Renovation Ideas - Historical Craftsman Project Part 1

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Renovation Ideas and Remodeling a Historical Craftsman

I was talking to interior designer, Karen Vidal of Design Vidal, a few weeks back about remodeling ideas for a historical craftsman home. She is an expert at restoring historical homes and has many years experience working in design and construction. Her latest project is a charming craftsman house in Los Feliz (Los Angeles), California, that needs a handful of updates to bring it back to its original glory.

Over the next few months, we are going to document the progression of the remodel and Karen is going to be offering remodel and design tips for specific rooms in the home. Today we are sharing the before pictures for the first post in the Renovation Ideas series with Design Vidal.

Renovation Ideas and Remodeling a Historical Craftsman Living Room

LAMPS PLUS: You have designed quite a few historical and Craftsman homes in Los Angeles, but really fell in love with this Los Feliz Craftsman. What makes this home so unique and special?

KAREN VIDAL: I think I fall in love with all the homes I design! The more I see the potential - that it's a place that I can truly transform - the better. This project is that kind of project; it feels like a home from back east with funny angles, the wide front porch, and the upstairs sleeping porch. It just sucks you in with its charm.

LAMPS PLUS: What is your vision for the design of the home?

KAREN VIDAL: I see it as a family home with a farmhouse vibe. I am opening the kitchen up to the dining room and creating a counter between the two spaces so when someone is cooking they are not cut off from everything else that is happening. That's a big difference from how it was when we started.

The other radical re-do is the upstairs bathroom; I am still in the same footprint, but I have moved everything around. We built a large separate shower and am putting in a double sink. It's the only bathroom for the 3 bedrooms upstairs, so it really has to work!

Both spaces will showcase lovely tile with quite a bit of added detail - deco liners, quarter round trim - details that will give it a vintage vibe and of course amazing bathroom and kitchen lighting fixtures.

Meanwhile, in terms of function everything will be totally updated - all new plumbing valves and fixtures, lighting with lots of separate switching and dimmers, lots of outlets - so it's the best of vintage charm blended with modern functionality.

Renovation Ideas and Remodeling a Historical Craftsman Dining Room

LAMPS PLUS: When remodeling Craftsman style homes, what special considerations do you make for this particular architectural style?

KAREN VIDAL: The finish choices are key: color, tile material, light fixtures, the style of moulding around doors and windows. These are the elements that are really going to establish the "Craftsman" look.

Renovation Ideas and Remodeling a Historical Craftsman Kitchen

LAMPS PLUS: What is the general rule of thumb for knowing when building permits are required during a remodel?

KAREN VIDAL: Generally, in Los Angeles, you need a permit for everything that isn't just cosmetic. They have some general "remodel" permit designations if you are designing a kitchen or bathroom and only changing out finishes. More extensive work requires drawings to be submitted and reviewed in order to get the permit. The City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) website has all the information on permits. If you live outside Los Angeles, check with your local city agency regarding permits.

Renovation Ideas and Remodeling a Historical Craftsman Office

LAMPS PLUS: Developing a budget for a complete home remodel can seem very overwhelming. How do you approach the budgeting process?

KAREN VIDAL: Experience! We have done this so much we have it down, but there was a huge learning curve. Now we have a budget form that we have developed and we keep a running job actual so we know where we are at all times.

Renovation Ideas and Remodeling a Historical Craftsman Guest Bedroom

LAMPS PLUS: What is your advice for hiring and working with contractors?

KAREN VIDAL: Make sure you go and see finished jobs, talk to previous clients, check out their license online with the Contractor's Board, make sure you can communicate easily and share a vision - you will be working together for some time and it's always easier to work with someone you like.

Also, consider working with a designer! We are not a luxury, but a necessity! I know that I save my clients time and money by knowing what they need to provide the contractor and when. I also establish the look of the job and make sure everything is conforming during the renovation. I am able to purchase materials at a discounted price. I talk to the contractor about any issues that arise - aesthetic or budgetary.

Renovation Ideas and Remodeling a Historical Craftsman Bathroom

LAMPS PLUS: Are all contractors required to have a license for their particular trade? If not, what types of construction professionals must have a license to perform their trade?

KAREN VIDAL: General contractors have a General license, bond and worker's comp. Depending on the general contractor, he may also work with subcontractors who have their own license for their trade - commonly plumbers and electricians. But the general contractor is ultimately responsible for the work of everyone on the job.

Renovation Ideas and Designing a Historical Craftsman Backyard

LAMPS PLUS: What is the next step in the renovation process?

KAREN VIDAL: Things will start to close up. I will finish all of my rough work, framing electrical, plumbing, and start to put up drywall. We will begin prepping the bathroom for the tile, and the cabinets will start getting fabricated.

Thanks Karen! Stay tuned for tips on remodeling the bathroom next and also be sure to check out her prior interview, Tips for Remodeling and Restoring Historical Homes with Design Vidal.


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  • Looks great - excited to watch this project evolve!

  • The home has really interesting details and room spaces - good bones. Can't wait to see how this project gets completed!

Renovation Ideas - Historical Craftsman Project Part 1