Thursday, May 18, 2017

Architectural Styles: Tudor Revival

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Tudor Revival is a modern interpretation of medieval period architecture popular from 1910 - 1930. Like most architectural styles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Tudor Revival style borrows elements from the Gothic and Renaissance style buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Photo by David Anstiss [CC BY-SA 2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

The Tudor Revival style was the preferred architectural style of the wealthy and is easily identifiable by its distinct features.

Architectural Features:

- Asymmetrical design and steep gabled rooflines
- Brick or stone exterior cladding
- Half-timbering and stucco
- Gothic arches
- Plank doors
- Leaded and stained glass windows
- Massive brick chimney(s)

Antique Tudor Revival style stained glass window.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Photo Friday: Renaissance Revival Style Reclining Chair

By Gretchen Sawatzki

The 1800s brought a new wave of industrial inventions that allowed for new types of furniture including rocking and reclining chairs.  While most chairs could either rock or recline in the 1800s, this unusual Renaissance Revival style chair from about 1880 both rocks and reclines using an iron yoke and spring coil system.

Most rocking chairs of this era, known as platform rockers, used large springs built into a base for the chair to sway. Reclining chairs like the Morris Chair of the same period used hinges on the seat back and arms to lift and recline. This unusual chair is an imaginative blend of the best ideas for furniture in 1880.

Click here for more information about this chair.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Featured Product: Hunzinger Game Table

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Furniture of the Victorian era has always been considered some of the most decorative furniture ever manufactured, and in a time of mechanization, decorative furniture of this period has become ubiquitous.  In 1855, German immigrant and furniture maker George Jacob Hunzinger (1835-1898) began making furniture in New York City to the same tune as other furniture makers of the same era, but while he produced heavily decorative pieces, he became known for his innovative Renaissance Revival style furniture.

Armchair By George J. Hunzinger (Brooklyn Museum)
[No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Drawing from period-style furnishings of the past and inspired by mechanization of his present, Hunzinger's innovations today could be considered its own category of furniture. By 1899, Hunzinger and his family had amassed some 20 patents including one for re-engineering the reclining chair among other original designs.

Hunzinger "lollipop rocker" image credit

Today, Hunzinger is best-known for his lollipop designs that use concentric circular carvings as the focus of decoration. Other popular furniture pieces include his innovative flip-top game tables that featured decorative inlay on one side of the table top and a gaming surface on the other, and a variety decorative chairs. To view more furniture by Hunzinger visit the Brooklyn Museum's online catalog for a wide array of Hunzinger chairs in their museum collection or check out our video of a Hunzinger game table patented 1893.

Video by Materials Unlimited

  Brooklyn Museum
  Collectors Weekly
  George Hunzinger Furniture Blog
  Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Architectural Salvage from Historic Detroit Buildings

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Like most cities, Detroit, Michigan's skyline is changing rapidly, and as the city recovers from its bankruptcy, investment in the downtown city center has inspired a change of the landscape. With that change, historic buildings are adapted for new use or replaced, and building parts are salvaged. We recently acquired a few building parts from three historic Detroit buildings that are now available for purchase at our shop.

Detroit's J.L. Hudson's department store opened in 1911 at Woodward and Gratiot Avenues standing at a whopping 410 feet tall, it was the tallest department store in the country. Designed by architects Smith, Hinchman & Grylis, the store was a Goliath seconded only by Macy's Department Store in New York City. Its design took elements from the Neoclassical style including its cornice and finials.

J.L. Hudson's Department Store finial circa 1911.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

The J.L. Hudson's store was closed in 1983 and was demolished in 1998, but not before these gorgeous cast iron finials were salvaged.

Old Main Wayne State University, Detroit photo credit

Constructed between 1894 - 1896, Old Main was originally built as Detroit's Central High School. Made of brick and limestone harvested from the land it sits on, the building contained 103 rooms with space for nearly 2,000 students. The high school began offering college level classes in 1917, and in 1923 the building was formally integrated into the College of the City of Detroit, the precursor of Wayne State University.

Mirrored medallion, photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

Old Main takes from Neoclassical design with symmetry and acanthus leaf motifs. The mirrored medallion above is an existing element from the original interior of the building. Old Main still stands today in Midtown Detroit as a recognizable symbol of Wayne State University.

Cass Tech High School, Detroit, photo credit
Built in 1917 the Cass Technical High School building was place where students could learn with their hands. The school provided industrial and commercial training to prepare students for a career in a Detroit factory. This school was ahead of its time providing a focus on job training rather than arithmetic and writing.

Bronze clock from Cass Tech High School.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

The school was built with Gothic details, barrel vaulted ceilings, and marble floors. Brick and limestone comprised the "shell" of the building. The building was demolished in 2011 and replaced by a modern facility. Today, items salvaged from the 1917 building include this bronze Neo-Gothic/Beaux Arts wall clock.

For more information about these salvaged Detroit items or visit our shop or website!

   Wayne State University College of Fine, Performing, and Communication Arts

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Before and After: Antique Mahogany Hall Mirror

By Gretchen Sawatzki

About a month ago, a customer walked into our shop and presented our restoration specialist with a challenge - to strip and refinish a stunning antique mahogany hall mirror circa 1910. The hall mirror consisted of two parts, an independent wall-mounted mirror and seating pedestal below.

Upper wall-mounted mirror stripped of "plastic" finish.
Photo by Charles Wiesner.

When the hall mirror arrived, the finish was dull and plasticized. It was clear that the wood was in need of some love. First, we removed the mirrored glass from the wall-mounted mirror and discovered a maker's mark on the reverse of the mirror. The mirror was stamped with a patent date of March 31, 1887.

Maker's mark on reverse of the mirror.
Photo by Charles Wiesner. 

Next, we stripped the wood finish in a multi-stage process. The wall-mounted mirror was stripped first, removing the "plastic-like" finish. Once finished, the lower pedestal was methodically stripped to match the mirror.

Lower seating pedestal stripped of "plastic" finish.
Photo by Charles Wiesner.

The process to strip the upper mirror required several hours of labor to properly remove the unwanted finish. The lower pedestal was more involved due the level of carved detail. The photo below shows the original "plastic" finish compared to the stripped wood.

Before and after stripping.
Photo by Charles Wiesner.

Once all of the pieces to the mirror were properly stripped, a dark finish was selected for the piece. The hall mirror and lower pedestal required multiple stain applications with mild sanding in between each application to achieve a rich color. Now the hall mirror looks better than ever with its new finish.

After stripping and refinishing.
Photo by Charles Wiesner.
Do you have a piece of furniture in need of restoration? Our full service shop offers restoration services for all types of furniture and lighting. To learn more visit our website 

Friday, March 24, 2017

5 Must-See Creative Industrial Light Fixtures

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Industrial style lighting for the home or office is the perfect style to experiment with. Industrial light fixtures can be sleek and streamlined, or an amalgam of repurposed materials, which offers a wide range of styles to choose from. Here are 5 unique industrial light fixtures that represent the kinds of the great options out in the world.

Antique schoolhouse style industrial light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

If you're a "purist" who enjoys antiques, consider antique schoolhouse style industrial light fixtures. These fixtures were found in hospitals, schools, offices, churches, and even apartment buildings around the turn of the 20th century. They are easy to find and are often available in numbers. They are a great option for minimalists, purists, and those who like sleek and simple design.

Custom industrial electrified gas light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

If you like antiques, but want something a bit more unique, there's the perfect custom industrial light fixture for you - formerly a gas lantern, this custom light fixture repurposes old lantern parts while maintaining its original lantern feel. You don't have to worry about the gas, since it has been fully electrified. It provides the look and warm glow of an old lantern without the hassle.

Custom industrial style table lamp made from a repurposed hand pump.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

If you're interested in something repurposed with industrial parts, this table lamp has a lot to offer. Similar to the repurposed gas lantern, this antique water pump industrial table lamp offers the same antique charm and custom craftsmanship. This is for the adventurous buyer, as it will certainly be the topic of conversation!

Antique repurposed funnel industrial style light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

When you think industrial, farm equipment may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but for this custom light fixture it started off at the homestead and has been customized for the home. Made from a galvanized steel tractor funnel, this light fixture is quirky, charming, and perfect for your country chic, industrial, or eclectic space.

Antique repurposed hay bale hook industrial style light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

The perfect blend of industrial and farm is married in this custom industrial hay bale light fixture. Not only does this look mechanical and heavy duty, but is also blends industrial rough metal edges with sleek and simple classic green light fixture shades. Perfect for an office, above a pool table, or in a kitchen, this industrial fixture makes a statement without all the decoration.