Thursday, May 29, 2014

Craftsman Touches: The Dining Room

The walls are up and primed.  It's time to start the fancy stuff!  Hooray!

So, what defines a Craftsman bungalow interior?  Beautiful custom woodwork.  And we have a lot of it planned for the house.  We're starting in The Dining Room

First up:  Wainscot

We wanted to make the dining room a little more interesting and set it off from the other rooms.  We decided to create a traditional wainscot detail, complete with a plate rack across the top.  The approach works well in our room, we just needed to figure out how to lay it out.

We started by determining the height of the plate rail.  We decided to make it out of 5/4 lumber, 2" deep, with a plate groove routed along the edge.  We tried it out with a real plate, to make sure we got all the dimensions right! (and I really love these plates - $3 on clearance at the Crate and Barrel outlet).  We'll be painting it white (to keep the room nice and bright), so Kyle used poplar, because of its dimensional stability and ease of cutting/planing/etc.

We want to stay true to the original house as much as possible, so we were thrilled to use the original casing to trim around the opening.

China Hutch

We already had a closet in the dining room - but decided we could make it much more attractive.  So we got to work designing a built in china hutch.  The drawer base was rescued from a previous project and the guys modified it to fit the opening.  Kyle created a birch paneling 'box' for the top.  And  our electrician, Steve, wired it up with halogen lights and a USB charging station (yes, we love those things!!!).  When we get it finished, it will have a traditional look, with modern conveniences.

Next up:  We're going to start on the staircase and the colonnades.  So lots more woodwork to come!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Designing the 'Sanitary' Bathroom

It wasn't until the early 1900's, that bathrooms started to be commonplace in American homes.  And their addition to the home coincided with a new understanding about the need for cleanliness to reduce the spread of disease.  Suddenly, people wanted a bathroom with easy to clean finishes.

The Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company capitalized on this and touted their bathroom fixtures as a 'Sanitary' solution for the home (and certainly a nice improvement over a chamber pot!).  Started in 1875, they offered a line of toilets, tubs and sinks for the home.  I had to laugh when I read the tagline in this ad - 'The modern housewife wants her bathroom to be the cleanest, brightest, healthiest spot in her immaculate home'!

See that tub in the photo?  We're lucky enough to have one in our bungalow.  When we turned the tub over to paint it, we discovered it was embossed with the name of the company, a model number and date of manufacture.  Our tub was made on October 7, 1927, in Pittsburgh, PA (and if you're curious, the company merged with the American Radiator Company in 1929 and ultimately became American Standard, a company we're all familiar with today!).

Underside of our vintage tub!

With all this in mind, I wanted to create a bathroom that harkens back to the Sanitary Bathroom design of the early 20th century.  That means easy to clean finishes, white tile, and real (or reproduced) vintage fixtures.

Of course the focal point will be our vintage tub.  At the ripe old age of 87, it's in great shape.  I had a tub expert come in and he recommended I  clean it thoroughly and then use rubbing compound to bring the finish back to a glowing shine.  I cleaned up the claw and ball feet and finished them with a silver finish.  The exterior of the tub will be painted Sassy Green- we need something to jazz up all the white tile I'll be using in the space.  And we'll be adding a beautiful new faucet for more vintage charm.

I found this beautiful reproduction sink to compliment the overall design.  I love the style and it looks just like some that are featured in Standard Sanitary Manufacturing's early advertisements!

A hallmark of Craftsman design is incorporation of stained glass.  I'm going to tile the entire wall, floor to ceiling, behind the tub.  And I'll add a mock window above the tub, using this beautiful stained glass tile from Hirsch.  It has beautiful Craftsman colors in it - green, amber and putty.

And last, but not least, I have a vintage style medicine cabinet, which will be flanked by two Bistro light fixtures from Restoration Hardware.  They can be adjusted to whatever angle you want, with the levers on the side.  Such a nice feature!

Now that we have the plan in place, I can't wait to get started pulling it all together!

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Turning the Corner - Sneak Peek at the Interior

About midway through each of these projects, I start to think it will NEVER get done.  We'll forever be stuck with a sea of tools, sawdust, and drywall scraps scattered in every room.  With only a few lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, it's a pretty dreary sight every morning.

And then suddenly, something changes and we start to see a glimmer of the finished product.  At this project, it was when the primer paint got applied.

The previous week, Dan Caron and his team came in and installed all the drywall.  And that did a great job of unifying the space.  But it still seemed pretty dreary.

But once Backman Painting came in and sprayed a couple of coats of white primer on all those walls, it was just amazing how different it looks.  So, I thought it was time to give you a sneak peek at what the new spaces look like.  Think of it as a 'Before' and 'During' update: 

Living Room/Dining Room/Foyer:

Former Bedroom - now Foyer/Living Room
I know it's probably hard to believe, but these photos were taken from the same angle.  The bedroom wall and closet were removed during the demo phase, when we opened up the space.  The open door that you see is still there, but it's now a closet under the stairs, accessed from the back hallway.  And the acoustic ceiling is history!

The Bathroom increased by 2 feet, which made a huge difference! Next steps is to move the toilet and sink to the new back wall, so they don't look like an island in the middle :-)
The Master Bedroom is a great space, now that we removed all those extra walls that were in the way. (I couldn't really take a photo from the same angle, because of the old stairway wall)

And last, but not least, we've created 'The Loft' space at the top of the staircase.  The new skylight brings in lots of light that streams down the staircase and brightens the entire space.
We still have lots of trim work to do (not to mention floors, electrical and plumbing!), so stay tuned!! But I'd love to hear your thoughts on the progress thus far!

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Monday, May 19, 2014

The Dirty Little Secret About Craftsman Interiors

They're dark.  I mean really, really, turn-all-the-lights-on-in-the-middle-of-the-day kind of dark.  All that beautiful quarter sawn, oak paneling doesn't have the bright interiors that I crave.  Add a couple of mica shade lamps and you still don't get a lot more light.  Throw in some earthy, Craftsman paint colors on the wall and it just adds to the darkness.
Source: Arts & Crafts Homes
Sooooooo, while I want to try and be somewhat authentic in our approach, we're going to go with a lighter, brighter look for our bungalow.  And that starts with our design selections for the first floor.

William Morris - Golden Lily Fabric
I loved the idea of using a William Morris fabric for our window treatments.  They're authentic, with beautiful designs.  But when I started looking through fabric swatches, they just seemed a little too deep and dark, for what we need.  

So, I started looking a little more and stumbled across this fabric display at Calico Corner.  See the one at the bottom?  It's still got a traditional feel, but gives us a punch of color with the red background and plays on all the greens and golds that we want as well.

Best of all, it has so many colors, it gave us a lot of options for wall color.  But it turned out to be almost too many options.  After multiple trips to Sherwin Williams to buy paint samples, I tried greens and golds and creams.  I put a checkerboard of color samples on the wall.  And after lots of agonizing, finally decided to use SW White Duck for the wall color (it's the one towards the middle, next to the white trim color).  It's a creamy beige and looks great with the fabric, the white trim and the creamy kitchen subway tiles.  It's also a great neutral for the future homeowner.

But we still need a punch of color somewhere (my painter lets me have a total of 3 paint colors in the house).  So,  I am thinking about a 'feature wall' in the breakfast room, which is the brightest room in the house with 4 windows and a glass door.  I found this fabulous reproduction poster from the 30's of Acadia National Park (It's a design based on the Works Project Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project from the 1930's.  How cool is that!)   I'm trying to decide if it looks best with the green or the gold.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

But before you start to worry that I'll be making everything too light, rest assured.  We are going to install custom oak trim in many areas of the house - colonades, stairwell and hutch top - so there will be beautiful natural wood finishes.  We'll balance it with white painted trim, so the house will continue to be open and light.  And for the Craftsman purists out there, it's not unusual for these houses to have had the trim painted over the years.  So we're still following tradition, while keeping a bright interior.

It's so nice to be focusing on the interior now!

Fabric - Braemore Sangria
Paint Colors - Sherwin Williams: White Duck, Wheat Grass, Rice Grain
WPA Poster -

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bungalow Curb Appeal - Part II: Before and After

With spring finally making an appearance, we've been able to make a lot of progress on the exterior of the Craftsman Bungalow.  This was the biggest chunk of our reno budget, but we think it's worth it!

First step, we needed a new roof on the main house.  The guys stripped off the old roof and installed new architectural shingles.  And since they had everything torn off, that gave us the perfect opportunity to install a big new skylight in the loft (so don't worry about that big hole in the roof!)

Although most of the windows in the house had been upgraded in the past, some had serious seal issues (this one created quite a stir when I shared it with the window folks!) and others wouldn't close and lock.  The windows on the front porch were original, and while charming, they no longer operated and had many, many layers of paint on them.  So we decided to replace them all, with new, energy efficient, low-E, argon filled windows.

We got this beautiful new Arts & Crafts style front door.  It creates a welcoming look as soon as you pull up in front of the house.  But as the days have started to get warmer, we've got an odd bubble forming on the front and will need to have it replaced.

Even the house wrap looks better than the old shingles!
But the biggest change?  Installing all new siding on the house and wrapping the trim in aluminum.  This will be a great, low maintenance home!  First step was removing all the old shingles.

Then the guys wrapped the whole house in house wrap, to keep it nice and weather tight, but still able to breathe.
Rear of house - Shingle Removal

Budget allowed us to do the front of the house in Certainteed Cedar Impressions, which look fantastic (oh and they're made in the USA!).

We took the old fake stone veneer off of the front steps and replaced it with real brick.  It looks so much better now!

We wanted to accent the front porch from the rest of the house (plus, I was worried we'd have way too much green!).  So, we used the lighter colored siding, that's on the garage and breakfast room, under the porch windows.  That, coupled with the new porch overhang and bright white trim, really highlight this feature of the house!

But my favorite feature?  The custom house number that I had made (also made in the USA!).  It was a bit of a splurge, but doesn't it look distinctive with the copper and bronze accents?  And now that Steve has installed the new light fixture, I couldn't be more pleased!

And with the warmer spring temperatures, I installed some landscaping to dress up the front yard.   The spring blooming bushes are a welcome change from the multiple feet of snow we had all winter.

We still have a few more things to do.  Change out the door, install a mailbox and update the garage.  But we think it's a dramatic change from our starting point.

So, here are the before and afters.  What do you think of the curb appeal now?  The 'before' was a drive by......but is the 'after' something you'd want to see when it comes on the market?

Siding, Windows & Roofing - Certainteed
Custom House Number - Atlas Signs & Plaques
Front Door - Jeld-Wen
Light Fixture - Restoration Hardware

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