Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Magic of Paint

Look at this beautiful carpentry and paint job!!
Have you heard the old saying 'Caulk & Paint - Makes Us What We Ain't'?  It's directed towards bad carpentry, because caulk can fill in bad joints and hide imperfections - certainly not something our carpenters need.  But there is still a certain magic that paint brings to a project, that really can't be beat.  Suddenly this house is starting to look like a home and the gleaming paint finishes make a big difference!

Remember the old ceiling that I wanted to maintain (click here for all the before photos)?  The one that took two weeks of carpentry and challenged the electricians and plumbers to find creative ways to run their lines?
Original ceiling, with new structural beam
Well, it's exceeded expectations.  It's the kind of detail that makes you say 'wow' as you walk in the front door.  All of the original joists have been painted white.  We installed new, super thin LED downlights in the bead board.  And the guys trimmed out the new structural beams with original, reclaimed lumber from the house.

Don't you love it?

The rest of the open floor plan is really taking shape.
And remember the antique mantle I found, that was the inspiration for the first floor?  Look at it now!

Our other 'wow' element, the island, has been painted Sherwin Williams Tidewater Blue and is a real focal point for the kitchen.  We'll be adding a walnut, butcher block top to accent the curved shape.

Here's the 'Before' photo of the wall that now goes to the mudroom.  A LOT has changed!  For the first time, you can start to see how much the new addition has added to the house.  See the mudroom doorway in the before & after pics?
'Almost' After
Front bedroom when we bought the house
 Oh, and the upstairs?  Well it's pretty great too!  Check out the front bedroom, with all its funky angles, courtesy of our 1906 architecture. We moved the windows, raised the ceiling, defined the dormer and added a cute closet.  Now it's an inviting, south facing room - with lots of nooks and crannies.

The back bedroom has lots of windows to let in light and fresh air (I can't show you a before photo - because this is part of the new addition).

And the master suite is really coming together.
We're getting close to the finish line!  But there are still lots of details to complete.  Stay tuned for a lot more photos on the blog, Facebook and Instagram

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Made in Maine: New Countertops From Recycled Material

I've been wanting a Beachstone countertop for a long time - and this project seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Why?  I love that they're 85% recycled materials.  I love that they're made right here in Maine.  I love that you can customize everything about them.  And I LOVE that they're beautiful!

Aron Butterbaugh, the owner of Beachstsone Sustainable Products, was kind enough to let me tag along as he created our countertop.

The first step, deciding what color we wanted.  This was really tricky!  There are lots of glass colors to choose from, all from post consumer recycled glass (for example, think Sky Vodka bottles, for that deep blue color).  And there are a lot of base colors as well.  That's a lot of options.  And for added variety, we could also include other things, like sea shells.  But ultimately, we decided that simple is better for this project, so glass it is.

Since we want a beach glass look for the house, we tried a couple of different ideas.  And ultimately decided on 3 different combos to play with.  Aron made samples for me and I posted them on Facebook.  Thanks so much to everyone that voted.  The winner is a mix of a color called Tiara Blue, green glass (like old fashioned Coca Cola bottles) and clear glass.  And we're using a color called Tuckerman White for the base material.
And the winner is...... far left!  
Once we had that done, we could start the top.  Aron created a mold, to fit the exact dimensions of our bathroom vanity and the undermount sink I had purchased.  Then we randomly sprinkled the the glass bits across the base of the mold.

Next, he mixed up the slurry.  This includes the clear, sparkly bits of glass and the rest of his mixture - so it was a really noisy process!

He carefully poured on the slurry, so the glass bits don't get pushed to one side in the mold.  

And after the initial layer was complete, he went back with a second layer, to give it more structural integrity.

After letting it cure up for a couple of days, he carefully popped it out of the mold.  Thankfully he warned me that it's not much to look at, fresh from the mold!  Otherwise I would have panicked.
Fresh from the mold - and not a sparkle of glass to be seen!!
Then he started the process of grinding and polishing away the top layer - to expose the beautiful glass bits below.  They started to shine right away, but as he moved to a higher level of polishing, they really started to sparkle.

Finally, he filled any voids with a slurry mix and sealed it for protection.  He installed it yesterday - and it looks fantastic!
Who knows....your old bottles could be in this countertop!!  

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Interior Update - Is the Ugly Duckling a Cygnet Yet???

Well, we haven't hit swan status on the Ugly Duckling, but we're making nice progress.  Seems like it's at least in the swan family at this point! A cygnet, indeed!   So now it's time to share a few update photos.
First floor - starting point
The open floor plan is really coming together.  What started as a series of small rooms, is now a big space, where the rooms flow into one another.
Removed old chimney, built new stairs to meet building codes, added new load bearing beams to strengthen 2nd floor
Of course, the large layout is helped with the dining room addition, across the back of the house.

The new floors are in and they are incredible!  We went with a pre-finished oak hardwood, in something called a wire-brush finish.  I wanted something that wouldn't look too new or modern.  This finish is fantastic - a little bit rustic, with a beautiful dark stain.  It will look great against our light walls.
Kitchen - looking towards Dining Room and backyard

I took these pictures right after the floors were installed - but then quickly put down floor protection, to keep them looking brand new until the house is finished.  So you won't see them again for awhile!

Creating laser generated countertop template
Next up:  The Kitchen.  This is a big kitchen and it's really coming together.  Around the perimeter, we've installed white cabinets with shaker style doors.

 The island is custom with a large counter-height work area and a taller seating area.  Kyle and I created a cardboard template to define the curved section.  It was a bit tricky, but as usual, he did a great job from the framing, to the beadboard and the trim work.  Now that it's complete, it will be painted a soft blue, called Tidewater, by Sherwin Williams
Curved seating area on the kitchen island

Work area of the kitchen island
And I'm in love with the living room.  Remember the antique mantle, that was the inspiration for our design? (click here to see 'before' and the plans)  It's been reworked a bit and is now the perfect frame for our new gas fireplace.  After installing the mantle, Justin built bookcases on either side.  We'll paint it all a nice, crisp white and I'll be adding a custom glass tile border around the firebox.  It's going to be a real focal point of the room!  Of course the big debate is whether the TV should go above the fireplace.  My vote is NO.....the guys are pretty unanimous that it's the obvious spot :-) 
Upstairs, the rooms are coming together, the trim is going in and it seems like we're getting close to the finish line.  The high ceilings make such a statement!

And what do you think of the custom closet in the master bedroom?

I spent lots of time getting the bathroom tile in - I love this carrara marble inset in the master shower!  And the tiled ceiling in the hall bath was a challenge, with all its funky angles.  But I'm pretty pleased with the result.

Broken marble vanity top
But despite all the progress, we have had a couple of setbacks.  The vanity for the master bath arrived with a broken top.  It will take 3-4 weeks in transit for the replacement.  The kitchen countertops got templated, but the quartz arrived at their factory and didn't meet their quality standards.  So that will add another two weeks.  The pallet of siding for the back of the house showed up with so many manufacturing defects, that we need to get material shipped from another state.  The fancy toilet I bought for the hall bath arrived damaged (seriously, I'm not making all this stuff up, how could so many things go wrong at once?!).  So you guessed it, more delays.

When will we be done?  I'm not sure!  Painting will finish this week, but there's still a lot to do!

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wonderful Willard

Fisherman's Point - Willard Beach
As the weather transitions from winter to spring, it's a great time to appreciate this beautiful area where we renovate houses.  Should we pinch ourselves?  How did we get so lucky, to live in such a beautiful place?

Sunrise over Willard Beach
There aren't many neighborhoods with such beauty - and yet you can still walk to restaurants, stores and parks.
Willard Square and Scratch Bakery
Dogs love to run on Willard Beach
Where else can you find beaches, lighthouses, quirky treasures and beautiful antique buildings, in such abundance?
Cottages and more cottages....

And the natural beauty is just breathtaking.
Spring Point Lighthouse and Fort Gorges

Willard Beach
 This is a neighborhood that has evolved over the last 150 years..... and you can tell.

Willard Square - Early 20th Century
It's not a planned community where everything looks the same.  We have houses that were built 150 years ago - and others that are brand new - that all work together to provide an eclectic style.
Thankfully the snow has finally melted!!
And of course this is Maine, so elements of the waterfront are all
around us.
View of Portland Head Light from Fisherman's Point 
View of Spring Point Lighthouse and Fort Gorges from Fisherman's Point

Whether it's the lobsterman with his lobster traps in the yard,

or the lobster buoys decorating a fence

or a boat that's almost as big as the house, there is a character and vibe that is uniquely Maine.

But what really makes a neighborhood special are the people.  You notice that, when you're chatting in line at Scratch Bakery or dancing with the crowd at the annual Willard Fest.  It's a warm, inviting place, filled with lovely people.
Photo:  Sue Lessard
Photo:  Sue Lessard
And of course, now that the leaves are coming out on the trees and the sun is shining later in the day, it just gets better and better!  We are lucky, indeed, to call Willard Beach home! 
Willard Beach on an early spring day

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