My New eBook is Now Available!

Living in the Past Book

Today is a big day at The Craftsman Blog! For the past year and a half, I have been toiling to write my first full-length book about historic homes. Today that book goes from idea to reality! I’m doing a HUGE one week only sale for all my readers and their friends. If you have even a passing interest in saving thousands of dollars and learning all about your old house at the same time, you should definitely [...] Read on →

Italianate Architectural Style

Italianate Style House

The Italianate style was an elaborate architectural style popular in the U.S. at much the same time as the Gothic Revival style, from the early 1840s until the mid 1880s. The Italainate style was extraordinarily popular in the northeast, midwest and particularly common in San Francisco, which transformed from a small village into a major American port city from the 1850s to the 1870s. The Italianate style is almost completely absent from the southern states because of the [...] Read on →

How To: Paint a Wood Window Sash

Old Window

After all the hard work is done restoring a wood window there is one final step, painting your window sash. Painting a window is by far the most important part of the process because it protects all the work underneath. It keeps sun, rain, dirt, insects, air and anything else from harming your window. Without paint, glazing putty is no good after only a couple months, the sun’s UV rays begin breaking down the wood fibers of the [...] Read on →

Lead Paint: The Whole Story

Clapboards

Lead paint and lead poisoning, as it pertains to old houses, have long been a lightning rod of controversy. Some people even refuse to own an old home due to fears of lead paint. But lead paint may not be the national health concern you’ve been told it is. I’d like to start by saying that lead poisoning is nothing to scoff at. For children under 6 yrs. old and pregnant women, even the smallest amount of lead [...] Read on →

10 Must-Read Old House Books

Living-in-the-Past-Cover

Books are possibly the greatest resource for anyone looking to learn something new. There is something extremely satisfying about sharing a great book with a friend. So, this is my way of sharing my 10 must-read old house books. These books are the most helpful and enjoyable books I have come across on the topic of historic homes. I know that you’ll find any of these books a great read and a helpful guide for whatever project you [...] Read on →

Transforming an Old Garage Into a Tiny House (Part 3)

cozy kitchenette

For the last couple weeks I have been sharing the nuts and bolts of how we turned a 1920s detached garage into a tiny house, a tiny guest house to be exact. Today, I want to share all the detail work we did to really make the house fit that vintage 1920s feel we were going for. After all, what’s the point of having a 1929 Bungalow if your tiny guest house looks like something off the shelf [...] Read on →

American Foursquare Style

Photo Credit: timrodpark.com

The American Foursquare, sometimes called the “Prairie Box” was a hugely popular architectural style in almost every part of the country. It is one of the consumate American house styles. Though not technically an architectural style on its own (it’s a subtype of The Prairie Style) the American Foursquare is so prevalent that I thought it deserved its own page. Simple, efficient and affordable, the American Foursquare could be fit onto any small city lot. Popular from the [...] Read on →

Preventative Maintenance Checklist

Image Credit: 100abandonedhouses.com

Maintaining an old house can seem like a full time job at times. Old homes were built with materials and in a manner that requires regular maintenance. While this maintenance requires time it is ultimately a more affordable option than today’s home design of replacement rather than repair. Regular Inspections Regularly inspecting your old house is a must. You’ll find little issues to fix before they become big issues that require big time and money. Follow these inspection [...] Read on →

How To: Save 80% on Home Repairs

Image credit: stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo

How to save 80% on home repairs may sound like a marketing hype gone wild. But anyone who has been a reader of this blog for more than a week will know that that is not my style. I am very serious about that title. What I’m going to share with you today is SO simple and it actually can save you around 80% on the cost of your home repairs. But be warned, while the advice is [...] Read on →

The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood

Water Putty

Sometimes it’s nail holes and sometimes it’s rotten wood, but your projects will often require you to patch wood. In this post I’ll help you determine the best materials (and there are tons available!) to use when the time comes to patch wood projects. The type of material you should use will depend on what kind of patching or filling you need to do. Is it exterior or interior? Will it be painted or left natural? We’ll focus [...] Read on →

How To: Replace Broken Window Glass

Broken-window-glass

Whether it’s an errant baseball or a tropical storm, windows are bound to break sometimes. And before you call a window specialist to replace your broken window glass you might just be able to do it yourself. More importantly, if you have an old house your broken window glass will need to be replaced in a different way than most specialists know how to do today.   What’s Different About Historic Windows? Old wood windows (typically pre-1950s) were [...] Read on →

My First “Restoration”

The finished product of the bedroom. Paint, floors and radiator (Not bad for a first try!)

In 2001 I had just returned to New York City from a year in Tokyo performing for Walt Disney. It was a fantastic experience living in a such a different culture and country, but I was happy to be back home in America. The lease had run out on my old apartment and I was now going about the insanity that is involved with trying to find an available and affordable apartment in the city. Finally, after a [...] Read on →

The 13 Dumbest Building Materials

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In the name of progress we have made some pretty dumb “improvements” to the things we use to build a house over the centuries. Some have killed people like asbestos and others are just so atrociously ugly they deserve to die a slow death in a landfill. And the winners of the dumbest building materials ever are…   Where We Went Wrong Drywall – Anything that exists for these two reasons alone 1) It’s faster 2) It’s cheaper, [...] Read on →

How To: Care For Hardwood Floors

How To Care For Hardwood Floors

We do a lot of hardwood floor refinishing at Austin Home Restorations and I often get asked by clients how they should care for their newly refinished wood floors. There is a specific timeline of how to treat and care for a wood floor after it was just refinished. In this post I’ll outline what chemicals or actions are safe for your hardwood floors and when they become safe. How Long After Refinishing Will My Wood Floors Be [...] Read on →