THE house just
completed on Stonebridge Road here was definitely built
“green” — not that it cleaves to the highest
standards for energy efficiency, or that it was constructed
with only environmentally friendly materials.
But it is perhaps
a singular example of recycling. Everything has been creatively
reused here to design a new house: the site, the classic
Arts and Crafts style, the skills of traditional artisans,
even pieces of other old houses.
Where a modest
1950s ranch house once stood, a local contractor called
Textured Homes, headed by Martin Schwartz, has created a
modern Arts and Crafts-style estate, with 7,000 square feet
of living space set on half an acre.
not only a wine bar, media room and soaking tub, but also
original 1905 Prairie-style stained-glass windows (salvaged
from a historic Chicago residence), Mission-style oak cabinets
(retrieved from a school in the Midwest) and a tiled fireplace
surround (taken from a Craftsman bungalow razed in California).
fascination with the Arts and Crafts style developed by
the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley and Melvin
Hapgood during the early 20th century seems to have intensified
in recent years, said Seth A. Leeb, president of the New
Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
homes designed by the masters are finally receiving due
homage — as with the Stickley Museum at Craftsman
Farm in Parsippany, which offers popular tours and instructional
But also, many
architects are starting to revive the old designs with a
Mr. Leeb himself
is deeply involved with the genre. Like Mr. Schwartz, he
designs Arts and Crafts-style renovations — for old
and new houses, entire houses or single rooms — employing
reproduction materials or salvaged items or both.
one client who bought a run-down bungalow in the Mount Tabor
section of Parsippany; it was an Arts and Crafts house,
but he wanted it to be even more Arts and Crafts,”
Mr. Leeb said. “We took the old beams from the basement,
remilled them and put them back in the house, exposing the
recycled wood. We put vintage recycled hardwood floors in
there too, and I was very careful about the detailing around
the windows, 4- to 5-inch casing to give it the authentic
In other cases,
Mr. Leeb said, his clients are content to let him find reproduction
light fixtures, or design a new room with an Arts and Crafts
Both he and
Mr. Schwartz work within a spectrum of styles that are collectively
known as Arts and Crafts.
Mr. Leeb has
developed a particular expertise in Hapgood houses through
his work on dozens of them in the borough of Mountain Lakes,
where there is a collection of more than 400 in one of the
country’s first “planned developments,”
dating from 1910.
expressed a particular fondness for Craftsman-style architecture,
with its rich use of stone, stucco and chestnut wood.
house, which has five to seven rooms that could be used
as bedrooms, as well as six and a half baths, is listed
with Re/Max Village Square; the asking price is $3.495 million.
That is steep
for this area: only a handful of houses have sold for $3
million or more, although contracts were recently signed
on two more.
But Mr. Schwartz
is counting on resiliency at the top end of the market,
in addition to a “resurgent appetite” for Arts
and Crafts-style homes.
the house at 115 Stonebridge Road as inspired by classic
styles rather than authentic or true-to-period.
When he acquired
the 1905 windows, which have the geometric design of Wright’s
Prairie style and which he, as a former antiques dealer,
got from a home razed some years ago, “that was my
inspiration for the whole house,” he said.
is not an architect, but rather what is known as a designer-builder.
He brings in architects, he explained, to create drawings
for a particular room only after he has chosen the elements
and materials and roughed out the plans.
the Montclair house with new-but-traditional quarter-sawn
oak floors, plaster walls (over Sheetrock and soundproofing)
and new custom Craftsman-style kitchen cabinetry juxtaposed
with an 18th-century farmhouse-beamed ceiling.
beams are a departure,” Mr. Schwartz said, “but
we didn’t want the room to look too perfect because
that’s not in the spirit of Arts and Crafts, either.”
to the spirit, Mr. Schwartz said, he tried to draw in the
outdoors, by giving the house large windows, high ceilings,
an expansive foyer and a party room that opens onto a stone
patio and a wide sloped backyard landscaped with trees,
bamboo and a Craftsman-style trellis.
He nodded to
the Japanesque influence of the architects Charles and Henry
Greene by adding an exotic-looking iron rain chain near
the front porch, hanging below period-conscious copper gutters
said he had also spent weeks mulling over the precise colors
he wanted for the tiles on the hipped roof, and plotting
how they should be laid out on the portion visible from
a second-story landing.
searching for a quality of understated opulence,”
he said, acknowledging that this poses something of an oxymoron,
since the original Arts and Crafts designers — particularly
Stickley — stressed simplicity and functionality of
design, as opposed to Victorian extravagance.
But this kind
of contradiction may be almost inherent in the style. “The
irony has always been there,” said Mr. Leeb, who volunteers
as a docent at Craftsman Farms, and said he had toured vintage
Arts and Crafts homes around the country.
and Crafts style is designed to be as simple as possible,
but also to reflect nature’s glories and enrich us
with artfulness at every turn.”