L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
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Category: Craftsman

Architectural salvage fans have a new stop in Pasadena


Connoisseurs and collectors of authentic Craftsman, Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco architectural details can enjoy one-stop shopping in the San Gabriel Valley now that Pasadena Architectural Salvage and Architectural Detail have teamed up at a new joint location. The companies, popular resources among preservation-minded contractors, designers and homeowners, this month opened a 14,000-square-foot retail space on Foothill Boulevard.

Pasadena-Architectural-Salvage-Light "Before, we were serving some of the same clients, but they were having to drive back and forth from store to store. This place is more convenient, with much better parking and a loading dock in back. It also allows us to be under one roof but still remain two separate businesses," says Gayle Stoner.

With business partner Chris Shackelford, Stoner bought Pasadena Architectural Salvage in 2008 following the death of original owner Cary Pasternak. After the 5-year-old store lost the lease to its San Gabriel Boulevard location, Stoner and Shackelford found spacious new digs for rent just four blocks away and approached their crosstown colleagues with the possibility of joining forces.

Architectural Detail, an architectural restoration consulting firm and online salvage dealer that was established in 1997 and located on Valley Street, considered the shared storefront a win-win proposition.

"While our business is still primarily online, we can’t help but benefit from the bricks-and-mortar association with Gayle, who is very customer-oriented," says Skip Willetts, co-owner with wife Janice.

Setting up showrooms side by side has prompted the companies to tweak their respective inventories to avoid direct competition. Pasadena Architectural Salvage sold all of its bathtubs, lavatories and toilets to Architectural Detail but continues to trade in accessories such as medicine cabinets, towel bars and soap holders. Meanwhile, Architectural Details sold its inventory of doors -- hundreds of them -- and about half of its hardware to Pasadena Architectural Salvage. Keep reading for more on the offerings, including additional photos.

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First major survey of work by furniture master
Charles Rohlfs at the Huntington until Sept. 6


Rohlfs_desk_chairWhen it comes to American Craftsman furniture, Gustav Stickley is often considered the master. His mass-produced, catalog-sold chairs and tables flooded the market nearly a century ago and created one of the world’s first furniture brands. Less known, however, is the work of Charles Rohlfs, a contemporary of Stickley, whose more eclectic but equally influential furniture is on exhibit at the Huntington Library through Sept. 6.

“The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs” showcases the designer who never got the attention that his competitor Stickley did.  Yet before the Arts & Crafts Movement was “Rohlfs Style.” Rohlfs' concepts borrowed heavily from the 19th century Aesthetic movement (“art for art’s sake”), but as this show proves, his work is thoroughly original.

Rolhfs_portrait Rohlfs, initially trained in science, attended Cooper Union in New York for an art education, worked as a pattern maker and designer of cast-iron stoves.  He even was an actor before he began to design furniture.  It wasn’t until the 1890s that Rohlfs started making furniture with the help of his wife, mystery novelist Anna Katharine Green.

Influenced by architect Louis Sullivan, Rohlfs' ornamental works belie their simple structures. “Rohlfs’s structures are generally quite plain with simple geometric shapes creating the overall framework, even where elaborate flourishes of carving are present,” writes Bruce Barnes, founder and president of the American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation, who provided the forward to the catalog.

Nearly all of his pieces are oak, but each is uniquely and creatively carved and shaped. One may notice Japanese influences in a piece, Moorish or  Scandinavian in another. Rohlfs_lampBut it is precisely this wide variety of decoration that makes these pieces uniquely Rohlfs'. “The form is the ornamentation, and the ornamentation is the form,” writes Barnes. Sometimes the inspiration isn't so clear. For his striking 1898 desk chair, pictured at right, the trapezoidal backrest is decorated with patterns replicating the cellular structure of oak wood as seen through a microscope.

Among the 44 works in the exhibition are chairs, desks, tables and accessories such as plant-stands and lamps.  Historic photographs, rare books and a short documentary are included  as well.

The exhibition, which opened Saturday, continues through Sept. 6 at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; (626) 405-2100.

-- Roselle Curwen

Photos: Interior of the Rohlfs home in 1905. Several pieces in the exhibit are ones Rohlfs made for his house, including the rocking chair in the foreground. Credit: The Winterthur Library; An 1898 desk chair on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Credit: Gavin Ashworth/American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation; Charles Rohlfs portrait from about 1905. Credit: The Winterthur Library; A 1904 lamp made of copper and brass with kappa shell shade, from the Rohlfs home. Credit: Gavin Ashworth/American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation

Lost L.A.: Bungalow heaven in Sierra Madre? In an era past, you would have found it at El Reposo Ranch


They were homes away from home, available for rent by the day or the month to relax or recover. The collection of rustic bungalows in Sierra Madre was called El Reposo Ranch, and as our Lost L.A. columnist Sam Watters explains, the bungalows' design is evidence of  how Californians have been refining the idea of indoor-outdoor living for more than a century:

Measuring from 9 by 12 feet to 20 by 32, the box bungalow had wood floors, frames and doors. Canvas panels formed walls that tilted open for air. A shower bath served two rooms furnished with bentwood chairs, a chest of drawers and metal beds. Luxury models had a fireplace, wood walls and glass windows. All had the good-living essential: the shaded porch. In hot or rainy weather, it was the ultimate indoor-outdoor room that preceded by decades the Spanish Revival patio and '50s lanai.

To read more about the bungalows' origins, their symbolism and their ultimate fate, read Watters monthly column.

-- Craig Nakano

Photo credit: Sierra Madre Archives

RELATED: Our Lost L.A. archive

Greene & Greene goes green: Restoration in Claremont focuses on conservation of the electric kind


When the Darling Wright house, a 1903 Greene & Greene in Claremont, was restored, period authenticity wasn't the only concern. Owners Andy and Blenda Wright (and the firm they hired, Hartman Baldwin) also wanted to make the home more energy-efficient.

Preservation is an act of conservation in and of itself, of course. But what types of technological advances would save energy without ruining the aesthetics?

Times staff writer Susan Carpenter writes:

Although solar panels and new windows are getting attention thanks to generous federal tax credits, they come with high costs and challenging aesthetics. Bulky photovoltaics don't mesh with the shake roof of a 100-year-old Craftsman, and double-paned vinyl windows don't fly on a midcentury modern classic, no matter how energy-efficient the glass may be.

Wright_View Carpenter's article details that push-pull between historic authenticity and modern sustainability. In the Greene & Greene in Claremont, the owners and architects decided to forgo creating energy with photovoltaics and instead focused on saving it. They improved insulation, put in LED lights in rooms such as the kitchen and installed low-flow replicas of vintage fixtures in the bathrooms.

-- Craig Nakano

Photos, from top: The kitchen of the Darling Wright house, now lighted with LEDs; Blenda Wright outside the Claremont home; the view from the front room, looking out to a pond. Credit: Gina Ferrazzi / Los Angeles Times

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Lunch on the terrace plus a $5 tour
at the Gamble House in Pasadena


No, you can't live at the Gamble House. But starting April 13, you can picnic there.

The Gamble House, one of  Pasadena's most sublime examples of Arts and Crafts architecture, is launching  "Brown Bag Tuesdays," a weekly lunch-hour program designed to take advantage of the warmer weather.

Visitors are invited to bring their lunch and picnic on the rear lawn or terrace of the 1908 estate designed by Charles and Henry Greene between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each Tuesday. Two 20-minute docent-led tours will be given at 12:15 and 12:45 p.m., with a cost of $5.

The Gamble House, 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena; (626) 793-3334. Reservations: (626) 449-4178. Tours continue Tuesdays through Oct. 23. 

If you've never been inside the Gamble House, click to the jump for a peek.

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The Deal: Cassina offers 35% off architectural classics and contemporary furniture designs


Maybe you've heard the term "net" while shopping at high-end furniture stores? That's code for the 15%  discount given to professional interior designers. 

Through March 21, the rest of us can do even better. Cassina, part of the Diva Furniture collection of high-end showrooms, is offering a 35% markdown.

The Italian firm is the world's only licensed manufacturer of furniture by modernist architect Le Corbusier and Arts and Crafts master Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Its roster of talent also includes contemporary designers Philippe Starck and Konstantin Grcic. Cassina's upholstery and cabinetry include the nearly 6-foot oak and lacquered Radar storage unit by Piero Lissoni, above, reduced from $12,305 to $8,500. 

The combined 35% discount applies to new orders -- not floor models -- and many of the items are part of Cassina's 10-day quick ship program, so you can enjoy them that much sooner. Gerrit T. Rietveld's whip-stitched detailed Utrecht chair in wool felt, above left -- the 1935 classic featured in the Pedro Almodovar film "Broken Embraces" -- it regularly starts at $4,120; during the sale it will sell for $2,800.

Cassina Los Angeles, 8815 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 278 3292 or www.cassinausa.com.

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credits: Cassina

Corrected: A previous version of this post implied that the 35% discount will be offered at all the Diva stores. It applies only to Cassina.

The Deal: IndiB eco-friendly wool rugs
half off at 2Modern.com


Architect and interior designer Beatrice Girelli's foray into product design began in 2006 when, after creating a collection of custom hand-tufted cut-and-loop rugs for a project, she launched the IndiB rug collection.

IndiB3 The striking area rugs, manufactured from 100% New Zealand wool with touches of silk, are completely organic and naturally flame resistant. Normally priced between $1,890 for a 5-by-7-foot foot rug to  $4,320 for an 8-by-10-foot rug, a selection is currently half off at the Mill Valley-based online store 2modern.com.

The rugs are environmentally sustainably produced, and also certified to be made with no child labor. Shipping is free. To see all of the designs, click here.

-- Lisa Boone

Become a fan: For daily design headlines and sales alerts, click to our Facebook page.

Photo credit: IndiB


DIY starburst clock made from junk mail

Diy clock
Inspired by one artist's handmade interpretation of a starburst clock that she spotted on Etsy, Genevieve Addison created her own version of the retro design and shares the DIY details with Apartment Therapy this week. 

To create 24 "tubes," Addison simply took sheets of colorful junk mail, wrapped each around a pencil, then used invisible tape to keep them from unraveling. She sewed the tubes together with embroidery thread and added a clear CD in the center and a battery operated clock mechanism from a craft store. The tubes could be created from all kinds of paper -- magazine tear sheets, grocery store fliers, newspaper. The result is a modern home accessory that even George Nelson, the Starburst clock's original designer, might approve of. 

For step-by-step instructions and detailed photos, click here

-- Lisa Boone

Become a fan: For daily design headlines and sales alerts, click to our Facebook page.

Photo: Genevieve Addison

Huge sale at the Mingei International Museum
begins today in San Diego


The Mingei International Museum in San Diego will sell hundreds of objects that were donated to them and have been in storage but were never accessioned into the collection.

The "Treasures Etc." sale that starts today will feature furniture, including the sculptural Howard Werner table shown above ($1,850), textiles, sculpture, pottery, toys and more. Prices range from  $50 to $2,500.

Museum members get first dibs today, when they are allowed entrance between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. The sale opens to the public Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

All purchases must be paid with cash or credit card. Bring bags or boxes to tote home your treasures and receive 1% off.

Mingei International Museum, 1439 El Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego. (619) 239-0003, Ext. 133.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credit: Anthony Scoggins

Vintage vinyl, reincarnated as bowls


Robert Murphy, a Montreal-based graphic designer, photographer and installation artist, had a collection of vintage vinyl albums – 3,000 of them. “I had to get rid of them, and I was convinced at least one would be worth a fortune,” he says.

Actually, none of them were worth much as 33 rpm records, especially with scratches and pits. So Murphy, who designs under the label OddBob Design, thought of an alternative. He recalled a Boy Scout project from his childhood.

“It’s been done since the 1940s – put your vinyl LPs in the kitchen oven and let them soften up so you can shape them into wavy bowls,” Murphy explains. Improvising on the retro craft project, he built his own thermal-forming machine and produced  a modern version. His GrooveBowl is 4 inches tall and shaped a little bit like a speaker trumpet with straight (rather than wavy) edges.

The artistic reincarnation of an otherwise useless album has transformed forgotten Tom Jones and Liberace LPs into retro-inspired accessories. “This isn’t just recycling. It’s up-cycling,” he maintains. The bowl can’t hold liquids (there is that hole, after all) and isn’t dishwasher or microwave safe. Murphy suggests using the bowl as an art piece or to serve nuts that are still in their shells.

If you’re not picky about the artist on the label, you can buy a generic GrooveBowl for $15 plus shipping on Etsy or Artfire. “Some people much prefer paying $75 for Abbey Road by the Beatles,” Murphy says. And for some reason, Bruce Springsteen GrooveBowls are selling briskly right now. “I keep looking for better titles. Some of these albums are so kitsch that they’ve blown right back through the cool barrier.”

Collector GrooveBowls come packaged with the original album cover and sleeve. You can even send a sentimental favorite to Murphy for custom bowl-shaping. Contact him at bob@oddbobdesign.com.

For a chance to win a collector GrooveBowl, join Murphy’s GrooveBowl fan page on Facebook. He gives away a bowl to one fan every Friday.

-- Debra Prinzing


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