Sweeton Workspace

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DRN
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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Sweeton Workspace

Post by DRN »

In planning the proposed restoration/renovation of the workspace, we have reached the inevitable topic of counter tops.

The existing tops are a mix of the original 1951 luan plywood, and later mahogany butcher block which was installed by the Sweetons when the luan near the sink delaminated into oblivion in the late '50's. Wright's original drawings specified red linoleum with a 2-1/2" redwood edge trim.

Some complexities:

1. The wood fret shelf stack that separates the workspace from the dining area is embedded in a portion of remaining luan...this will of course stay and I am loathe to disrupt the luan that is scribed to it. The Sweetons cut and removed damaged luan adjacent to this material and replaced it with butcher block, which is now rotted at the sink.

2. The redwood edge trim which visually ties the counter tops to all other horizontal banding in the house, has not fared well over the years. The material is so soft that it has been continually worn, scratched, gouged, burnt, and cut into a shape that is anything but Wright's crisp geometries.

My inclination is to leave the luan at the frets alone and work the new finish to its edge...this may inform the color of the new adjacent counter top material. Has anyone one of us Chatters had experience with linoleum on counters and knowledge of how it reacts to lemon juice, soy sauce, yellow spices, hot objects and the odd knife drop?

I am convinced that the 2-1/2" edge trim at the counters is a necessity for the kitchen, but I am leaning toward a more stalwart type of wood. Does anyone have any experience with ipe? It has been used with success on board walks, one would think it could survive some bludgeoning by pots or pans and the occasional belt buckle rub.

Wrightgeek
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Location: Westerville, Ohio

Post by Wrightgeek »

Dan-

As I recall, the countertops in the kitchen of the magnificently restored Willey Residence are linoleum. You may want to reach out to Steve Sikora to get his input as to how the material has functioned for the Sikora's since it was installed several years ago.

John
Posts: 411
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 12:25 am
Location: Shoreview, MN

Sweeton

Post by John »

That is true. He obtained red linoleum and placed it on the floor and the countertops of the kitchen of the Willey house.

SDR
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Some Ipe is a cool dark brown with greenish overtones (undertones ?). Other hardwoods which might recall the warmth of clean redwood would include domestic cherry, Brazilian cherry (Jatoba), or Meranti. (Ipe is really "harder than it needs to be" for most carpentry and cabinetry applications, in my opinion.)

I don't seem to have photos of the Sweeton kitchen. I'd be glad to post if you have ones you like.

SDR

Laurie Virr
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Post by Laurie Virr »

The term 'Meranti' covers a wide range of species, the vast majority of which are on the critically endangered list. Do you have to go there?

dtc
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:04 am

Post by dtc »

Has any one studied the materials used for counter tops in workspaces of 1950 to 59?
The Willey house is a 1933 design. Wright had moved on since then with every aspect of kitchen design including materials for counter tops.
Not that I have visited all of Wright's work from 1950 on, but I would bet the predominant material found would be a laminate. He did enjoy using the latest materials in his designs.

To site a few, in no particular order:
Zimmerman house, laminate. (Micarta) (Chinese red w. a linen pattern)
Palmer, stainless steel. (Mrs. Palmer's request)
Reisley, laminate.
Rubin, laminate. (Micarta) ( Red Orange hue)
Feiman, laminate. (White)
Dobkins, laminate. (Micarta) (Chinese red w. a linen pattern)
Lovness, (studio home and cottage) red laminate.
Lykes, ceramic tile (But we should note this was built post Wright, in 1966
with much input from Rattenbury and Howe)
Hagan, stainless steel. although Wright specified laminate (Micarta)
Christian, laminate. ( a neutral beige)

peterm
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Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

Redwood edge with laminate top at Lamberson:

Image

Image

Image

Image

dtc
Posts: 739
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:04 am

Post by dtc »

peter,
You've done your homework.
Is that a high gloss laminate?
Looks great. An elegant complement with the wood.
Also an appropriate metal trim detail on the top of the back splash.

Excellent!

peterm
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Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

Yes, it is high gloss, but unless someone wants to be careful all of the time, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. We are willing to live with the inevitable scratches, for the sake of purism. When I see the patina of vintage laminate, I think it has it's own charm (unless however, it has the cigarette burn, or the outline of a pot which should have remained on the stove), but others might not want that. And yes, even though Wright specified the redwood countertop edge, for the backsplash edges the plans asked for the ubiquitous 1940s/ 1950s "chrome" edging.

I am pleased with the result, and think we did closely approximate the look (excluding the appliances) of a brand new Wright workspace, circa 1950.

SDR
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

By way of comparison and contrast, here are three photos of the Sweeton kitchen:


Image


Image


Image

SDR
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Peter sends these two photos, to demonstrate the compatibility of the cherry lamp (satin finish) and redwood table (oiled) . . .


Image

Image

peterm
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Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

Heart vertical grained cherry would substitute well, and would be much tougher.

Only your hairdresser would know for sure...

DRN
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Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

Only your hairdresser would know for sure...
Should he, or shouldn't he? I think I shall.

Looks like a carefully selected cherry may be the way to go with the edge banding. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I'll get a sample of cherry and ipe and see how they react to some reasonable kitchen use/abuse.

Paul Ringstrom
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Location: Mason City, IA

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

DRN wrote: Looks like a carefully selected cherry may be the way to go with the edge banding. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I'll get a sample of cherry and ipe and see how they react to some reasonable kitchen use/abuse.
Dan,
You should contact Stafford Norris (not Steve Sykora) regarding the Willey House and the linoleum countertops.

http://www.staffordnorris.com/

SDR
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

There's no doubt that the Ipe will be tougher -- it's very dense and heavy. For indoor use, however, it might be that (aside from the color issue) the cherry would be a better choice, because it will show a tighter (smoother) grain characteristic. Next to maple, cherry might exhibit the best closed-grain surface of any of the species we've discussed so far.

Any wood can be treated with the appropriate filler -- a paste designed to fill the open pores prior to finishing -- to deal with that issue. But I'd be surprised if you will find Ipe of an attractive (redwood-like) hue . . .

SDR

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