Restoring an Arts & Crafts Home in California

Posted by Ryan Cook on

For Laura & Harvey Hicks of Fresno, California, finding their dream house was just the first step. Once they found and bought the house, the real work of restoration began. While in the midst of their restoration, they found BLUE BEAR Paint & Urethane Stripper was the solution to the vast amount of paint removal they want to do.

BLUE BEAR: Can you tell us a bit about your house?

LAURA HICKS: Our appreciation for the Arts & Crafts Era philosophy has grown over many years.  Homes and furniture were hand crafted by talented artisans, with particular attention to detail.  We had collected furniture, art pottery, metal works, and textiles from this era, and knew it was time to find the right home to display them.  There are many Craftsmen style houses in Fresno, but most of them are in very poor condition. The houses in good condition were remodeled, updated, or destroyed.  We searched high and low, with a specific check list. We wanted a staircase, natural wood trim, built ins, a fireplace, original windows, an expansive front porch, exterior wood shingles, and hard wood floors. The house we finally purchased met almost all of these specifications.  

BB: What were the challenges or projects that you identified as you were looking at the house?

LH: We saw that this house had been very carefully upgraded, as opposed to updated.  The plumbing, wiring, heat and air conditioning were all modernized, while the integrity of the architecture was upheld. The foundation was sturdy, and the roof would go a few more years. However, all the interior woodwork had been painted several times over the years, but the original hardwood floors were in good condition.  The original windows were intact, even though most of them had been painted shut.  The fireplace and built-in buffet was painted bright red.  We knew it was going to take time and a lot of effort, but we were determined that this house would be restored to its original beauty.

BB: A lot of people are choosing the DIY option for renovations, why did you choose to do this yourselves?

LH: First and foremost, it is money. We have more time than resources.  We find DIY projects cost less, and the finished project offers the pride and satisfaction of a job well done.

The Hicks

BB: You mentioned that most of the woodwork was painted and needed to be refinished, how did you go about selecting a paint stripper?

LH: Our first project was the stairway. We simply tried strippers that were available in the local stores.  Each one was effective, bubbling up the paint so I could scrape it off.  The layers of paint (4 layers) came off one by one, leaving a sticky messy residue that eventually had to be sanded off.  The fumes burned my eyes and made breathing difficult, even with good ventilation.  After watching a few YouTube posts, Harvey bought me a heat gun.  It was effective, but limited to very small areas at a time.  I pressed on, determined to complete the project. After several weeks, I finished stripping the newel post, banister and railing.  We became discouraged and disappointed. The job was much bigger than we anticipated.  Harvey hired a professional team to complete the stripping… at quite a high price.  Then I stained and finished the woodwork.  The result was gorgeous, but we became hesitant to move forward with our vision; to restore our house to its original beauty.

BB: What drew you to BLUE BEAR Paint & Urethane Stripper?

LH: The fireplace brick was painted fire engine red, and the mantle was snow white, unappealing to us.  We just couldn’t look at that sad fireplace any longer.  We asked several contractor friends what they recommended for stripping brick.  Everyone recommended we don’t try, nothing works well.  So we turned to the internet.  We found a YouTube post for Franmar’s BLUE BEAR Paint & Urethane Stripper, and decided to give it a try.

BB: What did you like about the stripper as you started to use it?

LH: Immediately we noticed the low odor, and no toxic fumes.  Then, the product worked amazingly!  We found a layer of grey paint under the red coat.  BLUE BEAR removed both effortlessly!

BB: How did the fireplace project go?

LH: The photos speak for themselves!  After removing the 2 coats of latex paint from the brick, BLUE BEAR quickly removed the White latex from the wood mantle. I sanded the primary stain off the mantle, and re-stained it to a beautiful finish.

















BB: Would you recommend BLUE BEAR to others?

LH: YES!  And we have been praising BLUE BEAR Paint & Urethane Stripper to everyone we talk to. I love this stuff!!!!!!


The Hicks are moving on to their next project, the built in buffet that was painted the same red as the fireplace. They've promised to update us on that project as they go along. I'm sure we'll be sharing more of their restoration work in the future!

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