Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Lots and Lots of Custom Details

At long last, we've gotten to the phase of the project where all the design elements start to take shape.   It's not a quick process, because we're always tweaking things as we go along.  But I thought it would be fun to give you a few sneak peeks.

First up - wrapping the beams with reclaimed wood.  We hid all those steel beams with wood we salvaged from another project.  I can't get over how the wood warms up the space.  So much nicer than just wrapping them in drywall!

Next, James set to work on the fireplace surround.  I've had this giant wooden beam kicking around for awhile (honestly, I can't remember where it came from, but it's been traveling from house to house for a couple of years now).  And this is the perfect place to use it!
We're adding board and batten trim above the mantle beam and on the base of the fireplace as well.  Once that's finished, I'll tile the surround next to the fireplace unit (by code, you can't have combustible materials close to the firebox), with a beautiful marble tile.

What else?  Well, the kitchen is underway.  One of the features I'm most excited about are the X's we're using to dress up the island.  This wood came out of the house and it's such a cool accent!  Don't you love the saw marks from when they built this house in 1925?

The railing is back in place with these great custom newel posts.

And it's during this phase that we always have 'That Moment' - where, despite all the chaos and clutter, you can suddenly see that it's going to be a fabulous house.  Stay tuned - there's lots more to come!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Summertime - and the Outdoor Living is Easy!

Back of Farmhouse - 'Before'
We put up with long, cold winters in Maine.  And as we shovel out from our umpteenth snowstorm, we remind ourselves that summer is coming - and it will be glorious.  Beautiful blue skies, BBQ weather, abundant sunshine (but not too warm!) and lots of playtime.

Once the weather warms up, we want to be outside.  ALL THE TIME!  And that means we need some great outdoor space.  And while this house has the nicest backyard we've ever had on a project, there wasn't a way to enjoy it.

French Doors Going In!
So we set out to fix that.  First up, a big, beautiful deck.  With the addition of the french doors on the back of the kitchen, we have the perfect spot for a big deck.

I spent a lot of time planning the deck and finally decided to go big.  At 16' x 16', there's room for lots of seating and a grill.

I'm a sucker for real wood, so we used a prefinished mahogany decking that can be left to weather to a soft gray or coated to maintain its deep red color.  The railings, posts and trim are all AZEK, which never needs painting - so zero maintenance.

And the result?  Well it's a great 'room' that merges the indoor and outdoor living space, to really enjoy the beautiful summer weather.

Courtyard 'Before'
But that's not all.  When we moved the kitchen door to the back of the house, it made sense to move the staircase, creating the perfect spot for a courtyard.

Why a courtyard when you have a deck?  Well our spring and fall can be quite chilly for sitting outside, but this space creates a microclimate as the sun streams in and provides the perfect spot for a morning cup of coffee.

We used concrete pavers to create the hardscape, with lots of curves to soften the edges.  And the planting beds provide the opportunity to add lots of color.

My favorite feature?  This beautiful cedar arbor - perfect for some fast growing vines.
And now that I've got some plantings in there, it's really feeling like a place to hang out.  

And to complete the outdoor beautification, yesterday the guys added a cupola to our bland, vanilla garage.  It looks amazing!!!  I can't get a good shot of it without the port a potty in the way - so it will be awhile before I can share a pic of the whole garage!

Of course we still have lots of construction equipment and material in the way of everything at the moment- but as we get that cleaned up, I'm getting pretty excited about the farmhouse!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018


This place is shaping up so quickly!!  Our talented trades have been working non stop and it's making such a difference.  We have passed our structural, plumbing and electrical inspections and drywall is underway, so it seems like the right time to give you an update.

First, this was NOT supposed to be a gut job.  Yes, we were going to remove some walls, but I had still hoped to retain a lot of the original plaster.  But as we dug into it, the structural work we did necessitated lots of demolition.  And before I knew it, there were only a few untouched walls.

Yup - we had to jack up the walls!  
My mantra 'This is not a gut job' didn't work.  Take a look at this video to see the latest.

So what changed?  Well, we removed 4 load bearing walls, which required lots of steel beams to support the house above.

The old porch is now living space and leads to the home office and master suite.

This antique french door (which I've been hoarding away in my storage facility for a few years) is finally going to make an appearance as the door to the office.

The living spaces are fantastic - a big living room (complete with a gas fireplace), dining room and an open kitchen.
How to choose which light fixture to use?  Tape them in place!! 
Look at the sunlight flooding into the living room!!
And the kitchen is dramatically different.  It's hard to show a true before and after, because the flue from the old furnace was in the way, but look how the french door makes the room bright and light - with beautiful views to the large backyard.

Kitchen looking towards living room

Opening up the stairwell made such a huge difference for both the first and second floor!!  Now the space is bright and open - and wait till I get my giant light fixture in there!

What else?  Well, we had gas service brought to the house and installed a brand new high efficiency gas boiler (95.5% efficiency - wow!!)

We also insulated ceilings, walls and the tricky crawl space under the front porch (seriously, I'm glad I didn't have to climb through this window to apply the foam insulation.  Those guys do an amazing job!).
Foam applied on the crawl space ceiling

And we have framed up two, brand new bathrooms.  Once drywall is primed,  we will start finish work!    So what do you think??  Will this be a great home for a future owner?

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Amping up the Curb Appeal!!

Okay, so this is an attractive house, BUT there is still some opportunity to improve the curb appeal!  We need a bit of drama to balance all the white siding.  As we've gotten it cleaned up - it's just so overwhelmingly white.   I need sunglasses to look at it on a sunny day.  So I started planning some changes.
Curb Appeal Plan
Centered Front door mockup
First, I wanted to center the front door. A new door would bring in lots of sunlight (sounds simple, but there were lots of challenges per this post).  So I did a quick mockup of the idea to give me an idea what it would look like.  The door was great, but sidelights will make it even better.  With that decided, we ordered the door and got to work.

Once we moved the front door, the stairway was in the wrong place - as well as the big bushes.  I hated to just chop down the Alberta Spruce, so I posted them for free on Craigslist and a nice man named Dan came and transplanted them to his house.  He got it done before the summer heat got too crazy, so hopefully they're doing fine.

We wanted to match the windows that were already in the house, so we ordered new Paradigm windows (Made in Maine!) to balance the front porch space.

Or course we needed to tear out the old concrete steps and walkway, since they led right up to the middle of the wall.  Instead, we built a new mahogany staircase and added a paver walkway.  That was a big job, but looks oh so great!!

But the biggest change was all about color.  It's just so white!!!  The front door can add a pop of color, but how do we offset that big bank of white?
There is just so much white!!!!

Part of the challenge is the white, boring windows.  I'm a fan of the new trend of black windows on a white house, but can't see changing out all the nice Paradigm windows in the house (and I worry that like any trend, it will be passé in a few years).  So instead, I wanted to paint the window casings a gray to make them pop a bit.  Cityscape by Sherwin Williams blends nicely with the gray roof.  I did a couple of test windows and really liked the look, so we started to paint them all.

And I know this sounds crazy, but I'm in love with the red/orange twin bed that I bought for one of the bedrooms and think it would be the perfect color for the front door.  I carried the footboard into Sherwin Williams and had them color match it.  And voila - we have a front door color!!!  Kind of a Blood Orange meets Robust Red color, that will really pop.

Barn Lights - Restoration Hardware

And the result?  Well, we still need some more painting and landscaping - and of course the new barn lights.   But I'm pretty pleased with the progress!  Farewell boring white, hello farmhouse!!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Farmhouse: The Master Suite

I'm always hearing from potential buyers that want a first floor master suite.  Sometimes it's because people want to age-in-place and have one floor living.  And sometimes it's because they have aging parents that are coming to live with them.  So it's nice to finally create one!  And it's going to be a really great space.

We're converting the room that was previously used as a living room.  It appears to have been an addition to the house, possibly in the 1980's.  It's a nice sized room, but the not-to-code wood stove and low ceiling made it a bit awkward for a bedroom with a large bed.

So we set out to change that (if you want to see the before and after floor plan, click here).  First we removed the chimney, which immediately made the room feel larger.  Next, we tore out the acoustic tile ceiling to see what the framing looked like.  The room has nice strong joists, but to create the vaulted ceiling I want, we needed to install a new structural ridge beam.  And to be able to handle the snow loads and winds that we see here on the coast of Maine, we also installed hurricane ties around the perimeter.
Installing the new structural ridge beam
And to my way of thinking, it's never too soon to think about light fixtures - thankfully Steve was a good sport as I considered options :-)
Master Bedroom light fixture, Option 1
We had to make other changes as well.  We had to enlarge one of the windows to add an egress window, to meet code for a bedroom space (it has to be large enough for a firefighter to climb through with full gear).  And since the ceiling space is narrower, we installed rigid spray foam, to give us maximum R-value for insulation.
I'm pretty excited about the rest of the room design as well.  This Pippa duvet and sham set from Pottery Barn will be perfect for the light, organic approach I'm taking to the interior.  I'll pair it with textured pillows and drapes, to keep it warm and inviting.
Photo:  Pottery Barn

One of our talented carpenters/metal workers is custom making a metal/reclaimed lumber headboard that I can't wait to see!  Here's a similar one that we used for inspiration.

I'm also adding bamboo roman shades, to provide some privacy with beautiful color and texture.

For the bathroom, I'm doing something a bit different.  I'm planning to mix some organic materials (marble & wood) with beautiful polished nickel fixtures.  So a bit of rustic and a bit of glam!

For the floor, I walked into the tile showroom and said  'I don't like wood look tile' - and then stumbled over this sample and fell in love.  It's got a bit of rustic with the reclaimed wood look - and a bit of sophistication with the marble look.  It's unique, but should give the room a real wow factor.

 We'll add a coordinating tile border in the shower.

Photo:  Restoration Hardware

The sink is this Gramercy console unit from Restoration Hardware.

We're using their Dillon hardware for the sink and shower faucets.
Photo:  Restoration Hardware
Photo: Kruge
And we'll be installing this fancy Kruge mirror, which has built in LED lighting & defogger.  So you never need to wipe it down after a shower.  Pretty cool!

Now I can't wait to see it all come together!!!  We're making such quick progress, it will start to look like a real room soon!!

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