In this blog I will do my best to describe the process I went through in turning my 1957 Ranch-style house into a 2006 Craftsman house as inspired by the Gamble House in Pasadena. Please feel free to comment on anything I write and ask questions as it is the only way we learn.

Note: Since completion of the house I have also decided to allow guest bloggers to post articles related to remodeling. This continues the education process.


TIMELINE
Architect Selection - December 2002 through January 2003
Getting a Permit - January 2003 through November 2004
Construction - November 2004 through September 2006
Post Construction - October 2006 through ???



Craftsman Curtain Rod Bracket Installation

As promised, here are some installation pictures of the curtain rods. A previous blog post shows the manufacturing of the curtain rod brackets.

Rich Wright, the contractor of my house, made the curtain rods and brackets out of left over mahogany from the construction. He had to build a jig to hold the base bracket in place and ensure that it was aligned straight.
Curtain Rod Bracket Jig Craftsman curtain rod bracket installation.jpg

This picture shows the mounting really well. There are two screws that mount the base piece into the wall. The cover piece has a hole in the center where a 3-inch screw goes through the rod (not shown) and into the back support bracket. That hole is then filled with an ebony plug.
Installed curtain rod bracket

We ran into an issue with how to do a bracket for a corner window where each window had it's own curtain. Here is the solution, a corner bracket that takes each rod in at a 45 degree angle.
Corner curtain rod bracket installation

Test fitting a curtain rod into the brackets to make sure everything fits.


Now it's time to make the curtain rods. Each mahogany rod was custom cut to the length required for each window and door. I numbered the ends of the rods when finishing so I could remember where they went later. After some light sanding to bevel all edges, I sprayed on 3 coats of Varathane to seal them. This is the same finish I used on the curtain rod brackets.
Curtain rods finished with Varathane Numbered Mahogany Curtain Rods Mahogany curtain rods of varying lengths

Meanwhile, this block of ebony was cut into tiny squares to plug the holes in the brackets after installation.
Curtain rod bracket ebony plugs

And now for the final product. Well, almost final. I still haven't put in the ebony plugs but you can't really tell in these pictures. The rods extend one inch past each end of the brackets. The curtains have tabs with buttons so the curtain can be removed if needed.
Craftsman curtain Craftsman curtain tabs
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Craftsman Curtain Rod Brackets

It has been awhile since I posted here so let me give you an update on the curtain rod brackets and show you what we did. My contractor wanted a web site and I needed curtain rod brackets so we bartered services. I had leftover wood and it was easy for him to manufacture so we had a win-win situation here.

The brackets are made from my leftover Honduran mahogany. Here are the long awaited pics of the unfinished brackets and the finishing process.

Here you can see a complete bracket and the two halves that make it up.

Craftsman curtain rod bracketCraftsman curtain rod bracket

The brackets are match drilled. We had to number them to keep the sets together.

Craftsman curtain rod bracket

All of my materials: curtain rod brackets and Varathane clear semi-gloss.
Craftsman curtain rod brackets and Varathane

Taking all of the brackets apart in preparation for finishing. Ebony plugs will fill the holes.

Craftsman curtain rod brackets are taken apart

The brackets are apart and ready for finishing with Varathane.

Craftsman curtain rod brackets are apart and ready for finishing with Varathane.

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Craftsman Curtain Rods and Curtains

After 2 years of living here, we are getting ready to put up curtains and rods. The problem we have been having to this point is what will look good and compliment all of the wood. Well, we found something we like but the problem is that it costs anywhere from $200-$400 per curtain rod. The rods are made of oak with small ebony inserts as you can see in the picture.

Craftsman curtain rod

Craftsman curtain rod bracket

If you remember, I have a lot of mahogany and ebony left over from the job so we will be using that and make it ourselves. On a related note, my contractor Rich Wright asked me if I could create a web site for him in exchange for some work I may need done. What great timing! Rich will be building the curtain rods in exchange for his site.

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Dining Room Table Being Built

A month before Dave Barlow was finished with the interior woodwork, I asked him if he thought he could build a dining room table out of mahogany and ebony from plans that I saw in a woodworking magazine. After a few weeks of studying the drawings, Dave said " Do you want it exactly like the plans show?" I asked him why and he told me that he could make it better. So we started. Below are a few pictures of this table being built. It took 5 months to complete.
The table is modeled after a table in the Robinson House, another Greene and Greene design. With both leaves in, it can comfortably seat 14, without the leaves it can easily seat 8. It weighs in at about 150 lbs for the base and 150 lbs for the top. The extensions are wood sliding on wood, there are no metal sliders. Also notice that your knees won't hit anywhere around the table.


IMG_4536 IMG_4537 IMG_4538 IMG_4539 IMG_4540 IMG_4541 Craftsman mahogany and ebony table Craftsman mahogany and ebony table IMG_4546 IMG_4547 Craftsman mahogany and ebony table top Craftsman mahogany and ebony table edge is raised 1/16 Craftsman mahogany and ebony table. The edge is attached with many biscuits and adhesive. Craftsman mahogany and ebony table extension sliders Craftsman mahogany and ebony table clear coating Craftsman mahogany and ebony table stops Craftsman mahogany and ebony table top pins Craftsman mahogany and ebony table finished Craftsman mahogany and ebony table

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The Mailbox Post and Mailbox Get Installed

Dave Barlow made me a custom, mahogany mailbox post to hold the copper mailbox I bought. It is a furniture grade box and slides right over the installed 4x4. I made the numbers out of glass because I couldn't find any I liked that would contrast the dark background.

Craftsman mahogany mailbox post Craftsman mahogany mailbox post ready to install
Craftsman mahogany, copper, and glass mailbox

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Sanded and Stained Front Door and Garage

With the sun beating down on the garage door, the mahogany was getting bleached. I decided to have the garage door and front door sanded and stained. The garage door took three weeks to do. What a job!

Craftsman front door is sanded and ready for stain. Craftsman garage door is sanded and ready for stain.
Staining the mahogany Craftsman garage door The stained mahogany Craftsman garage door

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Painting Lesson Learned, Stairs Almost Done, Landscaping Going Well

No....not yet! I hate saying this as I haven't been right yet but I expect us to start moving in by mid-July.
• We are still painting rooms. Probably for another 3 weeks. The problem is that all wall and ceiling surfaces need to be skim-coated. My GC was trying to keep the costs down by spot patching the walls and in hindsight it looks like it ended up costing me quite a bit more because it takes forever to spot fix these walls with all of the wood trim everywhere.

A MAJOR Lesson Learned here is plaster the whole house or go in with the plan to skim coat over ALL drywall surfaces. The bottom line is drywall may be faster and cheaper if your building a bunch of condos but it ends up costing a lot more if you are trying to do a good quality job. About half of the screws popped out with all of the hammering due to woodwork finishing.
• Dave Barlow has finished the stairs and wainscoting and is now working on the staircase railing. After that, he should be done. He's been with us 1 year now, did all of the interior woodwork, and was only hired to do the stairs. Unbelievable!

The risers and treads fit together like a puzzle in this Craftsman staircase Ebony plugs in the Craftsman staircase siding


• Landscaping is going pretty well. The front driveway is complete, the front pathway is just about done, sprinkler valves are in, final grading and irrigation starts next week, and the waterfall/pond will finally start next week.

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Everybody is Working - Painting, Murals, Library, Stairs, Wainscot, Playhouse, Landscaping

Well it's mid May and I'm not moving in yet. It's quite frustrating and basically comes down to manpower. My new projection is the third week of June. I'm still taking pictures and will eventually get them loaded but I just can't seem to get in the mood to do it. Maybe I'm just lazy. Trust me though....the house is coming out so much better than I had hoped for and I will eventually get the pictures loaded. Once complete I will look into creating a searchable photo database to make it easy to find pictures you are interested in. Well here's this month's progress.
• We have a painter going room to room now. We had a muralist paint this big oak tree with animals in the kids' room.

Mural of an oak tree with animals in the girls' bedroom.

• We are almost finished laying all of the exterior flagstone around the house. The driveway will be poured this Saturday.
• The master closet is complete. Cedar-lined walls and American cherry cabinets.

Master closet lined in cedar with cherry cabinets

• The library is built. In fact, all cabinetry is complete and will be finished over the next few days.

Unfinished library cabinets with built-in Murphy bed. Library cabinets with Murphy bed

• The stair treads have been sent out for finishing. Dave is starting on the wainscot in the bathrooms and the newell posts for the stairs.

Mahogany, bathroom wainscot being installed

• A playhouse was built in the backyard. We used the leftover shingles for siding, shingles for the roof, Brazilian Cherry and limestone for the floors. Scaled down rafters were carved. It looks awesome!

Craftsman playhouse made from leftover materials

• The waterfall and pond construction will start any day now.
• I had almost half of the exterior stone siding removed and replaced by a new stone guy. My first guy is great at ceramic tile but not so when it came to stone.
• I almost forgot....For the past four months, Matt Keyes of Keyes Landscape Design has been implementing the landscape design. It is amazing! So far we have 18 tons of boulders and need another 6 tons. I believe the landscaping will actually finish before the house now. There is a consistent group of guys that work 6 days a week, 8-10 hours a day. They are really good and fast!

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Stairwell Wainscot, Concrete Poured, Work Stopped, Gone Surfing

I received a letter from the City stating that the permit will expire on May 12. At least we now have a target date. I would still like to shoot for final inspection by May 1st.
• We are laying out the stairwell wainscoting. It will be Honduran Mahogany with 6 distinct layers to give it a depth effect. Just wait and see...
• Drainage was put in on the North side of the house.
• Concrete was poured on the North side so we can now build the block wall for the planter.
• Two carpenters and the electrician are surfing and camping at Big Sur for the last two days. My GC is sick with food poisoning and Dave, the finish carpenter is on another job for 2 days. In other words, NO WORK FOR THE LAST 2 DAYS IN THE HOUSE. How in the world will we finish in time when things like this happen?
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Gamble House Lights, Floor Issue, Fireplaces, Ebony Plugs, Kitchen Tile

I have finally caught up with the pictures! I have been taking more than I could annotate and finally caught up today. I am adding about another 500 pictures from the last few months. So let me give you all the rundown.
• I created the stained glass for the light in the December 18th blog post only to find out that half of them were too small. After another week of stained glass work, I finished and my fingertips were raw. I brought the glass panels to Old California Lantern Company for installation and received the lights about 2 weeks ago. They are absolutely stunning!

Gamble House replica light with my own stained glass


• The floors are installed. Lesson learned - make sure the installers verify that the door still opens before the whole thing is laid!!!
• The kitchen, laundry room, and master bathroom American cherry cabinets have been stained with Jel'd Stain Red Mahogany by Wood Kote.

The kitchen cabinets were stained with Jel'd Stain Red Mahogany.

• The walk-in closet cabinets are almost complete.
The walk-in closet cabinets are almost complete


• The master bedroom fireplace is covered with a beautiful Batchelder tile from Mission Tile West in Santa Monica.

Master bedroom fireplace covered in Batchelder tile.

• The living room entertainment center is built and ready for finishing.
The unfinished entertatinment center is ready for stain.


• Dave Barlow is installing the ebony plugs in the scarf joints around the house.



• The living room fireplace is having Moonlight flagstone installed right now. It's a very slow process as each piece is being chiseled to the right dimensions. Look on the left part of the mantel and you can see my sugar cube mockup of the stone corner. I made this to make sure they understood how I wanted the 45-degree angles handled.

The Moonlight flagstone is being installed on the living room fireplace.

• The appliances will be installed tomorrow.
• Clear-coating of the mahogany will start in about 2 weeks followed by painting the walls and ceiling.
• Glass tile from Mission Tile West has been installed in the kitchen. It looks amazing!

Glass tile installed in the Craftsman kitchen.

Well, I'm going to start uploading the pictures now and then I'm off to Kauai for my 40th birthday.

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The Finishes are Going In

Lately, I have been overwhelmed with the number of things going on at the house and though I have been taking pictures, I have not had time to annotate and post them. They will arrive, just a little patience.
• The master bathroom has been tiled and looks great!

Master bathroom is tiled in glass, slate, and seagrass limestone.


• Cherry cabinets have been installed in the kitchen, master bath, and laundry room. Unfortunately, the kitchen sink cabinet was 3/4" off center from the window. The cabinet had to be shortened by 3/4" on both ends to keep it symmetric and centered on the window.

Kitchen sink cabinet is off center.


• I have purchased the soapstone slabs for the kitchen and laundry room from Soapstone West in Escondido, CA.
• Brazilian Cherry floors have been ordered from Dutko Hardwood Floors in Lawndale, CA and will be installed the first week of December. Talk about a backlog.
• The fireplace mantel has been installed and stained. Plaster will go above it and Moonlight flagstone will go below. It will be cut into manicured blocks of varying size.

Craftsman Mahogany Fireplace Mantel


• Actual work has started on the staircase. There was a lot of planning to get to this point.
• The hot tub has been delivered. We're just waiting for power now.

The hot tub has been slid into place


• The Golden Busckskin flagstone has been installed on the front and back patios.

Golden Bucksking Flagstone has been installed on the patio


• The green slate has been installed on the balconies.
• Paint samples are all over the walls. I hear they will start within 2 weeks with the paint.

Paint samples are on the walls


• Interior doors are installed and stained.

Interior Craftsman door with Delta glass

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Garage Door Installed, Interior Primed, Bathroom Floated, Ceiling Beams Installed

Not much has happened the last month. Vacations and other jobs have gotten in the way. However, the work that has been done is looking really good. So here's the run down.
• All interior doors have been ordered but we have to wait about a month. Expected delivery is 9/14/05.
• The garage door was installed.



• Interior of house and garage has had two coats of primer applied.
• Master bathroom has been floated and is ready for tile.
• The ceiling beams are being installed single-handedly by Dave Barlow. The planning for this was extremely difficult as there is quite a bit of wood and detail in a Craftsman style house. We are designing the layouts on the fly for the ceiling, crown moulding, plate/picture rail, floor trim, wainscoting, and staircase. All of these pieces tie together as one entire wood 'system'. Our design of this is staying about one or two steps ahead of the build. One problem is that we don't have our wood floors in yet so we can't build the jambs up from the floor.

Dave Barlow installs the living room beams

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Cabinets, Plumbing, Electrical, Insulation, Surround Sound, Roof Work, Shower Mopped,.....

I have been really busy and haven't had time for updates. I have finally organized the new pictures since my last posting on 4/16/05. I will load them up sometime this week, I promise. Here are the latest issues.
• All plumbing and electrical in the master bathroom has to shift to the left by about a foot since we had a designer lay out the cabinets.
• All insulation has been put in.
• I installed in-ceiling speaker brackets for surround sound in the living room.

Ceiling Speaker Bracket Installed


• Copper flashing is going on the roof.

Copper Flashing Installed on Roof


• The shower has been hot-mopped. We were told to pick out all bathroom tile and balcony and laundry room flooring this week.

Hot Mopped Shower


• Skylights have been framed.

Framed Skylight


• The kitchen range vent has been put in place. One of the joists had to be moved over and plumbing rerouted to make room.
• The Thermador range and Thermador dishwasher were delivered last week. I found a place in Alabama (Fredrickson's Tire and Appliance) with amazing prices through eBay. They were clearing out a supply of Thermador appliances from a warehouse that closed down. They bought everything up and were liquidating at wholesale prices.
• With the extended garage roof you now hit your head when walking around the corner. So, we dug down about 2 feet around the garage to lower the grade.

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Paint Colors Selected and Front Door Started

• Today we finally picked the actual colors of the house. The shingle siding is a clear-coated natural cedar. The window and door trim, rafters, and eaves are Cabot Semi-Transparent redwood stain. The balcony railings and trim are Passion Vine, an olive-green color. All colors except for the siding were actually choices I made after the Art Jury told me what they liked. It was easier that way since it gave me fewer choices.

• Gave Joe Madden of Madden Millworks in San Pedro the go-ahead to start construction of the front door.
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Next Page

Be sure to browse the 2,000 picture Photo Gallery for more step-by-step construction details.