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2 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

Catch fix-it-up fever

INSIDE Publisher Richard G. Ballantine

General Manager

Crunch & Mosey: Activity guide 6 Swig, directs you to fall favorites in Durango





Building Character: Meet five local fixer-uppers who labor with love


Before & After: Homeowners took the old and made it new


Beginning With Finishes: Shop sells natural building materials


Color & Light: Stained-glass artist creates “power pieces”


Blank Plate: Writer tries out new Get Fused! glass workshop

Ken Amundson

Vice President of Newspaper Advertising Paul C. Hay

Director of Sales and Marketing Mark Drudge

Design Manager Brady Sutherlin

Editor/Designer Karla Sluis

Boost: Audit can reveal 28 Energy a house’s mechanical flaws

Photographer Lindsay Abshagen

Advertising Sales Teressa Fenn, Darryl Hunt, Chuck Jillson, Karolann Latimer, Shawna Long, Ralph Maccarone, Amanda Puett, Cora Younie

Come In Handy: A checklist of fall tasks to do around the home before winter



Measure Once: Top 10 DIY mishaps; plus advice from locals

Advertising Design Mitchell Carter, Jennifer Dickens, Janelle Farnam, Michelle Uhl, Tracy Willbanks, Hanah Noland The Durango Herald uses reasonable effort to include accurate and up-to-date information for its special magazine publications. However, all general information comes from a variety of sources and may change at any time for any reason. To verify specific information, refer to the organization or business noted. To see the online version of this guide, click the link at: www.durangoherald.com.

A publication of


18 22

Durango carpenter Aaron Phillips, owner of Artisan Builders, works on a fireplace mantel outside his workshop on Aug. 23. Photo by Lindsay Abshagen

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16,2012 2012 •• 3 Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 3

Tools used for restoring antique furniture hang in Tim Brown’s workshop in Durango.“I like working with my hands,” he said. “That’s the way I was raised.”



Art &Zen

of home maintenance



n old home has layers of personality. In the kitchen of Dana and Steve Wilson’s East Fifth Avenue home, six layers of paint and wallpaper had accumulated over 115 years. The couple debated about the effort it would take to restore the home vs. trying to sell it in a challenging market. In the end, Steve said the home’s multifaceted charm won them over. “We said: ‘We can’t sell it, so let’s make it right.’ ” Many Durango residents are obsessed with new sports equipment or the latest electronic gadgets, but they have a soft spot for old homes. Durango carpenter Aaron Phillips reused original floorboards to create countertops for a Durango house built in 1912: “It is great to reuse something considered trash and make it beautiful and functional again.” The reduce, reuse, recycle mantra is repeated by many remodelers. Kathryn Dobson recently shopped at Handcrafted Home for green products for her 1920s home. “When creating a new house out of an old one, it would be silly to re-do everything and not have it be energy efficient and with nontoxic finishes,” said Dobson. “It’s healthier for everyone: for the contractors and for my

4 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

family who will be living there.” Furniture restorer Tim Brown is a fifthgeneration Durangoan, and he appreciates the history in old homes and furniture. He said his favorite project is to refinish dining room tables. “Everything happens around the dining room table: tears, laughter, celebrations and mourning,” he said. “It is the piece of furniture at the center of every family. I often wonder who sat at a given table, and of the stories that surround it.” Despite the dust and hassles of remodeling, there’s challenge and creative thrill in taking something old and making it new. Stained glass artist Renelle Kathyrn prefers to create abstract designs, but she is inspired by the century-old windows in a East Third Avenue church. “I combine form, function and symbolism. I get into Zen mode and just go.” It took a while for the Wilsons to find the beauty in their diamond-in-the-rough East Fifth Avenue home. “When we first bought it, people would walk in and say it was a really cool house. I started seeing it with new eyes,” said Dana. “Now I love its funky character.” – Karla Sluis

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 5


Swig Crunch & Mosey

Don’t let a long chore list or remodeling projects prevent you from savoring the many delights of fall in Durango

your way into a Durango autumn HAL LOTT/Herald file

Crank out some juice

Sear your tastebuds

It’s not to late to stock up on roasted green chile, a staple of Southwest cuisine. Buy it at Wal-Mart and Albertsons until sell-out. Sutherland Farms’ Green Chile Festival will be held in Aztec today (Sept. 16) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The free event includes Wines of the San Juan and children’s events. Visit www.sutherlandfarms.net for more information. Chile and other local produce can also be purchased at the Durango Farmers Market on Saturday mornings through the end of October in the First National Bank parking lot. Visit www.durangofarmersmarket.com.

Try your hand at the old-fashioned apple press during the 5th annual Apple Days Festival on Oct. 14 at Buckley Park. There will be educational seminars and apples for sale. To donate unsprayed fruit, call La Plata County Extension at 382-6465 for volunteers to come pick your tree.

HAL LOTT/Herald file

Take a color drive

Bring your camera and prepare for a show along the San Juan Skyway loop. Go east from Durango along Hwy 160 and drive through Cortez, Dolores and Rico, ending with a nice lunch in Telluride. Or head north through Durango Mountain Resort and Silverton and stop to soak in the hot springs in Ouray. The aspen groves usually turn color sometime between mid-September and mid-October, depending on elevation and weather. The weekend of Oct. 6-7 is a good bet for beautiful color.

6 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

We can all git along

Take on the adventurous spirit of the Wild West Oct. 4-7 during the Durango Cowboy Gathering. There will be a parade, storytelling in schools, performances by poets and musicians at the Strater Theater, a Cowboy Poet Train, a trail ride and more. Visit www.durangocowboygathering.org for details.

Earn a buck

HAL LOTT/Herald file

Preserve the bounty

Did you produce too much produce? Learn how to can it, dry it or freeze it. The La Plata County Extension Office is offering a hands-on food preservation class held Sept. 18, 20 and 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Florida Room at the fairgrounds. Pre-registration is required. Call 382-6463 for more information.

Hunting for deer and elk is already under way. Archery season began Aug. 25, and the rifle seasons are from Oct. 13-Nov. 18. According to the Division of Wildlife, Colorado is home to about 430,000 deer and 280,000 elk. In local unit 74, buck-to-doe ratios are high this year, so it is possible to find quality bucks in the higher elevation areas.

Gobble a good meal

HAL LOTT/Herald file

Pick a pumpkin

Children can get in costumes early and ride the D&SNG Peanuts The Great Pumpkin Patch Express train Oct. 13, 14, 20 and 21. Children will go wild with a pumpkin patch, Peanuts-costumed characters, trick or treating, haywagon rides, maze, bouncy house, corn pool and more. Visit www. durangotrain.com/events.

Don’t feel like cooking a big holiday meal? Enjoy turkey and homemade pie at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the fairgrounds on Nov. 22.

Drink & be merry

Herald file

Feast your eyes

The 18th annual Autumn Arts Festival will be held Sept. 22-23 on Second Avenue. The event includes 80 booths and artists from across the United States, plus live music, kids’ activities, silent auction and beverages.

The merriment continues today, Sept. 16, during the second day of the Durango Oktoberfest. The consortium of the four local breweries, otherwise known as The Bootlegger’s Society, is teaming up with the Regional Housing Alliance to put on the event, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Main Avenue between 9th and 10th streets. There will be beer from Carvers, Durango Brewing, Ska and Steamworks, traditional German food, polka music and many familyfun activities.

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 7


Come In


Early fall is a good time to get a jump on preparing the home for the harshness of winter. Here are a few seasonal tasks to tackle.

Pipe down

Weakened pipes can become a major problem during severe cold spells. Inspect all exposed pipes for rust, wear and tear, leaks and cracks. Insulate exposed pipes and spigots as well to keep them from freezing and breaking. Just remember: The only cure for a frozen pipe is warming it.

The time is ripe

The first killer frost in Durango is usually in late September. If a hard frost is predicted, you can cover your tomatoes, or you can pick them green. Store them in paper bags indoors until they slowly ripen. They won’t taste the same as sun-ripened, but they’re good in soups and stews.

Swab the decks

Winterize your deck. After a summer of sun and family barbeques, your deck needs some TLC. Tap in any nails that have risen and repair any rotted or broken wood. Sweep and power-wash the deck to remove any materials or dirt that are stuck in the grains. Finally, stain and seal your wood deck. Don’t forget to properly clean and store outdoor furniture for next year.

Get a clear view

Clean windows on the inside and outside, and clear debris from the tracks. Replace worn or damaged weather stripping and seals. Fall is a good time to install energy-efficient windows for lower heating bills this winter.

Dig in

Late fall (mid- to late-October) is the best time to plant spring bulbs in Durango. If you have problems with deer (tulips are their candy buffet), try planting scilla, daffodils, allium, crocus, dwarf iris, fritillaria, or grape hyacinth.

8 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

Treat tools

Take time to properly clean lawn and garden tools. Clean the surface of debris and sharpen the blades before winter storage. Inspect the lawnmower and consider having it serviced before putting it away.

Don’t leaf it alone

Many people see fallen leaves as trash. This year, think of them as an multi-use organic resource. Save them in bags for use all year as “dry browns” in a layered compost pile. (Avoid raking by vacuuming them off the lawn and shredding them with a lawnmower.) Mound leaves around perennial beds and trees as protective, enriching mulch. Finally, leaves are a free, fun fitness activity for kids, who love to rake them, pile them and jump in them – over and over.

Defend your space

Your first defense against wildfire is to create and maintain a defensible space around your home, and fall is a great time to do it. Remove highly flammable vegetation, brush, firewood and similar material from within at least 30 feet of your home. For details, visit: http:// csfs.colostate.edu/pages/ defensible-space.html. Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 9


Building Character Durango’s older homes can be drafty, creaky, and leaky; but that doesn’t stop locals from investing both labor and love on renovations. Meet five fixer-uppers.

Aaron uses this tool, called a lipped adze, to work wood.

10 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

Aaron Phillips, owner of Artisan Builders, works on a bathroom cabinet in his shop in Durango. LINDSAY ABSHAGEN/Herald photos

Carpenter Aaron Phillips can fluff, buff & transform By Malia Durbano

Durango Living Writer


aron Phillips got most of his training as a carpenter on the job. Growing up on a farm in Montrose, he began helping his dad build everything they needed for the farm. He continued his education by reading articles from good builders in magazines such as Fine Home Building and Fine Woodworking. His favorite book, written back in the ’50s, is called The Efficient Carpenter. Phillips, owner of Artisan Builders, has been a self-employed carpenter in Durango for 10 years. One of his favorite projects was a house on Forest Avenue, originally built in the late 1800s that was completely gutted by fire. “It was fun and challenging to bring something back from an unusable state to a really nice home,” he said. Last winter, he and his crew did a full renovation on a house built in 1912. “It started out as a ‘Fluff and Buff’– just cosmetic work with a new paint job. Then it slowly evolved into a total remodel,” he said. “The house is beautiful now. It has an open floor plan with lots of built-ins and windows.” Phillips pulled up the original oak flooring, tore down some walls and laid the flooring back down, changing the orientation of the boards for a totally different effect, look and feel. They used some pre-made cabinets in the bedrooms, but created a custom corner cabinet for the living room. He created custom countertops out of the old Douglas fir flooring.

“We re-planed, re-surfaced and re-milled the original floorboards to create the countertops,” said Phillips. “It is great to reuse something considered trash and make it beautiful and functional again.” Another home he worked on had already been remodeled three times before he was hired to do it again. It is one of the Fassbinder homes that is now a vacation rental. There were four layers in walls that covered three-quarters of the house: There was the original lathe-and-plaster, then drywall, then a 3/4” layer of tongue-and-groove wood, topped by another layer of drywall. Phillips tore them all out and filled up three dumpsters that each held 40 yards of material. They opened up the floor plan of the house, which was originally chopped up into a bunch of small rooms. New posts and beams were installed where weightbearing walls had been. Phillips chose this method to mimic the look of the era when the house was built. He and his crew moved the kitchen and moved one of the bedrooms. Enlarging two of the bedrooms, they turned a five-bedroom house into one with three larger bedrooms. While doing remodels, Phillips especially enjoys designing and building custom, out-of-the-ordinary pieces for his clients. “I like creating unique pieces that fulfill a specific need and add character to the home.” U

“It was fun and challenging to bring something back from an unusable state to a really nice home.”

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 11


Chris Szczech saves money in ‘trial-and-error’ DIY work By Malia Durbano

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Durango Living Writer

A Chris Szczech points out the dishwasher he installed in his Durango kitchen. Inset: He also refinished the floors in his living room with red oak hardwood. LINDSAY ABSHAGEN/Herald photos

Diane Purdy gutted flaws, remade 129-year-old home By Malia Durbano

Durango Living Writer


n 1992, when Diane Purdy bought a home that was built in 1883, it was a story-and-a-half duplex. The severely pitched A-frame roof allowed her only enough room to walk down the center of the second story. The bathtub had overflowed, damaging the ceiling of the room downstairs. The kitchen was a makeshift add-on, the back porch was falling off the house, and a bedroom and bathroom opened off opposite sides of the kitchen. The poorly fitting single-pane windows allowed in heat, cold and bugs. Purdy started in, hiring contractors who began by installing drywall on the ceiling to fix the water damage. Purdy, who is a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty, Southwest Associates, designed a beautiful bathroom, and contractors built it in what was once a bedroom. The hardwood flooring was removed. They installed a double vanity with a Classique (faux) marble countertop and beautiful oak cabinets, added an oversize Jacuzzi tub and a stand-alone shower, and then reinstalled the original hardwood flooring. A closet was removed, and a linen closet and a toilet were installed in its place. The finishing touches included new lighting fixtures and new windows. The entire exterior of the home got a new coat of stucco, the electrical panel was replaced and upgraded. She then painted the entire downstairs herself. That was Phase 1. The second, more extensive phase began in 2000. Contractors

12 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

lthough Chris Szczech really enjoys doing “around the house” projects, he admits that he mostly does them for economic reasons. “There is the satisfaction of taking care of things myself, but it’s primarily to save money,” he said. Szczech began acquiring skills as a young boy by spending time with his dad and uncles, who were do-it-yourselfers. Like his relatives, some of his projects are still completed through trial and error. He praises the power of the Internet and YouTube videos as informational resources. Recently, he watched a YouTube video to learn how to change the element in his hot water heater. “I just watched the guy and did each step along with him. It really helps cut down on mistakes.” Szczech just finished installing a new dishwasher, and tinkers around with projects requiring light plumbing and light electrical. He painted

began by tearing the kitchen off the back of the house and tearing out the original bathrooms upstairs and downstairs. To add more sunlight to the house, a large family room/sunroom was added on the back, south-facing side of the house. A gas fireplace with old-fashioned bookshelves flanking it was installed. The doors to the bookshelves were leaded glass with beveled glass inserts – restoring some of the charm of the original house. They took off the roof and raised the height of the walls, making the house now a full two stories. A master suite was constructed upstairs and new master bath plumbing was installed. A large deck was created off the master suite and over the sun room below. A large modern kitchen adjacent to the family/sun room now has countertops that match the granite façade in the fireplace surround. New kitchen cabinets of beadboard and ornate crown molding with dentil molding also matched the top of the fireplace, visually uniting the adjacent rooms. The front porch was enclosed to make a foyer. In 2010, a minor Phase 3 began. Paint colors were changed downstairs; new doors, trim and carpet were added to the master suite, and a railing was added to the deck. The master suite bath was renovated with a Jacuzzi tub, a steam shower, double vanity, new toilet and a bidet, tiled floors and wainscot. Purdy said for now, the house is complete – until she gets an itch to change something again. U

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the interior and exterior of their home. He says he prefers the exterior work to interior. “I like being outside,” he said. His projects are ongoing throughout his house. He tore out wall-towall carpeting and some fake wood laminate, and installed 1,000 feet of red oak hardwood flooring, transforming the living area of their home. Installing a new door and a window were a bit more challenging. “Hanging joists and installing decks around the house was a steep learning curve. It was bumpy and uneven and I had to make it a flat, even surface. The wood warps, weaves and curves, and I had to straighten it out and get it to do what I needed it to do.” Along with the frustration, Szczech admits to really enjoying working with wood. He loves the smell of freshly cut wood and the process of maneuvering an imperfect material, putting it into place and creating something precise. “One of the frustrations is putting money into tools that you might never use again. Another is the time spent in educating myself on how to do something, and then by the time I need to do it again, I’ve forgotten those specific skills.” He says he admires professionals who do projects all the time, because they keep their skills fresh. He laughs while explaining how he worked for hours making a combination book shelf/toy cabinet for his kids. After it was finally finished, they moved – and it doesn’t fit in the new house. When not swinging a hammer or swishing a paint brush, Szczech teaches writing at Southwest Colorado Community College, a recent position acquired after eight years of teaching English at Durango High School. Like many teachers, he also has a summer job. He owns Colorado Mountain Expeditions, and leads hikers on five-day treks on the Colorado Trail. U

Diane Purdy explains the detail and thought behind the historic fireplace molding and leaded-glass bookshelves in her family room. Inset: Diane and her dog Oso sit in front of her home. Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 13


Judi Mora serves on board to preserve historic homes By Malia Durbano

Durango Living Writer


udi Mora loves houses, especially old houses. Her interest began while growing up in Boston, where she gained an appreciation for history and architecture. She moved to Durango in 1999 and bought an old house on Eighth Avenue. She enjoyed learning about the house as she renovated and restored it. Mora, who is a Realtor with RE/MAX Pinnacle, decided that serving on Durango’s Historic Preservation Board was the perfect opportunity to give back to the community while indulging one of her interests. According to its website, “the purpose of the Historic Preservation Board is to protect and preserve the City’s historic and cultural heritage, as embodied in designated historic landmarks and districts by appropriate regulations.” Mora explains that upholding the mission statement can be challenging because they have to consider the balance between modern functionality and historic preservation. “One of the constant challenges we face is the issue of solar panels. They enable people to be more self-reliant and are highly functional,

Tim Brown restores a cedar chest (also shown at right) built in Durango by his grandfather, Chuck Colton, who made it for his bride in the late 1930s.

14 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

but they are certainly a newcomer on the scene,” she said. “It’s challenging to allow the homeowner to have rights and to do what they want to with their own home; but at the same time the Board has been commissioned to preserve the district.” The Board has the responsibility to educate potential buyers of the historic homes regarding details of preservation during a renovation project. “Windows are another common issue,” said Mora. “Homeowners can’t replace their windows with ones that look exactly the same. They have to repair the existing windows, even though they might not be as energy-efficient.” The rewards of being on the Board are when members can reach a compromise that works for the homeowner that still complies with mandated guidelines. An example Mora shares is of a woman who had an original wooden porch that was rotted and literally falling off the house. The homeowner wanted to use Trex, a synthetic material requiring little maintenance. She alternately wanted to use stone, which is an approved material; but since it was not original, they could not allow it for this application. The homeowner was asked to investigate the cost and option of something analogous to a gutter system for the porch that would help drain water away effectively to minimize stress on the deck. The board will discuss it and hopes to come to a solution that works for both parties. Mora’s favorite house in the Historic District is the Jakway House at 1073 E. Third Ave. “It’s a behemoth – the Grand Dame of Third Avenue,” she said. “Literally, every inch of the house has been restored. They just don’t make them like that anymore.” U

Tim Brown connects to roots by restoring old furniture By Rachel Rosenthal

Special to Durango Living


s a fifth-generation Durangoan, who is also married to one, I have serious roots here,” said Tim Brown. He is proud to share this fact about himself, and is quick to testify that his hometown is in fact the best in the world. Brown is a descendant of Henry Hi Brown, a miner who settled at the mouth of the La Plata Canyon in Parrot City. Brown is also related to the Spinning and Mullen families, who came to the area as farmers. It is through this strong connection to the past that Brown finds a great purpose in restoring relics from the past. He started a painting business in Durango in the early ’80s, and after years of fine-tuning his craft, his work has morphed into IC Stars, a furniture preservation company in the Durango area. Brown’s connection to Durango’s culture has always been at the heart of his craft. “Growing up in Durango taught me how to be thrifty, and to appreciate quality with value built in.” The greatest lesson Brown attributes to his roots is the value of patience. As a child, he learned from his grandfather that a slower pace of life was conducive to patience, and that patience was the cornerstone of quality craftsmanship. Brown operates IC Stars from a workshop he built by his home near Florida Mesa. Currently, he concentrates on restoring smaller pieces, such as chairs, tables and chests. Of these, dining room sets are his favorite.

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Judi Mora sits with her dog in front of her favorite historic home in Durango: the Jakway House at 1073 E. Third Ave. Intricate gable work (shown at left) adorns the house, which was built in 1888. It is currently on the market. LINDSAY ABSHAGEN/Herald photos

“Everything happens around the dining room table: tears, laughter, celebrations and mourning,” he said. “It is the piece of furniture at the center of every family. I often wonder who sat at a given table, and of the stories that surround it.” Another essential component to Brown’s craft is love. He says he puts “good old TLC and elbow grease” into his work. The best part is “having a customer smile upon seeing a piece that was once old or worn become new to them again.” Many people abandon older furniture in favor of something more modern, but Brown insists that through his expertise he can improve the functionality, beauty and value of a piece while lowering the customer’s stress levels. By doing this, he is also helping others appreciate their past and strengthen their connection to family heirlooms. Brown also finds pleasure in getting to know his clients, and appreciates the “local first” mentality of Durango’s community. His business relies on the loyalty and word-of-mouth promotion that is practiced by many in the Durango community. “I love the way my hometown folks support me. Durango is headed in some amazing and creative directions,” he said. “I want to stay on this train.” He also appreciates the solitude found away from his workshop. Brown enjoys dropping a line at local fishing holes. “They say, ‘you can’t eat the scenery,’ but you can sure find your Zen with these vistas.” U Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 15




Happily Ever


These homeowners braved dust, noise and hassles to take the old and make it new Stories by Karla Sluis Photos by Lindsay Abshagen




Wilsons blend past and present Dana and Steve Wilson renovated their 115-year-old home at 730 E. Fifth Ave. in the summer of 2011. “The house found us, we didn’t find it,” said Dana during a tour on Aug. 21. They bought the home and decided to restore it as a family investment. The couple’s son and grandson live in the adjacent remodeled carriage house. Madeen Interior Design Studio managed the renovation. Project Coordinator Diane Komick said restoring older homes is fulfilling because it preserves a bit of history. Structural and design changes blended in modern comfort. “The most rewarding piece to this

project was transforming the small, confined kitchen space,” said Komick. “By taking out a wall that housed a fireplace in a room that wasn’t being fully utilized, we were able to transform a useless space into an amazingly useful space.” Dana and Steve agreed to keep the home’s historic charm, but update it with energy-efficient and sustainable materials, such bamboo cabinets and recycled-glass countertops. “It’s what we believe in,” said Dana. “It’s the right thing to do.” Steve said he views the remodel as a long-term investment. “The neighborhood is so cool. We think this place will hold it value.”



ABOVE: Antique picture rails display art without nails in the plaster walls. LEFT: In the kitchen, an 1880s butcher block is juxtaposed with modern tile and lighting, cork floors, bamboo cabinets, and countertops made with recycled quartz and local recycled-glass chips.

16 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

LEFT: Dana Wilson stands in her dining room. The original radiator, far left, was restored. “It goes ‘bang, bang, bang!’ when it comes on,” she said. “Sometimes that scares visitors, but we think it adds character.”






ABOVE: Dana and Steve Wilson stand in front of their home at 730 E. Fifth Ave. on Aug. 21. Dana says the checkerboard under the eaves, which is repeated in design elements in the interior, adds a “little bit of Ska whimsy.” Foam insulation and energy-efficient windows were added. The windows at top left were reconfigured “because my pillow used to hang out of the window,” said Steve.




Above: “We took the ugliest bathroom and made it the prettiest,” said Dana. She said the tub water originally came out brown. They asked, “Is this normal?”



ABOVE: A fireplace and a wall were removed to create an open kitchen with a view of the dining room and living room (LEFT). The Wilsons like the connected space for frequent entertaining. “We’re in the center of the party zone downtown,” said Steve.

ABOVE: The steep, narrow stairways characteristic of Victorian-era homes were carpeted, “but it still took some time to get used to climbing up and down,” said Dana.

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 17







ABOVE: Betsy Norton and her son Peter Norton stand in front of Betsy’s home at 448 E. 11th St. in Durango on Aug. 23. “I’d like to think people will appreciate the fact that I kept the artistic integrity of the house,” said Peter, referring to the 1925 bungalow-style architecture.

Norton restores bungalow charm

ABOVE: The kitchen is “the best room in the house,” said Peter, who saved space for a cozy sitting area. “It’s elevated and private, so I wanted to make sure it wasn’t filled in with cabinets.”



Kitchen BEFORE


18 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

Peter Norton bought the home at 448 E. 11th St. (pictured “before,” above) in a foreclosure sale without seeing the interior. His home is a block away, and he was looking for a place for his mother, Betsy Norton. The former owner of the home had ambitious plans and had been working on the structure himself since 2001. He jacked the house up, put in a new foundation and did framing and demolition. “It was the remodel that never ended,” said Norton. “But we felt lucky he had done this major work – even though there were some things I had to undo.” The bungalow-style house was built in 1925 and has only had two owners. Norton hired contractors to

restore the original look, with arches, double-hung windows and a welcoming porch. He decided against building up to create more space on the tiny 50’x 50’ lot. “This is historically right,” said Norton. “I don’t like it when a historic area turns into a neighborhood with McMansions. Besides, a bigger place with more stairs was not what Mom needed.” Many areas in the interior remodeling were carefully designed to make the most of a small space, including the use of pocket doors and a unique sitting area in the kitchen. Norton is pleased with his decision to restore the building. “It’s a small house, a charming house. I said, ‘Let’s just keep it the way it is.’ ”



LEFT: A utility closet in the garage controls a snow-melt system so Betsy won’t have to shovel in the winter.


Exterior back BEFORE

I hope people will see this and say ‘I can live with a small space.’




BELOW: Red oak flooring was installed in the bedroom, and Peter converted a small bathroom into a closet.

ABOVE: Peter had a central tower removed (see inset) and finished a deck. The south side of the house also has a 2.1-watt solar panels, which will cover all electrical needs.



Living room



LEFT: The light and airy living room opens to the dining room space. Betsy just moved from Florida and has lived in the new house for three weeks. She’s pleased with the way the house turned out. “I feel like a very lucky lady,” she said.

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 19

LEFT: The shape of the original kitchen was not changed, but Prentice updated it with cabinets, flooring, lighting, appliances and tile work. They kept the original kitchen windows to let in light from the adjacent dining room.




Kitchen BEFORE

Crestview home a custom match The home of Donna Graves and her husband Bob Prentice is part of the “Crestview Renaissance.” They chose to renovate their 1954 ranch-style home at 2228 Crestview Drive because, like most homes in the neighborhood built in the ’50s, it was “ripe for remodel,” as Prentice said. They began work in 2009 and finished a year later. Prentice, a building contractor, did the construction himself, “board by board and dollar by dollar,” he said. They share the space with his teenage daughter, and Prentice was sensitive to creating shared, multi-use spaces in a small floorplan. “My husband is a genius at reallocating space and working with


what you’ve got,” said Graves. Both of them work from home, and the small, converted garage functions as a laundry room, the cats’ “central station,” Graves’ office during the day, and Prentice’s den at night. Prentice redid the infrastructure of the house, replacing electrical, plumbing and failing water/sewer lines. They added a front room that functions as a dining room and media space. They did extensive research and decided a solar tank and high-efficiency boiler was worth the investment. “The whole house is warmer and quieter now,” said Graves.

Don’t just do aesthetics: Fix the guts of the house first. It’s expensive to go back and do it later.

20 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall


ABOVE: A steam shower is the unique feature of the new master bathroom. The glass enclosure shuts tight like a sauna and steam comes out from jets in the wall. Graves says she particularly loves this amenity during dry Durango winters. “It’s so good for your skin. After a steam bath, we leave the door open to help humidify the house.”


U LOCAL HOME MAKEOVERS LEFT: Inspired by her husband’s detailed tile work in the kitchen, Graves has a new hobby. She creates mosaic artwork, such as this pot on the front patio.


Exterior BEFORE


BELOW: Bob Prentice and Donna Graves relax outside their home at 2228 Crestview Drive on Aug. 30. Along with a front addition, the couple also did rock work and added a wide patio. “It’s a real front-porch kind of neighborhood,” said Graves. “Our neighbors will stop by, and sometimes they’ll sit and have a glass of wine.” ABOVE: A new dining room/media room fills the new addition. A desk space at right functions as a study area for Prentice’s teenage daughter.



Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 21

By Malia Durbano


A new

Beginning with

Finishes Handcrafted House sells natural and eco-friendly building materials, such as paints, sealers, stains and plasters

Hansen applies an eco-friendly paint on a wall. Mythic Paint, which was used in the new Durango Welcome Center, comes in over 1,200 colors.

22 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

Special to Durango Living


heryl Lock is passionate about inspiring people to create healthy, beautiful homes. She’s the owner of Handcrafted House in Durango, which offers natural building materials. While earning a BFA from the University of Wisconsin, she discovered an interest in buildings, architecture and interior design. In 2001, she started building “green” homes from straw bale and adobe to satisfy her other interest – sustainable living. While attending a Natural Plaster workshop in Taos, she met her husband Lars Hansen, who later joined her in Durango to build homes using clay and lime plasters. As a native of Denmark, Hansen is accustomed to building practices that consider the health and safety of people and the environment. Denmark companies can be fined for not complying. He now runs Hansen Handcrafted Finishes, and Lock manages the store. Handcrafted House opened Jan.1 at 1323 E. Second Ave., near the northeast corner of Buckley Park. Hansen and Lock chose to specialize in interior finishes for floors, walls, furniture and countertops. Finishes include paint, wood and concrete stains, sealers, plasters, and natural oils for wood and concrete. Lock is concerned about the toxins and carcinogens that are in most mainstream products. “Putting additives such as thinners and spreaders in products began in the Industrial Revolution when they were trying to make products less expensively,” she said. “We’ve grown accustomed to using them, but they are harmful.” Lead-based paint, asbestos and lacquer are some of the harmful materials people are familiar with that are being banned, and Lock predicts the trend will continue. She said people will move toward healthier products as they realize the other ones are making them sick. Lock references an Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet that says new U.S. homes are 10 times more toxic than inner-city air. This is caused by carcinogens, toxins and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in the mainstream products that make people sick. As homeowners begin to request natural products, contractors are learning to use them. “The contractors love not having to smell or breathe the toxins. We get great feedback on the coverage and how the products go on so smoothly,” said Lock. She says contractors who have been involved in the trade for years tell stories of suddenly becoming so sick they can’t be around the commercial products anymore. She said accumulated overexposure to the toxins has made some of them chemically sensitive, and now they must use products that are non-toxic to the environment, people and pets. Handcrafted House sells non-toxic floor finishes, wax and soaps, but their most popular product is non-toxic Mythic Paint, which was used in the new Durango Welcome Center. It comes in more than 1,200 colors, and Lock has software that allows her to color-match and create paint to match any other commercial brand. At $37.99 per gallon, the price is comparable to commercial brands of contractor-grade paint. The higher quality Mythic Paint “Classic” in a flat finish costs $46.99 per gallon. Another option is a brand called Green Planet paint. It is a bio-based paint tinted with minerals and comes in 48 colors. It’s $32.99 per gallon (now on sale) and was used in the Durango Discovery Museum. The store also has topcoats, oils, carpet shampoos and sealers. Lock says carpet sealers are especially important if families have babies crawling around on the floor. Lock explains that you can’t really compare apples to apples, because the paints are very different; but just for comparison’s sake, a gallon of Behr Premium Plus paint ranges from $23.98 to $29.97 per gallon at Home Depot. Most customers decide the benefits outweigh the slightly higher prices, especially since many of the products are American-made. The average price for a gallon of concrete stain is $49, a 63-pound bag of plaster is $55 and a 50-pound bag of American Clay Loma is $68. “From a health and environmental perspective, it’s hard to put a dollar

and cents price on a few extra dollars per gallon,” said Nikki Taylor, a part-time employee at Handcrafted House and an interior designer with a specialty degree in sustainable and green design. Kathryn Dobson, who is restoring her Durango home built in 1920, is using green products. She’s installing denim insulation, new energyefficient floors, and all-new electricity and heating. Her new bathrooms will have low-flush toilets. “When creating a new house out of an old one, it would be silly to re-do everything and not have it be energy efficient and with non-toxic finishes,” said Dobson. “It’s healthier for everyone: for the contractors and for my family who will be living there. Dobson said she shops at Handcrafted House because they have the best selection in town of truly non-toxic finishes. “I know I’m getting quality products. The owners have done their research and stand behind their products.” For more information, visit www.handcraftedhouse.com. U FAR RIGHT: Sheryl Lock and her husband Lars Hansen stand in front of her Durango store Handcrafted House. RIGHT: SoyCrete comes in muted colors. LINDSAY ABSHAGEN/ Herald photos

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 23


Stained-glass artist Renelle Kathryn creates ‘power pieces’ that connect architecture, symbolism and spirit in many Durango buildings

The Zen of

Color &Light By Malia Durbano

Durango Living Writer

A RIGHT: Kathryn cuts glass Aug. 24 in her studio in Bayfield. BELOW: A work in progress follows a careful diagram.


24 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

t 14 years old, Renelle Kathryn became a stainedglass apprentice to a friend of her mother’s. Her innate interest in calligraphy and abstract art was already obvious, so she was taken under the wing of an accomplished artist and shop owner in a suburb of Dallas. Kathryn continued to work in the shop, creating three to four windows a week through high school and while attaining her degree in Metal Sculpture with a minor in Architecture at the University of North Texas. At 24, she quit and opened her own shop. When she moved to Bayfield 13 years ago, she opened another shop. “Artists have been creating stained glass since the Egyptian times,” she said. “The older styles are heavier and more medieval. I’m sure the modern tools make it easier. I really don’t know how they soldered back then – I’ll have to research that!” Kathryn recognizes various Victorian styles of glass around Durango including Queen Anne, Neo-classical and Gothic Revival. Her favorite windows are in St. Mark’s Church. The church was built in 1891, but they believe the windows were restored to their original look in the 1990s. Kathryn loves “the use of sacred symbolism and architecture in the Gothic Revival Style windows. The use of specific colors and textures also create interesting patterns of light throughout the church.” She explains how the symbolism in church windows often represents themes: building relationships, deepening discipleship, sacred geometry, serving others, strengthening faith and proclaiming the word of God. As an artist and a craftsperson, she enjoys the process of turning an idea into form.

“People often don’t know exactly what they want, so I have free rein to come up with what I think they’ll like.”


FAR RIGHT: Artist Renelle Kathryn stands in front of an antique piece she was given and hopes to restore some day. RIGHT and BELOW: Samples of Kathryn’s work show her interest in color, pattern and texture.

Photos courtesy of Renelle Kathryn

“People often don’t know exactly what they want, so I have free rein to come up with what I think they’ll like.” Preferring more abstract designs, she intuits the idea, and then sits with it for a while before drawing the sketch, which then becomes the art piece. “I combine form, function and symbolism. I get into Zen mode and just go.” An example of her style is in the bar and atrium area of the Eco Luxe Hotel, next to Pagosa Hot Springs. After listening to the owner’s vision, she designed windows representing the Phoenix rising, like the new hotel rising from nothing. The owner loved it. What Kathryn enjoys most about working with stained glass is the ritual of the design process followed with the craftsmanship of construction. She creates “power pieces” by combining the archeological use of rocks, metal and glass. These “power pieces” are a mixture of sacred architecture and symbolism through nature, light and the spiritual essence. Her three-dimensional multimedia pieces include the use of agates, petrified wood, metal, crystals, and rocks. Styles range from Art Nouveau to Gothic to abstract and industrial. Pieces include grapevines, lotus flowers, abstract fish, circles and crosses, which are formed into panels, windows, mirrors, collages and abstract art pieces. Other projects have included kitchen cabinet doors, a sushi table, and a mosaic backsplash. Kathryn’s installations in Durango include windows in the loft in Jean Pierre’s house, a seascape in the home of Elizabeth Corely, a mandala in Darcy Olson’s office, a Japanese symbol in an arch window for Donnis Dolso, and three windows in the home of Brit and Kelly Quach. A sand-blasted glass and steel railing in a home on Electra Lake was a custom creation. For more information on Kathryn’s work, visit www. RKSO.net. U Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 25

Step By Step Creating a fused-glass project, like this tile with fall aspens, is like putting a colorful puzzle together.


Writer Malia Durbano uses glass cutters to trim glass strips to form aspen trunks.

Writer tries Get Fused! glass studio

The thrill of a

Blank Plate By Malia Durbano

Special to Durango Living


alking into Get Fused!, a new fused-glass open studio, I was immediately impressed with the beautiful samples others had created. Some were by experienced glass crafters, and some were waiting to be picked up by previous customers. As I strolled around surveying all the options, it was hard to decide what I wanted to create. There are curvy pieces of glass that stand on edge as art pieces, 4” x 4” tiles, large round plates, small salad plates, sushi plates, molds for earrings and long, narrow pieces suitable for displaying. Get Fused! is located in the Get Fused! was developed with the intention of southeast corner of College bringing an art form not commonly seen in Duand Main Avenue at 600 rango, and making it accessible for the artistic and Main Ave., Suite 112. non-artistic patron alike. The art gallery portion of Hours are Wednesday the studio provides inspiration, as well as a retail through Saturday, 11 a.m. opportunity for Colorado artists. to 5 p.m. An 8 x 8” square Art instruction and support are available in the creation costs $26, and a workshop to help customers create a large or small 6” x 12” oblong creation piece of glass art. No experience is necessary. costs $28.80. Locals receive Get Fused! owner Pam Schwartz was passiona 10 percent discount. ate, delightful and helpful. We walked around the For more information, room as she showed me all call 259-2229 or e-mail the items I could getfusedglass@gmail.com. use to create a design on my blank piece of glass. There are stringers, which are colored pieces of glass that look like spaghetti; there are flat noodles – think fettuccini – broken pieces of glass in every color; confetti pieces, and small bottles of glass “frit” – tiny glass sprinkles. I decided to imitate one of the display pieces. The process is exhilarating, and I felt like I made something that was beautiful and useful. For one flat fee, you can use as much product as you need to create your design. The pieces are put in a kiln overnight and fused together. The glass can be fully fused to blend color edges and create a stained-glass look; or they can be partially fused for a raised surface on top of the glass base. This would be so much fun to do with a group of friends, and Schwartz said she will open after hours for groups of five or more. Prices are reasonable for how much fun you have, and you go home with your own creation. U


A 12” x 6” plate of glass is the “canvas.” A paint is applied for detail work on the trunks.

Try it


Tiny glass “noodles” are scattered at the base to make grass.


A colorful mix of glass chips is applied with a tiny spoon to look like fallen leaves.


Glass “frit,” or sprinkles, adds the final touch.


The final piece was partially fused overnight in the kiln. The result was similar to the work shown here by a local artist.



26 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

LEFT: Get Fused! owner Pam Schwartz describes the fused-glass design process, and points to creations made by local artists (including the flower plates, below and opposite page).


ABOVE: Two kilns in the shop are used to melt the glass art pieces into a blank base. Artists can choose complete fusion or partial fusion.

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 27

U REMODEL RESOURCES They may not be as pretty as new paint or siding, but efficient mechanical systems such as a heat recovery ventilator unit (left), ground source heat pump, and solar hot water system (far left), will save money and add to the comfort of a home. Photos courtesy of Mark Galbraith

Give your house an

Energy Boost

An audit can troubleshoot problems in building envelope or mechanical system

By Mark W. Galbraith

The new equipment will not only operate with better results, but is more durable, and can be far more hen most people undertake a home ren- cost-efficient than systems installed in the past. High efficiency boilers, furnaces, and water heatovation project, the focus tends to be ers are some of the obvious choices, however the toward functional floor plan changes best strategies always start with a tight envelope, and aesthetic improvements. These are tangible changes that make the home more enjoyable to excellent insulation and adequate ventilation. Renewable energy should also be considered. live in and more visually appealing. UnfortunateGround source heating and cooling (aka geoly, important aspects that often get overlooked are thermal) are incredibly efficient systems. These the integrity and efficiency of the building envelope and the mechanical systems such as heating, systems rely simply on absorbing heat stored in the earth and enhancing it with the use of a cooling, and ventilation. Comfort, indoor air quality, and energy con- heat pump. Existing homes can be retrofitted servation should not be neglected in favor of the with excellent results. Solar electric panels and more visible improvements. You know the say- solar thermal panels (for domestic hot water) are also a great complement to new heating and ing: “Put lipstick on a pig and it is still a pig.” cooling systems. Federal tax During the planning process, credits of 30 percent are availa homeowner would be smart to able (through 2016) to help offset have an energy audit performed at the initial costs of installation of the inception of the project. Simple For more information systems utilizing renewable eninspections and testing can be per- on energy audits and ergy. formed to determine how airtight renewable energy, contact The cost of renovating a home and how well insulated (or not) the Four Corners Office for becomes a much better investtheir home is, and whether their Resource Efficiency (4CORE), ment if there is a holistic apmechanical systems are operating 10 Town Plaza, 259-1916. proach given to what changes properly, safely and efficiently. A are to be made. Even though certified energy auditor can inspect the structure and its mechanical systems and most of the aforementioned improvements will recommend improvements that can greatly are not visible, they provide a “value added” to the home, and certainly enhance the joy and enhance the livability of the home. Recently, there have been huge strides made in comfort of living there. U heating, cooling and ventilation equipment. SysMark Galbraith is the owner of Galbraith tems are now available that offer better control of Builders, Inc and has been designing and buildheating and cooling (added comfort) as well as the ing energy efficient new homes and renovations in quality of indoor air (less pollutants and irritants). La Plata County since 1990. Special to Durango Living

Need a hand? Do you need help financing home-remodeling projects? Housing Solutions for the Southwest is offering a Housing Rehabilitation Program. Families with low- to moderate-income can apply for low-interest loans. In La Plata County, the maximum income for a family of four is $59,300; a one-person household maximum is $41,550. Christina Cordalis, Housing Rehabilitation Program manager, said the goal is to provide an option for homeowners to make necessary repairs when they would not otherwise be able to pay or borrow money from their own banks. Loans are usually at 2 percent, but Cordalis said she’s working on getting an even lower rate. Applications are currently being accepted. For more information, call Cordalis at 259-1086, ext. 17.


28 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

4CORE aid

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 29


“Measure Once Cut Twice” (Or is it the other way around?) Sometimes remodeling work can be an exercise in frustration – and pain tolerance. Here are the top 10 DIY mishaps described by locals, and how to prevent them.

What to expect when you’re constructing There’s a lot of noise, hassles, delays and dust – lots and lots of dust – between Phase One and “We’re done!” These Durango remodelers have learned a thing or two along the way. U “Put in a great sound system first: that way you can rock out while you’re tearing things up.” – Steve Wilson U “We’ve done a lot of remodels. It’s better to move out and do it all at once, if you can.” –Dana Wilson U “Every light needs a dimmer switch.” – Donna Graves and Dana Wilson U “It’s very stressful and frustrating to work with contractors. Be prepared for that.” – Peter Norton U “With older homes, expect surprises when you start to dig: like, huge boulders, railroad track, even an old coal chute.” – Steve Wilson U “Don’t stand on a ladder and nail-gun your hand to the ceiling when you are alone in the house and your cell phone is on the floor.” – He Who Prefers To Be Anonymous

1. Drilling through a water pipe. Hitting a water pipe while putting up a shelf is a common mishap, but one that is easy to avoid. DIY shops sell inexpensive detectors to identify where water pipes and electrical cables are hidden in the walls, so they are worth the investment.

2. Spilling paint. Knocking over paint while decorating a room happens only too frequently. You can avoid disaster by covering carpets and furniture with dust sheets. Generally, a replacement carpet and fittings should be covered under the accidental damage aspect of a policy as long as you have extended cover and not just protection for electrical items.

3. Flat-pack furniture collapse. Follow instructions and you shouldn’t have issues, but to be safe, have a “dry run” before you begin. If the furniture does collapse, you may be insured under the accidental damage terms of your home insurance.

4. Causing a home emergency. If you cause damage that affects a utility such as the heating or power supply, or the drainage, several home insurers offer home emergency cover, which provides a callout within 24 hours from a professional tradesman. Try and avoid tackling jobs that are beyond your capabilities.

5. Electrical shocks. It is illegal for an unqualified person to undertake work on gas installations, so this is one time when professional help is mandatory. If you do feel confident to undertake

30 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

work on standard electrical wiring, it must be certified by a qualified electrician once complete.

6. Smashed glass. Fitting doors or windows and accidentally smashing glass is easy to do – but you’ll need an extension of accidental damage cover to pick up the pieces

7. Falling off a ladder. Try and ensure your ladder is secure first, and if possible get someone to hold it for you. Check your home insurance for personal injury cover before climbing.

8. Poor workmanship. If you lay a patio or brickwork and leave things loose, only for a friend or relative to trip and hurt themselves, you could face a claim against you. It’s important to have home insurance with ample personal liability cover and seek professional assistance before undertaking skilled work.

9. Other injuries. To avoid personal injury, read the manufacturers’ instructions on tools before you begin and wear suitable protective clothing such as a mask, goggles and gloves. Check for personal injury and liability coverage.

10. Dropped items. Breaking a mirror, dropping an ornament or damaging furniture while preparing a DIY task could hinder you before you’ve started, so seek help from friends before moving anything that’s easy to damage. Check your home insurance for “new for old” replacement of items in case the worst happens. U



freshcheckday How are you doin’? Give yourself a mental health check up at this new community-wide even t to raise awareness to the resources availabl e to you for mental health and well-bei ng.

you T hree Sp r color ride out to t hese tw rings t his fall fo o signatu r re events !




Performing on stage: Singer/Song writer Meg Hutc hison and TBA (formerly Cosm ic Accident) Live Music, Food, Expo Boot hs, Mas sage Chairs, Therapy Animals and more!

SATU RDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2012 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

Fun activities for the kids including afternoon door-to-door trick or treating throug hout the Three Springs neighborhood. Activities include festival games, a bouncy house, and coloring contest. Food concessions provided by Boys and Girls Club of Ignacio. (Donations appreciated).

New Energy Star certified homes starting in the $200’s Scan for more Event Information.

Three Springs Information Center 175 Mercado St., Durango, CO / 970.764.6000 / discoverthreesprings.com Preferred builders: Tierra Custom Homes, SilverPick Contracting A Southern Ute Company

Durango Living/Fall • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • 31

32 • Sunday, September 16, 2012 • Durango Living/Fall

Profile for Ballantine Communications

Durango Living Fall 2012  

Articles on Durango living, lifestyle, activites and features of Southwest Colorado and the surrounding area.

Durango Living Fall 2012  

Articles on Durango living, lifestyle, activites and features of Southwest Colorado and the surrounding area.