Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Hiatus

Funny, just as we hit our 3 year anniversary, we also finished our 7th house (since it was a duplex, it felt more like 7 & 8!!).  We have already bought a house for our next project, but the seller wants to stay in it for awhile and rent.  So this seems like a great time to kick back for a little.

But I can't see myself taking it too easy!  So I wondered if there was any interest in sharing the story of our own SoPo Cottage?  It certainly has some interesting twists and one of the worst contractor horror stories we've ever experienced.  I have lots of photos from the project and would be happy to share them.

And as you can see - it was ready for some updating!

So let me know.  Any interest in hearing about our first SoPo Cottage adventure?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Creating a Master Suite From Unused Attic Space

The biggest transformation in the whole project?  The Master Suite on the Tenant's side of the duplex.   It started as a sad hallway and small bedroom, but became a whole different space!
When we bought the house, this was the sight that greeted you at the top of the staircase.  There was a short hallway that led to a tired looking bedroom.  The only natural light came from one small window in the bedroom.  The door you see led to the unfinished attic space.

Bedroom Before

Bedroom After
Soon this will be the Master Bath!
Here's a view of the attic from the door at the top of the stairs (and seriously, why there was a dryer vent in there??).  We quickly realized there was so much space, it would allow us to almost double the usable square footage by creating new knee walls!   So I started fiddling with the dimensions on my CAD system and finally came up with a design that would allow us to make this a real master suite.  The new design included a larger living space, closet, and a full bath.

The team from Waterhouse Builders got to work.  They removed lots of walls, built the new partitions, installed two big skylights and suddenly it's a pretty amazing master suite.




Dollar for dollar, skylights are one of the best investments you can make (just make sure you buy a top quality brand).  Look at the difference having all that natural light makes in the space!  And these photos were taken with snow on the skylights (it's been a tough winter in Maine)!
Wall elimination plan




We were so excited to squeeze in a full master bath!  It's not a huge space, so we wanted to make it really special.  That meant lots of high end finishes and details.  We added a beautiful ebony-stained vanity, granite top, Grohe fixtures, and custom tile with glass and mosaic insets on the floor and shower. Next week, we're having glass shower doors installed, custom made to fit our angled ceiling.  And in the angled space next to the tub, we built shelves for storing towels and supplies.

See how the skylight floods the space with light, while also providing additional headroom on the sloped ceiling (I'm embarrassed to admit how much time we spent figuring out where a typical man needed to stand when we laid out the toilet location!)?


So I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Is this is a warm inviting place to get away and relax!












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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Before and After: Owner's Unit Master Suite

In the Master Suite, we proved that you don't have to spend a fortune to make the space much more livable (maybe that's a lesson I need to remember for the future!).  Safety, storage and aesthetics have all been improved.  We didn't have to make major changes - but the updates made a big difference!

We started with a big space.  There is plenty of room for a king sized bed and a sitting room or office space.  But the carpet needed upgrading and we needed to update some of the electrical to meet new building codes.  And then of course there were those odd plumbing leaks and the holes in the walls!




One of the biggest changes was the addition of a balcony.  The old staircase ended in the middle of the backyard - about 8 feet off the ground.  Watch that last step, it's a doozy!    Now we have a nice spot for a morning cup of coffee (once the temps get above freezing again).



Okay.....it looks a bit different with all the snow we've had!  Even after shovelling!











The Master Bath was pretty basic.  The house had been vacant for years and we think pipes had frozen - hence all the odd holes in the walls.


New larger skylight going in!


First, we did some structural changes.  We removed some of the walls, added a new larger skylight (which also allowed us to put a nice big mirror over the vanity - the old one was a challenge if you were over 5' tall, you could only see your chest!) and did some rewiring for new vanity lights.  The closet provided some nice storage (it was the only closet in the suite when we started), so we left it in place.

The floor was tiled with a textured field tile, accented with marble and glass mosaic.  The new vanity is a big upgrade from the old sink - and it provides lots of storage as well!


























When we got started, that was the only closet in the master suite

Finally, we reclaimed some attic space to create a spacious new master closet.  Now there is a lot of storage space in this master suite!  A nice change, don't you think?


Sources:
Bath Field Tile - Lowes
Bath Mosaic - Home Depot
Bath Vanity - Home Depot (online.....they run great sales!)
Light Fixtures - Restoration Hardware Outlet
Faucet - Newport Brass (okay a splurge, but I found it on clearance at the plumbing supply house)
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Before and After: One Kitchen Two Ways - The Tenants Side

I can't quite decide what my least favorite element of this original kitchen was:  the popcorn ceiling, the vinyl tiles, the lack of storage space, the sagging floors, or the fact that it was accessed through a dark hallway?   It was hard to decide.  But since we gutted the space, it really didn't matter that much.
Almost Finished!  Still needs tile work to be completed
This kitchen had the exact same (but mirror opposite) floor plan as the Owner's Unit.  Yet the design on this side was changed up a bit  by opening up the hallway from the dining room and creating a flow between the spaces.  We also closed off one of the doorways leading off of the kitchen (to create a large 1st floor bedroom).
Before
Plan

Kitchen - after the gut job!
And like the other unit, we did an extensive amount of work.  All new electrical, plumbing, walls and more.  And we also found the same beautiful antique red birch flooring under those old vinyl stick on tiles!



Hallway Before
 By removing this built in cupboard and moving the china cabinet in the dining room, we were able to   eliminate the old, dark hallway and make this space bright and open!















And look what a fantastic job the guys did of repairing the antique floors, after we removed all those walls!

Hallway After - nice and open with plenty of light shining through!
It's always so much fun to see a plan turn into reality!  This kitchen has a lot of storage.  There is a large, full depth pantry next to the refrigerator.  Combine that with all the other cabinetry and you can store lots of pots, pans, food and more.



 For the cabinetry, we used Martha Stewart's Heavy Cream Purestyle cabinets and added quartz countertops, open shelving and a pretty cool pendant light over the sink.  The glass is blown through the chicken wire and the resulting angles of the glass give it a beautiful glow when it's on.  We wanted to add a little more visual interest on the backsplash.  So we used a marble inset tile to set off the white subway background.  And the creamy golden marble colors coordinate with the quartz countertops and cabinets.

And we added this beautiful cherry butcher block top on the peninsula.  I like to mix wood with a solid surface whenever I can.  It adds a warmth to the room - you can't help but run your hands over the wood surface!   And it's the perfect place to put a couple of stools to chat with the cook!
We're so pleased with the 'After' kitchen and our tenants love it too!

Curious to see how the Owner's Kitchen came out?  Click here.  I'd love to hear which one you like the best!!

Sources:
Cabinetry - Martha Stewart
Pendant Light - Nicola's Home
Metal Shelf Brackets - Rubbermaid
Appliances - LG
Cabinet Hardware - Summer Street Home Grayson, Oil Rubbed Bronze





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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Tenant's Living Room and Dining Room: Before and After

While the first floor in both duplex units started out the same, we took different approaches to creating the 'after' design.  They both involved a lot of work - but they each have their own unique look now!

The challenge on the Tenant side of the duplex was to create flow between the living spaces on the first floor.  The kitchen was at the very back of the house and felt cut off from the rest of the house.  So we made a dramatic change eliminated the hallway between the dining room and kitchen.  It was a big job, because they were load bearing walls.  But look at the difference it makes!

Eliminating Hallway with new LVL Beams
It also meant we had to move the china cabinet to the right a few feet - but I just love how it looks, now that it's centered in the doorway from the living room!

In Progress - China Cabinet Moved to Right
The dining room now feels much larger, with the addition of 4 feet from the old hallway.


And painting it Sherwin Williams's neutral Linen made it so much brighter.

The Restoration Hardware light fixture adds a dramatic touch.  The underside of the canopy is lined with mirrors, so it will add a lot of sparking light to the dining table.





And when we rebuilt the china cabinet, we lighted it and added glass shelves.  Now it's a great spot to display collectibles!


The living room didn't get as many changes - it was already a nice size, with beautiful stained glass in the front window.  And of course now there is a nice flow between all of the rooms.  


Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen are now connected!
We still need to get the china cabinet completed with hardware and the original glass doors reinstalled, but it's nice to have everything else finished!

Curious how this unit compares to the Living Room and Dining Room in the other duplex unit?  Click here.

Up next?  I'll be sharing the before and after photos of the kitchen.




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