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Project Gallery

Home Renovation
Antonine Street, New Orleans
March 2010 – ongoing

We almost always think of our jobs as a lot more than “just a job”. We don’t take lightly the fact that so many plotlines are woven into anything that is called “home”: the joys and pain of all its occupants, the historical context that wrought its architectural heritage, the soul of its neighborhood, the sweat of loggers, the diligence of civil engineers. The Cunningham house in Uptown New Orleans may take the cake for houses we’ve worked on that have stories to tell.

Silas, the home’s owner, grew up next door and participated in its last remodel in his youth, so we’ve learned more than we often do about its story. What’s more, a tragedy for the house has become for us a series of lessons in our craft. Some ten years ago a Christmas tree fire destroyed the front of the house and damaged much of the rest. The homeowners at the time, already moved away and renting it, sold the place to Silas, who set his mind to a long, arduous renovation project. At length he decided that it was too big a house for one guy to finish on his weekends, so he invited us to have a look at the project. On a bitterly chilly evening in the winter of 2010 we toured the place with him; we didn’t have to see or hear more than “I want it to look like it originally did, but with better plumbing” before we jumped at the chance to help him finish this project.

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Fields, Oregon
June 2007-March 2008

One wouldn’t expect to follow a rebuilding project in the Ninth Ward by building a log cabin in Fields, Oregon, a town in the desert two hours’ drive from an interstate. Yet there we were, near Jeff’s childhood home amid hayfields, mountains, cattle, and sagebrush, building a family’s dream home with a kitten, a birddog, two dachshunds, several hundred mother cows, and all the school kids in the community as helpers.

Given the remoteness of their ranch and pioneers’ independent mindset, Lorin, Kathy, and their son, Joe, hadn’t bothered hiring a general contractor. They bought a log home kit that was delivered on a semi-truck with a set of blueprints and a sort of paint-by-numbers guide to stacking the logs. They persuaded a builder to travel out to erect the logs and timber-framed structure. Following that, Lorin figured, what was left but putting something on the walls and installing cabinets? That’s where we would come in; he coaxed us to make the cross-country drive so we could trim the place and do a few of the other knickknacks involved in finishing a house. Despite suspicions that Lorin had underestimated the magnitude of those ‘knickknacks’, we were eager to escape another summer in the New Orleans humidity, so we took our tools north and west.

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Samish Island, Washington
July 2008 – September 2010

We’ve had the fortune to find a perfect refuge from the sticky New Orleans heat: Samish Island, in the northwest corner of Washington State, enjoys cool, sunny summers during which locals fish for salmon, check their shrimp and crab pots, spot orcas, and hike in the nearby Cascade Mountains. John and Betty, two inveterate crabbers and cooks who pass their weeks as a molecular biologist and a biochemist, spend all their spare time at a home on Samish Island. They’ve recruited us to help remodel this 1970s ranch-style house into a waterfront haven where they’ll enjoy preparing and eating the fish they catch during retirement. We’ve divided the remodel into a series of smaller projects to be done over several consecutive summers.

One of Betty and John’s primary goals for their home was to emphasize its views of and openness to the Puget Sound, so the first phase involved rebuilding and enlarging a deck on the bayside of the house, using composite decking and a stainless steel cable railing system. We also improved the garage, rebuilt the stairs, and carried out numerous small improvements that wouldn’t interfere with their use of the home or the next phase of the project.

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Portico Addition
Oleander Street, Baton Rouge
January-February 2010

One of our favorite recent projects was the addition of a small portico onto the front of a ca.1950 house in Baton Rouge’s Drehr Place Historic District. The homeowners, Simone and Michelle, had hired us to rebuild the linen closet and replace several hollow-core doors with panel doors appropriate to the house. As we finished those tasks, Michelle asked us what could be done about their front door. Until several years ago it had been protected by a canvas awning, but that disappeared during a storm. Since then it had suffered from exposure and delayed maintenance. “The poor thing,” Michelle said when Jeff stuck a screwdriver through the rotten bottom rail that was only held together by paint and a brass kickplate, “can you make another awning that won’t fly off?”

We consulted with an architect who suggested something a little grander than the old canvas awning. Michelle loved the look, so we got started. Despite us making a couple of bureaucratic missteps, the Baton Rouge Historic District Preservation Committee approved our plan.

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Entry Restoration
Oleander Street, Baton Rouge
March 2010

This charming house on the National Register of Historic Places is currently the lovingly cared for home of Heather and John and their two sons. Built ca. 1940, the house boasts original plumbing fixtures, built-in cabinets and library, and a wonderful collection of period-appropriate furnishings. One part of the house, however, wasn’t to John and Heather’s satisfaction: the prominent entryway. Fluted pilasters surround an unusually proportioned door below a classic fanlight. A flamboyantly custom-made pediment crowns the entry.

Notwithstanding the respect such craftsmanship deserves, this tour de force had suffered at the hands of a careless renovator. All of its flat surfaces and trim details were badly gouged by a power sanding disk; the knob and lockset were cobbled together with miscellaneous pieces and nuts; the lead flashing was torn and leaking; the pilasters’ bottoms and base trim were decayed to pieces.

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