Wednesday, September 22, 2021

It's All About the Details - Changes at the Not So Basic Bungalow

When we started this project, we wanted to take a basic, nondescript bungalow and make it amazing.  That means celebrating the 95 year old history of the home by highlighting the original details - as well as incorporating some vintage style elements.  It's one of the things that we think sets us apart from your run of the mill 'flip' and gives our homes so much character.  This level of detail is what I truly love!!! 

Original details include all the gorgeous molding and original doors.  But we wanted to add a few details as well, to make this basic bungalow a bit less basic!

First detail - the fireplace mantle.  I shared the story about finding pieces of it at Old House Parts Co and then getting new pieces carved to match a few months ago (click here to read) Sten from Oak & Laurel Workshop did the carving and gave me lots of instruction to get it stained and sealed. And after a little trial and error, I was pretty pleased with how all the old and new pieces coordinated.

Can you tell which pieces are new?  And which are the original antique elements?  (hint - the plinth blocks are a new design, as well as one of the legs)

Once it was installed, I got to work on the tile surround.  I don't want to draw a lot of attention to the tile - the star of the show is the mantle.  So I went with this simple mini marble and grouted it in a neutral colors to blend in.  This will coordinate beautifully with the trim in the rest of the house.

Next detail is the newel post.  The original staircase was in what was essentially a closet, so there was no handrail or newel post.  Once we opened up the walls, they are essential elements - but I wanted them to be pretty and add some style to the house. I had these newels custom made many months ago and recently spent a week staining and sealing them.  Kyle got them installed and I'm pretty thrilled with the result.  Once we get all the painting done, he'll come back and install the handrail and balusters.

Would you have guessed this is a closet?
Another detailed element is the 'dry bar' (okay, so not particularly vintage, but still a cool detail!).  This was originally a closet in the living room, but it looked odd because it had what appeared to be a step under the door and everyone assumed it was a staircase.  When you opened the door, you found shelves behind a curtain.  It wasn't quite the elegant look I was hoping for in the living room.  

So after much deliberation, we decided to keep some storage space with a cabinet, but put a quartz countertop above the cabinet.  That way there is room to put glass display shelves above it with a nice recessed light highlighting the whole space.  Once the original molding was put back in place, it's a pretty sweet spot.
My husband has joined the team!!! 

And finally, we added wainscoting in the dining room.  This is a very traditional treatment for a bungalow and will add a lot of interest to the room.  We use MDF for the panels - it's very stable and won't shrink or expand with the seasons.  We added a plate rail groove into the top of the trim, so it can display artwork as well as the more typical plates.  Soon it will all be painted to match the rest of the trim in the house.

I'll be wallpapering above the wainscoting with this simple, traditional paper.  It's a very muted design (I think of it as William Morris-esque) and will add some antique style to the room. 

We have lots of other surprises in store - it's so nice to be doing all the fun stuff!  

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Cozy Front Vestibule, Porch, Foyer...... What Should We Call It?

I don't know why I'm so excited about this entrance - but I love it!  It started as a basic enclosed porch with a storm door and exposed studs/insulation..... not exactly a focal point for the house.  A bit sad and dreary, but it had so much potential!  And while it's not big - only 6 x 8 feet - it can be a pretty fabulous first glimpse to the rest of the house.  

But what should it be called?  A vestibule?  A 3-season porch?  A foyer?  I'm curious what everyone thinks.  

Photo from the day we bought the house

Before we go too far, let's talk about the space.  Initially, I thought we should open up the walls and make it interior space and part of the main house.  But as I spent more time there, it became clear that it's a really special spot.  Facing east, it gets the full morning sun and it's an amazing place to have a cup of coffee in the morning - and watch the dog walkers and school children go by.  Even on the coldest mornings (this is Maine after all), it's a warm, cozy spot.

So it will be a true 3 season porch.  We ripped out the pathetic insulation that was exposed in the existing room and replaced it with new insulation in the ceiling, crawl space and walls - but we didn't add a heating system.  So in the winter, it would be best to leave the door to the main house closed, but it could certainly be open the rest of the year.  

It's been such a struggle to get this little room done!!!  The front door was on order FOREVER, but finally showed up and I'm sure the neighbors are grateful πŸ˜‚.  

The custom made stained glass house number exceeded expectations, but it had a 12 week lead time as well.

Once those were installed, we could put in the new subfloor and then I could start the tile job.  I agonized for months over what tile to use for the floor.  My first thought was it should be a hard wearing ceramic, this is an entryway after all - but all the tile I saw was too contemporary looking for the space (and the trendy new 12 x 24" tile would just look odd in a small space like this).  And then I saw this stone flooring.  It's tumbled stone, so it has a bit of a rustic finish, which is perfect for an entryway since it can take some abuse and still look good.  (And in reality, no one in Maine ever uses a front door, particularly when the driveway is next to the back door!) 

The stone mosaic looked a bit blah when it arrived, but once I coated it with a stone enhancer, the color really popped!  Isn't it gorgeous? 

Why use stone enhancer on the raw stone???  Because it brings out the color and texture!

For the walls, I wanted to keep the cedar shakes around the original doorway - but add bead board on the rest of the walls.  Since this is a 3 season porch, I wanted something that could handle a little bit of rain if the windows got left open.  The trim is still a work in progress, but copies the style we have in the rest of the house.  

So what would you call this room?  A vestibule - where you could have package delivered without the delivery person having access to the rest of the house?  A foyer?  Or maybe a porch.  What's your vote?
View as you come through the front door!!!  So much space!


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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Storage Solutions - IKEA Hack

IKEA Hack - Built In Dresser

A few years ago I asked our readers what was most important to them in a primary suite:  a big bedroom, a big bathroom or lots of storage.  Storage won, by a landslide!  Let's face it, we all have more 'stuff' than we need and storage space is always at a premium in an old house.  So the trick is figuring out where you can capture every square inch of storage!

This bungalow has a gable roof, so some sections of the room have low ceiling heights.  Normally that would limit its usefulness, but we took a tip from other antique bungalows and figured out how to create storage space in the low hip gable space.

Photo:  IKEA website
Our approach -  create built in dressers.  We took a couple of IKEA dressers and modified them to fit into the wall.  For the longer wall we could use the Hemnes large dresser and the smaller wall worked with the three drawer unit.  I liked the Hemnes because they're made of real wood and can be painted to match the rest of the trim.  

To get started, we put them together per the instructions, but left the drawers out until the end.  To give it that built-in look, Brian trimmed the front edge of the top and removed the legs at the bottom.  That way they fit perfectly into the opening we created in the wall.  I had millwork custom made to match the original, so once he added that around the dressers, they look like they've been there for years! 

Doesn't the dresser look like it's always been there? 

I bought antique style knobs, that we'll install after the whole unit is painted.  

This could easily be a DIY project for someone to do in their own home.  Isn't this a fantastic way to create additional storage? 

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Recreating a Vintage Bathroom - aka the Anxiety Provoking Tile Project

Can you say vintage???  Because that's our goal for this bathroom. It probably had lots of charm when the house was built in 1926, and our goal is  to recapture some of that antique style (because seriously, who wants a 1980's bath??).  So this was a full gut job - we went back to the studs and started over.  Farewell oak cabinetry and weird shower built in the middle of the room.  And farewell pull chain light (I'd say farewell to the electrical, but there weren't any outlets in the bathroom! 😳)

With everything gutted, we updated all of the infrastructure:  we insulated the exterior wall, installed all new wiring, plumbing and drywall.   So finally, you'll be able to plug a hair dryer in!!!  Now that's modern living!  With all that complete, it's finally time for the fun stuff.

I agonized for weeks and weeks about creating a vintage style floor.  I want that to be a big focal point for the room.  I combed through Pinterest and Instagram and found lots of inspiration.  Ideally I would have liked to purchase a pre-made design.  But alas, thanks to COVID delays, there was nothing available.  So I resigned myself to creating a design from scratch - a daunting task, but the only option.  

I laid it out 'dry' and marked where I wanted the snowflake style pattern, making sure the spacing fit evenly across the room.  And I numbered each sheet of tiles, so I could figure out how they went together - like a puzzle!

Then I started installing the white tiles, cutting out the holes for the black tiles to get inserted.  If you've ever installed hexagonal or penny tiles, you know how exacting the work is - if you get one row of tiles out of place by the slightest bit, the whole tile job goes bad in a hurry..... so this was a slow process to get it right. 

What do you think?  Does it have that vintage vibe?

For the walls, I wanted to stay with the black and white styling, so installed a simple white subway tile with a diagonal 4x4 set of tiles in the middle.  It adds a bit of interest, without being overwhelming.

See the big cabinet on the right?  That's going to provide so much storage!  Lots of shelves and ventilated drawers to hold everything you need (and there is a nice linen closet outside the bathroom, with even more storage). 

Next week the sink will go in, with its antique style, I can't wait to see it in place.  And once painting is complete, I can install the wallpaper.  So there is still a lot to accomplish, but this is nice progress!

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Creating a Soothing, Relaxing Bedroom Suite

Since the entire second floor of this house is dedicated to a primary suite, my goal is to make it a place to get away from it all to rest, relax and recharge.  It's one of the largest bedroom suites we've ever done and it's got so much wonderful, unique character.  And while I want to maintain the vintage charm of the house,  this space is brand new so I incorporated a touch of modern as well.

Photo: Pottery Barn

Planning for this space started 8 months ago. The inspiration was a quilt from Pottery Barn that I bought about 2 days after putting the house under contract.  I LOVE this quilt - it has that old world style that will make a dramatic statement in the room.

Next I had to find fabric for window treatments.  I came across this gorgeous fabric, it's sort of a slubby, heavy printed cotton.  I made full length drapes for the big windows. Doesn't everyone sew with a T square? πŸ˜‚ 

Doesn't everyone sew with a T square? 

For another charming element, a friend gave me this amazing 100 year old wicker settee.  I made a new cushion for it and just love how it looks.  It will be perfect in the suite!

But before we can install any of that, we had to get the rooms built.  I've shared some of the progress in a previous post, but in the last couple of weeks we've hit some major milestones.  Pat Mann and his team installed beautiful birch flooring.  He finished it with two coats of oil finish to bring out the warm tones and then added a water based polyurethane to give it a beautiful glow.  He'll add one more coat just before the new owners move in, to make sure it looks perfect!

And while the floors are gorgeous, what's the big story in this space?  The ceiling - with it's dormers and angles it's a real 'wow' feature, but was a challenge to construct.  The first step to finishing it off was Dan's drywall skills and his laser, creating perfectly sharp lines. 

Then Brian came in and covered all the structural beams with reclaimed lumber.  It was a lot of angles and took exacting cuts - and the craftsmanship shows as soon as you reach the top of the stairs!  Doesn't it look amazing? 

I'm thrilled to see it all come together!! 
View toward bathroom

Lots of angles - lots of charm!

It's a big inviting space!!
Stay tuned, there will be a lot more updates as we make more progress over the next few weeks.  I can't wait to see it all come together!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Creating a Kitchen with Old World Charm

Our goal from the beginning of this project was to celebrate the history of this 90+ year old house, while adding some modern amenities for today's lifestyle.  This was particularly challenging in the kitchen.  We don't want it to look modern.  But we want the modern conveniences everyone loves (aka dishwasher, microwave, storage, etc!) Our starting point was a 1980's kitchen that had zero vintage charm - it was just basic and blah.  So anything would be an improvement!

First Peek - new kitchen! 

I shared the design in a previous post, but it's so exciting to see that start to become a reality! 

Kitchen - 'Before'

First step was installing the new beech floor, so the cabinets can go on top of it (this is critical if anyone wants to change the design in the future, so they will have the same flooring throughout the room).  The original house had beech throughout - but it was hard to find in with COVID material shortages.  Thanks to the guys at Seacoast Flooring we found enough for the kitchen, but we had to use its cousin - birch flooring - for the second floor.  Otherwise we had to wait until November!!!

What I really found amazing was how similar the new beech wood looks compared to the 90+ year old beech.  Isn't that crazy? 

Next came the cabinets.  I went with a slightly detailed shaker style cabinet in a color Thomasville calls 'dover'.  

But I wanted the sink to reflect a little vintage charm, so it's made of cherry with an antique glaze.


The nail biting part of the whole process is installing the fireclay sink.  Fireclay isn't always uniform as it goes through the kiln, so Brian had to make a custom template and carefully cut it out on the front of the sink base.  One false move and the sink base would be ruined!  πŸ˜…. Thankfully the install was perfect!

Microwave cabinet 
While it's not a huge kitchen, we've included all the amenities we were looking for.  There are lots of cabinets with pull out drawers, trash/recycling and a separate microwave cabinet.
The refrigerator is behind the backdoor

Remember the steel beam we added to enlarge the kitchen?  We wrapped it in reclaimed wood which really adds some charm to the room.

And since the kitchen door will be used by the homeowners the most, we needed a mud bench to make their lives easier. This custom unit includes a tower of shelves that will hold wicker baskets - much better for hiding hats and gloves.  The tower and bench will be painted to match the cabinetry.  But the back of the bench is made from fir bead board and some antique fir trim I found in the back of the closet.  I'll be giving that a natural finish so the wood will glow!

They came to template the quartz countertops.  Now we have a FOUR week wait for them to get installed!

Nothing about this renovation project has been fast, but it's nice to have some forward momentum.  I can't wait to share more photos when the counters have been installed. 


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