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:



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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

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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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Antique Victrola VV-X: 1917 and the 1990s

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I recently found this Victrola at an estate sale and got away with it for just $65. I noticed the plug came out of an awkward spot, and the turntable doesn’t quite work; it turns on and makes a buzzing noise, but doesn’t spin. Curious, I looked up the model number for more information after purchasing the piece.

Apparently, this model was made in 1917. At that point, it only cost $75-$110, so I paid even less than I would have for a brand-new one! I know, I know- inflation, depression, blah blah. The value of $100 in 1917 would be $2024 in today’s dollars. Seems like I got away with a steal.

Anyway, the mechanism has been totally replaced with a plastic one that doesn’t even work. The hand crank on the side is missing, as are the internal parts and original turntable.  The mechanism starts to hum when turned on, but nothing turns. While scouring the Internet for replacement parts, I realized I could actually buy a whole new (old) Victrola for less than it would take to refurbish the old one. For $100 on eBay, I purchased an almost entirely complete model; it’s missing only the crank handle.


As an added bonus, this new piece was owned by the lead singer of Dishwalla, who was downsizing (apparently for a rock star that means going from two studios to one, according to the original eBay posting, but in real life he told us that he and his wife, who is originally from the UK, are moving from their current home in Santa Barbara to England). You probably remember Dishwalla from the 1995 song “Counting Blue Cars”. Or maybe you don’t. J.R. told us that he’d refinished the cabinet himself, and that it’d been his uncle’s- in the family for over quite some time, as it turns out.

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This Victrola is Dante-approved!

I’ll soon be on the lookout for a new crank handle for this VV-X, which was also made in early 1917, according to this product information page. Oh, and I’ll be selling the old one, maybe without the new-looking non-working turntable inside it. Anyone interested?

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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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Dragonfly Stained Glass Lamp Collaboration



My aunt, Chicago radio personality Carla Leonardo, sadly passed away in 2013. With February’s passing of my grandmother as well, my family and I have been curating and organizing the items left in that home. It’s been an interesting experience to find myself on the back end ofan estate sale after having attended so many over the last few years accumulating items for the Inglewood Craftsman.

Aunt Carla, a crafter extraordinaire, had accumulated tools and materials in all sorts of media: beading, embroidery, loom weaving, metal clay, and stained glass, among others. I once visited the stained glass studio she’d been taking classes at, where she showed me some of her in-progress works (and the trials of constantly breaking glass by accident).

Grandma’s basement had a section reserved for Carla’s stained glass work. There, I noticed a beautiful dragonfly lamp base with no shade; Carla had planned to make a glass shade for it. I could see the matching sheets of unbroken glass as well as an intricate styrofoam outline of the final shade plan.IMG_0627

Several months before, I’d bought a glass shade with green accents at a garage sale for $25. Though I’d tried it on all the fixtures in the house that I’d pictured it on, sadly the shade fit on none of them. My shade frustratingly sat in the basement collecting dust. When I saw Carla’s project lamp, I knew they’d be a great match- and hoped that they’d fit.

IMG_1642I asked my Aunt Cathy if she’d allow me to have the lamp base, and she said yes! Though I got stopped at the airport with the heavy metal lamp in my carryon, we made it back to LA safely. And…. a perfect fit! Not to mention a perfect match in the green glass.

Some strange substance was stuck all over the base of the lamp, and no traditional cleaning products are able to remove it. I didn’t want to use anything stronger on the delicate glass, so I scraped much of the gunk off with razor blades. Just a little cleaning of the rest, and voila!

I’m so lucky to have been able to finish Carla’s project for her while finding a home for my own project lamp part. Oh, and today is Carla’s birthday. Happy birthday, Auntie!