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Fun With Himmelis!

Posted on April 07, 2015 by Kari Streib | 0 comments

If you have been on Pinterest, Etsy or have visited any flea market in the past year, you have probably seen a himmeli.  You might not recognize the name but the distinct minimalist geometric shape is hard to forget.  Despite the recent popularity of himmelis, they have been around for quite some time.   Himmelis originated as a traditional Finnish Christmas mobile decoration.  The first himmelis were made of straw and hung above the dining table to ensure a successful rye harvest the next year. The ornate mobiles would be hung around Christmas time and would stay into spring. 

   

This past holiday season Croft House hung its first window displays.  Himmelis were an easy choice for the display because of how perfectly their clear lines and distinct design accent our furniture.  The ornaments make for a fun craft project and are easy to build, so needless to I was very excited for this DIY. The list of supplies to make a himmeli is short. All it takes is: 

- Paper Straws

- 30 Gauge Wire

- Gold Spray Paint

- Scissors

There are several tutorials online, here is one of my favorites.

We stayed late, ordered pizza and twisted wire until our fingers hurt.  Once we finished placing the cardboard straws into their final shapes, I sprayed each himmeli with two coats of gold spray paint.  The ornaments were then hung from the ceiling at various heights in each of our front windows.

When the holidays ended, it was time to take down the window display.  I loved the himmelis so much and such a great time making them that I refused to let them go to waste.  They were worth repurposing, so I decided to recycle them and use them as air plant holders.  Air plants are low maintenance as they do not require soil to grow, they get all of their nutrients through their leaves and require minimal sunlight.  My covered back patio was the perfect home for my repurposed himmelis.  To add a little more weight to the ornaments I hung them with hemp twine.  I only bought a few air plants to start but the patio will not be finished until every himmeli has an air plant! 

 

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Don't Look Down

Posted on March 31, 2015 by Riley Rea | 0 comments

Who doesn't love a ladder?  I mean seriously, one of life's simple pleasures is climbing a ladder.  I remember the excitement as a kid when Dad would bust out the ladder - you knew sh*t was going down, or up rather.

Reclaimed Oak and Powder Coated Steel Ladder, Encinitas CA

So recently when a client asked me to create a custom ladder for his beach house I was immediately intrigued.  This ladder would be located in a loft style master bedroom as an access to the roof deck 15 feet above - so the piece would need to be both strong and handsome (like its maker! High five... no? **sigh**). I headed to the shop and got out my notebook.

Being located at the beach, I knew that a wood frame would need to be very bulky in order to withstand the harsh salt air, so I opted for a powder coated steel frame which would allow for a much sleeker design.  Once that was decided, I realized that I could slightly overbuild the tread rungs and use them as a bulletproof substrate for a nice reclaimed wood tread.  This would allow me to incorporate a beachy wood vibe without the drama of dealing with a wood joint (more about that below.)

But what about wet feet?  Problem. That wouldn't be good on a slick piece of wood,  I thought as I started welding the frame.

Video of Frame Welding

 About an hour into the build I remembered the old wooden step ladder my mother kept next to the washer when I was young. It had simple dado cuts on the top of each tread that would give your foot traction.  Bingo. This finalized the design.  Excitement kicked in, speed welding commenced, frustration caused by stupid mistakes from speed welding took over. Tools were thrown.  Lunch.


Welded Steel Frame Complete!
 

Hangry (Hungry + Angry) Welding Monster

After a bowl of beef stew I was a real person again, and quickly finished the frame.  Next step was selecting the right wood for the treads.  This was a no brainer.  It needed to be straight, hard, and interesting to look at (**giggles**). Quarter sawn oak is altogether extremely hard, straight, and once finished has beautiful "rays" unlike most other species. I found some salvaged oak we had purchased from the south about a year ago and got to cutting. The table saw blade was overdue for sharpening and the cutting caused a bit of smoke - which, when cutting oak, always smells like popcorn. Snack.


Reclaimed Oak - With Dado Cuts For Tread

It was a saturday afternoon and during my snack break I received an urgent text message from my father explaining that I had not yet switched my defense on my fantasy football team. Panic. 

I opened the football app on my phone, but as I had been listening to the new Phantogram album on repeat since I left the house - my phone sputtered and died. Crisis.

Luckily Maria had left the office computer on and after some debate I went with the Bills.   Now that the frame was welded and the wood cut I quickly dry fit the pieces, painted and finished the frame and treads, and assembled the ladder. Done.

At this point I was a little late for a barbecue, so I packed my things and started shutting down the shop. As I was shutting off the lights I noticed that one the walls in the shop had an old unused bracket that jutted out about 6 inches from the wall.  Ever get a new toy?  Before I new what I was doing, the ladder was up against the wall and wedged between the ledge and the wall. Up I went.


Ladder Wedged Against Wall - Over 200lbs! Do Not Try At Home!!
 

Stay High As I Want To Be
#DONTLOOKDOWN

I am always amazed at how seemingly innocuous items from the past make their way into the design ether.  It's this phenomenon that has prompted me to slowly replace ordinary things (like crappy scissors, lamp cords, coasters etc...) with well designed and high quality alternatives.  They also have the added benefit of lasting longer and working better.  It's a way of life that has allowed me to appreciate ingenuity and see art in unexpected places.  With that intention in mind I delivered the ladder to the house, watched the contractor install it, and received a happy handshake from our client.

Reclaimed Oak and Steel Ladder
 EXTRA CREDIT - 
 

Wood expands and contracts with heat and moisture changes which deteriorates the fibers in wood, which causes joints to fail.  Coastal climates fluctuate rapidly, and combined with the salt in the air, accelerates the damage to the wood fibers. 

Steel corrodes under these conditions as well, which is why steel must be powder coated to protect it from the elements.  Powder coating is a process in which powdered enamel paint is electrically bonded to steel and then baked on at a high temperature to create a skin that forms around the metal.

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The Granada Collection

Posted on March 23, 2015 by Roxy Socarras | 0 comments

The idea of incorporating marble into our furniture happened organically. We stumbled upon a gorgeous piece of round marble and decided to create a modern steel base for it. The end result was a classic and versatile side table suitable for any style home.

 

Introducing a new material into our furniture was a risk, but the response we received from our customers reaffirmed that the mix of sophisticated marble and edginess of industrial steel was a design score. The positive feedback was enough to convince us that we needed to bring a coffee table version into our showroom.

Since we introduced our Granada Collection, designers and customers alike have incorporated this style into custom pieces. We currently have a round honed Carrara marble coffee table based off of our Granada side table in the works with a custom flat steel base. Creating custom furniture based on our existing designs is simple. The process begins with an idea, translates into a sketch, then travels to our workshop in Downtown LA where the furniture is constructed.

The Granada Collection will be growing so check in for new pieces coming soon! 

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Why We Love Parota

Posted on March 11, 2015 by Alex Segal | 0 comments

One of our favorite Croft House pieces is the Parota Live Edge Table.  A solid piece of wood with beautiful natural edges is impossible to replicate.

We aim to create a contrast by taking the organic shape of the slab and displaying it on top of our angular, modern legs.  The natural wood and steel combination is a Croft House staple, but in spite of this the table top is still a departure from Croft House’s reclaimed background.

At Croft we pride ourselves on using the best materials we can get our hands on, often old growth timbers salvaged from US architecture. In the case of Live Edge slabs we are especially selective, so as to be certain that our material comes to us in a responsible and sustainable fashion.

This leads us to our slab of choice, Parota. Though Parota slabs are not taken from fallen trees, the species is incredibly common throughout parts of North and Central America. This grants us access without having to import exotic slabs from all over the world. In fact, our own supplier works locally here in Southern California.

On top of that, the tree grows very quickly. So, not only will it produce a useable slab quickly, but the species is able to replenish in numbers at a sustainable rate. This has resulted in Parota becoming a very popular, and widely accepted, species for furniture use.

Lastly, the sheer size of the tree itself is a characteristic of sustainability. The trunk can reach upwards of nine feet in diameter, and the branches can grow as thick as five feet in diameter. 

Sustainability isn’t the only aspect of the species that has drawn our favor though.  Not only is Parota a hardwood, but it’s also incredibly light relative to its strength. Not a detail to be overlooked when it comes to table tops!

The material offers a rare consistency in colors as well.  Unlike many slabs, and most of the salvaged lumber that Croft House uses, Parota has minimal variation in the color of both the heartwood and the sap wood. This helps to prevent surprises in tone.

If the reasoning above isn’t enough, then consider this; Croft House has access to Parota slabs that are upwards of 4’ wide. No book matching needed to have the big beautiful table that you’ve always dreamed of.

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Custom Work: A Mid-Century Sofa

Posted on February 12, 2014 by Kari Streib | 0 comments

 

Creating a custom piece of furniture with a customer is a fulfilling experience, so naturally we were excited when our client approached us.  Our client had been searching for a sofa but couldn’t seem to find the perfect piece to complete his space.  We were more than happy to design and custom build his dream sofa but there was more work to do!

Understanding a customer’s design aesthetic is a fundamental step in the conceptual phase of any design.  We asked him to provide images of his space and some inspirational pictures to help explain his personal style.  Our customer had envisioned a mid-century modern inspired sofa with clean, modern lines.  Once the concept of the sofa design was established it was time to test out the sofas we have in our showroom to decide on fill.   Our Hayworth Sofa has plush 100% down-filled back cushions and functional foam inserts in the seat cushions. Our client loved the comfort and feel of this combination of materials so we decided to incorporate this into his sofa.  Once we had decided on the fill it was time to discuss upholstery! We chose a textile from Robert Allen’s Home Collection that would provide the durability and texture desired.  The boucle yarns in navy, charcoal and pewter give the fabric a texture that is rugged yet still soft to the touch. 

Finally it was time to discuss the sofa frame.  After rounds of sketches with Mark we were able to finalize a design. 

 

 

 

The solid hardwood frame we chose spans both the length and width of the sofa and continues up the back to provide support and visual interest. The frame is finished off with tapered oak legs.  A clear finish was applied to show off as much of the beautiful, natural wood grain as possible (and it popped next to the fabric!)

Once all technical drawings were completed it was time to send the project over to our workshop, located here in downtown Los Angeles.  Production time took about six weeks, but it was well worth the wait to turn our client’s vision from a series of sketches into the focal point of his living room.

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