Tom & Allison’s Amazing DIY House of Reclaimed & Unusual Objects
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Name: Tom and Allison, their son, Gordon, and their dogs and tortoise
Location: Culver City, California
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 8 years; Owned
One look inside the home of Tom and Allison of California Rediscovered and you quickly realize that you are in the presence of DIY masters. Having originally met in art school, the couple put their impressive artistic skills into practice by completely rebuilding their 1950s bungalow into their version of a Craftsman—and that is just where the ingenuity begins.
As avid swap meet and salvage yard scavengers, the couple have amassed an impressive collection of recycled and reclaimed materials that they have put to good use. They’ve given new life to old elements, like using vintage bricks for flooring, old garden fencing for stair railings and discarded fence boards as countertops.
By utilizing his sculpture degree and reading every home design book out there, Tom built practically everything in their house himself, from the custom shelves to the numerous lighting designs throughout the home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Craftsman/Curio Shop
Inspiration: Our inspiration can come from a single object. We love scavenging and often find one small piece that determines the rest of the room. For example, our master bathroom was designed around the old chicken glass windows that make up the windows in the shower—we found them at a salvage yard.
Favorite Element: The staircase bookshelf.
Biggest Challenge: Money and learning as we go. We started our remodel with a limited knowledge of building and design, but through a lot of trial and error, we have become seasoned in the art of building improvisation, learning from our mistakes and creating with reclaimed objects and limited funds.
What Friends Say: I guess our friends and family are always surprised by our ability to reclaim and repurpose items. For example, our bar top is a collection of various colors of tongue and groove sub floor; it is supported by antique exterior corbels that we stripped, resized, and refinished.
Biggest Embarrassment: We still haven’t finished our kitchen or the baseboards and trim paint downstairs (we may never finish).
Proudest DIY: Our proudest DIY is the staircase. We wanted an open feeling and needed the design to blend with the Craftsman/industrial look of the living room. We found an antique, metal newel post at Old Goode Things and started from there. An old iron garden fence was disassembled to create a baluster, and we used metal piping for the railing. It looks simple, but taking apart the garden fence and reassembling, welding, and installing it into the steps proved to be a tricky process.
Outside, we are very proud of our swimming pool. It is reclaimed, originally made for sea lions used during the filming of a movie. It is 4 feet deep and 13 feet round. It was a logistical challenge trying to get it into our backyard, and we ended up having it craned over our house! We also dug a large hole to countersink the pool, created a homemade fountain out of old plumbing parts, and built a brick wall made of old bricks.
Biggest Indulgence: Our master bathroom was definitely our biggest indulgence.
Best Advice: I think the biggest thing we learned is that no one should be intimidated by design and building. We found that with a little creativity and some online research, we were able to figure out and build most finished carpentry and finishing touches in our home.
Dream Sources: Urban Remains in Chicago
- Newel post: Olde Good Things
- Sofa: Pottery Barn
- Lights: The lights in our living room were designed and built by us at our store, California Rediscovered. They consist of three antique shades, antique style cloth cord, and three antique porcelain sockets. The base is made up of old redwood.
- Coffee table: an old school lunch table dating to the 1920s—we cut the legs down and added some antique metal casters to complete the look.
- Rug: Our living room rug is a Craigslist find, it is very old and worn and perfect for our living room.
- Light: Our dining room light was also built by us, using two large antique pulleys, four antique paddle sockets, and four antique flat milk glass shades.
- Table: Our dining room table was built by us using reclaimed clear Doug Fir from an old house salvage.
- Chairs: 1920s folding chairs
- Sign: The large sign that makes up the dominant design image of our dining room came from a friend’s crawl space. It is an old Hollywood Boys’ School sign, dating from the 1930s.
- Lights: Our bar lights downstairs are Korean War-era tin shades and were coupled with vintage-style cloth cord and vintage-style sockets.
- Bar stools: vintage school auditorium seats—we extended the pipes to make up the height needed to be functional.
- Lighting: Schoolhouse Electric
- Sink: Our kitchen sink is from Old Good Things which we ordered from their New York store and had delivered. We love the weight and depth of the sink. It is 100 years old and still just as good as the day it was made.
- Tile: The tile surrounding our kitchen sink is antique subway tile found at a salvage yard in Northern California.
- Green counters: The sink countertops are made of antique redwood wainscoting. We added a heavy epoxy coating over them for durability.
- Wood counters: We still haven’t decided on a permanent countertop, so we are using a butcher block from IKEA for now.
- Cabinets: The other cabinets (unfinished) are made by us.
- Stove: Our late 1940s stove is original to the house. When we moved in, it was left here and we had it rebuilt.
- Oven: Our early 1950s double oven is a Craigslist find from an old house in Burbank. We are the happy second owners of it.
- Construction: We built the master bedroom ourselves. We put the floors down and built the white oak built-in. We wanted the room to have the feel of an old library, using dark red/brown stain and a darker yellow paint to accomplish this look.
- Bed: Our bed comes from Cat House Beds in Malibu; it is an antique bed that we cut and expanded using casting from original beds.
- Nightstands: We made our nightstands from old corbels and some mahogany we had sitting around.
- Dog bed: We made the dog’s bed from a couple of old fruit crates.
- Art: The room is decorated mostly with posters/prints that we’ve come across on our junking adventures.
- Design: Our master bathroom inspiration is a combination of a 1920s-1930s-era hospital and an industrial factory. We used stark white tiles with green accents to complement the green walls and the green found throughout our house.
- Tile: The tiling was done by a family friend at a severely discounted rate. If it wasn’t for their generosity, we never could have afforded the project.
- Shower: The shower is made with the same tiles, and we incorporated the steel windows from a salvage yard to bring the industrial feel we were looking for. The exposed shower fixture was always in-line with the industrial style.
- Sink: Our bathroom sink is an antique kitchen sink we found at a salvage yard. It works great and really complements the new tub we have. The sink sits on antique sink brackets we found on eBay.
- Medicine cabinet: an old throwaway
- Sconces: swap meet
- Hard hat light shades: Liz’s Antique Hardware
- Igloo light shades: salvage yard
- Other bathroom lighting: Schoolhouse Electric
- Cabinet: We always wanted an antique medical cabinet to have in our bathroom. It works wonderfully as a catch-all, towel cabinet, and medical curio collection cabinet. We added a second more modern (1950s) medical cabinet for more storage.
- Wallpaper: The toilet room has a couple of 1940s propaganda war posters and a wall of vintage advertising decoupage we used to add some interest to a small space.
- Doors: Both bathroom doors are reclaimed, circa the 1930s. The door hardware is from Rejuvenation, and the doorknobs are antiques that we found on eBay.
- Oak file cabinet: thrift store
- Desk: Our writing desk is a family heirloom. We also have an old junk store find watchmaker’s cabinet beside the writing desk.
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