French Pear Bathroom, His and Hers


This home is in the Rancho Santa Fe/Fairbanks Ranch area. It is a Country Ranch Traditional style that the family wanted to change to have more of a Country French feeling. The first project was a French china cabinet in walnut that I designed and built. After delivering the china cabinet they loved it so much and asked if I would help design their master bedroom. 

For the master bathroom they wanted a "His and Hers" sink, a surround for the bathtub area and a linen cabinet. For the vanities I chose French pear, which comes from the French Alps, from old pear orchards that were dying and being taken out. It is beautiful wood; dense, live edge pieces of solid wood. I purchased plenty of slabs so everything was a match. With live-edge lumber it is difficult to determine the amount needed because the slabs vary so much in thickness and width, unlike conventional lumber where there isn't much variance. 

Each piece in the bathroom was designed with different details and finishes. The vanities, as I said, are pear wood, natural color with a light glaze to highlight the details. The tub surround is curly maple with a light aniline dye, distressed, with a hint of paint on the edges and glazed, with a hand-carved floral design. The linen cabinet is made of big-leaf maple, with a light aniline dye, a distressed, painted and crackle finish, with a hand-carved basket of wildflowers.

It's hard to explain the amount of pleasure I get in coming up with a design, finding the right materials, building, finishing, and installing the projects. It's difficult work but I really enjoy it. I feel very fortunate to work with so many really nice people, and these clients made me feel like a part of their family when I was there. 

Above: Tub Surround

Above:  Linen Closet


In My Garden: Fall is upon us


Fall is upon us but it's not the time to put your garden tools away. In fact, fall, winter and spring are really great times for vegetable gardens.

First prep the garden bed with plenty of compost, worm castings and mix a few shovels of cottonseed meal and alfalfa meal into the soil to boost the nitrogen, potassium and potash. Try to prep your bed(s)s one or two weeks before planting and water the bed(s) twice a week to help the soil balance itself out, because digging always upsets the natural balance of bacteria necessary for plants to assimilate the nutrients in the soil. Prepping a week or so ahead of your planting schedule will give the soil time to recover from the intrusiveness of your dig. 

I usually start almost everything in flats that I keep in my greenhouse until the plants are three to four inches high. They should have a good root system by then. You can use your patio, garage, or window inside the house in a similar way, anyplace with good natural light. When you finally take them outside be sure to let the plants get used to full sunlight by placing them somewhere outside that gets only a couple hours of sun at first, and then over the next week slowly increase the exposure to full sun.

Now is the time to plant lettuce, arugula, kale, cabbage, garlic, onions, scallions, broccoli, cilantro, parsley, peas, fava beans, and broccoli raab, just to name a few of the fall vegetables.

Above: Lettuce "starts"

Above: My new cucumber plants in my greenhouse.

Above and below: Broccoli raab plants just starting to peek through the soil.

Above: Young celery plants

Above: Young cilantro plants

Above: Protecting my Snow Pea's young sprouts from the crows, who love to pull the little sprouts up for fun!



A Fantastic Entryway in Rancho Santa Fe, CA

This entry is in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, next to the original Rancho Santa Fe Golf Course, and it turned out really beautiful. The scene is of a large California live oak tree with four female quail carved into the wood at the base of the tree and a colorful male quail, done in my fused-glass technique, on the lookout in the branches above. There are also a couple of mourning doves in the fused glass in the uppermost branches.

Above: This is the best photo I could get of the transom above the door. 

Above: Three of the female quail

Above: The fourth female quail

Above: The male quail as a fused glass art piece, incorporated into the wood branch of the oak tree

This peaceful scene is not unusual to come across on golf courses with plentiful canyons nearby in Southern California. 

The heavily carved solid walnut door is about 10 feet wide and 12 feet tall including the transom, and it's over 3" thick with 1/2" carved, fused glass panels integrated into the doors, side lights and transom. This makes for a seamless design, with the door handles, inside and out, carved as part of the branches, assimilating the parts together to become one.

I have added more photos below, but pictures never do justice to let you feel the size and scope of the art piece.

Above: You can see the door handle that I carved to look like one of the tree branches, incorporating it into the design.

Above: Close up of the two mourning doves in the upper branches.



Neo-Classic Kitchen in Del Mar, CA (and a rant about MDF!)

For some reason most woodworking companies have a different standard for kitchen cabinets than for other furniture and built in furniture. This evolving construction has led designers and homeowners to believe they are getting high-end quality construction when in fact the opposite is true. MDF (medium-density fibreboard or particle board) whether with a melamine, painted or wood veneer surface is not quality construction. It has no integral strength and does very poor around water, and anything made out of it will not last. You will never see anything made of MDF as an antique in the future. Woodworkers started making products out of it because it is the least expensive material you can get. Wood core plywood and solid woods are many times more durable than anything else, not to mention the beauty of solid woods. Quality construction furniture and built-ins last many generations.

Above and below are photo's of such a kitchen, made for a client of mine who really cared about quality for her custom home in Del Mar, CA. She enjoyed the feeling of being in rooms full of quality workmanship. The Neo-Classic kitchen is made of solid cherry and detailed in ebony. The curved cherry doors, door panels, drawers, and glass add dimension. The custom-made matching door and drawer pulls were all made in my shop. The wine and plate racks add functionality.

I wanted to add a bit of a nature theme to the kitchen so I added my artistic touches to some of the glass. There is a display cabinet with glass shelves and lighting and a glass cabinet door with Torry pine branches carved into the glass. In the breakfast nook I designed and built a cozy booth, and a table with a 1-1/2" thick glass table top. I carved deeply into the bottom of the glass Torry pine branches. Nature is one of my favorite subject matters to incorporate into my work, and by simply adding some hand-carved glass with tree branches, I achieved the look and feel that my client and I were striving for.

This is a kitchen that will get more beautiful with age and become a future antique for the next lucky homeowner who moves into this house.


Country French Entryway

There are a lot of things I like about my work. To be able to express my creative abilities by designing, building, finishing, and installing a project are just a few of those things. But at the top of the list is getting to know the people I am designing and building things for. So many are so very nice to work with and that makes me feel lucky to be doing what I do. 

This entryway was for one of those families. I went on to design and build other doors, mantels, bathroom cabinets, book shelves, chandeliers and architectural details. My clients have a special love for Country French design and want to surround themselves in that rich tradition.

The entry is the first thing that greets you when you arrive at a home and I want that entry to express who the family is. This entry is made of beautiful warm solid walnut, it's very thick with heavy 18th century moulding and carved details. The matching side lites have fused glass that I made in my kiln. I leaned the technique by experimenting for over a year to replicate some 18th century antique glass panels that I saw in another client's home. We made the heavy ornamental tip hinges and the lock and handle set came from France. I made all the detailing the same, inside and out, so that you enjoy the entry from the moment you walk in the door to the times you walk through the home. From the kitchen to the living room to the bedrooms you pass the entryway and can enjoy it's beauty continuously.

Above: All the carving you see is done by me, by hand.  

Above:  More hand carving.

Above:  Fused glass design done in my kiln. 

Above: View from the inside. Just as beautiful as the outside.