Prior to the Machine Age (approximately 1880-1945, between the First and Second World Wars) craftsmen worked by hand with simple tools. Their products were made slowly and were priced beyond the reach of all but the very wealthy. Aided by machine, craftsmen could produce goods quickly and in abundance. With the coming of the railroad, these goods were transported widely. For the first time, the common man could own items of luxury, such as “gingerbread.” After 100 years of exposure to the elements, the gingerbread has often crumbled and must be replaced. I have great sources for ornate and beautiful gingerbread and really enjoy putting together the pieces to return a house to its original beauty.
I like to think of the ghosts of the first homeowners walking up the sidewalk to happily exclaim, ”Oops! It looks just the same! Nothing has changed!” Not a time machine, just the magic of historic carpentry.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
William Morris (1834-1896)
I use molding that is cut (or milled) to exactly replicate existing features. Often, it must be custom milled to match the unique features of the home.
Installed at the top of your walls, the molding forms a “crown” for your room. In addition to adding decorative appeal, such molding can help hide any imperfections where the wall meets the ceiling.
Your kitchen is the heart of your home. Whether you are a gourmet chef or a mom corralling the kids for homework, your kitchen is the command center for family activities.
Many kitchens in historic homes are outdated, having been “modernized” with oddball features from a mix of decades. Lacking in flow, function and storage, these kitchens lack the charm, (not to mention flow, function and storage) that a recreated vintage kitchen has in abundance.
Whether you are a die-hard preservationist lusting after a museum kitchen, or a bungalow lover wanting to give a nod to vintage design, I can create the perfect kitchen for your needs, maximizing your storage and counter space.
Molding is wood that is cut (or milled) with special tools that are configured to create a particular design, or “profile.” Throughout the ages, the most beautiful homes have had their walls adorned with molding. Adding warmth and elegance to any room, the use of period appropriate molding increases the charm and character of a vintage home by adding historic detail.
Often, pieces of molding are deteriorated or missing, so I repair it, or I create pieces that match the existing wood. Sometimes, the molding is completely gone, so I work with the homeowner to determine what would be the most beautiful profile to compliment the home’s period and design.
Your porch is the grand entrance to your home. It announces to the world that your home is beautiful, well cared for and welcoming.
Many porches here in Tampa Bay have been closed in to increase living space. Such “remuddling” may accomplish that goal but turning a porch into a room generally throws off the flow of the home’s interior while degrading the appearance of the exterior. Usually, these enclosures were done without permits by non-professionals resulting in substandard and possibly unsafe work. Often, porches have suffered water and pest damage. Porch columns can weaken, causing the roof to sag. The floor can become rotten and a danger to those entering the house. Porch railings can fail.
I can reopen your closed-in porch. A porch is one of the prime features sought by buyers of historic homes, so the value of the lost square footage is often more than made up for by the huge increase in curb appeal. I can repair or replace your porch’s original features, recapturing the warm and welcoming historic first impression of your house.
You can choose between custom cabinets from any home or cabinet shop which I will install for you. Or, I can make cabinets that look exactly like those that would have been in your kitchen when it was built, decades ago. And, though they will have the appearance of vintage cabinetry, I can make them with modern features so that they will be both beautiful and useful.
At the same time, I can make sure that all your windows function so that when you are cooking or cleaning or communing, you can bring the outdoors in. Add screens and during our cooler months, your cooking odors can just float away.
Contact Brian for a consultation on your historic home.
Picture rails have long disappeared from home construction. Long ago interior walls were made of plaster. It is difficult to hammer a nail into a plaster wall and can cause damage to the plaster, so these rails were installed to facilitate the hanging of pictures. A hook is hung from the rail, and then then pictures hang from cords looped over the hooks. Used alone, placed about 1/2” down from the ceiling, this rail creates an interesting shadow. Often placed 10” down from the ceiling, were designed to break up break up the soaring walls of our high-ceilinged Tampa houses.
Plate rails, hung 60” about the floor, display china and other decorative items. Generally, such molding is used with paneling on the walls below. This paneling is called wainscoting. It features flat panels and vertical battens, which emphasize a Shaker-like simplicity. In the old days, the battens were used to conceal the seams between the individual panel boards; today, they are typically installed over 4-foot-wide panels of hardwood-veneer plywood.
Restoration is an environmentally friendly approach to achieving energy efficiency. By restoring your windows, you will increase their energy efficiency, reducing your use and cost of fuel, and at the same time preserve the character of your house. Restoration will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint. Restoration is a superior alternative to replacement.
Once your windows are operational, you will want to have window screens. We replicate the look of vintage screens, giving your home that final touch of authenticity.
I can also replace your windows with new, energy efficient ones, that have much of the look of the original.
Our restoration will make your windows open and close smoothly and with minimal effort, improve their energy efficiency and reduce noise pollution.
If you should visit the museum houses in Tampa Bay, built by the early settlers of the 18th century, you will see the paneling going from floor-to-ceiling. Later, it was used only below the plate rail or, the chair rail which is typically hung at 32”-36”.
Molding is also used applied on the exterior of homes, particularly Victorians. Victorian molding which is highly ornate can have many designs or “profiles” which I combine to create a complex gingerbread look.
Bungalows, a beloved feature of Historic Tampa, have distinctive interior moldings, framing their doors and windows. The practical job of window and door trim is to hide the gap between the rough opening in the wall and the door or window frame. Beyond the practical, trim is an aesthetic choice, allowing you to express your personal style or simple and generously sized, they are remnants of a time when houses were built with pride by skilled artisans. Often these moldings have damage from water intrusion and termites.
Once repaired or replaced with a molding design appropriate to the architecture, they give the appearance that they were always there and enhance your furniture and other décor. They are a character defining feature that sets the bungalow apart from other architectural styles.
Period appropriate doors and windows are a must for a historic home. Doors have much detail that can contribute or detract from the character your home, so you want to ensure that they are period and style appropriate. I have researched historic architecture so that I can easily choose the best door for your home. Security is also a major consideration so the doors that I use are sturdy and sound.
I find that most the people living in houses with old windows have never experienced them working the way they were intended. Here in Tampa, windows often fall prey to termites. They get painted closed. Their weight systems fail. The windows shake, rattle, stick, fall, don’t lock, don’t open, don’t close, and are drafty. These problems are not because of design; it’s because of lack of maintenance for decades.