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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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 –

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Laundry Room Light Fixture


I found this great mission-style light at one of the local online auctions I love to shop. It’s actually an outdoor light, and we might put it somewhere outdoors eventually (maybe the front porch?), but it seemed to fit nicely in the laundry room. We’d originally replaced the generic dome fixture with an Ikea direction-facing 3-bulb one, and added a dimmer so that our houseguests could navigate to the bathroom easily at night without running up huge electricity bills. The laundry room has always looked like an afterthought to me, though, so every little detail has helped in making it fit the rest of the house. The stained glass window, the new back door, the original stripped copper hardware, and the salvaged bathroom door have all made a difference- and now the light fixture fits, too!




Before- Ikea fixture



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Awning Removal

The Inglewood Craftsman sold itself to us with its natural light via massive windows. I remember telling Karen Larsen, our realtor, that I only had three desires for a home: in Inglewood, no bars on the windows, and natural light. This place nailed it. One entire wall in the living room is a window!

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What originally sold us!

However, a massive aluminum awning blocked a significant amount of light from coming through. My theory is that the awning was installed before most of the trees outside were mature, but now that the trees provide plenty of shade for the home, the awning is superfluous.

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Just look at the greenery and light!

Because of the pitch of the hillside and the weight of the awning, we feared we’d need a team of people to remove the awning. However, I came home one day to find Jon had accomplished the task with only one ladder and a grinder!

The light coming in is truly lovely, and scrappers/recyclers came for the aluminum almost immediately. Check it out! 

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Salvaged Medicine Cabinet

Cabinet_7main bath mirrorThis black bathroom mirror, present in the house when we moved in, appears to be just a heavy decor mirror hung on a picture hanger. I tried to open the mirror like a medicine cabinet several times before realizing that the hanger isn’t a hinge! It was hung over the many-times-painted original cabinet exterior.

IMG_0444I found this large mirror at an antique mall (check it out- buried under a staircase and in a pile of other mirrors- see right), and was able to convince the booth’s owner (via a store employee’s phone call) to lower the price a bit. This find had definitely lived previously as the door of something, since it had hinge indentations, a filled-in hole that would’ve contained a handle, and a spring closing mechanism in the site. I measured the mirror several times to make sure it would fit over the existing medicine cabinet’s opening, then went for it, despite the obviously faked shabby-chic exterior I’d need to remove. Here’s what it looked like just hung up as-is.


Oh- at this point I should probably mention the gross medicine cabinet interior. The black mirror had been too small for the cabinet, so the installers had added pieces of random wood to mount the mirror and a piece of random trim to disguise its empty space. All that wood blocked some of the view of glass shelves on adjustable metal shelf supports, and behind all that, CRAZY DISCO WALLPAPER. Yes, the inside of the medicine cabinet was wallpapered with this!

My trusty heat gun helped remove the offending wallpaper. Here it is partially dismantled already, but I absolutely had to get a picture of the weird wood constructions inside here.

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Color was a tough decision, since I couldn’t tell if the mirror’s wood was nice under that finish. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to strip the whole thing and stain it, or if I’d be scraping and re-painting instead. Some test stripping revealed the wood was nice and looked similar to that in the guest bathroom cabinet, so stripping and staining seemed best!IMG_1411

The master bath mostly contains dark wood accessories, so I chose the same stain as used inIMG_1407 the hallway, fireplace, and most other common areas of the home. The stained and sealed mirror looked great! One minor setback involved filling the holes for the previous handle and closing mechanism (this had obviously already been a cabinet door of some kind in a previous life). Removing the spring-loaded closing mechanism damaged the side of the door a bit, but stainable wood filler did a great job disguising it. A few hand-mixed acrylic colors touched up the other nail holes I’d filled.

However, I thought the cabinet would really pop with the border wood matching the mirror’s wood. This, of course, involved much more invasive paint stripping, but probably worth it. Surprisingly quick and relatively mess-free, stripping and staining the trim turned out wonderful. The stain absorbed into the wood so deeply that hardly any wiped off, which actually was fine, since it turns out that the horizontal pieces are composed of a completely different wood than are the vertical ones! The extra-dark stain disguised this difference. Three coats of polyurethane matched the shine of the two coats on the door. I was happy to not have to strip, stain, or do much at all to the sides or edges of the cabinet, since they’re not visible from any angle.IMG_1458

Cabinet_8After installing the door with these unique hinges from eBay, we got some bad news (every project seems to have some bad news): part of the original interior stuck out too far, and the door wouldn’t close. For fear of breaking our cool hinges, we took the door off again. We debated lots of ways to remedy this- belt sander, router, or popping the original wood out and replacing it. The last option initially seemed to be damaging the wood I’d just stained and sealed, but Jon was able to eventually pop it out with minimal damage. That being done, we could totally rebuild the inside of the cabinet from new wood anyway- including permanent shelves.

Cabinet_4Initially, we discussed painting the inside white and adding a white luan back. However, the wood we had lying around was already partially stained (we’d bought some pine wood for the fireplace project and didn’t realize it wouldn’t take stain as well as we needed it to, so it wouldn’t be acceptable for the outside of the fireplace, but would be great for the inside of a medicine cabinet). Only a few more short pieces would complete the project. Ultimately, it seemed a white back would look great, and we found some dry-erase sheeting that could easily be cut down to fit the cabinet! Now we have a fun place to leave each other notes, too.

Cabinet_1Cabinet_2Cabinet_3Jon assembled the inside of the cabinet with shelves spaced an even 7″ apart. I can’t think of anything taller than 7″ we’d need to put in there, especially since right now we don’t have a medicine cabinet at all! We stained it together, and likely because we worked outside in direct sunlight, the pine absorbed far more stain than we’d predicted. It’s almost as dark as the exterior of the cabinet now.

Cabinet_5While the door was off, we decided to move the hinge placement to entirely inside (visible when the door is open, rather than only partially visible when it’s closed). This involved sawing off a thin portion of the hinge side, then re-staining and sealing.

With the perfectly mounted interior and changed hinge placement, the door shuts easily.

Some interesting choices arose for opening and closing the door. Initially, I’d wanted to use a very cool doorknob from our collection of old ones, but I later realized its silver tone would clash with the brass everywhere else. I have some extra cut glass handles that would match those on the bathroom cabinet, but Jon doesn’t prefer those, so we opted instead for a push closure and no handle at all.



And finally, Jon made some stained wood plugs to cover the screw holes! Next up: Nice new vanity fixture to match all the other brass in the room!










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Letterpress Drawer Jewelry Display

IMG_2036With a background (and undergraduate degree) in printmaking, I have a soft spot for all things print-related. When I saw this letterpress drawer in an antique shop in Texas for incredibly cheap, I had to purchase it. Shipping it home took me on quite an adventure (it didn’t exactly fit into a carryon bag), but it arrived!

At first, I didn’t want to mar its beautiful surface with anything, but also didn’t know what to do with it. A little Pinteresting, of course, led me to the perfect idea- a jewelry display. This scary mess is what my jewelry looked like before. Obviously a jewelry display would help.IMG_2027

I followed the examples of a few tutorials and used 99Cent store hair rollers for holding rings and earrings, then covered those surfaces in some burlap ribbon to make them look more appropriate for the decor.

Some brass cup hooks on the sides, bottom, and select squares hold dangly earrings and necklaces. A nice transition from this pile of random organizers and stuff all over my dresser to this! I think I’ll add even more hooks, since it turns out I have more dangly things than push-in things like rings and earring studs.

I did buy another letterpress drawer and will likely use it for yet another closet organization project.

Oh- and the font is labeled on the drawer, contact bold condensed (the font looks like this).












Salvaged Door Project





In the haybale known as our backyard, the fence didn’t quite close at the back corner when we first moved in (likely due to part of the fence shifting as the hillside eroded over time). At some point along the way, a contractor or previous owner had decided that the best way to solve this problem would be to take an original interior five-panel wood door and tie it with yellow rope to the fence. Super secure.

Size alone indicates that this door likely originated from the guest bathroom (though proximity to the exterior and the newer guest bathroom door being a new hollow-core door also contribute to the theory). You can see it behind the pole in the corner of the yard pictured below.

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I’d intended restoration for this door for some time, though it did sit outside for several months. When I finally brought it into the basement, I wondered whether stripping the paint would reveal irreparable water damage underneath. Luckily, the door’s solid construction had resulted in little damage!

Stripping the door proved tedious. The larger portions sloughed off their paint quite easily, but the detailed trim on each of the five panels held on to the paint. For the larger areas, I used a heat gun and scraper, finishing as much as I could with smaller scrapers on the detail work. However, scraping those smaller areas sometimes damaged the older wood, so I shifted to using Dremel sanding bits. Some of those bits proved too strong, unfortunately damaging some of the delicate original trim!


After removing as much paint as I could via these methods, I sanded the door with an orbital sander and wiped it down before staining. Oh- did I mention that this paint removal process took over a month, as I could only find time to work on it here and there?

In order to keep the project moving, I set up the horses in the basement to make access easy and attached a shop-vac to the orbital sander to prevent dust from flying around.


Skinny always seems to be “helping” with projects.

After the door was finally stripped, I could stain it! Choosing stain colors took some time, but we ultimately decided on a dark stain for the outside (to match the wood in the rest of the home as well as the redone back door) and a light stain on the inside (to match the salvaged cabinet and keep the tiny room seeming slightly larger). The dark stain amazingly covered any imperfections or tiny flecks of paint left on that side. The lighter stain required a few more coats to do the same, however. A few flecks of paint and dents remained visible, so a little wood filler and some hand-mixed acrylic paint (a trick I picked up on another blog) did the job. The acrylic paint went on after the polyurethane.


Finally, hardware! The door’s original hardware, still attached to it in the back yard, had come off for the stripping and staining. Since we’d found that the older-technology mortise locks lack functionality (keys can slide all the way through) and this bathroom is used mostly by guests, we purchased a newer-technology mortise set at Home Depot. Genuinely antique doorknobs and plates disguise the new parts, so the door functions like new and looks like old!

The original attached ball tip hinges only included one half, so I headed to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore seeking some matched sets. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found three sets of original, detailed hinges covered in paint! Each set cost only $1.50. Just in case, I also purchased some plain matched ball tip hinge sets for the same price. By the way, Home Depot’s similar hinges are for appearances only and do not function as true ball tip hinges do (the pin can’t be removed).IMG_0604

I stripped the hardware in a crock pot with the hardware for the salvaged cabinet (again, post about this technique coming soon), and voila! The hinges are stunning- check out the detail that extends even into the part that shows when the door is closed. Unbelievable craftsmanship! IMG_0050IMG_0051

The door and cabinet together create a much more appropriate bathroom look using little money (but lots of time). Hopefully soon we can add some of the other bathroom details that will make this room truly pop, but at least it has some storage now- and it seems like it’s time for some outside projects, anyway!IMG_0047IMG_0045