Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ungracefully Aged!

"Make it look like it's been there for 150 years!" That was the charge given to the project team by a client not long ago. Actually, come to think of it, that seems to be the charge given to many projects that are being built today. Dallas is so "new" in comparison with most of the towns of the old South that everyone seems to want "history" added to their project. Our history anchors us. It gives us a sense of bygone values which make us feel comfortable in these changing, uncertain times!

So we did - with the help of an arsenal of techniques, we turned something that is brand new; something that works perfectly; something that offers modern day function, into something very old. And it's really fun! I keep a copy of Country Living's Country Paint on my desk at all times. They have fabulous finishes, and they even tell you step by step how to do each finish!

It's all in the Finishes!

Naturally when you buy something brand new that's just the way it looks - brand new. So finding chemicals, glazes, waxes, even chains and tools that will scar the target materials requires some imagination and patience. Failure is common! If at first you don't succeed, try and try again! Adopt a mindset that makes the process fun and not drudgery.

Brand spanking new - but it doesn't look that way! The stucco (above) is applied over brick so that the wall has "movement" to it, all before the finish is rubbed with buttermilk and cow manure. We also like to use yogurt in some applications because it grows moss really quickly.

This was a finish out of Charleston, South Carolina that we were trying to copy. We just didn't have the 150 years to wait for our stucco to look like this!

Sometimes you have to "cheat" a little bit to acquire age. This Italian Mediterranean home was originally built in 1929. Everything from the dropped down roof to the left of the fireplace chimney, and to the right of the drainpipe, is new. Lucky for us we found the old quarry in Austin that produced the original limestone back in the 20's, and quarried all of the new stone for the additions out of the same pit. If you look carefully you will see that we stained an occasional limestone block with a rustic wash to make the new sections blend with the old. The old roof tile was carefully removed and blended with new tile before being re-applied so that all blended naturally together.

Old, refurbished, antique doors aid immeasurably to the aging process when used in combination with new materials. The doors below were discovered here locally, stripped and refinished to look old. Look carefully to see how the original rick-rack on the doors was duplicated on the cowling of the vent-a-hood - a really nice touch! Our cabinets also pick up the design with a diamond motif copied from the doors.

Even mistakes can sometimes work to your favor when aging materials. This copper vent-a-hood was originally ordered with a variegated (read: lime green) finish, but it came out looking like an easter egg! Our guys chemically washed and scrubbed the hood with acetone and steel wool and this was the result. Looks like it's been there for 150 years!

Finally, using family heirlooms in a brand new piece not only brings a sense of nostalgia to the home, but also a sense of history to the piece in which they are used. These Delph tiles are very old and valuable - perfect for enjoying every day in the Kitchen!

1 comment:

  1. You have a way to make things look like they have been there, well-established and true quality. No cheap finishes for Hoebeke Builders! Great post!