott, an avid gardener and Arts & Crafts aficionado, wrote the following for the San Francisco Chronicle; the full article is available on their site. The article includes some great pictures by Chronicle photographer Kat Wade.

Around the turn of the 20th century, roughly 1890 to 1930, a mania for bungalows obsessed Californians. And for good reason. The predominantly small bungalow, some costing as little as $900, offered the middle class a home designed around both simplicity and artistry. Even better for Californians, a bungalow provided a way to live close to nature. As Paul Duchscherer, a San Francisco designer who has written and lectured extensively on bungalows, puts it, "Connecting the architecture to the garden was part of the bungalow sales pitch."

Over four decades, the styles of locally built bungalows varied dramatically from Mission Revival to English Tudor. But the two styles most closely identified with the term bungalow in the Bay Area are the shingled Craftsman bungalow and the stucco California bungalow. Both styles featured front porches as a way of linking the outdoors with indoors. The master designer of this period was Gustav Stickley, whose magazine The Craftsman (1901-1916) proselytized for the Arts and Crafts philosophy. Stickley's house designs emphasized the link between the bungalow and the garden.

Craftsman Restoration in San Diego

The San Diego Union-Tribune recently ran this article - by architecture critic Ann Jarmusch - about a 10-year restoration project in Point Loma, recently finished. The article also touches on the history of the Point Loma neighborhood.

Stephanie and John Wylie, both history majors in college, wanted to live in an old house with character. It didn't need to be designed by an architect or be eligible for historic landmark status – but that's the kind of house they unwittingly bought in 1994.

Built into a slope in the La Playa area of Point Loma in 1924-25, the expansive, two-story house the Wylies purchased was slathered in new white stucco. Most of its Craftsman-style windows, originally divided into small panes with redwood mullions, had been replaced with plate glass. White paint concealed yards of what turned out to be redwood paneling, doors and woodwork in almost every room.

read the whole article on the Union-Tribune site

Decor Score: A Little Effort Turns Home Into an Arts & Crafts Showplace

Decor200604101apby Rose Bennett Gilbert, Copley News Service
reprinted with permission

Q: Can you fix my broken heart? We both fell in love with the cutest little 1920s bungalow, all Arts and Crafts, but it only has two bedrooms and one bath and we just found out we're expecting twins! We've given in and decided to buy a house that's now under construction in a development. While we have a chance to choose our own materials, in the kitchen, for example, what can you suggest that's Arts and Craftsy?

A: Funny you should ask. I've just been browsing a couple of informational and inspirational books on the very subject of the Arts and Crafts aesthetic and how to have it in your own home.

(Printed in 2002) Bungalows is part of the "Updating Classic America" series from Taunton Books. Co-authors M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman include a chapter on building brand-new bungalows: how to incorporate modern technology without compromising the style and vintage charm of this most-American of home styles.

The authors show and tell how to add the details that distinguish the Arts and Crafts attitude inside the signature low-lying profile and porch found on most authentically old bungalows. For examples, you'll want abundant wood mouldings around windows, doors, floors and ceilings; fireplaces faced with stone or tile; prairie-style windows and expanses of hardwood floors, usually made of oak. Stained glass windows here and there are also of the look.

The second book well worth consulting focuses on Stickley Style (Simon & Schuster, $40). David Cathers, who co-authored the book with architectural photographer Alexander Vertikoff, certainly knows his stuff: he's also a trustee of Craftsman Farms, Gustav Stickley's experimental farm in New Jersey, now a National Historic Landmark.

Responding to the surge of interest in Arts and Crafts buildings and furnishings, a number of manufacturers have revived styles from the period. The once-deceased Stickley Furniture Co. itself now thrums anew, turning out Craftsman classics along with other traditional styles up in Manlius, N.Y. (www.stickley.com).

Arts and Crafts kitchen cabinetry is another notable revival. Even David Cathers might be fooled by the kitchen in the photo we show here. What looks like a historic site is really a recently fitted-out new kitchen that features oak cabinets from Wood-Mode (www.wood-mode.com). With its straight lines, simple detailing and appropriate use of such background materials as the iridescent tiles over the cooktop and flat timbering on the ceiling, it looks for all the world like the real, old thing.

Bottom line: do a little homework and you can easily work up your new home in classic Arts & Crafts style.

Q: Ever see something in the trash that's just too good to be thrown away?

A: All the time, say New Yorkers, whose sidewalk curbs may constitute the world's longest flea market or, better yet, recycling center. Entire apartments have been furnished with finds from the street, where the free shopping's not just for the funky. Top interior design Albert Hadley (whose clients have included the Astors and the Rockefellers) once told me, "My friends are used to having me stop cabs and race back to pick up something I've seen on the curb."

No surprise then that an eco-minded recycler named Jim Nachlin has started www.garbagescout.com, a Web site that alerts others to good spottings on the sidewalk, say, a pile of old wooden shutters on East 63rd Street, or two French-style chairs down on Bleecker. Speed is of the essence in the city that never sleeps. Spotters photograph the treasures with their cell phones, then e-mail location details and - most crucial - the time of the sighting. "Sometimes things will be gone in five minutes," Nachlin told New York Times reporter Michael Cannell.

But scavengers who can get there in a New York minute, not only take home free treasures, they "reduce landfill, save money and clean up the streets," reasons Nachlin, a computer programmer who lives in a tiny apartment with a lot of clutter of his own.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at [email protected]. © Copley News Service

Sleeping Beauty: Mission Renovation in Sacramento

The Sacramento Bee's Rachel Leibrock had the following article in the April 1 issue. This is a big deal in Sacramento; while many of the grand old walled Mission haciendas (well, only a few are actually walled) of Curtis Park, McKinley, the Fabulous Forties and Land Park are in terrific shape, quite a few are quietly deteriorating, waiting for the owners with the right mixture of historical sensitivity and do-it-yourself attitude to rescue them. The article also includes a number of photographs of Dolan & Sidwell's ongoing project.

Love is blind.

That's the lesson Judy Dolan and husband, Brad Sidwell, learned shortly after purchasing their 1927 Spanish Revival house.

The couple knew the Curtis Park house needed work, but just how much effort they'd eventually put into restoration was still a secret hidden deep within the home's ivy-choked exterior. (read the rest at Sacbee.com - article © The Sacramento Bee, 200)

Time For a New Kitchen II

I got a bunch of emails after last Friday's post on kitchen remodels asking for other resources. Well, as always, the local library remains your best bet; my own community (McKinley Park area, midtown Sacramento) has a historic library at the park with a huge section on American Arts & Crafts architecture, including lots of do-it-yourself books and various coffeetable hardbound books on Craftsman design in general. If you live in an older community, you should be able to find something like this at one of your local branch libraries.

I found a huge number of photos of kitchen remodel projects on Flickr; many people enjoy photographing the entire process, from design through the demo and the eventual hanging of pictures on (new) walls, and I'm sure such complete documentation will help other remodelers. Learn from other folks' successes and big mistakes (well, in my opinion, at least!), and get ideas for countertop material, tile, flooring, hoods, sinks, appliances, storage, cabinetry, windows, lighting and more:

Time For a New Kitchen

Kitchenremodelneeded Lots of house-bloggers document their projects, but Eric and Flourgrrl are not only documenting every aspect of their Craftsman Bungalow remodel, but also including all elevations, renderings, countertop & lighting choices and more. Nothing groundbreaking here, but some good ideas for those of you working on such projects yourself - it's certainly helpful to me; I'm just beginning my own kitchen remodel.

A few other accounts of recent kitchen remodels:

Two Bay Area Remodels

Sfcaremodel SFGate.com, the San Francisco Chronicle's electronic counterpart, recently ran a nice profile of two Bay Area families and the architect who, over the course of their remodels, took the best that modernism had to offer and tempered it with the original character of these homes. I myself am usually more drawn to restoration rather than the kind of updating that architect Sandra Vivanco espouses, but I have to admit that these projects turned out quite well, without the uncomfortable angles and agoraphobic spaces that the modernist aesthetic often introduces.

photograph by David Paul Morris for the SF Chronicle

Architectural Salvage IV - UK Edition

In the previous three installments [ 1 / 2 / 3 ] on this subject, I've concentrated for the most part on vendors of salvaged materials in the United States. However, the UK has more architectural salvage specialists per capita than any other country, from what I can tell, and some of these folks are selling really incredible stuff - fireplaces and stone/tilework from old demolished (or collapsed) castles, perfectly good roofing materials from 200-year-old rowhouses, statuary and plenty more. Here are a few such dealers in England:

  • Rose Green Tiles & Reclamation in Fishponds, Bristol has building materials and plenty of ornamental features. A large selection of hard landscaping items and timber, too.
  • Manchester's In Situ, which sells everything from salvaged flooring, entryways, old doors, paneling, railing & gates, windows & frames and more.
  • Cawarden's motto is "destruction to construction," and it's certainly apt. Their Rugeley, Staffordshire stockyard is the largest vendor of reclaimed bricks in the Midlands, and also have an enormous stock of beautiful old doors.
  • I may have mentioned Bygones before, but the fact that they are one of the largest reclamation yards in the UK makes them important to note again. Their Canterbury warehouse & yard is simply enormous, with lots of stone and ironwork, and an especially large stock in fireplaces and associated goods.
  • London's Westland sells high-end salvage - rococo and gilt, built-in furniture and cabinetry, and lots of statuary.
  • West Yorkshire Architectural Antiques & Salvage is pretty self-explanatory. Stone statuary, gates, radiators and a pretty broad range of fireplaces, chimneypots, finials and stained glass round out their stock.
  • Andy Thornton is also in West Yorkshire, with a showroom and warehouse in Halifax. They sell mostly new furnishings to pubs, hotels and the like, but also have a good-sized stock of architectural antiques.
  • Cronin's Reclamation & Solid Wood Flooring sells flooring, of course, as well as a range of flagstone, as well as furniture, fireplaces, doors, oak beams and plenty more. They have a showroom in Little Bookham and a yard just off the M5 in Nr Ilminster, Somerset.
  • Abbots Bridge Reclamation in Bury St. Edminds, Suffolk have both garden ornaments and furniture as well as interior goods - fireplaces, stoves, flooring and more.
  • Ace Reclamation in West Parley, Dorset, buy & sell a range of architectural antiques and building materials. Their jam-packed yard is full of oak and pine flooring, over 400 doors, sinks, radiators, plenty of period bathroomware and plenty more.
  • Drew Pritchard, in Llandudno, Conwy, specializes in stained glass and a particularly high grade of architectural antiques.
  • Ribble Reclamation's motto is "from a single roof slate to an entire Victorian church" and they are not kidding. Everything under the sun in their huge stock. They are located in Preston, Lancashire.
  • Dorset Reclamation has a nice-sized yard and shop in Wareham, selling such a wide range that I couldn't begin to list it all here. Suffice to say there's an enormous range of finials and garden statuary, lighting, wall times, flooring, doors and plenty more. Mill wheels? They got 'em.
  • Retrouvius, on Kensal Green in London, is both a salvage and design firm.
  • Heritage Reclamations in Sproughton, Suffolk have an extensive stock of period ironwork, reclaimed materials and interior fittings. They are just outside Ipswich.
  • Romsey Reclamation at the Romsey Railway Station in Hants have thousands of railway sleepers and plenty of other building materials - timbers, flooring, bricks, roof tiles and plenty more.
  • Gardiners Reclamation in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire also specialize primarily in building materials, with plenty of roofing, various types of brick and architectural stone, paving, cobbles, and plenty more.
  • South West Reclamation in Bridgwater, Somerset have a very well-organized yard full of roofing, building materials and various architectural antiques.
  • Hingham, Norfolk-based Mongers Architectural Salvage deal in windows & art glass, doors & door furniture, garden statuary, gireplaces and reclaimed flooring.
  • Wilson Reclamation Services are in Nr. Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria and specialise in antique and some reproduction statuary, urns and garden planters. They also have a decent-sized stock of doors, paneling, oak beams, flagstones, etc.
  • Architectural Antiques have a small storefront in Hammersmith, London. They specialise in English and other European chimneypieces, mirrors and various other architectural artefacts and also maintain an appointment-only warehouse in Paris.
  • Drummonds Architectural Antiques have shops both in Hindhead, surry and Chelsea, London. Their Surrey shop contains more than 80,000 square feet of goods, ranging from antique baths and fireplaces to reclaimed flooring and other building materials.
  • The Minchinhampton Architectural Salvage Co. in Nr. Stroud, Glos., sell large items (decking, bridges, columns and more) as well as a wide range of interior items, from period fireplaces to entire paneled rooms.
  • Walcot Reclamation in Bath sell garden features, architectural joinery, doors, ironwork, grates and whole period bathrooms. They also have a depot nearby specialising in paving, stone, bricks, tile and other outdoor and garden features.
  • IBS Reclaim are near Oakley village on the Bucks / Oxfordshire border. They have a large stock of church pews, floor boarding, yellow and red stock bricks, roof tiles, Cotswold building stone and plenty more.
  • Traditional Welsh Salvage in Neath, South Wales, deal in just that - materials saved from demolished churches, schools and other period buildings. Stained glass, wood, stone and church fittings especially.
  • Tina Pasco sell primarily garden furniture and various historic landscaping materials from their Wingham, Kent yard.

Almost every one of these dealers adheres to the SALVO code, although I suggest that if you would like to be safe in the knowledge that you are buying materials that are not stolen and were responsibly removed, that you read about the code here and make sure companies you do business with adhere to it. Look for the Salvo crane logo to be sure.

Grandview Bungalow at Colorado's Chautauqua

Grandviewfrontporch036Niki Hayden has a short article in Front Range Living on Bungalow 811, which was relocated from the University of Colorado campus to the Chautauqua community in Boulder recently and fits in perfectly with the other brown & white homes there. The structure itself held up remarkably well from the quick move, which took place from 1 to 3 am not log ago, but has seen a serious internal (and external) overhaul since then. Local designer Dorothy Tucker got the job of designing a period-perfect interior to match the others in the community, a task which she discharged quite well. The total cost of moving and renovating the bungalow came to $200,000 - a number impressively low when you see the amount of work put into the almost all-new interior. Boulder-based ceramicist Sue Walsh produced the original tiles - loosely based on Batchelder designs - which are a perfect fit for the rest of the inside.

The bungalow itself is available for rent to Boulder visitors, and opens to a wonderful view and a number of nearby hiking trails.

The Johnson Partnership

Founded in 1979, the Johnson Partnership is located in Seattle and does both restoration / remodel jobs as well as new residential projects throughout the Northwest (as well as commercial and preservation work). From the type used on the opening page of their website, I could tell that A & C aesthetic meant a lot to them; the combination of Asian and Craftsman influence in their work is particularly refreshing to see from a new home builder! Their new site is full of downloadable PDFs profiling particularly noteworthy projects, as well as a few video walkthroughs, and is definitely worth checking out.

Almost every single one of their projects reflects a true dedication to A&C ideals. The level of detail in their woodwork is refreshing - it's as if cabinetmakers decided to build houses, which isn't far from the truth; architectural principal Larry Johnson is one of Seattle's most knowledgeable people when it comes to Arts & Crafts design, and architect Howard Miller is a furniture designer, woodworker and ceramacist (who also lists his skills as "enthusiastic husband" - glad to know they have a sense of humor, too).

What makes their skillset and focus especially interesting to me at least is that Lani Johnson, the environmental planning principal, brings preservation and landscape to the forefront - everything they build is situated so precisely in the landscape - just as it would have been for the founders of the movement. Their respect for the fidelity of the original architect's vision in a remodel job is equal to the respect they have for the land a new house will be built in, and that is impressive when so many builders don't consider the latter at all.

I only wish I could find someone like this here in Sacramento! (PS - if you know someone - email me.)

Mission Revival in the News

A few recent articles elsewhere on Mission renovations, restorations and remodels.

Minneapolis Prairie Kitchen Remodel

Image03400Home Portfolio, a great online ideabook for prospective remodelers, recently reprinted a short article from Traditional Home magazine on a particularly succesful Prairie-style kitchen remodel. Skip and Michelle Liepke's 1915 Minneapolis bungalow was, upon their 1991 movein, outfitted with an authentic but not tremendously usable period kitchen, complete "with harvest gold applicanes." The update addresses flow and use issues and enunciates the period feel of the home. Minneapolis architect Joe Metzler designed and built the all new and very attractive room; additional photographs are available on his site. 

Craftsman Kitchen Remodels IV


pictured: a remodeled kitchen by Small Carpenters at Large in Atlanta.

While this is not strictly a "house blog," and more a "houses blog" - I'm not so interested in detailing my own endless attempts to both restore and update my 1920s Mission Revival bungalow here in Sacramento - I am going to bring it a little closer to my own experiences with this post and a number of related articles to follow over the next several months.

We have finally decided to remodel & restore our kitchen. The hardwood breakfast nook, relocated in the 1980s, will return; roof beams and oak cabinets will reappear; butcher block and stone countertops will be reinstalled, and period lighting - from our good friends at Rejuvenation Hardware - will illuminate the room. During the seemingly endless planning process, I've looked at other remodels in historic (and some new) homes, mostly in the Craftsman and Mission styles. Here, for your perusal, are some of my favorites - the best I've seen on the Internet - which I hope you will find interesting and possibly useful in your own projects.

Rockridge Kitchen Tour

If you are anywhere in the SF Bay Area, don't miss the Rockridge Kitchen Tour this coming Sunday. Nine remodeled home kitchens - from period-perfect restorations to super-modern workspaces - will be profiled in this four and a half hour walking tour. Tickets are $25 until September 30 and $30 the day of the event and can be purchased by calling 510.644.4228 or visiting the Rockridge Community Planning Council at 5951 College Avenue in Oakland.

Arts & Crafts Interior Paint

Covertheearth_1The relentless style specialization continues: Sherwin-Williams, whose "cover the earth" logo I have always loved (although my familiarity with their product[s] ends there) is now selling a special line of paint marketed toward owners of Arts & Crafts homes. With names like "Hubbard Squash" and "Roycroft Adobe," they are obviously leaning a bit more toward Aurora than Usonia, but the palettes featured on the site are certainly authentically conservative. "Dard Hunter Green," "Ruskin Room Green," and "Bunglehouse Blue" are a few of the other colors available. A PDF brochure shows them all. Oh, overblown marketingspeech ...

You yearn for a pure aesthetic. Straight, uncomplicated lines. Hand craftsmanship. The color and texture of natural materials.

The Arts & Crafts Preservation Palette® offers all the simple style of the Arts and Crafts movement, re-created in exacting detail. So whether you're a stickler for authenticity or just appreciate the beauty of this unfettered décor, you can achieve true craftsman style.

Architectural Salvage


I don't know about you, but I love exploring scrapyards and salvage yards, and a good architectural salvage yard (or a great one, like Ohmega and sister Omega Too, who sell mostly new items, in Berkeley CA) can provide hours of entertainment. Some places specialize in certain items – doorknobs, mantels, bathroom fixtures, clawfoot tubs, windows – and others sell whatever they can save from the wrecker's ball. These firms are a great and often inexpensive way to find one-of-a-kind items with history and character, and are also a good source of ideas and worth checking out before you begin a remodel project. Outside of the US, the selection is even greater, with companies like the UK's Salvo offering a huge directory of salvaged materials from all over Europe – they even have a big salvage fair every year. Here are a few of my favorites; please feel free to add other resources to the comments below.

  • Bill Raymer's Restoration Resources in Boston's South End has sold interior architecture elements, from mantels to fixtures and windows, since 1988.
  • Springfield's ReStore is another firm in Massachussetts, more interested in reuse as environmental philosophy than necessarily in historical conservation.
  • Massachussetts really does embrace architectural salvage (probably because there's so much good stuff to save)! The Building Materials Resource Center is another Boston materials salvage firm, and operates as a non-profit, marketing specifically to low-income customers by giving them steep discounts.
  • Architectural Salvage is in Exeter NH (an hour outside of Boston), and is open weekends only. The owner, an avid antique collector, left the home building trade after 20 years and opened AS in 1997. Their large inventory includes lots of doors and hardware, with an emphasis on Victoriana and Colonial Revival items.
  • New England Demolition & Salvage is located in Wareham, MA, and carries a large selection of clawfoot tubs, stained glass, radiators, mantels, columns and plenty of other architectural antiques.
  • Architectural Elements in Tulsa OK carries an enormous range of fixtures, hardware and wood and ceramic items.
  • Milwaukee's Salvage Heaven keep lots of built-ins and other items taken from local homes – many of them Craftsman and Prairie – on hand, and have an enormous inventory that includes everything from bricks and wooden flooring to furnaces, boilers, moulding, tin ceiling, baseboards, doors and iron railings.
  • North Shore Architectural Antiques in Two Harbors MN also have a huge stock on-hand, including plenty of tile, ornamental plaster, corbels, stair components and much more.
  • Howard Kaplan Antiques in Manhattan specializes in antique lighting and bath fixtures, including tubs, vanities and sinks; they also carry a large stock of antique furniture and decorative items, and a special exclusive Victorianesque pot rack.
  • Olde Good Things have showrooms in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Scranton PA, as well as an online store. Their firm has grown by leaps and bounds since its initial inception working with New York City demolition contractors. They continue to sell at flea markets and antique sales, as well; you can find them in Santa Monica, Long Beach, Pasadena and Alameda, CA, throughout Illinois, Washington DC and Clarendon VA, and all over New York. Their trucks also roam the country, buying and selling all over the place; each truck is a showroom in and of itself - what an operation!
  • Louisiana salvage firm Crescent City Architectural has a good stock of doors, ironwork and windows - plenty of items with that New Orleans style.
  • Seattle's Earthwise maintains an enormous warehouse full of weird bits and pieces, from the antique to the modern, including some nice Povey Brothers stained glass windows, mostly salvaged from local churches.
  • My favorite, Steve Drobinsky's Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley CA, has both indoor and outdoor areas full of hundreds (or thousands?) of doors, windows, pavers and brick, tile, tubs, sinks and toilets, antique European and Asian interior architecture, electrical and gas fixtures of all types, church and movie-theater benches, pews and other sorts of seating, and so much more I can't even begin to list it. They have a cute little movie up on the web which includes a walking tour of their operation.
  • Tony's Architectural Salvage claims to be Southern California's largest architectural salvage effort. Their shop in Old Town Orange is enormous, with an especially large stock of doors, glass, mantels and hardware – check out the mountain of doorknobs!
  • The ReUse People in Alameda CA are both demolition contractors and materials distributors, and maintain a number of warehouses that are open to the public. They do not specialize in antique fixtures, although some gems can be found in their stock; they are more interested in salvage & reuse as part of a larger ecological philosophy.
  • Building REsources in San Francisco's India Basin is a sort of hippy junkyard of a salvage operation, but they do have an excellent stock of bathroom fixtures, tile and other bits and pieces, and you can sometimes find neat stuff hidden behind less beautiful items that fill their lot. The yard is also an ongoing art installation, and neat bits of sculpture litter the space year-round.
  • Also in the Bay Area, Caldwell's carry a pretty wide range of salvaged materials, including quarter-sawn mantels, turn of the century light poles, and elevator doors, all salvaged from old Victorians and commercial buildings in and around San Francisco.
  • Another great Berkeley salvage company is Urban Ore (the city's "major serial material recovery enterprise"), who moved a coupla years ago to a larger space down on Murray Street. They have a very eclectic mix of furniture, fixtures, raw materials, and thrift-store treasures - books and the like (I found a copy of a junior high school yearbook from a school/year I attended, once, signed by childhood friends of mine), although you'll have to be patient to sort the good from the plain.

Photo by our friend Knautia. Please add other resources that you know of to the comments below!

Fireplace Lowdown


Fireplace Lowdown covers "all things related to fireplaces including the most recent news and information." If you thought this was a pretty open and shut field, well, prepare to be proven wrong. Everything you ever wanted to know and more about fireplaces, chimineas, chimneys, mantels, woodstoves and every other aspect of what is certainly a fixture of most older homes.

Pictured: the Craftsman fireplace line from Avalon Stoves, available in both gas & wood-burning varieties.