Finishing the Fretwork : Part One!

I’ve posted before (here and here) about our work with Rob Bennett from Wabashiki Woodworks. We are undeniably lucky to have such and incredible craftsman basically right in our backyard (90 minutes, but who’s counting?).

We knew from the ghost lines that fretwork adorned the entire Entrance Hall. Do we have any idea what it looked like? Nope. But if anyone out there has old interior pictures of our house, let me know how we can get them. Kidneys, Money, Shout-Out on the Blog – you name it!

We had 7 pieces that needed to be built. Stage One was the Colonnade in three pieces.

Stage Two were the Bay Windows in the Parlor and the Entrance Hall in two pieces.

Stage Three are the two pieces for the stairwell : one small one over the stair entrance, and a HUGE expanse across the room : basically 11 feet wide!

I only had two real requests – I didn’t want the large 11′ section to be too tall – I was afraid it might hide the staircase a little, and I wanted the staircase to be the undeniable star, and the fretwork to be the glittering jewel on top. My other request was that the small piece be removable, because I had terrors about moving something large up the stairs, and smashing everything to pieces.

Rob, as always, got to work on an incredible design. He always tells me when he shows me a sketch that he’s “not that much of a sketcher” but I think they’re BRILLIANT.

This was the first think he showed me, inspired by the peacock design in the stairwell. Making the entire piece an arch would help with my request of not making the piece too tall!

Rob came over to look at the space and show me some ideas. Here’s me seeing this design for the first time!


The second design in Rob’s notebook was also beautiful, but once I saw the peacock it was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT (sorry, Doug).

Rob also brought along some of his templates, which gave me an idea of scale, and how he lays out his patterns to make a design. So clever!

Here’s the design we swiped from the stairwell! I love that Rob incorporated this into our pieces.

Here’s Rob showing how the stairwell and new design are going to coordinate.

And discussing the spot above the stairs. Both of these clips are Instagram short, but they are a glimpse into the process, which I definitely want to document!

A closeup of the design I loved.

In his workshop, Rob started to map out how this would go from sketch to reality, sharing pictures with me along the way!

I love seeing the sketches become life size. It’s SO EXCITING and thrilling. And I cam’t believe this is going in our house!

Rob had the idea of adding the build date of the house into the center panel, which I thought was both playful and so smart!

Rob was just as excited as I was, and let me know when he got the wood for the project. EEK! Quartered Oak.

Rob started with the frame, which gives stability to the piece.

And the sketches behind help you to know the scale. It’s so helpful as a client (which, I’m not very often – I like to do things myself!) to be able to visualize something that has been dreamed up in someone else’s brain!


I love these half-rounds that gave the piece more dimension. Rob put these on both sides, since the fretwork is visible from both sides of the room.

I printed and sent Rob some font options for the numbers in the center. This was the favorite font, but the whole thing felt…. HEAVY to me.


So Rob texted back, “what if we scrolled something around like this?”

He makes good ideas GREAT IDEAS. YES. Please. Do this!


This will be a trilogy – stay tuned for Part Two!


  1. Amy: have you spoken to your state historic preservation office? They may have pictures from a survey before the house was placed on the National Register.

    Sharon Hope

  2. Such skill and beautiful designs! Love seeing the process shots and look forward to seeing the new pieces installed.

  3. Your house was truly blessed that you and your husband came along to be the loving stewards of bringing her back to life!! Love following along on your journey of restoration. Truly an amazing tale of hard work and dedication.

  4. He’s such an artist and craftsman! I can’t wait to see it completed. These are the exact type of trades that we need to support and encourage our young people to learn. I hope he has an apprentice.

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