If you’re anything like me, and millions of other Americans, you’ve probably been heavily influenced by HGTV over the past few years. You’ve probably see the transformations of homes that looked quite sad into something spectacular. I love seeing old homes saved and appreciated. Of course, if I had a $200,000+ budget I could hire someone to turn my house into something spectacular too but instead I’m relying on some good old-fashioned DIY skills, all on a wing and prayer.
We bought our house back in 1995 and it was built in the 1940s. It was your typical post-WWII Midwestern ranch style home completely devoid of character. Nobody had time to add character to houses back then. They were too busy having babies. So, for the past several years I’ve been trying to add a specific style to the house and my favorite style has always been craftsman.
Nobody walks into an old craftsman style home and thinks, “What the heck we’re they thinking!? Yuck, look at all this gorgeous oak woodwork and stained glass!” Instead, the attention to detail is appreciated. It just never looks bad.
I also like 1940s and 50s classic black and white kitchens and bathrooms. They never look ridiculous or scream tacky so when we added onto our house in 2011 I envisioned a craftsman style fireplace in the family room and a classic black and white bathroom for the master bedroom. I tiled the entire bathroom myself, and not to brag, but it turned out pretty good. I’m happy with it but the craftsman style fireplace surround was put on hold because, well, we ran out of money and most of all sanity.
That hot summer we spent with workmen always around, drywall dust, shady contractors, my son’s bedroom moved temporarily into the living room, and unexpected expenses pushed us to the breaking point. Not only did we lose our minds but apparently our house ghost did too. It was throwing tantrums by stomping and throwing boards at night. Yes, our house is haunted but hey at least that adds character. Free of charge!
Anyway, I had to wait for the fireplace I had planned. Yes, there was a fireplace installed and I threw some stones on it to make it look half-way decent until I could make it into what I had envisioned. I had always thought we’d hire someone to do the work and we tried to find someone but nobody wanted to tackle the job. Enter me. I had very little woodworking experience. All I had ever done was make wooden frames for stained glass panels. All I had were hand tools and my imagination. It could have all turned out to be an absolute disaster but that has never stopped me before.
As you can see the fireplace resembles both craftsman style and that classic black and white look of the 40s. I’m not going to kid you and say it turned out perfect but it’s not bad for a first try.
My biggest challenge was figuring out how to build the cabinets and tie them into the fireplace. Just kidding. We’ve had the cabinets for quite a while and I had originally planned to build full length shelves but I thought why not incorporate the cabinets. They’re made out of oak too and we paid plenty for them so I had to figure out a way to connect them to the fireplace. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to build those shelves and make them look right.
As you can see I’m not all the way done just yet. I’m waiting for warm weather to stain the shelves to match. I want to do that outside and not gag ourselves on fumes. I’m also going to add some more trim pieces to tie everything together. And now I realize why I like dalmatians so much. They match my favorite decorating styles. I have a real dalmatian at home too!
And the full width view. I don’t know if I’ll add some wood to the sides to extend to the walls or not. I’m okay with it the way it is. Plus, I’ve got other projects planned this year.
I’m going to add some craftsman style/40s style/my style to the rest of the house. I want both the old and new parts of the house to match so I’m going to be adding some elements here and there to hopefully tie it all together. I also have the old bathroom we remodeled 20 years ago that again needs some updating with a new vanity and mirror. The journey of home ownership never ends and wouldn’t it be boring if it did?