Creating a Craftsman

The Old House Web

By Sabra Waldfogel

This original sideboard provided the inspiration for new woodwork and stained glass details elsewhere on the first floor of this 1915 Arts and Crafts home.
Photo: Sabra Waldfogel

Most people who have lived through the mess and expense of an extensive home renovation would be offended if a visitor asked, "But what did you have remodeled?"

Jane Rauenhost and Brian Nofzinger consider it a compliment.

It speaks to the sensitive renovation of their Arts and Crafts home in a charming St. Paul neighborhood. They're pleased that the original and the new fit together so seamlessly in the 1915 house.

"We wanted people to walk in and not know anything was modernized." says Rauenhorst.

It took vision to see the vintage bungalow under all the changes the house endured over the years. A previous owner added a bump-out to the façade in 1969, creating what Rauenhorst calls a "rambleresque" effect." Inside, the front bay, living room, kitchen and an office nook had all lost their cabinets, woodwork, and period character. Only the dining room retained its original look.

But Rauenhost and Nofzinger bought the house knowing they wanted to renovate. They loved the neighborhood where their children could safely walk to school along streets lined with turn-of-the-century homes. They wanted to return their house to its Arts and Crafts origins.

"We really wanted nothing that said 'remodel,'" says Rauenhost.

house before
Before the remodel, a bump-out form a 1969 remodeling was prominent.
Photo: Transformed Tree

house after
The bump-out has been altered to fit the house's original Arts and Crafts character. A new pergola supported by period appropriate columns emphasizes the home's style without competing with the roofline.
Photo: Sabra Waldfogel

Veterans of three do-it-yourself remodels, the couple decided to enlist a professional this time. They chose Transformed Tree of St. Paul, whose owners, Mel Salmi and Peter Hagen, have worked on many Craftsman houses. Salmi and Hagen are happiest when they can match what's there -- or in this case, what was once there. Salmi says, "Our general thought is to look at the original intent and expand on it."

The work was extensive, inside and out. Outside of the original Arts and Crafts dining room, everything else was modified in the 2004 renovation.

The 1969 bumpout was replaced by a more period-appropriate wood siding and a pergola. In the front rooms, woodwork, a window seat, and French doors restored a Craftsman look to the stripped-down rooms.

Moving Indoors

Salmi and Hagen built an arch between the two rooms that matched existing columns. They also added built-in bookcases on either side of the arch. Rauenhorst and Nofzinger were particularly delighted with the quality of the woodwork. The new millwork and cabinets look as though they were crafted when the house was new in 1915. The beauty of the woodwork distinguishes the space that flows from the front rooms into the living room.

Even a design problem became the reason for a decorative detail. The wood on the floor of the addition was lighter than the older wood and the two didn't match. Transformed Tree laid a horizontal stripe into the floor to disguise the difference and made the inlay part of the room design.

The homeowners wanted the kitchen to be efficient as well as consistent with the Arts and Crafts style. New cabinet doors feature stained glass panels in an Arts and Crafts design. The kitchen's eating area was reconfigured, and a wall of cabinets replaced with windows. Now the family can sit at the kitchen table and take advantage of the backyard view.

The nook next to the kitchen, used as an office, had been stripped down. Cabinets and woodwork in the Arts and Crafts style were added in the remodeling.

bay before
Photo: Transformed Tree

bay after
Photo: Sabra Waldfogel

The bump-out from the inside, before (left) and after the 2004 renovation.

living room
New woodwork blends seamless with the old in the living room. The woodwork and the flooring tie the front, living and dining rooms together.
Photo: Sabra Waldfogel

After the renovation, the kitchen provides a comfortable and period-appropriate dining space.
Photo: Sabra Waldfogel

kitchen before
The same area before renovation.
Photo: Transformed Tree

Oak cabinets in Craftsman style with stained glass doors fit the home's original design.
Photo: Sabra Waldfogel

Like all remodeling projects, this one had its irritations, including more togetherness than the family wanted. "The four of us lived in our bedroom," Rauenhorst says, feeling, as Nofzinger adds, "all smooshed up." The first floor was torn down to the studs. Rauenhorst remembers the day one of her son's friends came over to visit and went home in confusion because he couldn't find the front door.

A counselor working with couples, Rauenhorst says, "Remodeling should be a subspecialty." Laughing, she adds, "I'd have one bookcase with books on psychology and others with catalogs to order things like doorknobs."

Rauenhorst and Nofzinger aren't the least bit offended that visitors can't tell the old from the new in their house. Salmi and Hagen are equally pleased. "For us, a successfully designed project is when you can't tell what was an expansion (of the original house)," Hagen says. "That's the biggest compliment."

Designers: Peter Hagen and Mel Salmi, St. Paul, MN
Contractor: Transformed Tree, St. Paul, MN

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