- “Architectural Treasures of Early America,” by the National Historical Society. There are 20 volumes in the series; the books include working drawings and dimensions.
- “A Field Guide to American Homes,” by Virginia and Lee Macalester. Individual styles are broken into components.
- “Period Details,” by Martin and Judith Miller
- “Elements of Style — A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural Details From 1485 to the Present,” edited by Stephen Calloway and Elizabeth Cromley
As other sources of inspiration, Crasi suggested looking for ideas, and taking photographs, in old neighborhoods built before the Depression and at estate sales and open houses. He also recommended architectural tours, which are conducted in most cities, and Professional Builder magazine’s annual tour of Europe, where all of the ideas originally came from.
The next step involves critiquing the details, and that’s “all about scale, massing, getting the right pieces in the right places,” he said.
Don’t try to force Tudor details on a colonial home or impose French country design where it doesn’t work, he advised. And make sure that the scale and proportion feel right.
Suppliers may be able to suggest alternative materials that cost less, he said, and subcontractors may have some pointers on how to help simplify labor.
Crasi said that fireplaces make a good focal point in a room, and he showed how a builder can save $4,700 on this expensive detail by using one made of metal for $2,300 instead of masonry for $7,000. Two-foot by six-foot columns are another design favorite of his. When made of drywall, their cost comes down from $1,000 to $175.
The look of wood wall paneling can be obtained by coating drywall and painting it out as trim, he added.
Lita Dirks, of Lita Dirks & Company in Englewood, Colo., devotes her efforts to decorating model homes. “You don’t need expensive Henredon furniture,” she said. “You need a good knockoff that’s less expensive.”
“Look for memory points,” she said, “a spot in the room that makes somebody comfortable in the model, an area that they can focus on.”
For lighting, Dirks said she shops at companies like Progress. For flooring, and popular products such as distressed wood and bamboo, she goes to www.bruce.com or www.mannington.com.
Dominick Tringali, of Dominick Tringali Architects in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., recommended L.J. Smith as “a great resource” for wrought-iron railing.
Tringali said that he is a big advocate of designing with alternative materials and finding them as stock items. “You can get that million dollar look with synthetic materials,” he said.
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