Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Owners Unit - It's Looking Good!!

Like next door, we've made a lot of progress on the Owner's Unit.  These aren't quite 'Before & After' photos - think of them as 'Before & During', as the updated unit takes shape.  The Owner's Unit is the largest unit, with 3 bedrooms (2 up and 1 downstairs) and two baths.  Look how much we've changed it in the last few months.

The Living Room

We removed a wall and made a really big living room.  I've looked at lots and lots of houses in SoPo and this is one of the biggest living rooms I've seen.  It's over 25 feet long, with 6 windows that keep it light and bright (and the front window has this beautiful antique stained glass!).  Of course it will look even better when we don't have 2 kitchens worth of appliances sitting in there!

And see the large wall on the right?  It's perfect for a giant TV set (it's amazing how many men come to the Open House and look for that :-) ).   We left the original china cabinet, complete with glass doors and lots of drawers.  But we modernized it by adding a light to the top unit and will replace the wood shelves with glass, to give it some wow!

The Dining Room

We created this room from a first floor bedroom.   In the process, we opened it up into the kitchen, so the space really flows.  On the back wall, we were able to leave the closet for some extra storage space (because let's face it, you can never have too much storage space!).  I can already see it as the heart of the household - a place where kids do homework and the family gets together for dinner!

Ah, but you say, what about that tired old ceiling fan?  We have this fabulous Restoration Hardware light fixture going in here.  It can expand and contract, depending how big the table is!


After a lot of deliberating, we decided to take out the old cabinets and completely redo this kitchen.  It turned out to be a smart choice - the plaster cracked when we levelled the floors and we needed to run new plumbing and electric to meet current building codes.  With the wall open to the Dining Room, it suddenly feels much bigger and more integrated with the rest of the house.
And the most exciting find??  Look at those antique wood floors!  The new cabinets will hide the wonky space - and the rest is beautiful!

First Floor Bedroom

While it probably doesn't look like we did much in here, the plaster was so badly cracked, we had to remove all of the plaster and install new drywall.  So now we have perfectly smooth walls and will reinstall all the original trim.  Couple that with the beautiful maple floors and a freshly painted radiator and this will be a wonderful room!

First Floor Bathroom

What do you think?  It's changed a bit!!!  Just getting rid of the dark green walls has made a difference  But with the new tub, custom tile and soon to be new vanity and toilet, it's going to be fabulous!

Bedroom Number Two

First big change - farewell to that sad old ceiling fan!  Next, we added the Soundboard - to reduce noise between the two units.  And then we tore out the nasty old wall to wall carpet and refinished the floors.  What a difference!

The Master Suite

This is a big master suite.  There's room for a large bed and plenty of space for a couple of chairs to relax in, when the owners want to get away from it all downstairs.  Or, you could put a deck in the alcove and have a home office.
We didn't change much about the room itself, but we made a lot of updates to the adjoining spaces.  And they all have a big impact - for example, the new bigger bath skylight brings more light into the entire space.  See the difference below.

Yea.....the toilet in the middle of the room isn't a great touch :-)

See this fabulous new walk in closet?  We created it from unused attic space!  We will put closet rods all the way around, creating space for lots and lots of clothes (and that's a door to a very large crawl space, for storing lots more stuff)

This closet will be decked out with lots of closet rods - bring on that big wardrobe!

The mirror for petite people is gone - along with the formica sink top
The master bathroom lost a couple of walls, got a new, larger skylight and all new tile - complete with marble and glass mosaic insets.  I can't wait to get the new vanity and fixtures installed!

 See the mystery holes that were cut into the wall?  Turns out we had some leaking pipes.  But it's all fixed now and we have electrical for new light fixtures as well.
Remember the staircase off of the Master Bedroom - that ended 8 feet up in the air, above the backyard?  Well we removed that and now have a nice balcony, overlooking the backyard.

The perfect spot for a couple of chairs to enjoy your morning coffee!

We're really turned the corner - stay tuned as Waterhouse Builders does all the fancy woodwork.  Can't wait to see how it all comes together!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

And Suddenly.....It's Looking Like a House Instead of a Disaster Site

Okay, so there is a lot more to do, but we've hit the tipping point:  the place no longer looks like a demo zone and we can start to think of it as a house again!  Let's start with the Tenant's Unit.

It feels like it's been a long time coming!  We had a tough time getting the drywall done.  The good news about the improving economy is all of the good tradespeople are really busy.  The bad news is it's hard to get on their schedule to get the work done.  But after waiting a bit, we were able to get going and immediately started to see some dramatic improvements.  Once the sanding was complete and a coat of primer, we think it looks pretty great!!

Dining Room

We removed a couple of walls in the dining room, to link it more closely with the kitchen.  That meant that the antique curio cabinet needed to be moved a few feet.  And we closed off a narrow doorway that led into the bedroom.

The result?  A much larger space, while keeping the historic style of the house.  Mike used his tablet to display the 'before', so we could get a good look at the 'after'.  Before the changes, you couldn't see the kitchen at all.  Now it's open and the rooms flow together.
And we no longer have a hallway to the kitchen.  Now it's all open space with the floors all patched up (sanding will come a bit later) 

Hallway Before
'Hallway' After

The room needed a major overhaul and it got it.  We started by jacking up the floor to take care of a sagging floor.  That cracked all the plaster, so we had to rebuild the party wall between the two units.  But that gave us space for new plumbing, electrical and sound insulation!  Now we have nice new walls, ready for cabinets!
Kitchen Before
Kitchen 'During'

Kitchen Before
Kitchen After - with all new plumbing, electric and vintage hardwood floor

First Floor Bedroom
This started as two small bedrooms.  They each had a closet, but they were so shallow, you couldn't fit a hanger in them!!!  So,  we decided to eliminate the wall and closets - and now have a nice, large bedroom, with two new closets.
Bedroom Before
Bedroom After - It's Doubled in Size!
There's Room for a King Sized Bed!

Master Suite

This didn't really start off as a suite.  Instead, it was a small, cramped hallway, leading to a bedroom with very little natural light.  But by taking advantage of some unused attic space, we're enlarged this to include a large bedroom, closet and a full bath.  And with two new skylights, it's all nice and bright.

Before - Dark and Cramped

Now - Big and Bright

Next steps?  We need the kitchen and bathrooms installed.  Not to mention lots of trim work, doors, final floor finishing, etc.  But we're on a roll!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Unique Entrance - Can It Be a Mudroom?

I've heard it said that most buyers decide if they want to buy a house within 5 minutes.  I'm not sure it took me that long on this house, because I fell in love with the entrance.

I'm not sure if you call it a foyer, since it's a common entrance to both apartments.  But I think it's an amazing space with a lot of potential.  It has the original bead board ceiling, clapboard siding, and beautiful doors with their original hardware.

Of course it needs a few changes!  We'll eliminate 1) the windows that are the backside of the shower units for the 1st floor bathrooms, 2) the bathroom exhaust vents that stink up the room, 3) the indoor/outdoor carpeting that's covering up original floors.

And I'd like to make it a giant mudroom, with a separate storage unit for each tenant.  So, the plan is to put a closet, mud bench, and coat rack on each side, next to their front doors.

Once the guys pulled the windows out, I started the design.  I needed to figure out dimensions for the layout.  Painters tape is great for this, because you can apply it and remove it as much as you need to - to get the right proportions.

From that, I came up with this layout.  I'm going to use IKEA units for the closets, with a 5 panel glass door.  It's a nice blend of traditional and contemporary that will look great in the space.  Waterhouse Builders will install them with a kickspace below and crown moulding above - so they will look like custom built ins.  Next to each unit is a mud bench for putting on snow boots.  The benches will have wooden furniture legs for additional support and a little additional style.  Above each bench will be two rows of coat hooks, for lots of hanging space.  And we'll use a wide plank V-groove bead board to continue that blend of contemporary and traditional.
In addition to the storage design, I'm really excited about the ceiling fixtures.  These retro style light fixtures will look great on the white bead board ceiling.  There will be two of them - one on each tenant's side.  One of the things I've learned on this project, is when you have a common area, each tenant must have their own light with dedicated switch.  Who knew?

But before any of the custom woodwork can start, we needed to tear out the old carpet and get the floors cleaned up.  Underneath, we have tired old pine floors.

The team from Peter's Hardwood cleaned them up in no time.  They sanded them and did two coats of polyurethane.  We'll do the final coat when everything else is complete.

We hope to start on the woodwork in the next couple of weeks.  But what do you think?  Doesn't it look better already?  Won't this be nice for the new tenants?

Light Fixtures - Lamps Plus - Franklin Park Vintage Metal Cage
Closets - IKEA
Copper Clock - Smith & Hawken

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