Resources for Your Old House

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Jay Johnson -- It's good to see an anti-flipping trend sprouting up in today's new housing market. With folks realistic about mortgages, we're seeing a bit less house flipping and a renewed emphasis being put on keeping up and improving existing housing stock.

Quick profits from flipping are giving way to looking at houses as homes once again.

Your home is, after all, where you and your family have chosen to live (not "flip"). It's the place where you return after work, raise children, entertain, prepare and serve meals, and live life fully.

I was delighted to attend The Greater Philadelphia Historic Home Show and the concurrent Designer Craftsmen Show of Philadelphia on January 20 in King of Prussia, PA. The high-quality exhibits were dazzling, with companies and individuals pouring love and attention into restoring, sprucing up, decorating, and furnishing the proverbial This Old House.

historic_home_logo.gifIn the over 500 YouTube video shorts I have shot for our Design2Share Video Channel, I created a new one on this great show. Designer Irwin Weiner ASID, accompanied me at the show and is featured on my Visiting the Historic Home Show video. Enjoy the many highlights that caught our eye as we toured the show and focused on textiles that recreated historic patterns, great custom millwork, clever roofing and elegant copper exterior detailing, and a host of other innovations to help restore and maintain older homes.

And for regular readers of this column, please note that my little Radio Shack $99 camtastic video recorder has been officially retired. I am now using the SONY HandyCam DCR-HC28. I think you'll see the difference in the quality of the video. It was time to upgrade in the new year!

Here are some of the vendors that we saw at the concurrent shows, resources that we thought are worth looking at for your home:

Old House Interiors Magazine is a print and online resource devoted to interiors from homes built between 1700 and 1840, including romantic 20th century colonial revivals. Good inspiration for First Period homes through Georgian, Federal, early Greek Revival, and regionally flavored residences.

thistlehillcollage.gifAntique Homes Magazine focuses on historic homes for sale throughout New England.

We met a delightful woman named Rabbit Goody at the show. Her studio, Thistle Hill Weavers (see photo montage), creates custom period fabrics and trims. We loved her Venetian carpets, which would be stunning for whole-room flooring as well as stair runners.

Steve Smithers is a master of finer silversmithing and design. We were amazed by his beautiful tea sets and lighting. His handcrafted brass lighting is extraordinary and a rarity.


The custom crafted lighting and hardware from Heritage Metalworks is incredible. We loved their Winterthur Reproduction pieces, including the Lebanon Bedroom Chandelier (see photo above). This group is also wonderful with restoring and repairing metal antiques and creating custom metalwork.

Mox Nix Textiles creates beautiful historically accurate hand-woven textiles and quilts, and our featured video shows some looming work being done right in their booth. The woman who graciously allowed me to videotape her at work told me about how she hand-wove one poncho a day for 18 straight days to deliver Universal Studios ponchos for Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds. She makes a poncho from a textile sofa throw, and they needed to show the poncho getting more and more ruined as the movie progressed.

If you love that smooth and sensual soapstone feel, then you'll appreciate Bucks County Soapstone Company and their custom sinks, countertops, and fireplace surrounds (see photo below).


Ball and Ball has extraordinary antique hardware reproductions covering the 18th Century through Victorian times. Chandeliers, sconces, lanterns, hand-forged iron house hardware, locks, fireplace accessories, knobs and drops, door knockers, and Chippendale pulls are their specialties.

rustic1-large.jpgWe died and went to Heaven when we saw the collection of custom-made, beautifully crafted doors from Historic Doors. They make custom-crafted doors, entryways, and porticos that add beauty to interior and exterior doorways. Look at the beautiful rustic cottage-style door in this photo!

The Beresford Gallery specialized in lovely custom wrought iron work, from gates and railings to lighting and fireplace tools. They feature the work of a third-generation blacksmith from France who does all the hand forging.

The extraordinary millwork and customized, authentic colonial joynery from Maurer & Shepherd is worth exploring further. They can really bring cabinetry, entryways, windows and sashes, and woodwork to life again.

The Real Milk Paint Company offers timeless products that have added vibrant color to homes for centuries. The paint is environmentally safe, non-toxic, weather resistant, non-fading, and remains usable for years. Check out their tung oil, waxes, brushes, and other products, too.

We can't rave enough about Timeless Kitchen Design! These folks really understand cabinetry and how to blend today's appliances in with yesterday's custom woodwork -- and creating a flawless, elegant end product.


Photo Credits: Goodrich & Company, Thistle Hill Weavers, Historic Doors, Bucks County Soapstone

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