• April 16, 2004

Our First Fan…

Or house restoration comrade in arms

Nothing Important,

David: I just met your fan.

Heather: What?

D: I just met your fan.

H: I have a fan?

D: Yes, this guy recognized our house from the website and he stopped and talked to me.

H: Really? What did he say?

D: He said he was K from Echo Park.

H: OH, that’s not some guy. That’s K from Echo Park with the Craftsman 4-plex!

D: Do we know him?

H: David, remember we saw the pictures online of his house being moved through the streets of downtown Los Angeles?

D: Oh! That’s who that was?! He said he was looking at houses in Jefferson Park.

H: Is he looking to buy?

D: I didn’t ask. (You can see where this conversation is going)

H: Did he say how the restoration of his 4-plex is coming along?

D: I didn’t ask.

H: Did he want to see the work we have done on the house?

D: I didn’t ask…

Ok, so K from Echo Park is more of a restoration comrade in arms than a fan of our house. It is a strange thing how the internet allows people “know” each other even though they have never met. I often visit websites to watch the progress others make in restoring their homes and even though we have never met, I feel almost like they are friends…or they would be friends if we actually lived in the same neighborhood.

Comments { 5 }
  1. Kristen

    Hey, tell David you’ve got more than ONE fan! And for what it’s worth, I’d walk by and want to see some of your projects up close except, well, it’s just that I’m on the wrong coast …

  2. heather

    Well look us up if you ever visit LA. :)

  3. Ivee


    You definitely have more than one fan! I think one of your site visitors said that watching your website is like watching a reality TV series..and I’m embarrassed to admit that I am hooked. I view your website every few days or so to see your progress, to read your musings or to read your new research…and sometimes just to comfort myself that there are other people out there who are craz..I mean ambitious enough to take on large rehab projects. :)

    My Craftsman started out as an affordable means to an end in this high-priced Los Angeles market, but has fast progressed into an obsession that has me pouring over Craftsman books, hardware websites, period lighting websites, etc–I go to bed at night trying to work out the problems in my house, and wake up thinking about my next steps. The house is in bad shape–it is a classic “good bones” fixer-upper but its face is dry and badly made-up through years of tenant-occupancy and insensitive restoration.

    I wrote to you earlier about taping a picture of your dining room as inspiration while I strip the woodwork of my 1914 Craftsman. My house is barely livable but in the year that I.ve lived here, I have had the plumbing, wastelines, electrical, roofing, ceilings, and roof replaced. I.ve also had the old garage demolished (it was a quaint, lovely little thing) but it was falling down and termite-ravaged. In the interior, I.ve retiled the bathroom and laundry floors, and subway-tiled a wainscot in the bathroom. (the bathroom has also been completely reconfigured and has had a major facelift) I.m currently working on stripping the woodwork on my living room/dining room and rebuilding the bookcase dividers that used to be there. I.m also refurbishing the old pantry cabinets in my kitchen (I opted to demolish one wall of old pantry cabinets as they were butchered in the 60.s.new custom ones, made to look like the old ones, are sitting in boxes waiting for my attention). I opted to lay (with my dad.s help) new floating hardwood floors in the kitchen once I saw the condition of the original heart-pine kitchen floors that were under 5 layers of linoleum, a layer of tar paper, and a layer of plywood. I wish I had yours and David.s dedication (and sense of adventure!) in refurbishing the original heart-pine floors. I highly commend you for doing things right. On the exterior, I have landscaping yet to do (my neighbor mows my weedy lawn for me regularly.he is either very nice, or is trying to tell me something), and I intend to remove the aluminum siding, restore the old shingles, rebuild the butchered trim, and replace some of the windows.

    It is interesting to read your musings on keeping your security bars, the state of your neighborhood, as well as keeping original kitchen cabinets in your house. I am facing/faced those very same issues.

    It is wonderful to see your progress and see the choices that you have made. I particularly like your creative budget .soft-shoeing. – I think it.s cool how you have managed to preserve the look of the Craftsman era, attend to your modern values of comfort and design, and still get great deals and sale items.

    My mom is also a great fan of yours. She and my father live in Boston.our home will be their retirement home in about 5 years. My mother has a newfound fascination with Craftsman houses (though she is still in the infancy of what looks like a future obsession). I turned her on to your website a few months ago so she could visualize what I am doing. She called me afterwards and said, “now I see why you want to strip all that woodwork…” It also amuses me that she will call me when you have a new posting up to tell me about the “new changes”.

    I will e-mail before/after pictures once I am done with my living/dining room. (I must admit I have not been so good a documenting all the stages) After all the chemical stripping, I will not have my wits about me for long, will probably have babies with two heads…but will sure have a beautiful Craftsman house. I look forward to your next installment!


  4. heather

    Wow! Thanks for that great posting. We are going through so many of the same things. You’re like my restoration soul sister. I had to laugh because I know exactly where you are coming from and just how much work, time, money and thought (ok, maybe obession) you have put into your house.

    We’ll be drinking a glass of wine in your honor this weekend or if the work on our own house goes badly we might be downing margaritas or apple martinis. Anyway, we’ll be thinking of you and all the paint stripping and just be secretly glad that we are through with that for a while.

    Maybe when David and I get to the point where we actually leave our house instead of attending to it’s every need we could get together to commiserate? Best of luck with your projects and tell your Mom hi!


  5. Ivee


    Your .restoration soul sister. comment made me laugh! Isn.t it amazing how fulfilling and yet frustrating it can be to work on and think about your house? I am glad to have read that you have had a jolt of restoration energy from working on the outside of your house. From the design choices you have made already, I don.t have a shred of doubt that it will turn out to be beautiful. (funny how when its your own house, the design choices get so much harder huh?) I am also glad to hear that you chose the green as your body color.I.ve grown very fond of the earthtones palette.I love the olive shingle body/ plum brown trim/ ginger sash combination myself.

    Not to confuse the security bar issue (I.m completely unsettled about this one as well), but I was driving around Echo Park looking at houses for work, and near the top of the hill by Santa Ynez and Belmont (Thomas guide P634 between D and E 1) is a Craftsman converted duplex with a very interesting response to the security bar issue. They were security bars that had a chevron design from the Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie school days. The bars were substantial in thickness, square in cross-section, with a hollow core and what looked like a pewter finish. (The house was painted with warm grays and browns with a cream trim) I was feeling particularly bold that day so I knocked on the door (It was a great reproduction doorknocker that actually .knocked. onto a hidden electric buzzer) to ask where the owner got those bars. I was rewarded and surprised with a very nice owner who gave me a tour of the inside of the house. It turned out the bars were already there when he bought the house, but he said the former owner was an artist who had the bars custom designed, gleaning the design from an existing stained glass panel in one of the windows. From the inside of the house, the security bars kind of had the effect of stained glass leading (it worked most effectively in a big picture window) You have a very interesting design element in the piano window in your den that might be interesting to play off of, if this is something you would consider.

    If you and David decide just to revolt and break through the chains connecting you to your house, another interesting place to go to is a coffee shop called Zona Rosa in Pasadena. There is a seating area on the second floor (with wonderful natural light from a skylight, incidentally, and an eclectic decor) and the wall of windows facing the street is covered by an intricately designed cast iron screen. I was sitting there one day with my coffee and my boyfriend and we were both appreciating the shadows that were cast onto the perpendicular wall. I realized all of a sudden that the screen is effectively a security bar and yet the beauty of them made it feel cozy rather than confining. The Spanish revival style obviously won.t work for your Craftsman or mine, and there is precedence with Spanish architecture for cast iron bars, but it made me think that security bars, when done right, can accentuate the existing architectural design rather than detract from it. The coffee was pretty good too, especially if you are drinking it there on a Sunday with the Sunday newspaper…oh yes…and visiting Pasadena to look at the colors on the bungalows in Bungalow Heaven afterwards makes for a very fun day. :) Vromans, the art/design book mecca is walking distance too.

    Security bars, by the way, can be removed when West Adams becomes safer. Apologies to the preservationists out there!! I would love to get together to commiserate one day..or maybe just to down margaritas! :)

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