Craftsman with a twist

An adventurous couple turns a 1908 duplex into a home full of personality and charm

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  • Craftsman-inspired columns and a domed plaster ceiling show off modern artisan skills.

    Craftsman with a twist

    Lisa Romerein

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Mismatched beauty

From the start, it was clear that this would be no literal resto­ration. "I love the art nouveau era, and Richard is an eBay junkie," Anne says. "A typical Craftsman wasn't what we wanted." The couple set out to transform the duplex back into a single-family dwelling that would showcase their firm's ideas. "We'd been in business a little while, so we were willing to experiment," Richard says.

The kitchen brings together the most creative mix of sources and materials. Richard bought the 1940s stove on eBay ― "from a little old lady in Iowa who had gotten it for her wedding" ― and purchased a hood that echoes the stove's curves. The commercial-grade refrigerator came from a restaurant-supply shop for a fraction of the price of an equivalent Sub-Zero. (To reduce its noise, Richard put the motor in the basement and ran the coolant line upstairs.) Original white cabinets combine with Arciform-designed walnut wood cabinets; stainless steel counters give way to Carrera marble (Richard's favorite surface) by the sink. Blue glass tile is used as a backsplash ― set on the horizontal behind the cabinets, on the vertical behind the stove. A tin ceiling, a type popular at the turn of the 20th century, and salvaged fir floors complete the mismatched look.

"If I put this palette in front of a client, it would be hard to sell," Anne says. "But if you keep the colors similar and the contrast low, it works."

The couple's favorite additions are the two butcher-block islands, set on wheeled metal stands with trays underneath for storage. The wood came from a felled fir tree on land that Richard and Anne purchased on the Washington coast. Richard fumigated the blocks for termites, then milled them and filled in the cracks with resin.

"Islands don't have to be that big ― these work with the shape of the room," Anne says. The two-island design keeps the direct flow between sink, stove, and refrigerator. "I've set up a few meals and wheeled them into the dining room so hot platters don't have to go directly on the table," Richard says.

For a more formal transition between the living and dining spaces, Richard designed an arch on four square columns inspired by a book on Craftsman architecture. Built-ins on either side store vintage glassware and his collection of antique fans. The domed ceiling in the dining room was also Richard's idea, while the stained-glass designs on the windows and buffet doors were influenced by the work of art nouveau architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, one of Anne's design heroes.

A passion for recycling and reuse carries over into multiple aspects of the couple's life. The house phone is a 1920s eBay treasure; Richard's 1960 Mercedes-Benz runs on vegetable oil (complete with the faint odor of french fries). Living with history comes with its share of quirks and imperfections.

"But for us, that's a fair trade-off," Richard says. "It's part of the adventure." Fitting for two people who've always been willing to take a risk.

 

 

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