The Arroyo Grande home of Claire Martin was built in 1938 when Craftsman homes were still at the height of fashion. But this home was, instead, a humble little cottage more evocative of Sears, Roebuck & Co. than of Craftsman-era pioneers Greene & Greene.
Martin purchased the home for herself in 2003 with visions of reinventing it as the Craftsman home that it could have been.
She pored over books about the American Craftsman and English Arts and Crafts movements, gleaning ideas that she communicated to builder Paul Rose of Rose Construction.
Together, they planned the remodel that included enlarging the modestly-sized two-bedroom, one-bathroom home. They punched out the back of the home to add a large handicap-accessible bedroom and bathroom guest suite. A second level was added, encompassing a master bedroom and bath.
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They replaced the small detached garage with a large three-car garage, over which they added a one-bedroom apartment where Martin’s stepdaughter and her boyfriend now live.
Adding Craftsman character to the home was just as important to Martin as adding space. Rose and his crew constructed pilasters, or pillars, in front of the home. The house is now clad in a mix of materials including wood, brick and redwood shingles. They gave the roof a steeper pitch as well as the deep, bracketed overhangs typical of Craftsman homes. The interior was revamped with exposed beams and wood trim.
Whenever possible, Martin wanted to preserve materials from the original home. Straight-grained cedar salvaged from the original roof was reused for window and door trim. The original owner of the home was a brick mason, so bricks taken from an old garden path, as well as piles of bricks abandoned for decades in the backyard were used on the front porch and pilasters. She retained the cobalt blue tile and rose-colored fixtures in the original bathroom, and went as far as purchasing a rose-colored commode to replace the standard white one.
In the Craftsman spirit, Martin wanted to use local artisans whenever possible. Much of the woodwork was hand-milled onsite by Rose. The iron stair railing and side gate were forged by Oceano artisan Chris Schroeder. His sinuous floral motifs are perhaps a little more ornate than the more austere Craftsman aesthetic, but Martin has no qualms.
“I told him to use his imagination and come up with something that he liked,” she said.
She took the same easygoing approach with her tile installer Rod Gibson of Quality Tile. Among his inspired designs was the shingle-style method of setting the tile in the master bathroom shower, which was inspired by the home’s shingle siding.
Martin strayed from the Craftsman philosophy in her desire for a modern, open floor plan. Also, she favors eclectic interiors and boldly mixed pieces of different eras and styles, keeping the overall look minimalistic.
Although Martin has collected a few pieces of Craftsman-style furniture, most of her furnishings are family heirlooms. She was careful to allot enough space for her grandmother’s baby grand piano in the living room. Her great aunt’s Hoosier cabinet has an honored spot in the den. She also proudly displays original paintings by her father, Albert C. Martin, a well-known Southern California architect, as well as by her brother, David Martin.
The remodel was finally complete in 2005.
“I kind of planned and built it in stages. The project took on a life of its own,” said Martin. “But I love how it turned out -- wonderful, airy, spacious and very comforting.”