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These homes built for the common man were nonetheless precise in details. If you are restoring a Northeast Los Angeles Craftsman, do so with care.

Are there any residential architectural styles as widely beloved as the Craftsman homes? Wholly American, a departure from the Victorian predecessor that welcomed the growing middle class with flowing floor plans, big porches, gabled or hipped roofs, exposed and stylized rafters, and design motifs championed by Frank Lloyd Wright and the artisans of the Arts & Crafts movement.  

Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) is rich with Craftsmans. Many are California Bungalows, yet not all bungalows are Craftsmans and not all Craftsmans are bungalows (the distinctions are subtle). A vast number have survived the decades due to solid construction and seismic resilience – as well as being entirely practical.

Peruse the listings of homes for sale in Pasadena, Garvanza, Highland Park and Eagle Rock and you will find many Craftsman homes in a broad range of prices. But because of their age, many need restoration (some of the worst effects of time were unfortunate remodeling decisions). There is a good body of advice available online for critical considerations in restoring a Craftsman, which we summarize here:

Windows: There are replacements designed in the style of the era, however to purists the only way to go is to restore the original frames. It still might cost less than a contemporary replacement. Add weather stripping to improve energy efficiency.  

Floors: Strive to restore the original hardwood floors if and where possible. Most were built with solid hardwoods that, while worn and often covered over with tiles and carpeting, can be restored. Some boards may need replacing, but with work the most brilliant and rich woods can be restored to original beauty.  

Siding: When one studies craftsman-dense regions – homes in Glassell Park and Hermon, for instance – it becomes evident that the original siding may have received an aluminum or vinyl covering. Remove it to see if the original is salvageable; cedar siding is recommended as a replacement, with the understanding that it will require maintenance (staining and painting).

Plaster: The pre-War Craftsman walls were almost exclusively built with wet plaster applied to lathing. It’s about an inch thick, compared to ½-inch drywall, and very hard to demolish. Some renovations do not respect the original floor plan, which purists say is a travesty. Another reason to dismantle a perfectly good plaster wall is to install insulation (exterior-facing walls); alternatively, that insulation can be blown in from exterior perforations.

Honor the details: Baths and kitchens often have interesting tile walls and backsplashes, trim around porch columns, bannisters, picture rails, fireplace surrounds, lighting fixtures … all offer a look at a style that was in vogue somewhere between the Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt administrations. Preserve them wherever possible.

A Realtor who knows her Craftsman is Tracy King. With more than a quarter century of experience in NELA, she can be reached at (323-243-1234).

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or team@tracyking.com.