What Tarzan, golfing and finesse have to do with home restoration

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There’s a “feel” that an experienced restorer brings to the home.  Some might even call it “Finesse”.

It’s the same finesse that separates a professional golfer from an amateur, developed through years of knowing what to look for and where to look, in addition to knowing which tools to use and how to use the tools.

And most importantly, the restorer must have the ability to tap into the mind of the original creator of the home. 

I mentioned my current home, the historic, early California-style King Ranch House.  One half of the home is designed with bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, and closets on a raised foundation with crawl space under. The remaining half is stamped & stained concrete in the living room, dining room and kitchen.

The beginnings of stained and stamped concrete

Stamped & stained concrete was a technique at its infancy in the 1920’s.  Much of the techniques were executed with a series of tools that are no longer available today.

A modern technique with modern tools could not replicate the same design.  I created several templates and molds of concrete and multiple tools with endless attempts to replicate the exact match.  Finally after many failed attempts, it all came together and with the desired results. I don’t know if I’ve replicated what the craftsmen did in 1927, but I think I’ve made them proud.  It’s sad to say that much of craftsmen techniques from that time have been erased by history.  A lost art that we as restorers strive to preserve and bring back to life.

As you embark on restoring your home, here are some handy tips to help you find a project that rings true to everything you wish for your house:

Learn as much as you can about the style and architect of the property: it will give you a wonderful perspective on the “why” and the “how” behind your home.

Why is it that the bedrooms closets are small?
Because folks in that time had one third the amount of clothes we have today.

Antique dumb waiter

How did the architect and builder decide where to place a dumb waiter?

Larger homes, like mansions, often showcase antique dumb waiters located close to the kitchen. The location limited the number of servants around the dining table, giving diners privacy and intimacy during mealtime. Thomas Jefferson is credited by some as the inventor of the dumb waiter.

You’ll be surprised at all of the hidden stories your home holds.

For instance, I discovered that Edwin King, the creator of my home was famed for his silent films Tarzan movies in the 1920’s.

An Edwin C. King production

He wanted a home that reflected much of the architecture of the western style ranches.  He hired the Wright Company to build the ranch for him.  It is believed that the Wright Company built most of the Hollywood’s western-themed sets to give the illusion of real towns with western style buildings during movie shoots.

History also tells that Edwin King was influenced by the charm of those movie sets and characters, which is why he chose to have that style in his home.

What does this all tell you? Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!

When I began restoring my home, I went to a variety of sources for help.  My main source were historians Ron & Dale May of Legacy 106.

Another way of learning more about your home is strolling through your neighborhood, taking in ideas from the restored homes nearby.

And of course, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and write me an email or give me a call at 619-654-9419.


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