Hunting for an older home, I settled on an unassuming, pink-painted mid-century block house. Except for a large elm tree, it had few of the things I’d hoped for, but it was sturdy and admitted plenty of light.
Since age eight, I’ve been obsessed with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, and it happened that the movie version of the first Hobbit book had just been released. In it, the very English Arts & Crafts house called Bag End gave form to a type I thought lived only in my imagination. Being a nuclear engineer, and a systems architect by avocation, I am somewhat obsessive-compulsive, so I consumed all the information I could, buying a subscription to Arts & Crafts Homes and all of Paul Duchscherer’s bungalow books.
My first project was the master bedroom, where I worked out fabrication processes for new window casings as I replaced the canary-color tile and jalousie windows. (By now I’ve crafted nearly a mile of vertical-grain fir millwork.) A friend’s home in San Diego inspired my design for the dining room’s wainscot and plate rail. I ended up writing a software algorithm to determine spacing for the battens and wallpapered panels, to (1) minimize wallpaper waste (the company went defunct before I could buy more), (2) disguise the lack of symmetry in the room, and (3) stay close to golden ratio proportions. The house did not come with a fireplace; however, I’m of the opinion that a home needs four things: music, pets, books, and a warm hearth.
Since mansions down the road have names—“Casa de Something” or “La Maison d’Other,” I decided our house should have one, too, and came up with Toad Hall. (A favorite childhood books was The Wind in the Willows.) We have a game for visiting children: Find over 100 frogs and toads hidden inside and out, along with water birds and dragonflies in tile, wood, stone, and metal. The house has become a kind of above-ground Hobbit Hole, full of comfort.
Art glass: Rick Keppler, Atlantis Art Glass Studios, Orlando: atlantisartglassstudio.com
Fireplace tile: Pratt & Larson, prattandlarson.com
Garden design: Colette Paquet, Lukas Nursery, Oviedo, FL: lukasnursery.com
Furniture: L. & J.G. Stickley: stickley.com
Exterior paint: Sherwin-Williams ‘Renwick Olive’ (body), ‘Roycroft Suede’ (eaves), ‘Roycroft Vellum’ (trim), ‘Roycroft Copper Red’ (accents)
Interior Paint: Primrose Distributing/Olde Century Colors: oldecenturycolors.com. Bedroom walls ‘Olde Pewter,’ ceiling ‘Buttermilk’ mixed with ‘Linen’ Exterior body ‘Olde Pewter,’ trim ‘Thistle’, accent ‘Brick Red’ wall/ceiling papers Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers: bradbury.com Living Room walls ‘Savaric’ in Forest Green, frieze ‘Newbury’ Forest Green, ceiling ‘Gilded Burlap’ Parlor walls ‘Marigold’ Natural, frieze ‘Prairie’ Natural, ceiling ‘Vienna Check’ Dining Room walls ‘Glenwood’ Thatch, frieze ‘Corona’ Thatch, ceiling ‘Corona’ Thatch, ‘Avalon’ Thatch, and ‘Circlet’ Natural