Mark and Joy Warren weren’t always Arts and Crafts enthusiasts. It took buying a bungalow for them to embrace the style – and the philosophy behind it.
The Warrens loved the century-old house in the Village of East Aurora from the moment they saw it. After moving in, they were curious to learn more about its architectural style and history, and to explore ways of restoring it – “to do right by the house,” as Mark put it.
“It is in both of our natures to do the research, to learn more about where we live. That’s what we did when we bought this home. It just spoke to us when we saw it for the first time. The house really brought us to the Arts and Crafts movement in that way,” Mark said.
For starters, floral wallpaper and shag carpeting had to go. Furnishings, artwork and artifacts befitting the home’s Arts and Crafts style were added gradually.
“We kind of took it from 1975 to 1911,” said Mark, a lawyer for M&T Bank and chairman of East Aurora’s Historic Preservation Commission.
It wasn’t easy. “Mark did all the hard work. He stripped all the wallpaper in the entrance way, in the dining room, all of the hallways, all of the upstairs bedrooms – scrubbing the walls with the glue on them, picking out the paints and perfect wallpaper. He’s just so good at it,” said Joy, who works as a front desk clerk at the Roycroft Inn.
Their bungalow, which is included in Sunday’s Bungalow House Tour in East Aurora, has come a long way.
Found here now are Bradbury & Bradbury wallcoverings in Arts and Crafts patterns and colors. New Stickley furniture, including the iconic tufted Leopold’s chair in deep red leather with matching ottoman. Arts and Crafts-style beds from Warren Hile Studio of California. Some antiques, including a Limbert rocking chair, a Lakeside Craft Shops bookstand and Roycroft American Beauty vases. And area rugs on original hardwood floors, including Oriental rugs, patterned rugs from Pendleton in Native American-inspired designs and a Navajo rug Mark bought in Arizona.
“There is a historic connection between Arts and Crafts and Navajo weaving. If you look at old photos, that’s what was used on the floors,” he said.
The Warrens learned that the 2,500-square-foot house was built in 1911 by the Roycrofters for leather craftsman Frederick “Fritz” Kranz, who had been recruited by Elbert Hubbard, the businessman and philosopher who established the Roycroft Arts and Crafts community in East Aurora.
Check out a photo gallery of the Warrens’ home: http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=BN&Date=20121019&Category=PHOTOGALLERIES&ArtNo=101909999&Ref=PH
Kranz produced fine leather goods for Roycroft as well as for the Cordova Shop in Buffalo. A collection of a half dozen, hand-crafted small leather purses, designed by Kranz, is arranged under a glass-top display coffee table in the living room. The Warrens purchased them for about $100 each online or from antique shops, buying just what they needed for the display.
“I viewed it as a kind of repatriation – linking that craftsmanship with the historic home of the craftsman,” Mark said.
Over the past decade, the Warrens – whose interest prompted them to attend the Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Conference in Asheville, N.C., earlier this year – have gradually replaced their existing furniture with Arts and Crafts-style pieces, passing along or storing some of the hand-me-downs for their children. Their blended family includes seven of them – ages 12 to 27 – with their daughter Ava, 12, now the only one living full time at home.
As for their current collection: “It’s our hope and expectation that these will be future heirlooms in our family.”
A few other highlights of the home, purchased for $200,000 in 2001:
• Monk heads can be found on the chandelier on the front porch, the fireplace andirons in the living room, the mirror in the foyer and the slag glass chandelier in the dining room.
A set of Seven Deadly Sins monk heads also is displayed on a ledge in the dining room. These are not Roycroft pieces but rather old pieces the Warrens have purchased.
“When we became interested in Arts and Crafts and started looking at some of the artifacts from the era, these monk head pieces really caught our attention. Arts and Crafts is not one homogeneous style,” Mark said.
The Warrens recognized an affinity between the Roycroft styles and these monk head figures, with their Gothic flavor.
• The path leading to the front porch is made from repurposed green-colored stone salvaged from M&T Plaza downtown about two years ago. Mark bought a truckload of it from Buffalo ReUse for $1,500.
• Roycroft artwork and craft pieces are found throughout by both past and present artisans.
• The remodeled upstairs bath features a reproduction cast-iron claw-foot tub with a white curtain surrounding it. The toilet and vanity base, topped with granite, also are reproduction pieces.
The home is still a work in progress, the Warrens said. They are exploring possibilities for the kitchen. Mark plans to build a greenhouse. And they plan to add curtains to the sheers-covered windows. In the Arts and Crafts style, of course.
Having once lived in a more ornate Victorian home, Mark describes transitioning to an Arts and Crafts bungalow this way: “It’s like slipping into more comfortable clothes. That’s what Arts and Crafts is all about – comfort, functionality, things that are made well.”