Love of craftsmanship sparks home restoration fad

Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:38pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Blame it on the economy, a love of fine craftsmanship, an appreciation of beautiful detail or nostalgia for an earlier, more genteel era.

Whatever the reason, homeowners across the United States are recognizing the unique beauty of old homes and restoring them to their former glory,

"Just as in food, where there is a return to artisanal ingredients and good-old fashion cooking, in the design world there is a growing appreciation for the kind of homes that were built before the era of drywall and renovation nation and quick fixes," said Ingrid Abramovitch, the author of the new book "Restoring a House in the City."

From a Federalist town house in New York's Greenwich Village, to a Greek Revival in Charleston's historic district and an 1835 architectural gem in Boston's Beacon Hill, the book features 21 renovations in 10 cities in the United States and Canada, as well as the stories of people who did them, including a fashion mogul, a photographer, a movie set designer and actress Julianne Moore.

"The houses in my book are hand-crafted homes made of gorgeous materials, built by artisans whose skill and workmanship is on the brink of extinction," said Abramovitch, who lives in a Brooklyn brownstone.

She describes taking on a renovation project as an act of bravery, or faith, and the people who do them as "post-post preservationists - renovation's third wave" -- a group who have fled leafy suburbia for a more urbane life in the city.

"You know if you take away the cars and walk up and down the streets in the evening it almost looks like Edith Wharton's New York," Abramovitch said of the quiet streets of her adopted city and the acclaimed American novelist who used New York as a backdrop for her works.

LABOR OF LOVE   Continued...

<p>Ingrid Abramovitch, author of the book "Restoring a House in the City" poses in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Nina Subin/Handout</p>