La­bor of Love

With plenty of el­bow grease and a gen­er­ous dol­lop of Colo­nial flair, an Ohio cou­ple re­store their turn-of-the-cen­tury Crafts­man to its for­mer glory.

Country Sampler - - Contents -

Through years of hard work, Ohio home­own­ers re­veal the beauty of their turn-of-the cen­tury Crafts­man-style home.

When a young mother spends the first year in her newly pur­chased house tear­fully over­whelmed by all the work it needs, it’s gen­er­ally not a good sign. How­ever, that was Gayle Fer­gu­son’s ex­pe­ri­ence when she and her hus­band, Don, moved into their Som­er­set, Ohio, home nearly four decades ago. “It was such an old house and it had lay­ers and lay­ers of wall­pa­per, the two front rooms had glued-down in­door/out­door car­pet­ing, and the orig­i­nal win­dows let the wind blow right through the house,” she re­calls. “The amount of work we had was un­be­liev­able.”

To­day, the house looks like it has al­ways been a Colo­nial show­stop­per. The orig­i­nal plas­ter walls are no longer hid­den un­der wall­pa­per; they’re en­hanced with hand-cut sten­cils and cus­tom glazes. The orig­i­nal hard­wood floors, res­cued from be­neath that aw­ful car­pet, gleam with the rich patina only age pro­vides. “We scraped and scraped,” Gayle re­mem­bers. “It was a black ad­he­sive al­most like tar. We had to keep sand­ing and sand­ing, and it took for­ever. We sure put a lot of love and sweat into this house!”

New win­dows ban­ish breezes with an as­sist from the raised-panel in­te­rior shut­ters that Don made and in­stalled. “A lot of peo­ple think they’re orig­i­nal,”

Gayle en­thuses. “I’m just lucky I have a tal­ented hus­band. I’ll come up with an idea and he’ll look at me like, ‘Are you kid­ding me?’ ”

In­stalling the wood ceil­ing in the kitchen re­quired Don to en­list the help of sev­eral friends. “The wood beams are au­then­tic and came from an old barn,” Gayle notes. “Don had all the beams pre-drilled so they could at­tach them right to the studs.” Af­ter that project, in­stalling a new dropped tin-panel ceil­ing in the base­ment proved to be a much sim­pler job.

As for Gayle, she has a deft hand with a paint­brush. “I took a sten­cil­ing class in the 1980s,” she ex­plains. “We sten­ciled ev­ery­thing! I have fol­lowed Moses Eaton’s his­tory, and most of my sten­cils are his de­signs.” She also painted and dis­tressed her kitchen cab­i­nets, seal­ing them with a coat of satin acrylic sealer.

In ad­di­tion, she paints can­vas floor­cloths for her­self and to give as gifts. She starts by ap­ply­ing four or five coats of the base color to both sides of the can­vas to stiffen it be­fore adding the sten­ciled de­sign and a dark stain for an

aged look. To fin­ish, she seals the sur­face with polyurethane and lets it dry for up to a week. “Once it’s done, you can clean it with any­thing,” she says.

Gayle also has an in­ge­nious sys­tem for mak­ing prints look like au­then­tic old por­traits. First, she at­taches prints to can­vas pan­els with ad­he­sive, smooth­ing them into place. Then, she cov­ers the edges with black acrylic paint, and, as a fi­nal touch, she paints over the en­tire piece with matte de­coupage medium, leav­ing vis­i­ble brush strokes. “They look just like old oil paint­ings,” she notes.

Now that the Fer­gu­sons’ house is so beau­ti­fully re­stored and filled with an­tiques and pe­riod-style pieces, that dif­fi­cult first year is just a dis­tant mem­ory. Be­fore they rest on their lau­rels, how­ever, the cou­ple plan to com­plete one more project—re­plac­ing the slate roof and fin­ish­ing the at­tic space. They are proud of the chal­lenges they’ve faced over the years and the skills they’ve gained along the way. “We’ve spent all th­ese years ren­o­vat­ing and im­prov­ing, but we’ve done it the way we love it,” Gayle re­flects, “and with very lit­tle pro­fes­sional help.” Above left: The din­ing room fea­tures an equine theme, car­ried out via two painted signs, a small rock­ing horse atop the shelves, and a large Ger­man toy horse Gayle snapped up at an an­tiques store. “We named him Fan­tasy,” she ex­claims with a laugh, “be­cause every­body was fan­ta­siz­ing over him and I bought him!” Her beloved an­tique pewter adorns al­most ev­ery sur­face in the space.

Above: In­stalling an orig­i­nal door from the base­ment be­hind a vent-free gas fire­place and paint­ing both black makes the kitchen fire­place look like it’s orig­i­nal to the house. An ar­ray of an­tiques on the man­tel, in­clud­ing Gayle’s fa­ther’s vi­olin, en­hances the old­fash­ioned ap­peal.

Gayle and one of her four beloved res­cue dogs, 16-year-old Daph­ney, rel­ish a few quiet mo­ments on the front porch swing.

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