Click here to sign up for our newsletter!
Design Ideas
A Creative Craftsman
How to put a personal touch on a classic architectural style without sacrificing its integrity in this creative craftsman home tour.
When a homeowner with an eye for design and a talent for refinishing furniture and crafting accessories moves into a home, magical energy swirls through the rooms. When both homeowners are creative spirits, the magic is multiplied. Such is the case with this 1920-built creative Craftsman in Butte, Montana, owned by Jean and David Abrams.... Keep Scrolling
Written by MERYL SCHOENBAUM
Photography by TYLER CALL


When a homeowner with an eye for design and a talent for refinishing furniture and crafting accessories moves into a home, magical energy swirls through the rooms. When both homeowners are creative spirits, the magic is multiplied. Such is the case with this 1920-built creative Craftsman in Butte, Montana, owned by Jean and David Abrams.

A 1920s craftsman style home in a bold blue color with a stone porch.
BUTTE BEAUTY. To freshen up their 1920 creative Craftsman’s architecture in a respectful manner, David and Jean Abrams repainted the exterior in blue and removed the garage, which was not original to the house. Each year they take on one big project. The front steps were crumbling, so last year they had them redone and remortared the stones. Jean plants different flowers in the garden each year to see what will grow well.

CALLED TO CRAFTSMAN

Jean, formerly the owner of The Backyard Bungalow, and her husband, David, author of the novel Brave Deeds, moved into Butte’s historic district in 2009. They had looked at about three dozen homes before deciding on this one, Jean says. Her hesitation came from the color scheme (mustard yellow, green and maroon exterior) and the décor (“It felt very Southwestern, not Craftsman).” And with five bedrooms, “it was more house than we needed” as a couple, she says.

A white rustic, distressed hutch near an original radiator with an exposed wooden ceiling beams.
PERFECT PAIR. The large hutch is comprised of two separate pieces joined together. Jean found the top at a Georgia antiques shop and the bottom piece in Alaska. Jean attached corbels in the wooden doorframe as another way to incorporate architectural pieces in the décor. “Old pieces just make things interesting,” she says. The intricately crafted gold radiator at left is original to the house.
It was a different story for David, though. “For me, it was love at first sight,” he says. He was attracted to the architecture of the roofline and stone front porch, which gave him a feeling of warmth, inviting him inside. The Abramses had moved around a lot for 20 years while David was in the Army, but they agreed that this would be “the most livable house” and that they would fix it up to make it their permanent home. It would also become the place that their grown children, who had moved around so often while growing up, could look back on as their family home, so David and Jean took ownership.

A CREATIVE CRAFTSMAN

This is no cookie-cutter Craftsman. It was important to Jean to finally flex her decorating wings in a permanent home. Her goal in the room designs was an overall feeling of serenity and calm. She is attracted to contrasting colors in design and is drawn to blue, so a thread of blue and white runs through the rooms.

antique corbels frame the open wooden casings leading from vintage-filled living room to dining room.
BLANK CANVAS. “I once heard Nate Berkus say you should put the bulk of your decorating money into upholstered items, and that those items should be as neutral as possible,” Jean says. “With this color palette, no one thing stands out. People peel away the layers and notice different things in the room.” Jean refinished most of the furniture in chippy paint.

Jean collects anything vintage, especially vintage advertising and architectural details, like old signs.

THE POP OF COLOR

One day while driving in another town, David and Jean saw an unusual blue paint color on a building, and they were so taken with it they pulled the car over and decided that it would be their home’s new exterior color. They were less sure the neighbors would like it, but luckily they did.

A guest room with a vintage white painted dresser and a wooden mannequin surrounded by candlesticks.
PIECES OF THE PAST. Jean surrounds herself with vintage wares while she works on her projects in this room. A wooden mannequin covered in muted fabric was found at an outdoor market in Montana.
A bar set up in the basement covered with tin ceiling tiles with vintage-style barstools.
BASEMENT BAR.  Jean made the wall-mounted shelves from plumbing pipes and wood. A seltzer-bottle collection from the couple’s travels while David was in the Army lines the windowsills. The homeowners liked the industrial look of the plumbing pipes hanging below the ceiling. The pipes warm the basement as the hot water flows through them. The vintage-style barstools are from Target.

RENOVATIONS WITH INTEGRITY

Among the rooms they modified was the upstairs bath. In it was a small tub with uncomfortably short plumbing which they replaced with a walk-in shower and moved the plumbing.

A found dining set re-painted and reupholstered by the owner, situated under exposed ceiling beams and an embellished chandelier.
CRAFTED & COLLECTED. Jean found this dining- room table and chairs for $100, unfinished. She repainted the chairs in Annie Sloan’s Old White paint and reupholstered the seats using European grain sacks. The chandelier was from World Market; Jean spray-painted it and added strands of crystals. The built-in cabinet was original to the house, and Jean painted it white to create cohesion.

Half the kitchen had already been renovated but it lacked counter space, so they pulled out two closets (one was a pantry, the other a coat closet) and put in cabinets and a butcher-block countertop. Throughout the home, they had linoleum floors and Berber carpeting removed to expose the home’s beautiful original wood flooring.

Butcher block countertops and a bright white backdrop set the kitchen scene with an antique "grocery" sign mounted above the farmhouse sink.
DECORATING EVOLVES. In the kitchen, the homeowners added a farm sink they bought at Lowe’s and butcher-block countertops. “Decorating evolves; you have to live in a place to know what would look best,” Jean says. She chose classic subway tile for the backsplash. To add a bit of whimsy, she hung a sculpted lamb’s head with a wreath around its neck.
Gray walls in the background of this white accented, built-in breakfast nook with flour sack pillows.
CRAFTED CHARM. The breakfast nook was built by Jean and David’s talented son-in-law. He designed the table using one big slab of wood. Jean made both pillows from coffee and flour sacks that have been folded over and buttoned-down—no cutting and very little sewing. She made the seat cushions from Ikea linen curtains.

VINTAGE COLLECTIONS

Jean says she collects pretty much anything vintage, especially vintage advertising and architectural details, like old signs. She uses them as decor on walls throughout their creative Craftsman.

A bright red hutch pulls out red and blue accents in this farmhouse inspired bedroom.
COLOR POP. Jean found the red hutch in an antiques store in Montana and loved its red color and unusual tissue paper on the doors. On the radiator are stacked silver platters with a stand that displays her collection of silver salt and pepper shakers. “I also buy orphaned ones because I feel bad for them,” she says.

Jean made a point of creating several little reading nooks where they can relax. David loves his office, which looks out on a quiet, tree-lined street. “It’s like Main Street, USA,” David says.

Charming farmhouse inspired bedroom with white and blue accents, a crystal chandelier, and a restored wooden church pew at the foot of the bed.
FILLED WITH CHARM. At the foot of this guest bed is a church pew rescued from a 19th-century church. The throw pillows are made from old napkins with beautiful embroidery. The hutch, from a friend, showcases old scales in different shapes, colors and sizes.

This is no cookie-cutter Craftsman.

A found antique mirror hanging above a vintage detailed white dresser near bright craftsman style windows.
BEAUTIFUL BARGAINS. Jean found the wonderful old rectangular mirror in a shed of antiques for $20. On the chest below it is a vintage scale with an old hat form on it. She bought a child’s plastic crown from a dollar store and glittered it for a touch of whimsy.

HOME SWEET, CREATIVE CRAFTSMAN, HOME

When asked what his home means to him, David replied, “I wrote both of my novels while sitting at a beautiful vintage desk Jean gave me. I sit at my desk every day gazing out at the quiet street below and think, I’m the luckiest guy alive. This warm and cozy writing space really helps the words flow. When I’m turning the corner onto our street and see our home, I feel like I’m seeing my best friend again.”

Want more simply beautiful ideas? Check out this post on another creative craftsman, a Dreamy Craftsman Cottage Kitchen. 

Of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of cottage inspiration! 

you might also enjoy...