Inglewood Craftsman Home

Restoring our 1906 home in Inglewood CA on a budget

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Hall Lighting Fixture (x2)

img_5043The original hall lighting fixture, a modern-looking silver-colored basin-style thing, didn’t bother me terribly (at least not like the bathroom chandelier when we moved in), but it didn’t quite fit in with the house’s decor, either. I’ve kept my eyes open for a while for a good alternative.

When I saw this Tiffany-style 3-light chandelier show up on Craigslist, I couldn’t resist. It cost $85, and I had to drive to the San Fernando Valley to pick it up, but it seemed like a decent fit. However, once we installed it, I still wasn’t totally in love with it.

Oh, and of course we ran into more typical old-house issues; it turns out there’s no electrical box in the ceiling for this fixture. The previous fixture was screwed right into the joists and the drywall! It made such a mess coming down. However, it made more sense to screw this new fixture into the wood as well, rather than installing a new box.

Then, I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw a pair of matching Craftsman-style fixtures at one of the prop auctions I frequent online. I paid about $35 for both fixtures plus a few other ones, as they sold in two larger lots. I gave away one lamp in the set to my best friend, who was decorating her home in steampunk-style decor, and plan to possibly mount the pendant either at the end of the hallway or over the fireplace area. This fixture has beautiful glass that matches the vintage fixture in the dining room, and one can see both together at the same time. IMG_5925

We’ve finally installed the hallway fixture (making a bit more of a mess on the way). Once again, we skipped installing a box in the ceiling. However, this meant that we needed something larger to cover the hole in the ceiling. Luckily, I’d been holding on to these round heavy brass doorknob pieces from a 1920s West Hollywood apartment building (I still have a whole box full, and am not sure what exactly to do with them, but this is a start). One sufficed to cover the ceiling holes, and it matches the brass fixture perfectly. I’m so happy to finally have a use for one of these.

Finally, I sold the Tiffany-style fixture again for nearly what I paid for it. Nice!

Check it out!



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Outdoor Vintage Window Scenes

This project was a while in the making. I collected antique windows and shutters over a matter of months, possibly even a year- purchasing some, scavenging others. Jon kept wondering and asking what the plan was for them as they continued to fill up space in the basement. Alas, my Pinterest board describing the vision in my mind didn’t help relay the message well, so he was in the dark until project time.

In the basement, I removed all the old hardware so that it wouldn’t rust outside or ruin the windows. Some of them needed to be repainted to protect the original wood, but most of them had more than enough coats to protect them.

I had a large enough stockpile of windows that I didn’t need to plan the layout perfectly; rather, Jon helped me decide on placement by holding each window up where I asked him to while I stepped back to view it from afar.

We placed them in three areas: on the wall of the house where the guest bathroom juts out, behind the hot tub, and on the neighbor’s garage wall. Jon did all the hanging, drilling first through each window, then through the masonry.

Eventually, I’d like the guest bathroom to have a real window. However, for now, it’s the only wall of the house without any windows! To make it blend in better with the rest of the house, we painted the walls behind the windows white; the glass now appears to at least lead into something dimensional, rather than just sitting on top of the pink wall. This was the toughest part of the installation, as we needed to measure, use chalk lines, and paint somewhat precisely on stucco to stay within the lines. However, the paint seemed to work; at a recent party, people didn’t believe that these aren’t real windows!

Behind the hot tub (pictured at top) is my favorite area for the installation, and I believe the most successful. The addition of both windows and shutters creates a little homey environment for the hot tub; it’s no longer just an item stuck in the corner of the yard, but is now a purposeful and peaceful surrounding. And, as a bonus, the tall shutter blocks more of the view and sound from the neighbor’s yard.

The neighbor’s garage wall has looked empty for a while. At some point, someone painted the wall to match the house (pink stucco, hooray). My “domestic journeys” list had included the task of painting this wall, possibly green or brown to match the other stone walls we’d painted, and bring the yard together. However, I think the windows round things out and bring everything together instead.

Finally, I added one tiny window over the outdoor couch to tie in the laundry room windows to that area as well as to the neighbor’s garage. It all looks like one little homey scene now.








I still have a few windows and shutters left over- not sure what I’ll end up doing with them yet!

Before Images:




Our Very Own House Crane


—Guest post by Jon—

It’s been the longest unsolved challenge we’ve had since moving into the house on a hill – how do we get heavy things up to the first floor of the house? For those who haven’t visited, there are only two ways into the property and both involve a lot of stairs. The house is perched 15 feet above the street, so you can either go through the garage, into the basement, and up two separate flights of stairs, or you can go in the front gate, which will take you up one long, narrow flight of stairs to the front of the house.

So, say I want to power wash our concrete patio, or do some gravel landscaping in the backyard, or aerate the lawn. All of these things either involve equipment that is too heavy to lift up the stairs or, in the case of the gravel, would take a very long time, and probably a broken back, to carry up bag by bag.

We came up with all sort of ideas for how to get things onto the property including winching things up the stairs with some kind of stair climbing platform, winching things up the grassy hillside that leads up to the back yard, cutting a hole in our neighbors garage to bring things through, buying a helicopter, etc. All of these solutions ran into a problem somewhere and didn’t pan out, so during some recent projects, which I’ll have posts for later, I’ve had to rent a forklift to move up heavy equipment.

But one day I happened to notice a small crane on the back of a pickup truck – used for lifting things in and out of the bed. So I looked it up and it turns out that some of these little cranes can lift up to 1000 pounds and only cost about $250. One of the options that I kept coming back to lift things up using some kind of crane that would attach to the top of a ledge that overlooks the public sidewalk in the front of the house. I couldn’t find an affordable crane that was also small enough to fit in the relatively confined space, but this finally seemed to be the solution!

image_22963So I started by drawing up plans for the concrete footing which would support the crane. The crane arm was actually the smallest part of this job – the main part was the huge amount of concrete that had to be poured to support the weight. Not having much experience with concrete, I ran the plans by an engineer friend, who had a couple suggestions on where I could be a bit more efficient by changing the shape of the footing from a straight column, to an L shape.

Concrete Footing A

Click on the image to enlarge


These plans also have the actual prices for everything involved in this project. At a rate of $300 per forklift rental, this crane will pay itself off in just 4 uses.

So once I figured out the cost and the plan, I started digging. I needed a hole that was 20″ wide, 36″ long, and 4′ deep, which turned out to be a challenge since about half of the digging was going through thick clay, by hand.


Outlining the hole


After a few days of digging


The next step was building the rebar structure which would support the concrete. Concrete stands up very well under compressive force – anything that’s pushing straight down on it. But when you apply tension (pulling apart) concrete easily breaks down. That’s where the steel rebar comes in – it is great under tension. So the combination of the two creates a very strong footing that can stand up to both kinds of pressure (the compressive force of the weight bearing down on the column, and the tension force of the the load out on the end of a 4′ boom).


I built the base of the cage outside the hole, then dropped it into the hole and added the column.


Bending the long, vertical pieces for the column


Attaching the column pieces to the base


Finished it off with rebar hoops at every 6″ up the column

Next I installed the sonotube, which is a concrete form used to shape the column. The rebar column has to be placed right in the center of the sonotube, so with a few ratchet straps I was able to position everything so it was level, lock it down with the straps, and get it ready for the big concrete pour.



The anchors for this project had to be a bit more substantial that your typical concrete anchors. Since so much tension is going to be put on them, I wanted to make sure they didn’t move at all in the concrete. As you can see from the design, I had a few different options, but I ultimately went with what are essentially reinforced steel bolts with square plate washers on the end. I made a jig based on the hole pattern of the crane and set it up on the top of the column.


Anchors sitting upside down in the jig


Anchor bolt jig placed on the sonotube


Looking down into the tube you can see the rebar column and the four anchor bolts.


All ready for concrete!

The total weight of the concrete was about 3000 pounds, so for this I decided to spring for a forklift, one last time. I also had very limited space to work in, so it helped that the concrete was on its own platform. It gave me just enough room to stand between the bags of concrete and the mixer where I was pouring them. The forklift was dropped off on Saturday morning, right around the same time I was getting back from Home Depot with a palate of concrete.





That small space between the concrete bags and the mixer is where I spent the better part of a day mixing and dumping concrete into the hole.


Using a concrete vibrator to get all the air bubbles out of the footing


Filling up the column


Topping the column off and clearing those air bubbles


All ready to dry

After about a week I cut the sonotube off and took the jig off of the bolts. Then I placed the crane on the bolts and, after drilling out the holes to accommodate the large anchor bolts, it fit perfectly. I mounted the crane with nuts underneath the base so that I could level it out. The top of the concrete column is a bit bumpy and not perfectly level, so I used the nuts to level it off before tightening it down.


Drilling out the holes in the base




Leveling the base

The final step of the installation was pouring grout over the bolts to make sure they stay in place and protect them from water. I had the option to galvanize the bolts but it nearly doubled the cost, so I just decided to cover them in grout.

I took a piece of the sonotube that was stripped off the column, and wrapped it around the top of the column. I used some ratchet straps to secure it and made sure that there was a tight seal between the sonotube and the concrete column. High precision grout is very watery when poured, about the consistency of a half melted milkshake, but once it cures, it is even stronger than the concrete.



Looking down into the sonotube, just before pouring the grout.


After pouring 1 bag worth of grout, it was good to let dry.

The result of the grout is a finished looking top. You can’t see the bolts, just the steel post coming straight out of the concrete.


After drying for a day or so.



After this step I had to wait a month for the concrete to completely cure before I could finish it up with some paint and sealer.


I used brown house paint and a sealer on the concrete and a spray paint on the steel post. I think it makes it blend into the fence a bit better.

After installing an outlet close by in the wall of the garage, the crane was ready to use!


Outlet on the garage next to the crane




Groceries made it safely to the top!

I picked up a grill cover from Home Depot so that the electric hoist and the crane arm will be protected from the elements. I was originally planning on disassembling the hoist and boom after every use, but they weigh about 70 pounds, so not super easy to run up and down the stairs from the garage every time I want to use it. With the cover, and after painting everything brown, I don’t think its very noticeable at all.


Crane with its cover


Folded back and hidden by the ficus tree


View from the street

I’m looking forward to putting the crane to the test! The original reason for building this was actually to landscape the side yard with gravel. I needed to figure out a good way of lifting 8000 pounds of loose gravel, and now I have it! Many more crane related projects to follow!

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Art Nouveau Shade for 1920s Floor Lamp

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At a recent prop auction, I discovered some beautiful light fixtures with these Art Nouveau style shades. The leading appears to be bronze or some other heavy metal, and the glass seems to have been poured into the leading. Simply a gorgeous effect! Two of the shades arrived broken, and even removing the broken glass proved a bit tricky because of the way it was created. I actually used a hammer!

The two shades that arrived intact now sit on the early 1900s floor lamp I bought on Ebay and on one of the guest room light fixtures. I’ve bought some mica sheets to make new interior shades for the other two, and will hopefully be completing those soon for the master bath’s new vanity fixture.

I’ve already sold the original fixtures themselves, as the style doesn’t really fit the house and we don’t need any more sconces anyhow. That sale made this project free, actually!IMG_2593

Mission:Inspiration- Minneapolis Institute of Art


On a recent trip to Minneapolis, I had the pleasure of visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) and wandering around alone for an entire day. Minneapolis and St. Paul proudly boast several Prairie School landmarks; therefore, MIA was even fortunate enough to install a Frank Lloyd Wright entryway in its entirety in the museum.

I’ve included some images snapped with my phone of some of the most striking arts and crafts (or, in one case, Art Nouveau) pieces I spotted around MIA. Though the chairs in these images look boxy and uninviting, I’d wager they’re quite functional and comfortable in reality!


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Office Reflooring and Repainting


– Guest post by Jon –

Ever since moving in, I’ve wanted to pull the carpet out of the few rooms in the house that still had it. The room in the basement, which now holds all my film gear and my drum set, was the first to have its carpet removed. That went almost immediately because it was in terrible shape. But the other two rooms with carpet (the library and the upstairs office) were in really good shape, so those stayed. But Skinny, our big doggie, has a lot of allergies which cause him to constantly lick his paws, creating stains on the carpet and just a stale smell in general – since there’s only so much you can do to clean carpet.

However, what really inspired this project actually moving forward was Morgan finding the flooring at the Habitat for Humanity store. She was able to pick up 200 square feet of laminate flooring for about $70. So I picked up some extra supplies – quarter round, underlayment, and some new paint – and set to work over the weekend, so that I could have everything set up again for work on Monday.

New Flooring and Paint

Before removing the furniture

kinny enjoying the last of the carpet

Skinny enjoying the last of the carpet

I started by removing all the furniture and stuffing it into the storage room next door. Luckily everything including the couch fit through the doorway, so nothing had to be brought downstairs. Then I patched some holes in the drywall and in the base boards where I had removed some phone jacks earlier.




Laminate flooring needs time to acclimate to the room temperature and humidity. This helps prevent expansion or contraction which might occur if the flooring was brought from a humid environment to a dry one, or vice-versa. So I actually brought all the laminate up a couple days before starting the project, since it had been stored in the cool, dry basement and would be installed in a relatively hot and humid room.


Then for the fun part – tearing out all that old carpet and finding out what was underneath. Turns out, under the carpet was wood planks and, for some reason, a border around the edge of the room made of adhesive vinyl title. The wood planks were a perfect subfloor, so nothing had to be done, other than to remove about 1000 staples and nails which were used to attach the carpet and padding.IMG_4171


Notice the little pieces of padding stuck to the floor. There are anywhere from 5-10 staples for every square foot of floor, which were used to attach the padding. Apparently they were pretty worried about it moving.



With the carpet out I decided to paint, since I didn’t have to worry about the floor, and all the furniture was removed. I wanted to use a more neutral color, and more importantly, it needed to have a slightly shinier sheen. The existing paint was very flat, which made it hard to clean, especially with the texture of the wall. So I picked a neutral grey color for the walls in a satin sheen, a semi-gloss white for the ceiling, and high-gloss white for the doors, moldings, and base boards.


Scraping the white paint off the trim, revealed and olive, glossy paint underneath. It scraped off so easily  because the olive paint wasn’t prepped properly before being painted white. So, after scraping all the trim and moulding, I roughed up the olive paint with a fine grit sand paper and then cleaned it all with a liquid deglosser.


Skinny is trying to figure out what’s happening to his room (he sleeps in the office at night … and pretty much all day)

First thing to paint was the ceiling, baseboards, doors, and moulding – all white. Then came the grey on the walls. Since it is a textured wall, and there is no moulding between the wall and ceiling, I used a combination of masking tape and clear caulk in order to get sharp, straight lines. When using only masking tape, the paint bleeds under, leaving a very bumpy looking line. With this caulk method, you put the tape down, then run a bead of clear caulk down the edge of the tape. You then press the caulk down with your finger so that it fills all the gaps in the tape, and is smooth. Then just paint over it and pull the tape before the caulk dries. Perfectly straight lines, even on a very bumpy surface!


Taking off the shelves that hold the computer and all my hard drives was going to be too time consuming, since it would have had to be completely rewired. So i just taped it off and painted as close to the shelves as possible. It’s covered by a desk and because of all the wires, you can’t even see the wall.

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On day 2 I started laying the floor down, beginning with the underlayment. This room is on the second floor, so a moisture barrier is not needed like it would be if the subfloor was a concrete slab. However, the thin, plastic underlayment that I used provides a bit of padding under the laminate planks, making it more comfortable to walk on, as well as giving the floor a bit more sound absorption.

At each of the doorways, I used a backsaw to cut the moulding. This allowed the flooring to slip underneath and make a perfect edge, rather than cutting the flooring to match the complicated contour of the moulding. These door jam pieces are the only ones to be glued to the surrounding laminate planks. So on one side they are glued, and on the other they are nailed in with a threshold. This ensures that the door jam piece, which is half the length of a regular plank and has the most traffic, will stay in place. All the other planks just snap in place.

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The last step involved putting new quarter round down to conceal the gap between the wall and the floor. With floating floors, you want to leave a 1/8″ gap in order to account for expansion and contraction overtime. The quarter round covers this gap. For this step I rented a cordless finish nailer. It works just like a pneumatic nailer, but without the need for a long air hose and tank. It would have been impossible to nail all the quarter round down by hand without hitting the wood a few times. The nailer hits every nail perfectly and sets it just below the surface, so it’s ready for filler, all in one pull of the trigger. Also, for those who don’t mind slightly graphic images, check out this tutorial on how to drain your finger after hitting it with a hammer – yet another reason for having a nail gun. Password – “smash”.

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This is what is looks like before and after filling the gaps and nail holes.IMG_4220


Nice and smooth, as if the baseboard and quarter round are one piece.



Skinny cautiously investigating the new floor. It actually took him a few days to get used to the new surface. It was like watching him walk on ice.


Dante had no problem – he’s bored already.

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After spending a few hours getting all the furniture and computer equipment back into the room, it’s all ready to go! It looks and smells brand new and should stay that way, since the new floor and walls can be cleaned with just a bit of water. And Skinny is completely used to the new floor. He is no longer walking on ice, and can continue his job of assisting me at work.


– Guest post by Jon –