Archive for June, 2008

Oh How I Love Craftsman Style Trim

Jun 20, 2008 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

craftsmantrim Oh How I Love Craftsman Style TrimCraftsman trim is probably one of the most defining aspects of an Arts and Crafts home. Below are several sites that display some excellent examples of trim from the Arts and Crafts period.

The folks at Heart of Oak Workshop in Irvine, California are a talented bunch. They specialize in custom doors, built-ins, cabinetry, trim, and furniture. Their trim page has plenty of great examples of their work and just might provide the much needed inspiration for that adventurous DIYer out there.

Then there is an entry from the Humphrey House blog that describes the installation of some Craftsman style trim in a 95-year-old Bungalow. This a very well-written blog, by the way, that I highly recommend.

Finally, Twentieth Century Fires, located in the UK, has some original Arts and Crafts fireplace mantels that date back to 1900. They’d only set you back anywhere between 2 and 4 thousand U.S. dollars plus shipping (if they even provide that service to U.S. residents). Not cheap, but worth taking a look.

Words Worth Remembering for Historical Home Owners

Jun 18, 2008 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

john ruskin Words Worth Remembering for Historical Home OwnersDuring the mid to late 19th century artist, author, poet and social critic, John Ruskin, known for his essays on art and architecture had this to say about historical buildings:

“Old buildings are not ours. They belong, partly to those who built them, and partly to the generations of mankind who are to follow us. The dead still have their right to them: That which they labored for… we have no right to obliterate.

What we ourselves have built, we are at liberty to throw down. But what other men gave their strength, and wealth and life to accomplish, their right over it does not pass away with their death.”

This caters to the notion of old homes having a sort of inner spirit. And I’d say that for those of us who happen to live in an older home, it becomes our duty to restore that spirit if the home has fallen into disrepair. It is only through careful restoration that a badly worn home can truly be revived.

Strangely enough, Ruskin didn’t buy into philosophy of restoring homes. In fact he was all about preservation as opposed to restoration. It was his belief that the owner should do whatever necessary to maintain the integrity of the architecture with proper maintenance and upkeep and said that restoration was the most total destruction a building could suffer. “A destruction out of which no remnants can be gathered.” He went on to say that …”it is impossible, as impossible as to raise the dead, to restore anything that has ever been great or beautiful in architecture.”

I can see where he’s coming from especially in terms of those confused souls who gut an old home and restore it without holding true to the home’s original roots, essentially disregarding its history and smothering its spirit. People who do this think they’re doing a service to the home when actually I find they’re doing quite the opposite. Time and again I’ve watched episodes of home renovation programs on HGTV where the homeowner takes a beautiful old home, transforms it into a modern day nightmare and stands smiling at what I would describe to be disfigured architecture.

That being said, I don’t entirely agree with Ruskin’s opinion on restoration of architecture. I believe at times it’s necessary to preserve our architectural history and if done correctly can be like polishing an old, tarnished brass lamp and realizing its hidden beauty.

I believe in architectural zen. A balance between holding true to the home’s original character and at the same time instilling a sense of modernity and convenience that represents modern day living.

The Seven Lamps of Architecture by John Ruskin can be downloaded for free from Google Book Search

Japanese Style Poetry House Represents Simple Craftsman Ideals

Jun 16, 2008 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

picture 21 Japanese Style Poetry House Represents Simple Craftsman IdealsOn the back cover of the latest issue of Fine Homebuilding magazine there is a photo and brief description of the Poetry House, an architectural sculpture commissioned by artist Bruce Johnson himself after waiting two decades to fulfill his dream of creating a sacred space that blends harmoniously with nature. The Poetry House was modeled after a traditional Japanese tea house and got its name from a poem written by Elizabeth Herron that Bruce read sometime after he had begun to build his masterpiece. That led Bruce to contact Elizabeth and ask her to participate in the project with him. She agreed and wrote The Poet’s House, which is now transcribed within the walls of the small sacred building.

I love the fact that this building was created by an artist and what that says about the style of architecture that comes from Japan and that came to define the Arts and Crafts era within the United States. Unfortunately, our society has in many ways turned their back on Craftsman ideals both in our homes and our lives, whereas in Japan the type of architectural beauty found in the Poetry House is still alive and flourishing throughout the country.

Check out Bruce’s website Form and Energy to see more photos of the poetry house.

Right as Rain Pt. 2: Even More Reasons to Harvest Rain

Right as Rain Pt. 2: Even More Reasons to Harvest Rain

Jun 13, 2008 |  by  |  Water Conservation  |  Share

Just to go a bit further into the argument to harvest rain – although hard numbers on how it can positively impact the environment would help make a stronger case, I think the following videos and links provide some pretty solid first hand evidence that it can make a difference environmentally. Read More

Right as Rain Pt. 1: Why Harvesting Rain Is The Right Thing To Do

Right as Rain Pt. 1: Why Harvesting Rain Is The Right Thing To Do

Jun 11, 2008 |  by  |  Water Conservation  |  Share

Over seven billion gallons per day. That’s how much the EPA estimates is used nationwide on landscape irrigation. Now, no matter how you spin that, it’s far too much water. And the scary thing is most people don’t even think about it. I’ve got a friend who has a large, lush green lawn and I asked him what he did to make it look so nice. Read More