Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Restoring Architecture: Go to the Library First

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Restoring Architecture: Go to the Library First

Article excerpt

Q: We recently purchased a turn-of-the-century home that we want to restore to something resembling its original Federal-style architecture. Most of the plaster moldings and decorative elements have been destroyed or removed. Since we can't afford to replace these original fixtures, can you suggest some convincing and inexpensive facsimiles?

A: You'd do well, first of all, to acquaint yourself with at least a couple of the many books that have been written on restoration of homes built in the Federal style. A visit to the library will reveal that most of these books discuss interior detailing as well as structural features. One that I can recommend is Wendell Garrett's classic "America and Beyond."

Federal architecture readily lends itself to interior design in any of the so-called classical styles. During the Federal era early in the country's history, the United States was heavily influenced by Greco-Roman design, as well as by the more delicate Neo-Classical style popular in England and France. Think through what sort of colors and patterns to use. And as for the architectural motifs, I again advise research on moldings, friezes and borders, along with decorative techniques such as textured finishes and stencil work. It's not necessary to hire professional plasterers and painters. You can instead buy prefab moldings and reproduction wallpapers that simulate the look of textured paint and stenciled borders. You may wish to consider picture molding of a type commonly used 100 years ago. Its purpose is primarily functional, since pictures can be hung by cords and movable hooks from a simple molding placed beneath a frieze or just below the ceiling line. The guidelines I've outlined in regard to detailing can also be applied to any furniture choices you may be making. While it isn't necessary to invest in period antiques, reproduction pieces do need to be stylistically consistent and of a high quality. …

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