Are You Ready? Because this is Fantastic.

A little while after we moved in, we noticed that the colonnade, stairwell woodwork, and the window bays in the Parlor and Entrance Hall all had these ghost lines.

Which means – THE HOUSE HAD FRETWORK! It’s not unusual to see fretwork leave a house. I don’t like to think ill of anyone, but sometimes VERY BAD OLD HOUSE VILLAINS remove them because they “don’t look modern.” (So, maybe buy a different house?) But most of the time, it’s because they’re fragile, and it’s hard to repair or replace them. Because it’s not a huge skill for people to have.

It was always kind of a “in the back of my head maybe someday but probably never” dream to replace the missing fretwork. But, I saw some posts on a Victorian House Facebook Page, of a man who was making fretwork. And it was beautiful.

So I reached out to Rob at Wabashiki Woodworks. I wasn’t holding my breath. “He’s going to live too far away.” “He’s going to be too busy.” “This is going to cost more than my house.” He wrote me back, and mentioned that he was in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Wait. He’s IN MY STATE? And after chatting, it felt like he would have time, and I wouldn’t have to sell my soul to make this happen.

Seriously. Go check out his work. It’s awesome.

He asked me to send him some rough measurements. I did this, and actually over-layed it on some photographs so he could see the space.

All in all, we needed seven pieces. The current fretwork in the bay windows is both new, and underwhelming. So it will go away.

We started designing. Rob would send me pictures of his work, and I would comment on what I liked, and what I didn’t. I gravitated towards things that were lighter and lacier, and not super chunky. Sending pictures back and forth was a really great way for us to talk about style. Here are some of the pictures of pieces he sent me.

I sent this one back, and circled the diagonal grid, because I LOVED that!

This is one that felt too heavy for me, especially in the middle.

Rob sketched some things out, as well, and we chatted about those. He wasn’t sure if I would like the asymmetry of this one, but I LOVE it. I think this would be amazing in the windows, which is the only place the asymmetry would work.

An idea for the colonnade with the grid pattern I liked on the side.

Another drawing that incorporates a flower!

He was also kind enough to mail me a sample of stain / shellack. He guessed based on what the pictures looked like, and the darker of the two was pretty accurate!

His fretwork uses a lot of scrollwork. So I had the idea – what if we used the scroll that’s on the stairwell in the design?

I pitched that idea to Rob, and he loved it!

Since we have no idea what the original fretwork would have looked like, tying it to the stairwell seems like it makes a lot of sense for making something “fit.” We decided to start with three pieces – the colonnade – to begin with, and the other four pieces will come later.

He sent back a picture of the scroll he made for an example.

I sent this back,  and said I wanted this a LITTLE thinner, but that I LOVED this direction!

Then, things started to move fast! The following are pictures that Rob sent me throughout the process. I’ve asked him SUPER NICELY if when we start the other pieces, if he can do some video, too. Because the process fascinates me!

I love seeing the drawing with actual wood pieces!

One of the side pieces!

Taking shape.

Rob’s shop is incredible. It’s in his backyard, and it’s meticulously organized. I got to see it when we went to pick up the pieces, and I was a little overwhelmed. I’ll see if I can snag some video or pictures when I go back.

He lined up the side panels with the center panel, so that even though there is a colonnade post between them, the grid still lines up with each other.

These baby spindles are THE CUTEST.

Making the fan.

You know who is a fan? ME. I AM A FAN.

Once he got started on building it, I think it was done in like 2 days.

Can. You. Believe. This.

And then, the finish work.

It’s so good.

Next up? The installation!!!

I feel like we won the lottery.

Please check out Wabashiki Woodwork’s site! Rob’s contact info is on there. This is not a sponsored post, I am just so excited to have found him, and want other people to check it out!



  1. This email restored my faith in the true artist. Don’t tell me he used a computer to figure it all out. An American treasure.

  2. OMG… I follow the same Facebook page.. so when i was starting to read this post I said ‘Hey there’s this guy on FB” and Bam you mentionned him!! LOL So funny!! But then… the project goes further and further.. wait it didn’t start last week?? You’ve been holding on to post the process?? LOL Anyway I’M so very happy!!! Cheers from Montéal, Éric

  3. What a lovely way to honor the old with the new! I love your use of the scroll. It’s always fun to see how folks approach the design process, especially one that’s this creative and collaborative.

  4. WOW!!!! Amy you really did hit the jackpot! That is absolutely fabulous! What a great idea to use the scroll on your stairs as part of the design. I love it. I am definitely going to check this out for out house, although we are on the west coast.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: