Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A New Fireplace for The Basement

First of all, allow me to apologize for the long time between posts; it has been a busy year with no shortage of distractions both at home and at work. For now, let me begin anew by recapping some of the progress I have been making down in our basement.

As you may recall, I have already enclosed the area under the stairs for a wine/beer cellar, almost finished a bar-height counter/island, built in some storage closets and enclosed my electrical panel. Across one side of the main room I have constructed a fireplace with two cabinets on either side, which are used not only for storage, but to hide two very large, vintage Pioneer speakers that are part of the music system.

The fireplace. The mantel is extra deep, as the wife likes to decorate it  during the holidays. While the paneling above is nice, it will be covered by a larger, mounted TV in due time.

I had some of the paneled bi-fold doors left over from my island project, and used some of these in the structure above the fireplace mantel; I used two more on the side, which are hinged to open for some extra storage space. The fireplace structure is all framed with 2" x 4" lumber and plywood, as are the cabinets built on either side. For the doors, I simply framed them with 1" x 4" pine and covered the open spaces with an off-white burlap, which allows the sound from the speakers to go right through.

One issue that had to be addressed was access to my water meter and main shut-off, which is located at the bottom of the wall directly behind the fireplace. Our city uses an electronic remote-read device, so we don't have a reader coming into the house anymore, but if they ever replace the system, or I need to shut off the water supply to the house from the inside, I still need to get back there. Since the fireplace is electric (a rustic-looking Duraflame unit that heats and looks rather convincing, if I do say) this was not an insurmountable problem.

The firebox and its decorative frame are separate from the rest of the fireplace surround and can be rolled out to access the water meter and shutoff valve.

What I did was build the firebox as a separate unit that rolls in-and-out on hidden casters, fit into the fireplace opening with a decorative frame attached to it. When in place, it looks permanently attached, though it only take a second to pull the whole thing out and access the meter behind. I covered the inside of the firebox with some leftover floor tile I had from another project, and finished up the fireplace surround with some corbels and a length of decorative exterior molding I had on hand. All in all, my carpentry skills are just passable, but I am happy with the result; it is certainly up to snuff for a basement entertainment space.

One happy footnote to the project was the effect it had on my sound system. My two large speakers date from the mid-1970s; they are 6-way designs, with huge 15" woofers. They weigh a ton, and while they are very, very efficient, they sacrifice some true bottom end as a trade-off in this respect. However, I found that inserting them into an even larger cabinet significantly extended the bass response, to where the sound is more reminiscent of the old Altec-Lansing Voice-of-the-Theater speakers that are so legendary. Combined with the smaller rear speakers I use in the back of the room, the result works for everything from sporting events on the TV to a symphony...or a disco dance party.



Sunday, February 18, 2018

Landmark Trust Works to Save At-Risk Voysey Arts & Crafts Hospital

C.F.A. Voysey
I’ve always been fascinated by the work of C.F.A.Voysey. Regarded as one of the finest and most original architects of the 19th & 20th century Arts & Crafts Movement, his interpretations of vernacular English forms demonstrated his commitment to simplicity, truth in the use of materials and the blending of both craftsmanship and high design.

Early in his career, Voysey utilized many traditional English elements in his work, combining stucco and half-timbering to achieve a comfortable and recognizable effect in his residential designs. Later, he simplified and transformed his concepts, developing highly original plans that reflected vernacular building forms in new and exciting ways. These houses, like Broad Leys, Perrycroft, Greyfriars, and The Orchard – Chorleywood, are the type we most closely associate with him.


Currently, The Landmark Trust is running an appeal to save Winsford Cottage Hospital in Devon, a unique example of an unaltered, purpose-built Victorian cottage hospital. Built by wealthy philanthropist Maria Medley as a gift to the local community, it enabled ordinary people to receive affordable medical treatment near to their homes for the first time.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Restoring an Akron Classic: Hackberry House

Editor’s Note: Charlotte and Michael Gintert are proud to call Akron, Ohio their home, and those of us who have followed their journey as they settled back into the area after several years abroad are very happy that they have returned. As Charlotte is an expert photographer, she often posts photos online—not only from their past travels, but also many local subjects that she has rediscovered since returning to Northeast Ohio. Of course, it was the photos of their remarkably preserved 1920’s Tudor revival home that caught my eye, and she was only too happy to provide some details as well as photos of the house upon request.

The home's Entrance Hall is warm and welcoming.
TLG: What made you choose this house?

Charlotte: My husband and I were being relocated back to Akron in August 2017 after living in Europe for six years for his position at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. We came to Akron in May to look at available houses. This house was listed for sale the day before we were scheduled to fly in from Germany. The listing was still very basic, they hadn’t even photographed the interior yet, but we both had a feeling it was going to be the one for us. Akron has a large quantity of Tudor revival homes, probably thanks to Stan Hywet’s presence, and we’ve always dreamed of owning one of Akron’s Tudors. While we looked at several other houses, this one was something very special. Not only is it a Tudor, but it had been lovingly preserved by the previous owners. Unlike all the other houses we looked at, it hadn’t been remodeled to have a modern open floor plan. Almost everything was original or had been replaced by period correct pieces. Most people would balk at such a house, but historic preservation is very important to us. We felt a kinship with the owners, and delighted at the chance to continue the legacy of keeping a 1920’s Tudor as it was designed. We knew if we bought another house we would regret passing this one up because another buyer would probably end up gutting it.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

OLD BOOKS, NEW REVIEWS: Architecture of The Arts & Crafts Movement

Let me just say it: Great Old Books on Architecture are like crack to those who love to read and collect them. While there continues to be a decent stream of new works that fit within my areas of interest, I simply can’t say no when the opportunity arises to pick up an older volume at a good price. My shelves are full of former well-worn public library volumes that have been cast off, and it gives me great pleasure to know I can preserve them for both myself and others.

The book includes a number of illustrations and floor plans.

Such is Architecture of The Arts and Crafts Movement, by Peter Davey, originally published in 1980 by Rizzoli. Some readers may be familiar with the more recent (20 years! - LOL) 1997 book Arts and Crafts Architecture by the same author, which is a typically beautiful Phaidon volume with exquisite layout and beautiful color photography.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Highlighting The Not-So-Lost Arts: Allan T. Adams - Architectural Illustrator

I have previously noted how much I have always enjoyed the work of Sydney R. Jones (1881-1966) whose fabulous illustrations grace the pages of books like The Manor Houses of England, The Village Homes of England, Old Houses in Holland and How to Draw Houses, which I have previously highlighted on this site. In a similar fashion, I have also collected some of the works by R. J. Brown, whose pen-and-ink drawings of vernacular houses and village buildings add so much to the descriptions found in English Village Architecture, English Farmhouses, and The English Country Cottage.

In this age of photography and wondrous digital effects, the sublime results that can be gained via the illustrator’s trained hand are often forgotten. Yet there are few substitutes for the range of evocative feelings that can be elicited from a fine pencil or pen-and-ink drawing.

Allan T. Adams - Illustrator

Recently I have had the opportunity to marvel at the skill of an architectural illustrator who has found his way onto my Twitter feed—Allan T. Adams. Just as I was thinking that the only source of fine illustrations of ancient English buildings were old books, his work has renewed my enthusiasm for this art form and provided much enjoyment.

Allen T. Adams - Illustrator

Mr. Adams has much experience illustrating historic buildings, as he is retired from Historic England (formerly English Heritage) having worked on a number of projects, such as reconstruction drawings.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stan Hywet Celebrates with Deck The Halls 2017

One of the highlights of the local holiday season is Stan Hywet’s annual Deck The Halls celebration, which is one of Ohio’s largest and most spectacular holiday traditions. The celebration runs from December 14-23 and December 26-30.

A million lights ensure that the holiday season always remains merry and bright.
The former Seiberling estate is illuminated inside and out with over ONE MILLION lights and this year, the historic Manor House is decorated and inspired by the theme of  Postcards from the Past. DAZZLE is a fantastic outdoor light show choreographed to three new songs this year and Gingerbread Land, the popular play garden has also been “dressed up” for the holiday season as well.

As always, the Great Hall is decked out in its holiday finest.
This year, the celebration is bigger and better than ever, and includes:

•Nightly tree lighting at 5:30pm. After Christmas, look for the Gingerbread Man.

•Live music in the Music Room, courtesy of area choirs and musicians.

•Self-guided tours of the Manor House included in ticket purchase.

•Freshly baked gingerbread cookies, savory warm pretzels, cocoa, hot cider, beer and wine for purchase in the Courtyard.

•Enjoy all of the above treats at the cozy warming fire in the Courtyard.

•Visit with Santa and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the Corral in the Courtyard.

•Take a family photo at two featured photo spots—perfect for that family holiday picture.

•Marvel at our new animated Gingerbread Bakeshop Window in the Courtyard.

•The tropical Corbin Conservatory is beautifully decorated for Christmas with a 20ft poinsettia tree.

•Shop for unique holiday gifts in Molly’s Shop.

•Enjoy light fare or a sweet treat in Molly’s CafĂ© after your tour.

For more information, go to: www.stanhywet.org