Tim and Patricia’s DIY California Craftsman

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Tim Shetz and Patricia Leoni
Location: Alameda, California
Size: 1,684 sq/ft
Years lived in: 7, owned
Who else lives here: Thomas their 8-month old baby, Piper the dog, Cooper and Cleopatra the kitties.

Tim Shetz is a DIY kind of guy. From the kitchen cabinets to the back yard patio, he’s taken on a handful of home renovation projects since purchasing his 1930s craftsman bungalow seven years ago.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The historic San Francisco Bay area residence features a bevy of unusual original details. Elements like the hammered copper door knobs, one inch oak flooring, and a bedroom papered in baby blue blossoms initially attracted Tim and Patricia to the cozy dwelling. But it wasn’t until Tim fixed up a few minor eye sores that the home really became their own.

His first project was the backyard. Mostly covered in concrete, with a few dead plants that poked up from meager patches of earth, it wasn’t the kind of place where their dog Piper would want to play. So they jackhammered the concrete, mixed the shards with decomposed crushed granite, and formed an inviting patio. A drip irrigation system fed by collected rain water keeps the grass lush.

Happy with their new outdoor retreat, the couple turned their focus to the ugly honey colored cabinets in the kitchen. “Rather than buy all new cabinets, we decided to removed all the doors and refinish them. I added trim and new hardware to the existing doors and finished them in a dark brown color,” explained Tim. He also added mouldings to the top of the cabinets and baseboards to the entire kitchen.

A couple pieces of furniture came next. Tim lined a long hallway with low shelves made from wood found under the house and illuminated them with LED rope lights–a low energy lighting solution for this otherwise dark spot. Some more found wood went toward a cabinet for their TV that hides all their electronic components and DVD collection in a neat Asian-inspired design.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Re-Nest Survey:

My/Our style: Eclectic. We love antiques, but we mix it up with some newer stuff.  We also mix styles.  We have an antique 1930’s bar in the same room as some Asian pieces.

Inspiration: The craftsman period.

Favorite Element: It’s a tie between the detail on the windows, the arts and crafts tiled fireplace, and the 1-inch oak hardwood floors throughout the house.

Biggest Challenge: Keeping an 80+ year home going.  It seems there is always something to do, but it is a labor of love.

What Friends Say: Whenever we have friends over, they always comment about how homey and cozy our house feels.

Biggest Embarrassment: The color of the house. It’s kind of a dusty rose with an almost brick red trim. It Is getting painted this month in a true bungalow color scheme.

Proudest DIY: I would have to say the backyard. When we moved in there was tons of concrete and dead plants, the little bit of grass that was there was almost dead. We spent close to three months redoing everything.

Biggest Indulgence: Our 52″ LCD TV and HD DirecTV.  We like to enjoy our TV when we have time to watch it.

Best Advice: If you are going to buy an old craftsman style home, be prepared to either become a do-it-yourselfer, or make friends with your local contractors and handymen.

Dream Source: I absoulutely love Rejuvenation Lighting in Portland Oregon.  There are also some great resources for arts and crafts tile and furniture in Bungalow magazine. we’ve had a subscription since we moved in.

Green Elements/Initiatives: By removing the solid concrete patio and breaking it up, we allow more rainwater to get into the ground. All of our backyard plants are on a timed drip irrigation system giving them only the water they need. We also installed two rain collection systems, one on the driveway and one in the back yard. Each of the two systems collects 110 gallons of water for watering our garden during dry times. The system usually fills up with the first small rain. We also installed solar screens on the sunny side of the house which reduces the UV coming through the windows. During the summer it keeps the house almost 10 degrees cooler.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Appliances: We have an old 1950’s O’Keefe and Merritt gas stove. We purchased it on eBay. When we installed it, PG&E was nice enough to come out and clean the gas burners and adjust it for us.

Hardware: All the doors in the house have these cool hammered metal door knobs. They are amazing. The first time I walked into the house with our realtor, I noticed them right away. The one door in the house that doesn’t have them is the one to the master bath. That room was added in the 1960’s.  I’ve looked high and low to find one to replace the ugly cheap handle that is there, but I’ve been unsuccessful.

Furniture: We have a neat cabinet in our entry way. It belonged to a friend of mine who got it from the little old lady that lived across the street from him. He didn’t have room for it and I mentioned I liked it, so he gave it to me. That was over 15 years ago.

Our dining set we purchased at the Antique Trove in Redwood City quite some time ago. I know the sytle is Duncan Phyfe, but not sure of its actual age. We just wish it had two arm chairs. We keep our eye out for a matching one, but so far, no luck.

The bar was purchased at an antique store here in Alameda. My wife bought it for me as a birthday present.  I’ve always eyed them in antique stores. When she found this one in such great shape, she bought it right away.

Accessories: I have a collection of old movie cameras and projectors. I have always loved the movies and as a child we would watch our 8mm movies on my dad’s projector.  When I was in college I found my first one at a local thrift store. I paid $7 for it. Once I knew what the case for it looked like, I kept spotting them. I think many people didn’t open the cases to see what was inside. Every time I ran across one I bought it.

We have a collection of little apertif glasses on a tray. We purchased them a number of years ago at an antique store in San Francisco. It was set up at the shop just as we have it now.

The umbrella stand in our entry way is an arts and crafts hammered copper urn of some sort.  We saw it at an auction house in Oakland and thought it would be perfect as an umbrella stand.

Our fireplace tool set is a funny little thing.  It’s one of those “it looked bigger in the pictures” situations. I won it on eBay and when it arrived both my wife and I commented that it must be for an elf’s fireplace.  It is the tiniest set I’ve ever seen. The person that sold it said it was from France in the 1930’s. It is usable, you just have to be careful not to singe your fingers.

Lighting: Two of the light fixtures in the house were the other things I noticed right away the first time I saw the house. The entryway has a unique hanging fixture with an amber/yellow glass.  It’s really beautiful at night. The dining room has an amazing milk glass hanging fixture. I’m not sure if they are both original to the house, but they are certainly charming.

On the front porch, we replaced an ugly home depot type light fixture with a period appropriate one from Rejuvenation.

Window Treatments: On the outside, we installed solar screens. On the inside of the living room, we installed shades with UV reduction as well as raw silk curtains that are triple lined with UV protection to reduce heat transfer and damage to the silk.

Flooring: Except for the kitchen, the whole house has hardwood floors. When we had them refinished, the hardwood guy told us that the 1″ quarter sawn oak boards were fairly unusual for the period.  Being smaller, they required much more work for cutting and installation. I was told this again twice recently when we had an electrical and building inspector come by. Both inspectors commented on the beautiful and unusual narrow boards.

(Thanks, Tim and Patricia!)

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