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Brett Waterman Home Restoration • 1908 Arts & Crafts Bungalow
After standing for over 100 years, this Craftsman gem was suffering from deferred maintenance.
Strengthening Old Bones
This home was built during the boom of the Arts & Crafts movement in Southern California, when California’s distinct Craftsman bungalow developed and spread across the country. The home had seen several sets of owners and needed some tender loving care. The roof leaked, and the exterior was covered in vines. Brett Waterman and his team could see the original beauty under the wear and tear.
He said the bones were all there; that is, architectural style details like wainscotting, columns and the lighting were all original and intact. The only part that wasn’t original was the fireplace. That allowed the team to reduce their needs restoring interior design elements and instead focus on larger structural issues.
The large scope of work meant paying close attention to how to spread out the budget over the house. Lee Tosca, Waterman’s design and project manager, said this year was especially difficult when dealing with rising costs of construction, both materials and labor. She added that clients have often been saving for years, so they must have conversations about how best to use the available funds. "We talk to clients about spacing out the work," she said.
"What really needs to be achieved? Can it be grouped into phase one and phase two?"
"Many people, when they fall in love with these old homes, they’re so afraid to touch it because they’re afraid they might damage it," Waterman said. That disrepair, though not purposeful, changes the job into bridging the gap between restoration and renovation, he said.
"If you live in an old home it doesn’t need to look brand new. It needs to look maintained."
Start with the essentials: maintain the structural soundness and safety of the home.
Personalizing the Design
In this restoration, after addressing the structural components, refinishing the floors, reintroducing built-in furniture and a complete overhaul of the kitchen, there was room in the budget for some special design influence.
One of the homeowners had built a collection of Chinese decorative arts—one of her grandfathers founded Los Angeles’ New Chinatown. Waterman’s team drew on Chinese art history to create patterns and stylistic choices in the home to honor the family’s cultural history. That influence was capped by creating a new custom lantern with Chinese influences and hung over the porch to add the influence outside as well.
A simple, subtle stencil pattern was applied around the entire room’s frieze. The muralist, John Douglas, made multiple iterations before landing on a pattern with elements from traditional Chinese designs to hint at the family’s history.
Age had not been kind to the floors in this home. So, they were sanded to bare wood, stained, and finished to reestablish their beauty.
Waterman decided against any window treatments in this room for two reasons. One, the porch was very deep set, and the window treatments weren’t needed for their function. Second, it allowed the original architecture to stand on its own as beautiful.
New furniture with proportions appropriate to the space was introduced to allow easier flow and access from room to room.
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