Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Kitchen Planning for the Cozy Cottage

So amidst all the chaos of demo/rebuilding, I have to finalize the kitchen design so we can get cabinets ordered, manufactured and delivered in time.  It would be so much easier to wait until we had real walls to visualize everything, but the timing just doesn't work.

So, first step - since we have an open floor plan, we need to think about the whole space, not just the kitchen.  I've been carrying this clipping from last spring's Pottery Barn catalog around with me for weeks now.  I LOVE the white board-and-batten treatment on the peaked wall.  It will be perfect in our new space, to highlight the ceiling height and give the walls some visual interest.  And it also helps transform our bland ranch into a house with some character.

But with that much white, I don't want to install white kitchen cabinets.  We need something to add a little more drama and interest.  I considered black, but thought that would be too stark a contrast.  Thomasville has a Blue Slate color that is gorgeous, but when I tried it in the space, it seemed too dark as well.  And then I discovered a brand new color called Oat.  It's a warm beige color that will look great against the white walls and the Carrera marble-like quartz countertops that I like.  The only downside?  Because it's a brand new paint color, it's a lot more expensive.  Gulp.  This is why I have trouble sticking to a budget!
Thomasville's newest kitchen cabinet colors - Blue Slate & Oat
With that decision made, I went looking for fabric for window treatments, because it's important to think through our whole color palette.  Since this is one large room, I want fabric that will work in the entire space.  Luckily, I found this fantastic fabric at one of my favorite local stores.  It has the Oat color and cute little Blood Orange flowers for a pop of color.  I'll mix this with some navy pieces, to tie it all together.

For the backsplash, I wanted something simple.....but with more interest than just a plain subway.  I found this Hortus tile called SoHo.  It mixes a narrow plain subway with patterned subway.  A clean, slightly contemporary approach to a classic backsplash!

Next step - the layout.  I really, really wanted a big giant island.  But when my kitchen designer Julie and I sat down and worked through it, we realized it was impractical.  By putting all the appliances on one wall, there really wasn't enough space for cabinets- particularly uppers that are so handy for dishes and glassware.  And when the stools are occupied (or your kids/husband don't push them back in), it's hard to pass by with the busy traffic pattern from the back door.

So...... we came up with a different option.  It means we need to move some of the heating around, but it really makes great use of the space.  And this kitchen will be a dream to cook in.  Plenty of prep space.  An efficient work triangle.  And nice features like a wastebasket that's hidden in a cabinet.

I love the peninsula.  Can't you imagine having a party and everyone can gather around, to chat with the cook (or cooks!)?  I bought some fantastic stools last year and have been dying to use them in the right house - this will be the one!
And thanks to this new layout, there are lots of cabinets to hold everything!  

We will extend the white oak flooring that's in the rest of the house into the kitchen.  Having the same flooring in the space will make it look and feel bigger.  Finally, I laid the whole thing out with blue painters tape and am pretty happy with how it looks.  
Now we just need plumbing, electrical, drywall, flooring and the list goes on!!  Geezzz.... still lots to do!  So what do you think, is this a kitchen you'd enjoy cooking in?

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Antique Inspiration - Brimfield, Mass

One of the fun things about starting a new project is coming up with a few inspirational elements to get the design started.  And this bland little ranch really needs some inspiration!  I'd like to add a few antique elements, to help give it a little character.
So, lucky for me, the Brimfield Antique Market season is upon us.   .  Brimfield is the largest antique show in New England and runs 3 times a year, for 5 days at a time.  It's HUGE and always has lots of interesting items.    And despite stormy skies, there was a big crowd.

Looking for gas station signs??  They have a big selection!
I went with a mental list of things to look for, but frankly, you can't be too specific, because you never know what you'll find.  For example, what about these gas station signs.  Or how about a life size hippo head??  Surprisingly, I was able to pass on them :-) 

But it didn't take long to buy something!  10 minutes after arriving I found these well scoops......not sure where I'll use them, but aren't they cool?  I'd like to put succulents in them.

How could I resist?  $30!!
Next, I came across this carved antique.....something.....  Maybe it was the top of a dresser?  Or a bed?  Not really sure, but by taking the wooden backing out and replacing it with mirrors, it can be pretty cool!  I can't wait to figure out where to hang it.

Top Half - thankfully it disassembled to fit in the car!
But the thing I really wanted was a glass cabinet door, to use in this storage cubby above the basement staircase.  It's right across from the front door and isn't very attractive.  But with the right door on it, it can look more like a built in china cabinet, which would be quite nice.

I was getting pretty discouraged (and tired), when I spied this leaded glass window.  Eureka!  It's perfect.  The wide lead sections between each pane really give it a distinctive look (and make it crazy heavy!).  Of course it's not the right size, but we can retrofit the opening to accomodate it.  A tall narrow opening will actually look a lot nicer than the current rectangle.
And with a car full of new treasures, it was time to head back to Maine!  

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

That Wow Moment

It's always amazing to see how fast framing takes place.  So imagine how excited I was to see the framing for the new open floor plan.

The guys got to work quickly, installing the new LVL ridge beam.  This new LVL will provide the structural backbone for the entire roof system.  It's a big job, but the critical first step for all the other work we want to do.

Once that was in place, they started adding in the new rafters -and suddenly,  we had a big, new space!  As a reference, here's what it looked like before.
Living Room 'Before'

 And now.....

Open Floor Plan - 'After'
Next, they added the strapping and cleaned up the job site.  When I walked back in the house, it was the 'WOW' moment I'd been waiting for.  It was hard to comprehend how much had changed!  Can you believe how grand this space is now?
See where the skylight will be added to bathe the room in light?

A few days later, they added the skylight in the living room.  There are quite a few windows in the new living area, but there are also large trees around the house.  So it's not as bright as I would like.  The skylight will help make sure the room is always flooded with sunlight.
What's next?  Well, we need to finalize kitchen design and get electrical and plumbing installed.  So lots of work ahead, but when anyone walks in the house, they start by saying 'Wow'!!

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

What About the Basement?

Hmmm.....while the house is a bit small, there's this whole duplicate footprint of space in the basement.  That's a lot of square footage!  Should we do something with it?  Does anyone want a finished basement nowadays?  Especially in a small house?

Of course it's not an easy job - there are some challenges.  Let's start with the puddles that are down there.  There isn't a sump pump, but instead a utility pump that runs pretty much 24x7 (thanks in part to a leaky water meter).  So we will need to put in a basement waterproofing system.

Door cut to allow bathtub drain from the room above!!

There's a door to a bulkhead exit - but it has this fancy cutout for the bathtub drain in the room above.  LOL - that's a unique way to open the door! And I'd be curious how often there were pipe freezing problems in the winter.  That's a tough spot to insulate.

And then there are the cobwebs.  These are SERIOUS cobwebs.  No spider sightings yet, but you'd hear me scream if I stumbled across one.

But when we fix all that, think of the bonus room you could put down there.  Or home office.  And a fancy laundry room (why do I fantasize about fancy laundry rooms????  Next to a mudroom, it would be something I'd love to have in my own home!!).  And it could have a legal egress exit, which would make it suitable for a 3rd bedroom, if someone wanted it.
This is not a fancy laundry room!!!!
Would you want a finished basement - particularly if we can add some nice daylight?   How would you use it?  Home office?  Man cave?  Playroom for kids?  3rd bedroom?   I'd love to hear your thoughts! Pin It

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Demo Day!!

It's getting exciting around here!!!  The demo has started and we're already seeing lots of changes.  Can you believe the difference?

Of course the biggest change is in the living area.  The guys started by stripping the wall between the kitchen and living room.  Can you believe the difference already?  Doesn't it look a whole lot bigger and brighter?

Next, they started on the ceiling.  First they stripped all the drywall off.

Can you believe how high the ceiling will be???
And here's the first peek at what the new space will look like.  Is it a 'WOW' yet???

(As an aside, see how some of those boards on the roof are gray?  That's because in the 60's, they used the boards to pour the concrete foundation.  Once the concrete was set, they took them apart and used them for the roof. and sidewalls.  Seems like a pretty efficient way to reuse materials!)

The guys have to leave a couple of joists in the room, until the new framing is built (we don't want the building to implode!).  So we won't get the full open effect until the new truss system is in place. 

So, are you starting to get an idea how big the change will be?  Pretty exciting!

Next up?  Our framers will be starting the new truss system, to give us the structure we need for this huge ceiling!

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cozy Cottage - The Game Plan and the 'Wow Factor'

As you saw from the previous post, there's not a lot of wiggle room on this project.  We want to make it beautiful, but in order to keep it affordable for a future buyer and still have a little profit, we can't get too crazy on spending (and I'm really good at spending!).

Tape holding window panes in place
So.....we went through our usual list of wants and needs (click here on How to Start a Whole House Renovation).  As always - safety, security and energy efficiency go to the top of the list.  And there are a lot of things in that category.  Namely new roof, new heating system, basement waterproofing, electrical (the outlets are only ungrounded 2 prong), new windows (single pane, some held in with strapping tape) and insulation. Yikes, those are big budget items!

And of course we want a beautiful new kitchen and new bathroom - again, expensive projects.

But to my mind, the real bang for the buck in this house, is the living space.  By eliminating the wall between the living room and kitchen, we can get a room that looks and feels bigger.
Look at all this attic space!  
And even better, by ripping out the ceiling and going up into this attic space, this can be a WOW.  This will give us 12 foot ceilings in the center of the room!  What a difference!

But it's not easy.  We had a structural guy come take a look and to do that, we need to install a new ridge beam and new joists - essentially creating a whole new truss system.  While we're at it, I'd like to add a skylight, to brighten up the room and provide some additional ventilation.  Those changes would make this the biggest single ticket item of the whole project.

And I think it's worth every penny! While it's not a big house, this will make it feel much larger and give a sense of drama very few houses in this area have.  That will be the 'Wow Factor', as you walk through the front door.  And I can't wait to put a brand new kitchen in that space!

Of course, we'll make some other changes as well - like adding a bigger window into the small bedroom, to provide more light and a view into the backyard.  We'll also build a small front porch, to give the house some additional curb appeal.  Not to mention the big ticket items at the top of this post.  Oh....and I'm still noodling the idea of finishing some space in the basement.  See, this is why I always overrun the budget!!  There are so many ways to spend money!
We will expand this bedroom window, to provide light and a view to the backyard
So for now - we have a game plan!  And I'm pretty excited about it.  We've scheduled the demo crew and the framers and will start right away.  Stay tuned!

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

It's Almost Like Being There - Virtual Open House!

We didn't have time to do a 'before' open house for this project.  So I was trying to figure out the best way for people to see it.  I published the usual 'before' photos, but they really aren't the same as being there in person.  And I know for folks that aren't local, they'd like to get a better view of the house.

And then I started talking to one of our followers, Mitch from Locksley Consulting and he has this really cool camera that does a 360 degree scan - that really makes it feel like you're in the house.  It creates an interactive video, that lets you literally walk through the house.  And when we finish the place, he can do a side-by-side Before & After!  Won't that be fun to watch?

He came out and showed me how it works and it is really cool!  The camera has 9 different lenses in it, so it films multiple angles at once.
This camera films 9 different things at once!

He sets it up in each room and it spins around to film the entire space (while we hide in another room!).

And look at how great the photos look from the camera!  This is the front wall of the living room.
It builds the house floorplan, as it links each camera revolution.  This will allow the viewer to walk through the room and look in any direction they want.

Ultimately, it creates two things - the 3D walk through and a 'Dollhouse' view, which lets you see the entire floor plan (I loved this part!).
Dollhouse View of Cozy Cottage

And if you have Virtual Reality glasses, it lets you spin and turn to see the entire space, as if you're in the room.  This was my first experiment with Virtual Reality glasses and I couldn't believe how REAL it felt.  Amazing!

So, check it out by clicking on this link. 3D Walk Through  If you use your cursor, you can move forward to each dot and then just use your mouse to move right or left.  It's pretty easy, once you get the hang of it.  It lets you see lots of detail.

So give it a try.  And I'd love to hear what you think!  Do you see potential in the Cozy Cottage?

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Not so Cozy Cottage - The Before Photos

So, I should preface this post by mentioning that a top local realtor, who knows this neighborhood really well, has predicted this project won't go well.

You would think that would have stopped me from making an offer.

But it didn't.

And while this will surely be our least profitable project ever, I think it can be really, really wonderful.  I get lots of requests for small cottages with one floor living - at an affordable price.  And this will be just that!  It's only 750 square feet, but we'll make sure it has really beautiful features and finishes.  With lots of style!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me share our starting point.

So how would you describe it?  Small?  Nondescript?  Some have said blah and bland.  Would you just drive by it and never notice it? 

Inside, it's pretty tired.  Built in 1962, it's been used as a rental for many years and is showing lots of wear and tear - not to mention end of life issues, but hey at 55, they probably need replacement.  

Here's the view inside the front door.  Not exciting, but a nice sized room, with great hardwood floors.
Living room, with kitchen beyond

And the kitchen.  Probably updated in the 90's, it's ready for a refresh!

I think the bathroom was done somewhat recently - but I'd like to start fresh, take it back to the studs, and do lots of updates.  

The master bedroom is a nice room and with windows on two walls, there's light and airflow.

And there's also a small second bedroom.  I don't understand why that window is so tiny.  It looks over the nice big backyard!  But you'd have to be over 6 feet tall to look out there.  Obviously, we will be changing that.

And the basement, well, I'll share more about that later.  But this will give you an idea.

So, does it need a lot of work?  Absolutely!  Do we know all the problems yet?  No way!  But it has lots of potential and can be a sweet little house.  We're still working through the plans - and I hope to share them soon!

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