A dentist named Francis K. Ledyard paid $10,000 to the Milwaukee Building Co. — the firm best known for Grauman's Chinese Theatre — for his two-story, four-bedroom house. Believed to be the only home like it in Pasadena, it sported furry, bark-on redwood logs, russet-stained redwood shake siding and a white limestone chimney — an American Craftsman with a touch of Swiss chalet.
That was 1909. By the time architect Douglas Ewing spotted the house in 2003, the defining log trim was gone, the house had been painted brown and the kitchen and bathrooms had undergone Midcentury Modern remodels.
But Ewing, who grew up among Pasadena's Craftsman bungalows and worked for Case Study architect Whitney Smith, had by then designed several Adirondack-style projects, including a Colorado ski lodge for Ralph Lauren.
“I fell in love with log buildings,” Ewing said. So he and his wife, Maggie, decided to buy the house, warts and all.
Negotiations fell through, however, and the house wound up back on the market. Enter Faith Dymek and her husband, Mark, who were moving from Virginia. They brought with them daughter Ryanne; Faith's mother, Sharon McCabe; plus Arts and Crafts furniture that had never looked quite right in their old Colonial-style home.
The couple bought the “falling-down, ramshackle, termite-ridden house” in 2004, Faith said, figuring a little elbow grease was all they needed to fix it up. Then they met Ewing, who explained the difference between making the house livable and bringing it back to life as originally designed. The latter, he said, would require more time, more money and more expertise.
The Dymeks' decision?
“We decided we would restore versus renovate,” Faith said.
To economize, she served as general contractor, visiting the job site daily and gathering leads on local artisans.