Editor's Note: Houston, the surrounding areas and beyond are loaded with must-have houses for sale in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. In this continuing series, CultureMap snoops through some of the best and gives you the lowdown on what's hot on the market.
A once small, three-bedroom, one-bath bungalow needing some TLC in the Brooke Smith neighborhood in the Greater Heights area now stands as an authentic, accurate and admirable tribute to the original American Arts and Crafts style.
While celebrating its own open house, the local larger-scale "ultimate bungalow" even turned heads and attracted visitors during the recent American Institute of Architects Houston 2014 Home Tour. The house, located at 512 Archer St., is now for sale at $825,000.
"It was the house that we first lived in together. We literally got married on the front porch of this house."
The 2,460-square-foot residence blends period details with modern features. Taken to the studs, careful craftsmanship is evident throughout, from reclaimed hardwoods and shiplap; antique doors, windows, lighting fixtures and shutters salvaged from historic structures; to custom cabinets and bookshelves. The four-bedroom charmer also offers 400 square feet of covered and screened porches, including an outdoor kitchenette, making nature very much a part of the living experience on the 5,000-square-foot lot.
So who is behind this local authentic American Arts and Crafts revival?
Meet Anthony Harnden, president of The Contemporary Craftsmen, a company of six determined to meticulously represent classic Craftsman style in its projects.
Harnden took time to respond to a Q&A email from CultureMap to share more about his latest creation — down to the nails.
CultureMap: Tell us about The Contemporary Craftsmen. What are your inspirations and goals?
Anthony Harnden: We started in 2008 right after the recession. I got my feet wet by moving a house from the Woodland Heights to a piece of property that we had purchased the previous year next to our residence. The Contemporary Craftsmen officially started about a year and a-half ago. I am the sole member of the LLC and have six full-time employees, mostly carpenters/painters.
I started my second period restoration about two years ago. This was a house that (my wife) Kay bought for herself before we met. It was the house that we first lived in together. We literally got married on the front porch of this house. The house was what I call a working-class Victorian — T-shaped with three rooms total plus a bathroom that was added at some point.
I really wanted to recreate the experience I had in some of the homes we visited in New Orleans. I wanted the screened-in porches, the court yards, the French doors, sun rooms and transoms. I wanted there to be a sense of having layers of history. I finished the house, and we had a pretty good amount of interest.
I guess the goal of The Contemporary Craftsmen is to make a connection. My inspirations come from personal experiences. One of the three couples that have showed serious interest in the house at 512 Archer, my second house in this style, spoke with me. She told me that she was from Pasadena, Calif. She lived one-half a mile from The Gamble House. She said that the house that we built reminded her of the house that she grew up in. She was even tutored in a Greene and Greene house.
It's difficult to describe what a gift she gave me by telling me these stories. Not many people have the chance to make that kind of connection with people. I think a lot of builders try to take buyers to the next level. We try to take people somewhere they have already been.
CM: What were the major steps you took in order to begin the process to create a true American Arts & Crafts house?
AH: One of the challenges with this design were the 3-foot eaves. Greene and Greene houses typically have closer to 5-foot eaves. With 3-foot eaves plus a 12-foot-wide driveway, the location of the house on the lot becomes an important factor. So we had to move the house over about five feet. Since we were adding up, we decided to take that opportunity to build a proper foundation for the house, so we had the house lifted about six feet so we could get under there and rebuild the foundation.
CM: Tell us about your favorite repurposed features incorporated into the house and where you found them?
AH: We bought a building, a two-story brick building, in the neighborhood that was built in 1929 located at 1000 Enid, our current project. This property was originally a grocery store and had rental units upstairs. We scored four clawfoot tubs and several sinks from this building. We used two of the clawfoot tubs and one of the sinks at 512 Archer. One of the other sinks came from Adkins Architectural Antiques. Many of the sconces came from August Antiques on Heights Boulevard. We also used reclaimed oak floors.
"I think a lot of builders try to take buyers to the next level. We try to take people somewhere they have already been."
One of the things that gets noticed the most are the industrial exposed track doors, but its the subtle things like the mortise sets and porcelain door handles that are my favorites because people don’t notice those things. They just experience them when they pull the door closed. It's not visual; it's sensory and subconscious.
CM: American Arts & Crafts houses typically have furniture built specifically for certain areas of the homes. Is any of the furniture especially made for the house?
AH: We built the dining table out of ash. We were kind of excited about it actually. We bought the wood from Clark’s Lumber. The ash had been left in the kiln for an extended time. causing the wood to turn a beautiful deep coffee color all the way through and giving it a wonderful smell, almost like a cigar. After it was finished, we decided to rub it down with mineral oil instead of putting a finish on it so you can smell that ash when you walk in the house.
CM: Tell us about the other house you built in this fashion?
AH: We have done two “California Craftsmen” on this street. The other one is located at 506 Archer. We were kind of proud of that house because it was actually a new construction. If we didn’t tell you, though, you wouldn't know it. We definitely used reclaimed material in that house, but it had an element that was greater than the sum of its parts. We felt like we breathed soul into it. It really felt like it had been there 100 years.
CM Anything else you would like to add? I heard a lot of people on the AIA Contemporary Home Tour saw the house and liked it!
AH: I wish I could take credit for planning this, but it was purely a coincidence that our open house was on the day of the AIA tour. Our friends and neighbors have a house that was on the tour. They live four doors down. They sent quite a few people down to see our house.
It turns out that a lot of the people on the AIA tour have an appreciation for Early American Arts and Crafts as well as contemporary. Happy accident, and generous neighbors.
Take a visual tour of 512 Archer St. by clicking through the slideshow above.
Square footage: 2,460
Asking price: $825,000