For Lisa and Patrick Brault, the key to updating their 1911 Craftsman home in a historic Pasadena neighborhood is to balance the home’s original Arts and Crafts flavor with the needs of their modern family.
“We call it ‘livable Craftsman,’ ” says Lisa of their home, which will be open to the public on Nov. 11 in conjunction with Pasadena Heritage Craftsman Weekend. “Not everything has to be authentic. We have a kid and two dogs. We want to be comfortable.”
The couple purchased the five-bedroom, four-bathroom house in 2003 when they were living nearby in Altadena.
“We knew we wanted an old house,” says Lisa, who grew up in West Los Angeles. “I didn’t care whether it was Craftsman or Victorian. I like the features in old homes. I had rose-colored glasses when we toured this house. I stood in the living room and could see the original house.”
Because it had been used as a group home for 20 years, the house’s interiors were all painted an institutional white, including, sadly, the wood details and window casings. Many of the original windows had been replaced with louvers and, outside, the shingles were covered in aluminum siding.
Still, the couple could see themselves living there. “I could visualize it all,” Lisa says. “There was a room downstairs that was perfect for Patrick’s office, and there were four bedrooms upstairs.”
After completely stripping their 1901 Victorian home in Altadena, however, the couple couldn’t face doing it all over again.
“My house is not a museum,” Lisa rationalizes. “We did that to our last house. We stripped every inch of wood in that house.”
The couple decided instead to focus on manageable changes.
On the entry floor, the couple painted the interiors Benjamin Moore Westminster Gold to add warmth and brighten them. In the living room, they combined comfortable traditional furnishings with family heirlooms, furnishings by Pasadena woodworker Mike Devlin, a pair of Stickley chairs from the Rose Bowl Flea Market and Ephraim pottery atop the Batchelder tile fireplace. Upstairs, the bedrooms and den are shrouded by treetops, giving the rooms a treehouse feel.
Doing some of the work themselves, the couple removed the aluminum siding, only to find that many of the shingles had been preserved. New wood windows, custom-made to match the originals, greatly improved the Craftsman feel of the house, along with an antique back door and hardware from Pasadena Architectural Salvage.
Last year, in an effort to streamline some of the awkward room additions that had been implemented over the years, the couple expanded the kitchen and master bedroom, moved the laundry room upstairs and transformed an enclosed porch into a new master bath.
Lisa speaks passionately about the need to support “Pasadena Heritage and our local historians, so that they continue to exist, preserve and track the histories of these beautiful old houses.”
It’s this kind of passion that has prompted the family to open their home to the public. In addition to Craftsman Weekend — Lisa guesses more than 2,000 people came through on a 2009 tour — the Braults recently hosted 100 people for their niece’s wedding. They also host a variety of fundraisers and school events, including their son’s high school mock trial team on weekends.
“I feel like if you have a big house, you should utilize it,” Lisa adds. “I think we were lucky enough to find ourselves the caretakers of this beautiful home. We have worked so hard to bring back the original charm and to highlight the original craftsmanship. Our home is a piece of art that will still be here long after we are gone. I am happy to share it with others who appreciate the Arts and Crafts revival.”
Pasadena Heritage presents Craftsman Weekend on Nov. 9-11. The Craftsman House Tour features five homes, including two Greene & Greene houses. The weekend will also feature bus and walking tours of historic neighborhoods, a show and sale, workshops and presentations.
What: Craftsman House Tour
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 11
Tickets: $55 and $65