Craftsman Renovation 2 [the demolition]

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Some four weeks later and we are down to the studs! Finding out what kind of “catalog” or “kit” home the bungalow has proven to be a real challenge. Various blogs have given hints about ways to find out its origins, down to how trim is (or isn’t) used, or even the presence of proprietary stamps and labels. 

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Once we removed 1970s-era paneling that was covering 1950s wallpaper that was covering 1930s wallpaper on thin wall boards, we just knew we would find the answer — but we are still looking. Next up will be to check light fixtures and faucets for specific markings. Some kit home manufacturers like Sears provided financing for these abodes, so a future step might also include checking courthouse records from 1911 to look for any clues. We’ve been told by several in-the-know that it is not a Sears catalog home, but certainly from that era. In the wake Sears’ ongoing challenges last fall, NPR did a feature that highlighted these famous pre-fab homes.

Either way, the progress continues with or without this pedigree or provenance which will ultimately provide a fun fact (and maybe future blog post!).

A new HVAC system, dramatic updates to the electrical system — and now all-new plumbing, as we’ve recently discovered — bring us to its current state, a week or more out from new sheetrock that will help establish more permanent finishes. We are more than thankful that most of the original windows are still intact and that the removal of certain AC units allows for their individual squares to stand out the way they were designed to. A wet December slowed things down, but not enough to significantly delay the progress.

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While getting everything within the walls ready for the next phase, we’ll also be working to get the necessary approvals to make small alterations to the home’s exterior. Working with local groups like the Historic Preservation Commission, these include efforts that make the bungalow look more cohesive and more original, including removing painted plywood (yes, plywood) siding from the back of the house and replacing original windows that were removed to make room for distracting objects like AC units. 

Over the course of the bungalow’s 107-year history, we have identified at least three additions: a master bedroom with a fireplace on the south side of the house, a porch attached to the same bedroom that was later enclosed, and then a laundry room/mud room. Some of the work being done to the home’s exterior will help better integrate the additions, especially the back stoop that leads to the laundry room, where the aforementioned plywood situation will be replaced with board and batten match the rest of the house.

The new floorplan—not much different from the previous layout—will allow for some flex spaces, including a living room and dining room that can be swapped out, as well as a centrally-located secondary bedroom that would make the perfect study.

We have always loved this house, quite possibly because we have always loved the craftsman style. What makes a craftsman a craftsman?  Typical features include a low-pitched roof, deep eaves with exposed rafters and covered front porches with battered columns. While many craftsman homes feature double-hung windows with multiple panes in the upper window and a single pane in the lower, the bungalow has as many in the lower window as it does in the upper — it’s certainly one of the most distinguishing features of the home. There’s certainly an interesting history on the craftsman style — its origins, which were a little bit of a surprise, as well as how the craftsman movement mirrored what was going on in American society in that era.

We often think of the new homeowner, whomever they will be, and how we hope they will treasure it as much as we do now as the current stewards — now part of its long history. Our next update will hopefully show how things are really taking shape, inside and outside — beginning to cover up the boring additions (READ: systems and utilities integral to living in 21st century America) with prettier, more exciting finishes that honor the style of the home.

Jeb Arp1 Comment