ABOVE: Over the Batchelder tile fireplace: pottery by Rookwood, Van Briggle, Newcomb College, Selden Bybee, and Clewell. Painting by George F. Kaumeyer, 1910. English firescreen in the manner of Voysey; new fabric by Archive Edition Textiles. Antique desk by L. & J.G. Stickley.Photos by Ken Lay and Josh Beeman
An enviable collection of Arts & Crafts-era furniture, lighting and pottery enhances a period interior.
My wife, Mary Bryan, and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city with a rich Arts & Crafts tradition—the home of Rookwood and Wheatley Potteries and also The Shop of the Crafters. I recall that the editor of Arts & Crafts Homes has been asked to include more modest homes in the magazine.
The price of our Tudor was indeed modest, and although we are decidedly middle-class, we have tried to buy the best within our means; we love to find a bargain and we look hard for "sleepers.” Our kitchen remodeling, for example, I did myself for a cost of $2,500, which included a new refrigerator and dishwasher.
We named our home Oak House in honor of the monarch oak that shelters it. This Tudor Revival has always leaned toward Arts & Crafts—like the houses on both sides of us, it has original Batchelder tile fireplaces—and we have interpreted Craftsman furnishing tenets inside. (By the way, Batchelder went out of business in 1932, the very year our house was built.) The architect was C.J. Winnes; his own house is about a mile from ours. We have the original blueprints.
We pride ourselves on getting the details right, and finding out as much as we can about the people who made the things we collect. For example, the flower portraits in the dining room are by Albert Valentien, the Rookwood Pottery artistic director who moved to San Diego in 1908 and was commissioned by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps to paint all of California’s wildflowers. I’ve also sent you a couple of old period advertisements that show items now in our rooms. Real Arts & Crafts geeks like us love that sort of thing!
I am an art director at an ad agency and Mary is a district manager for a chain of craft stores. I also professionally restore art pottery. I have collected art pottery for 15 years, and my wife and I have collected Arts & Crafts-era decorative arts and furnishings for a decade. We’re always trying to upgrade the collection (and work on the house).