From the first sight of Lauren Michaels’s circa 1900 bungalow in Ashland, you know something exceptional is going on. The only stucco house on the quiet, winding, tree-lined street, this home is picture-perfect Craftsman architecture, polished up with meticulous restoration.
The inset porch, painted in a classic Craftsman palette of sage green, brick red and gold and decorated with oversized berry wreaths and Mission-style light fixtures, is like an extra room inviting guests into a clean, minimalist interior that lets the architectural features take center stage.
The Craftsman architectural style started in the United States in the early 20th century. California brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene began to design houses based on ideals lifted from the handicrafts-heavy Arts & Crafts movement combined with Asia’s simple wooden architecture.
Interior design details may include wide trim, moulding and door casings, often stained a dark color or painted to complement a complex, muted color palette that usually includes at least a trio of hues per room.
Color palettes vary from rich wine hues with gold and green accents to a currently less popular (but historically authentic) grouping of blues.
To get ideas for a Craftsman color scheme, talk to an interior designer who specializes in historic remodels or ask for help at a paint store.
“The majority of paint stores have a list of historic colors that have been approved by city historical departments,” says Laura McNew, assistant manager at Miller Paint Company in Medford.
In Ashland, for instance, the owner of a Craftsman bungalow that’s listed on the National Historic Registry may choose from approved greens, yellows, reds and blues.
Bonus Craftsman trivia: The name “Craftsman” comes from the title of a popular magazine published from 1901 to 1916 by furniture designer Gustav Stickley.
Restored fir floors and miles of carefully refinished and stained woodwork draw the eye around the home’s 1,760-square-foot perimeter. Once a two bedroom, one and a half bath home, it gained an additional bedroom and bath from the previous owner.
“My master suite wasn’t part of the original house,” explains Lauren. “And the kitchen was also bumped out, so it’s pretty huge compared to other Craftsman homes.”
Lauren bought the house from Richard Lucas, owner of Lucas Construction and Design in Ashland, in 2006. Lucas and his wife, Carlotta, had fallen in love with the dilapidated home, purchased it and started to return it to its former glory and then some.
“All the flooring is clear, vertical grain and some of the planks run the whole length of the house, with no knots anywhere,” says Lucas. “And the woodwork had never been painted, so it was full of character.”
In the large, spacious living room, entered from the porch through leaded glass front doors, Lucas replaced a pellet stove and fake rock work with a fireplace and tile hearth. Lauren decorated the room with wicker chairs, a cushy couch and original artwork inspired by nature.
The gold and green palette continues into the dining room where walls are one shade darker and are lined along the ceiling with reproduction Craftsman wallpaper in a woodlands print by Bradbury & Bradbury. Six-inch-wide woodwork and newly leveled floors ground the room, which features ruggedly beautiful built-in cabinetry and a plate rail that holds Lauren’s inherited treasures. A long teak table with ladderback chairs creates an old-fashioned, yet functional dining area.
Lauren turned an attached breakfast room (thought to be part of the original porch) into a music nook with rocking chair and piano, the latter fitting snugly under a newly-inserted, square, stained glass window.
The kitchen was a “total re-do,” says Lucas. “It had no value whatsoever and ground rot in the foundation. Based on that, I took the whole back of the house off, redid it and added a 4-foot extension.”
To recreate period authenticity, the beech kitchen cabinets were stained to match the fir in the rest of the house and all the modern countertop conveniences are hidden in appliance garages.
The kitchen bump-out also afforded space for a laundry room with a beveled glass door to be built between the kitchen and new master suite addition.
Next to the laundry is the tiny, original half-bath, now slightly enlarged and spruced up with a corner sink and hexagonal floor tiles and black diamond tile accents.
To the right of the powder room is Lauren’s master bedroom. Painted in neutrals, carpeted in Berber and furnished with plenty of closet space and a door to the side garden, the room is breezy and fresh.
In the attached bath, white wainscoting, travertine floors, double sinks and a generous bathtub add luxury to the master suite. Light fixtures and hardware throughout the house are from Rejuvenation in Portland.
Two more bedrooms — one used as an office and the other as a guest room (and both painted classic Craftsman shades of copper and pumpkin, respectively) — share a Jack and Jill bath. White subway tile, curved tile moulding with dark blue accents and more hexagonal floor tiles lend a geometric, Arts & Crafts touch to the pale yellow walls.
Just as much attention was paid to the backyard cottage and garage, which were built post-1900 and had been sided in vinyl. The siding was ripped off and replaced with stucco that matches the house for a consistent look. All the structures were also re-plumbed and rewired with craftsmanship and upgraded materials that match historic details when possible.
“We’re talking not just redoing a house, but doing it creatively and artistically with a good sense of the history,” says Lauren. It’s all about respecting the building — and the history.