Bungalow-style expert Paul Duchscherer helps Jan Winford enhance her house's Arts-and-Crafts charm.
This Old House TV: Santa Barbara house project
For 25 years, Jan Winford has enjoyed her house's modest early 20th century Craftsman style, and she doesn't want it lost in the renovation. With this guiding premise, I undertook the interior design of her 1907 bungalow. Just as the exterior renovation will enhance the house's Arts-and-Crafts character, the interior style will reinforce the period of the house. This renovation was also a superb opportunity to showcase the work of local craftspeople who are a vibrant part of the Arts-and-Crafts movement's current and active revival.
Thus, under the constraints of a limited budget, Jan and I carefully chose rooms to receive the most attention.
The Living Room
At the heart of the house, the living room will undergo the most comprehensive decorative makeover. Emblematic of "hearth and home," the fireplace is a key feature of early 20th century bungalows. In Jan's bungalow, the existing plain brick fireplace is prominently placed but unfortunately obscured by many coats of paint. This brick will serve as a blank canvas for a new handmade tile surround. Created by RTK Studios in nearby Ojai, the matte-glazed tiles feature a "tree of life" design—a common Arts-and-Crafts motif—in a subdued, earthy color palette.
While budget constraints preclude stripping and refinishing most of the existing woodwork, the fireplace mantel offers us a chance to introduce some natural wood in a prominent place. Above a substantial mantel, similar wide moldings will form a framework with a beveled mirror inset in the center. Craftsman-style wall sconces with blown-glass shades, two of the house's many new authentic period light fixtures, will hang on either side of the mantel.
Moved to a more prominent place on the façade, the front door and new porches will make for a more ceremonial entrance. Taking inspiration from the Arts-and-Crafts houses by renowned California architects Greene and Greene, we have chosen a wider front door to more boldly reflect the Craftsman style. For the door's openings, two narrow sidelights and transoms, Santa Barbara art-glass artisan Brian McNally is creating a coordinated group of leaded glass panels that incorporate a vining wisteria motif. A vine Jan planted near the old front door 25 years ago
inspired the choice. (Drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscape was common during the Arts-and-Crafts period.)
The front door now opens into a foyer (formerly the dining room) on the other side of the living room. Open to each other, the foyer and living room will share similar color schemes and box-beam ceilings. The dining room's original woodwork (high wainscoting with a plate rail) will be preserved and complemented in the new design. These rooms will also share a stenciled decoration at the living room's corners and in the foyer's narrow frieze areas, defined by a picture molding at the top of the doors and windows. The stenciling, a subdued echo of the front door's art glass wisteria motif, is the handiwork of Landmark Painting Design and Restoration. (They also hand-painted a mural above the guest bathroom's wainscoting that adapts a water plant design from the 1915 Lanterman House in La Canada-Flintridge near Pasadena.)
The Master Suite
At the back of the foyer, a built-in, slatted wooden screen conceals the stairway that rises alongside of the fireplace, winds around the back of the chimney up to the new master suite. At the top of the stairs—its railing design taken from Pratt House, the 1909 Greene and Greene masterpiece in nearby Ojai—is a pleasantly lit area for quiet reading. Painted beams traverse the master bedroom ceiling, whose angled sides reflect the pitch of the roof. Because the raised roofline carries over the Craftsman lines of the original house, the new master suite feels at home with the older part of the house.
Reinforcement of horizontal lines, characteristic of the Craftsman-style, is expressed in the room's woodwork through a simple period detail: a plain flat wood molding, milled on its top edge to function as a picture ledge, links the tops of all the doors and windows. This treatment divides the wall into spaces for different colors and patterns and was repeated in all areas of new construction. Seen here, and throughout most rooms in this house, is a reliable formula for balanced, harmonious "color hierarchy" in action: Assign the darkest value to woodwork, a medium value to the walls and the lightest value to the ceilings. This rule works just as well in houses blessed with natural woodwork.
Both the master bedroom and its new deck offer sweeping ocean views, linking indoors and outdoors—a key part of bungalow living. This is also accomplished in the expanded kitchen, which includes a pleasant dining area that opens into the garden through a wall of French doors.
Paul Duchscherer is the interior designer for the Santa Barbara House. He is also a historian, lecturer and the author of three books about bungalows that cover their architecture, interiors and gardens.