Making a 19th Century Door: Or, Why do Modern Replacement Doors Look so Strange on 19th Century Homes

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There are many differences between woodworking in today’s machine age and the 19th century. Contemporary carpenters and furniture makers rely on drawings, dimensions, and precise measurements to help them plan and build things. Before the Industrial Revolution, however, things were very different.  19th century house joiners certainly did rely on pattern books, but these books […]

Window Sash Repair: Part One

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Historic Preservation, Historic Windows, Joinery, Maintenance, Millwork, paint

Although most of my work with Historic Design Consulting consists of consulting with owners of historic buildings, I occasionally so some restoration/conservation work myself.  As people have become interested in retaining historic windows I find myself working on window sash fairly often.  This Spring I have been restoring some sash from an 1881 railroad depot from […]

Wall Plaster in a 19th Century Log Cabin

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Historic Plaster, Historic Preservation, Log cabins and structures

When we think about the American frontier, images of isolation, privation and often labor can come to mind.  Life on the frontier certainly was difficult and dangerous.  A homesteader’s first year was often a frantic race to establish his family before winter snow began to fall.  The first job was to cut timber to clear land for planting […]

Michigan House Detective

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Building Research, Building Styles, Greek Revival, History

A recent book by Fred Peterson titled Homes in the Heartland describes the evolution of the balloon-frame farmhouse in the upper Midwest.  Peterson notes one characteristic of many, first generation farmhouses: an eclectic nature where they were built in stages with several additions. When settlers arrived in the Midwest one of their first priorities was building shelter.  This […]

Historic Paint Colors for the Victorian or Arts and Crafts Era Home: Part Two

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In a previous post I described my process for selecting historic paint colors for 19th and early 20th century homes and businesses.  Rather than relying on the historic color collections from modern paint manufacturers such as Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams, I use my own collection of period color swatches and advertising for Victorian and Arts and Crafts […]

Historic Paint Colors for Your Victorian or Arts and Crafts Era Home or Business: Part 1

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I am asked quite often if I use colors from the historic color collections of major paint manufacturers such as Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore during my paint consults.  My answer is always the same: “It depends.”  Unlike many colorists and consultants, I do not like relying on someone else to research historic paint colors and […]

Pressure Washers and Painting: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Historic Preservation, Maintenance, Miscellaneous, paint

There are conflicting messages about using pressure washers when prepping building exteriors for painting. Some insist that pressure washers should never be used while others maintain that they are just fine and use them both for paint removal and cleaning.  Which is accurate?  As with most things, the truth is somewhere in between and depends on circumstance. […]

Preservation in Action: Minneapolis and Amboy, MN.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Historic Preservation, History, Miscellaneous

Historic preservation has changed its focus over the last few decades.  Years ago historic preservation was largely an antiquarian exercise where citizens would save extraordinary and singular examples of historic architecture in their communities.  Today preservation efforts are directed at a much broader slice of our architectural resources.  In fact, we hardly think of it as […]

The National Register of Historic Places

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in History, Miscellaneous, National Register of Historic Places, Research

Historic Design will donate free architecture research services for a local institution, business or individual in 2017!  Click here to learn more. We frequently see and hear about historic buildings and other structures being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, it isn’t clear to many what the National Register is and what […]