Ask the Craftsman: What’s With the Pineapples?

pineapple fence

This week’s question comes from…my wife. Seriously, she has been wanting me to write about this for awhile now. And yes, I’ll be sending her a free copy of my eBook as a thank you. Why are there pineapples carved on fences and other parts of old houses? This topic came up because in our neighborhood we have a house that we affectionately call “The Pineapple House.” It has at least a dozen pineapples carved into its fence and porch [...] Read on →

The Oldest House in America

Oldest House in America

  What is the oldest house in America? Is there any way to really tell? The answer is yes, we really can tell what the oldest house in America is…we think. When you go back centuries to colonial times records are not quite as complete or straight forward as they are today, but there are many ways to determine the age of a structure. The oldest house in America is a timber frame house built ca. 1637-1641 in [...] Read on →

Choosing Rot Resistant Wood

rot resistant wood

Old houses are constantly having to deal with wood rot and insect damage. While the old-growth wood used in houses built before the turn of the 20th Century are a more rot resistant wood than anything available today, no wood is rot or insect proof.  Insects and fungi (aka rot) love soft wood. Preferably soft, wet wood, which is why you’ll find termite damage in water logged areas of an old house. The soft pine, fir and other [...] Read on →

Working Together: Preservationists Join Forces to Save a Landmark

Baker House

No matter how badly we want to save a particular historic building, there is only so much we can do alone. Our resources are limited. You only have so much time, money and expertise. After all, you’re only one person. But when you look at it through the lens of what what can be accomplished together things start to get really exciting. And that’s what’s about to happen in Wildwood, Florida this weekend. The Wildwood Historical Association was [...] Read on →

Quality or Quantity (Which Does Your Home Have?)

Image credit: greggr / 123RF Stock Photo

I grew up in Texas so I like everything big. Big sky, big acreage, big pickup trucks and big steaks. There’s something about a 36 oz steak called the “widow maker” that appeals to me. Maybe it’s the challenge. Maybe it’s just the idea of seeing a steak that size. Whatever it is I’m intrigued. Just because I appreciate the Texas mentality of ‘bigger is better’  doesn’t mean I’m a fan of all things big. America has taken [...] 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 1)

Tiny House Garage

Tiny houses have recently become a huge grassroots movement focused on scaling back our cluttered lives and living more simply. Quality over quantity is the theme of the movement, and I’m a big proponent of that. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share an exciting project we’ve just finished here in Orlando. I’ll walk you through the whole process of turning an old garage into your very own tiny house. We’ll talk about the nuts and [...] Read on →

Why Does My Old House Have Two Front Doors?

Photo credit Scott Sidler

Lots of old homes have the mysterious second front door. Some were added in renovations over the years, but others are original. The explanations for these original double doors are all over the map. Many folks finally give up hope of finding an answer to this architectural mystery, but I have some ideas for you. If your old house has two front doors there are a number of reasons. Depending on your home’s style, age, location and size [...] Read on →

Why Should You Save an Old House?

Old Home Infographic

The law of supply and demand is a basic economic principle of a free market that goes like this: As demand for an item goes up the price goes up. This attracts new suppliers who increase the supply bringing the price back to normal. The laws of supply and demand are constantly in motion in our economy affecting the prices and supply of items we buy everyday from groceries to houses. But what happens if the supply of a particular [...] Read on →

Tips for Historic Home Owners {#10 Blend Your Story With Your Home’s}

Historic Home Tips

Every old house has its own story, and each one is unique. Once you move in, your family has now become a part of that story too. While I may talk a lot about saving the historic and original features of your home, I realize that an old home is not a museum. Maybe the original owners loved the formal parlor for entertaining, but you want to turn it into a bedroom or media room. You should! Don’t [...] Read on →

Tips For Historic Homeowners {#6 Be a Detective}

Historic Home Tips

Every old house is hiding some pieces of its past, and it’s up to you to figure them out. Many folks want to restore old details that have been removed or covered up over the years. And while some remodels may have completely wiped out any signs of the past there may still be ways to discover how your old house once was. Attics, Basements & Crawlspace - A notoriously good pace to start looking for missing windows, screens, [...] Read on →

Tips for Historic Homeowners {#5 Start Outside}

Historic Home Tips

So many folks go a little crazy with the seemingly endless list of repairs they inherit with their first old house. It can be overwhelming. There is too much to do and too little money and time that they freeze up and don’t do anything! Well, don’t become one of those people. There is a definite place to start and that place is outside. You should always start any restoration project on the outside of the house. Is [...] Read on →

Personality Types (Old House Style)

Old House Personality Type

Personality types are a fantastic way to learn a bit about yourself. There are countless tests like the DISC or Myers/Briggs. And there is one test you’ve probably not heard of. The reason you may have missed it is because . . . well . . . I just invented it. The “SPA” test is an important tool in diagnosing your “Old Home Personality Type,” before it’s too late.

Save the Historic Homes on Lake Eola

Lake Eola Historic Homes

Lake Eola’s last remaining historic homes are in danger of destruction. Yesterday I learned of the City of Orlando’s plans to remove 5 historic (according the Orlando Sentinel these homes are only “semi-historic” whatever that may mean) homes dating from 1915-1930 that border Lake Eola park in order to add what will presumably be green space and expand the park’s existing borders by approximately 1 acre. While I think more and bigger parks are a wonderful part of [...] Read on →