Colonial Revival Architecture in Litchfield Connecticut

My home from 1970 – to 1976 !  I never appreciated Litchfield while I lived there, having moved from Greenwich Connecticut, I though it was the dullest place in America!  Litchfield is actually an beautiful Colonial town founded in 1719.  A prominent town in the 18th C.,  Litchfield was the 4th largest settlement in the state and home of possibly the first law school in the United States.

The town’s fortunes fell as it wasn’t well suited for industry but in the late 19th C.  it became fashionable once again as a vacation area.   The Colonial Revival style of architecture was fashionable.  The town is chock full of beautifully built homes with white paint and white shutters.  Perfect for the Martha Stewart and the Shabby Chic crowd, Litchfield once again became popular in the 90″s as New Yorkers discovered the town.

Colonial Revival Architecture

My mother always called our house a “Victorian” but its really a nice example of “Colonial Revival” or “Dutch Colonial Revival” architecture.  This style is a so called “American” style although its based in European and Georgian styles.

Identifying Characteristics

The “Gambrel” roof – designed to create more space for the upper floor

White paint with black shutters

Pairs of windows

Symmetrical plan yet porches like this were common

Although the style took cues from Colonial America – by the end of the 19th C – machined dimensional lumber and the ability to purchase siding, shutters and other items that formerly had to be hand carved – allowed the Revival style to be more elaborate and fanciful.

Large front doors often with elaborate sidelights

The interiors are also much grander  than Colonial homes with 9 or 10 foot ceilings, intricate mouldings and fireplaces

This old house always needed a paint job – much to the chagrin of my Step Father who spent hours fixing it up.  Also an energy hog – those windows were super leaky – no insulation – a grand candidate for a full renovation!


Corbels and Kneebraces – Patterns for Lumber – Framing Lumber

Typical Corbel Patterns available from Lumber Yards

These are the patterns that are typically available from most lumber yards.  These cuts can be made on the end of larger beams such as a 4×6 or 8×12. Many times, when larger (bigger than 2x)wood is used and left exposed, it can be nice to add a distinctive pattern on the ends.


Typical Knee Brace Patterns available from Lumber Yards

Knee braces are used to brace a vertical post to a horizontal beam.  Much like the corbel patterns, these patterns can be cut at the limber yard and used as exposed lumber on the house.


Wood – The Real Stuff – Quarter Sawn Oak

 Wood … seems we have forgotten what real wood looks like these days !  Everything is made of chip board, MDF, plywood or plastic.  Often we see poor imitation or  microscopically thin veneer (like a skin) over plywood that is used for most cabinets.

 The Arts and Crafts  Movement appreciated wood – oak to be specific – quarter sawn oak to be even more specific.  Stickley, Morris and others produced the beautiful, sturdy furniture of quarter sawn oak.

It looks like this:



Continue reading “Wood – The Real Stuff – Quarter Sawn Oak”

Ojai Land – Looking to build your dream home in Ojai?

by Otis Bradley

Thinking about building your dream home in Ojai ? …. good choice.

Ojai is an amazingly unique little town nestled in the mountains just 15 miles from the Ventura coastline.

Facts about Building in Ojai

First of all the City of Ojai is only about 4.5 square miles with a population of about 7,500 – Ojai has it’s own building department

The greater Ojai area, including Meiners Oaks, The East End and Upper Ojai are all in the “unincorporated” area of Ventura County – which has its own building department.

In addition to the rules and regulations from the building departments – it is important to also consider the following:

  1. Fire Department
  2. Utility availability – electric, water, gas, phone, internet
  3. Roadways – or lack of approved roadways
  4. Scenic restrictions
  5. Seismic issues and fault lines
  6. Native American restriction Continue reading “Ojai Land – Looking to build your dream home in Ojai?”

Home Construction – Design – Draw – Permit – Budget and Start !

by Otis Bradley

“Hi Otis, we finally found the house we’ve been searching for!  Its fantastic, amazing !  We bought it !  We want to fix it up (a few bathroom remodels, a kitchen remodel, pop out a little two story addition, replace the rotten foundation – etc etc).  We’ld love to have you help us.  How much will it cost and when can you do it !

Oh yeah we move in next month and we need it done right away cause we sold our old house and we are moving in !”


Click on above image for a larger version.

We love to get these calls !  Everybody is excited.  Things are happening.  Ideas are germinating.  And a whole new life is about to begin.  Often times it takes a while before everyone realizes that construction projects (like any project) do follow a logical path of planning – pricing – permitting – agreeing – and commencing. Continue reading “Home Construction – Design – Draw – Permit – Budget and Start !”