In Per­fect Pitch


Arts and Crafts Homes - - CONTENTS - by Donna Pizzi | photos by Black­stone Edge Stu­dios

A pas­sion that started with the hunt for dis­carded curb-side trea­sures cul­mi­nated in the restora­tion of this 1911 Arts & Crafts house in Ore­gon.

Many years ago, Nancy Conescu lived in a Brook­lyn neigh­bor­hood where she and friends scoured the curb on trash night, look­ing for funky fur­ni­ture and other dis­cards. While she was at a gig (Nancy is a gui­tarist and singer of tra­di­tional Ir­ish mu­sic), “my friends crawled into the base­ment of a con­demned build­ing and res­cued a beau­ti­ful lit­tle ma­hogany desk with carved tobacco-leaf pan­els.” They gave the desk to Nancy. The very next day, the con­demned build­ing was de­mol­ished, along with ev­ery­thing in it.

“I learned years later that the Arts & Crafts desk was a lim­ited-edi­tion L. & J.G. Stick­ley piece that the com­pany gave to their best cus­tomers.”

The daugh­ter of New York ar­chi­tect and con­trac­tor the late Her­bert Cohn, Nancy knew from the mo­ment she stepped into the Fer­di­nand E. Reed house in Portland that it needed se­ri­ous

ren­o­va­tion and restora­tion. She told her hus­band, Mike Doolin—a gui­tar maker, mu­si­cian, and record­ing en­gi­neer—that she would be the con­trac­tor in charge.

Nancy’s friend Martin Munske, who owns the Portland-based ren­o­va­tion com­pany Das Haus, shared her in­ter­est in restora­tion and thus be­came job fore­man and chief ad­vi­sor. First off, they hired elec­tri­cian Todd Ec­cles to re­place the old knob-and-tube wiring, and plumber Mladin Arapovic to bring the house up to code. Sys­tems up­grades alone took nine months of work.

Next came the ex­te­rior. Dur­ing the 1980s, the orig­i­nal shiplap wood sid­ing had been cov­ered with alu­minum. When Munske pulled off a sec­tion of the later sid­ing, he and Nancy were shocked by the ru­ined con­di­tion of the wood be­neath. For the next 21 months, Munske and crew tore off the alu­minum and re­built the ex­te­rior (in­su­lat­ing walls, re­plac­ing dam­aged stucco, re­build­ing the crum­bling chim­ney), then in­stalled new shiplap. They also re­built the porch façade and added brick piers un­der the col­umns. Nancy de­signed a new rail­ing with built-in seat­ing.

“The roof was sag­ging on each side of the house,” Nancy adds, “so I de­signed sup­port beams and cor­bel brack­ets to hold up the roof.” The roof of the 1920s car­port was not tied into the orig­i­nal roof on the house; new fas­cia boards now cre­ate a uni­form roofline.

Nancy and Mike fi­nally moved into the house at the end of 2012 and went to work on in­te­rior im­prove­ments. They

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