Heavenly Hideaways

Need a way to break up the excess space in a room, but desire a more unique approach than freestanding dividers? Building out a hideaway room allows for a more cozy public space while creating a fun private space just for you!

Before you start knocking down walls, or even hiring professional help, consider a few things about your space first.attic space with secret room

1.What is the floor plan of the room? Are there closets or small walls that indent into the dominant shape of the
room that you can take advantage of?

2. How many windows are in the room? Natural light makes a space feel larger and generally more comfortable, if you want your private space to be a dark hideaway this is not an issue, but generally a window or skylight could do wonders.

3. How do you want to use each space? Perhaps you work from home and need a private nook free of distractions where you can put a desk and store your office supplies. If this is the case think about your workflow and what you will need.

4. Finally think about what you will use your new public space for, perhaps a game room for the family? Considering the uses for each room, the needed lighting and shape will help you figure out the functionality of each space.

Now you’re ready to DIY it or hire some help and turn a large awkward space into a heavenly hideaway!


Frank Lloyd Wright, What is History and What is Contemporary

Last week I talked about Craftsman architecture, specifically, the characteristics of Prairie style. I figure, since I’m on a role, I should write a little about Frank Lloyd Wright. He was, after all, integral to the movement and the overall establishment of the aesthetic.

A masterful architectural designer, Wright developed a unique vocabulary of space, form, and patternhollyhockhouse-wright that represented a dramatic shift in design from the traditional houses of the day. Characterized by dramatic horizontal lines and masses, the Prairie buildings that emerged in the first decade of the twentieth century evoke the expansive Midwestern landscape. The buildings reflect an all-encompassing philosophy that Wright termed “Organic Architecture.” By this Wright meant that architecture should be suited to its environment and be a product of its place, purpose and time. First developed in 1894, when Wright was establishing his practice in Chicago, this philosophy of design would inform his entire career.

Today, Wright’s name is heavily associated with the movement away from ornate European styles and has become symbolic of classic American architecture. Most recently, Wright’s Holly Hock house, located on a majestic hilltop in Los Feliz, CA, was re-opened after undergoing nearly five years of restoration and repairs. You can go check it out for yourself or take an online tour of its stunning interiors!

Preserving Your Historic Windows

IMG_1827We see ourselves as extremely fortunate to own a home over 100 years old that contains nearly all of its original windows, some of which are intricate stained glass. They have, however, turned into one of the major projects on our restoration list. Little to no maintenance has been done on them over the years resulting in faulty pulley systems, cracks, scratches and broken hinges.

If you have  double hung windows with pulley rope you’re looking at anywhere from $100 to $200 per window in order to fix it. Guess what.. we have 40 windows in all!  The alternative would be to replace all of the windows with new windows, which would cost about the same, but I’m too attached to the beauty of the originals and there are some major advantages to keeping older windows. If you are making a similar decision, here are some great arguments for maintaining  rather than replacing:

1. The design of your windows should fit your home: An architect or designer took great care when your home was built to choose the right windows for your home. Don’t take a chance on throwing off its proportions with new windows. 2. Craftsmanship: The construction of old windows (often done by hand) is extremely durable, and as it ages it is easy to repair.

3. Materials: Old windows were generally made from old growth woods which are no longer available. Newer wood windows are made from fast growing and harvested woods that are more susceptible to invasions and rot.

4. Glass: Historic hand blown glass has a wavy texture that is very expensive to duplicate. The old leaded glass is strong and very clear.

5. Windows should last a long time: The warranty on most new windows is 20 to 30 years, and then they must be replaced. Historic windows can last at least 50 years between repairs.

6. PVC is bad for you: New windows are sometimes made of vinyl, which is PVC based, and other windows, such as aluminum or even wood have PVC parts. PVC is an environmental hazard as its produced, and as a product that off gasses in your home. It releases deadly toxins if it catches fire.

7. Sunlight!: New windows have to be fit into the existing frame, and the newer frames are often thicker, so you can lose up to 10% of the glass area, losing sunlight and views.

8. Old fashioned technology: Historic windows use solid brass hardware which operates smoothly and is averse to rusting. Historic single and double hung windows use pulleys and counter weights, which are far superior to friction alone.

9. The environment: By keeping your historic windows you can keep them out of landfills, and by not buying new ones you’re cutting down on manufacturing, wasted materials, and shipping costs.

10. Your fellow man: By restoring old windows you might be taking away low paying manufacturing jobs, but instead you are employing higher paid craftspeople who specialize in a field.

Discovering Our Home’s Origins

Hey everyone! I discovered some more interesting facts about our new home. Power’s granddaughter (Edyth Scott Powers), as it turns out, was in contact with the woman that we bought the house from – we’ll refer to her as crazy pants or CP from now on (more on her in later posts). CP gave us a letter from Edyth, and enclosed were eight old black and white photos.

CaptureWe hoped that we would be able to get some clues as to the original look of the house; unfortunately most of the photos were too small to see much. The front of the house was also heavily covered with ivy, as you can see, adding to the challenge. This photo does reveal, however, that the two big urns planted with agaves were original and, if you look closely, you can see the shape of the tile roof, which we know was made of tin because it still exists in one small area in the back of the house.

That’s all I discovered so far, keep reading for the latest updates and if there’s an interior design concept that you’re curious about don’t hesitate to contact me!

American Craftsman Style Architecture

Our new home is often though of as a Craftsman. Given the architecture’s current popularity I thought I would take a moment to discuss how tumblr_nq5y68tQlF1ruw5mdo3_1280the Craftsman style came about. For any of you interested in an art history lesson, the American Craftsman style came out of a movement happening oversees in the late 19th century; the Arts and Crafts movement. Founded by the textile designer/writer/socialist William Morris in 1860, the movement rose from the ashes of Victorian ornate and embellished concepts. Morris felt that the industrial revolution was diminishing good design and craftsmanship as well as middle class jobs and that a return to the principles of clean, minimal, ethical and natural aesthetics was necessary.

The movement took hold in the US around 1900 when furniture maker Gustav Stickley published his magazine, “The Craftsman”. The magazine was in print for 15 years, and the style remained popular until the 1930’s. The American version of Craftsman style focused less on the social movement and more on fine quality design and construction.

While there is a certain understated aesthetic that goes along with it, what really distinguishes craftsman architecture are the thoughtful details and meticulous craftsmanship. For this reason I’m elated to own one and to have the privilege of restoring it to its former glory.


Our New Home! A Story of Restoration & Historical Intrigue

Jeremy's craftsmanHere it is! My husband and I own our first home together. Built in 1910 and technically prairie style (but not unlike the many craftsman houses in the area) it was designed by engineer J. Clyde Power serving as his family’s main residence for 25 years. With 4,000 square feet of well-crafted, grandiose, turn of the last century architecture it is in remarkably good condition for it’s age and Dennis and I are excited to restore it to its original glory. Its going to be quit the adventure getting it there, the kitchen and bathrooms consist of what those of us in preservation generally refer to as “inappropriate alterations” and the exterior is a whole another story…. We know that the roof was changed from metal tiles to asphalt shingles, a garland trim was removed from all but one small area in the back, and stucco was slathered over almost everything, but other additions and details remain a mystery.

We are looking forward to digging up more information about the history of the house and taking on as many restorative projects as possible. I’m Jeremy Irvine, an interior designer currently taking on my own home in addition to my client’s homes. Follow my blog for updates on my home’s historical past and the various restorative projects we embark on.