HAP­PILY OB­SESSED

Arts and Crafts Homes - - UP FRON T - — Jerry Gor­don

HUNT­ING FOR AN OLDER HOME, I set­tled on an unas­sum­ing, pink-painted mid­cen­tury block house. Ex­cept for a large elm tree, it had few of the things I’d hoped for, but it was sturdy and ad­mit­ted plenty of light.

Since age eight, I’ve been ob­sessed with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings se­ries, and it hap­pened that the movie ver­sion of the first Hob­bit book had just been re­leased. In it, the very English Arts & Crafts house called Bag End gave form to a type I thought lived only in my imag­i­na­tion. Be­ing a nu­clear en­gi­neer, and a sys­tems ar­chi­tect by av­o­ca­tion, I am some­what ob­ses­sive-com­pul­sive, so I con­sumed all the in­for­ma­tion I could, buy­ing a sub­scrip­tion to Arts

& Crafts Homes and all of Paul Duch­scherer’s bun­ga­low books.

My first project was the master bed­room, where I worked out fab­ri­ca­tion pro­cesses for new win­dow cas­ings as I re­placed the ca­nary-color tile and jalousie win­dows. (By now I’ve crafted nearly a mile of ver­ti­cal-grain fir mill­work.) A friend’s home in San Diego in- spired my de­sign for the din­ing room’s wain­scot and plate rail. I ended up writ­ing a soft­ware al­go­rithm to de­ter­mine spac­ing for the bat­tens and wall­pa­pered pan­els, to (1) min­i­mize wall­pa­per waste (the company went de­funct be­fore I could buy more), (2) dis­guise the lack of sym­me­try in the room, and (3) stay close to golden ra­tio proportions. The house did not come with a fire­place; how­ever, I’m of the opin­ion that a home needs four things: mu­sic, pets, books, and a warm hearth.

Since man­sions down the road have names —“Casa de Some­thing” or “La Mai­son d’Other,” I de­cided our house should have one, too, and came up with Toad Hall. (A fa­vorite child­hood books was The Wind in the Wil­lows.) We have a game for vis­it­ing chil­dren: Find over 100 frogs and toads hid­den inside and out, along with wa­ter birds and drag­on­flies in tile, wood, stone, and metal. The house has be­come a kind of above­ground Hob­bit Hole, full of com­fort.

Views of the re­mod­eled house in­clude an over­the-fire­place mu­ral painted by Jerry, who was in­spired by the work of Yoshiko Ya­mamoto of Arts & Crafts Press. The house sign in­cor­po­rates Motawi tile. The back­yard was planted to re­mind Julie of Hawaii,...

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