Tour a Craftsman treasure

Authentic elements and inspired details revive a forgotten gem

Craftsman treasure

Welcome back Julia Morgan: A meticulous restoration of the famous California architect’s design reveals its strength as a simple composition of ruddy cedar shingles large overhangs and bay windows with sea views.

Thomas J. Story

There it sat, a forlorn and decaying stucco-and-shingle Craftsman house with a sagging roof and disintegrating entry porch. That's what Polly Moore saw on her hunt for a home in Pacific Grove, California.

But Moore sensed potential: The house had good bones, a great location on Monterey Bay, and most intriguing of all - the 1914 structure was designed by Julia Morgan, the architect of San Simeon's Hearst Castle. With the help of architect Gretchen Flesher, Moore and her husband, Stuart Builder, looked past the disrepair to find a one-of-a-kind Craftsman-style treasure well worth restoring.

Bringing back the home's original beauty, however, required a long list of projects: building a new entry porch; strengthening the roof; resheathing the exterior; replacing the 90-year-old plumbing and electrical systems; and updating the bathrooms.

Then there was the problem of the old kitchen. "It was completely cut off from the rest of the house and the ocean view. And it had green cabinets and black wallpaper with green roses," Moore says.

After the removal of a wall between the kitchen and a small breakfast room, and the addition of a breakfast deck, the kitchen now has a water vista and is full of light. The remodeled room still evokes the Craftsman style, with unpainted fir cabinetry that extends across the range hood, a backsplash covered in white subway tile, and new ceiling beams that resemble traditional coffers.

Aside from refinishing all exposed redwood surfaces and adding new light fixtures, the couple kept the rest of the main living areas as they were. Moore scouted salvage furniture yards and antiques stores for original pieces from the Craftsman era - including Stickley Brothers rocking chairs, an L. and J.G. Stickley settle, and a Morris chair. "By not adding anything jarringly modern," Moore says, "we created the sense of stepping back in time."

Design: Flesher + Foster Architecture , Pacific Grove, CA (831/375-4868)

Next: Elements of Craftsman style

 

Elements of Craftsman style

What it is: Simple structures that celebrate the essence of natural material like wood and stone define Craftsman style. For example, red-wood boards and battens on an interior wall are usually left unpainted so you can see the wood grain. Signature elements include built-in seats beside windows and fireplaces, and hand-crafted details like ceramic tiles, art glass lampshades, and wrought ironwork.

History: Popular during the first two decades of the 20th century, the style took its inspiration from the English Arts and Crafts Movement, Japanese design, and the landmark houses of Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, two architect brothers based in Pasadena in the early 1900s. The Craftsman, a magazine dedicated to the style, was published by furniture designer Gustav Stickley from 1901 to 1916.

Recommended reading: Julia Morgan, Architect (Abbeville Press, 1995; $45) by Sara Holmes Boutelle; American Bungalow Style (Simon & Schuster, 1996; $40) by Robert Winter and Alex Vertikoff; and Building with Nature (Gibbs Smith, 2005; $45) by Leslie Freudenheim.

More: Tour a classic Craftsman

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