Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Condo Project - Before Photos & Plan

Dear friends of ours bought a condo, just before the pandemic kicked in last year.  It was BORING, but was in a fabulous location......and you know the old real estate adage - location, location, location.  They asked me to help with the renovation - promising I could make ALL the design decisions.  How could I say no?

How would you like this view from your kitchen window? 

So let's start with the location.  This place has water views.  Pretty gorgeous water views and access to a private beach.  Does it get any better than that?  But for some weird reason, the existing layout hid the views from sight, until you got into the not-so-exciting kitchen.  Obviously, we needed to change that.

The former owners really, really liked ceiling fans.  There were 5 of them - in a 2 bedroom condo.  And while it's nice to push air around a bit, they just screamed 1980's. 

See - no view as you walk in the door - but it's right behind that wall!

The floor was some sort of Pergo like laminate, which wasn't very exciting and had seen better days.

The kitchen was pretty dated with lights that didn't work - and another ceiling fan and my favorite, a boob light πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚!

A ceiling fan and a boob light - jackpot!!!  

And the bathroom?  Well, utilitarian might be the right term!

And the stained carpet and ceiling tiles???  Yeah, they had to go!

So we set out to update everything and make it a much more livable floor plan.  First step, coming up with a design.  We wanted to open up the view to the water, from the moment you walked in the door.  It's a condo, so we couldn't make any exterior changes (like bigger windows) or plumbing changes, but we could highlight what was there.

We needed to keep the utility closet in the kitchen.  It housed the electrical panel and hot water heater, so it's pretty important.  And it's so nice to have a washer/dryer in the unit, they stayed in the same location (because water and vent exhaust were already there!).  But we changed the rest of the layout, creating clear sight lines from the front door to the water views and enlarging the kitchen.  The owners do a lot of entertaining and wanted a lot of space for cooking and dining with friends (when we can do that again! Does anyone remember what it's like to have a party???). 

First step was opening up the wall between the kitchen and dining room (thankfully not a load bearing wall) and removing the cabinetry from the kitchen and bath.  The difference was amazing!  The old entrance to the kitchen will provide space for the refrigerator to be recessed.


Suddenly you have great sight lines as you walk in the front door - and the place feels twice as big.  They also decided to install soundproofing insulation in the ceiling.  A really smart move in a condo, that doesn't have a huge price tag.

The owners wanted to reduce the size of their bedroom a bit, to create room for a walk in closet (because with condo living, you can't have too much storage space!)

And the bathtub was replaced with this beautiful new shower featuring glass tile and a Carrara marble bath floor.

I'll be sharing some of the key projects we did and the 'after' photos soon, but doesn't it look better already?  Farewell ceiling fans, stained carpet and boob light!  πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

1950's Rancher Gets a Dramatic Makeover

As I went back through all the 'Before' photos of this house, it was almost hard to believe how much it has changed.  The small, separate rooms are gone.  The ceilings have been raised which make it feels so much larger.  And the exterior is almost unrecognizable.

So let's take a look back at how we got there!

The original 1952 house had been added onto a few times over the years.  And you could tell by looking at the exterior.  There were different types of siding, different elevations and it lacked any real architectural style.  Our goal was to create a cohesive look for the whole house - while also making some changes to the interior to make the house much more livable.  

We eliminated the original front door (the living room would become an en suite bedroom) and highlighted the new entrance by building a mock gable above it.  We also installed new doors and windows.

And then we re-sided the whole house, to give it a nice uniform look.  The mock shingle vinyl siding looks remarkably real, while providing a maintenance free exterior.

On the back of the house, we rebuilt the failing deck and added a couple of windows to bring more light into the kitchen and dining room.  Now it's a great outdoor living area for the new owners, with a big private yard and lots of space to relax and play.

There are just as many changes on the interior as the exterior, starting at the new front door.  This area started out as garage storage space - but now it's much more useful as a mud room to shed boots and all that outerwear that we have living in Maine (and did you see that floor???  πŸ’•πŸ’•)

I spent weeks stripping layers of paint off this antique newel post and balusters.  Doesn't it look great here?

The 'wow' moment comes as you go up the steps and look into the new living area.  With walls removed and ceilings raised, this space no longer screams '1952'.  It has a warm, welcoming feel with the big island that overlooks the dining and living spaces.

The key to creating this space was removing the walls from the original house.  It's a big job - requiring engineered beams to carry the new load.  But what a difference! 
One of the biggest changes was raising the low ceiling.  The new cathedral ceiling, with the antique beams that came from a church in New Brunswick, looks so good!

The old gas logs were torn out and the fireplace was returned to its wood burning origins.  We left the original bookcases - they were in good shape - but we added new trim once we raised the cathedral ceiling.

Can you believe the kitchen changes?  I'm not sure which is my favorite feature - 

the marble backsplash, custom stained glass cabinet, or the big pantry with its antique door.

But there is a lot more.  The original living room (which was used as a laundry room) was turned into a bedroom, by removing the old front door and adding a new double window to bring in more light.  

And the odd exterior alcove was closed in to create an en suite bathroom.

Bathroom - Before

The original hall bath got a much needed makeover.  A too wide shower had been installed at some point and made the walkway extremely narrow.  
Bathroom - After

And the two original bedrooms got new, larger windows to meet fire safety code.

But one of the biggest areas of change was the basement.  The previous owner had run an electronics repair business in the basement.  It was bursting at the seams with electronics parts, manual and stuff.  Lots and lots of stuff!  

We gutted everything and insulated the walls, before installing new ceilings and walls.  Now it's a bright, welcoming space that can be used as a home office, playroom, or whatever else the new owners desire!
We gutted everything (except the bookshelves) and opened up the thick concrete wall to the back area

Basement - Before

Basement - After - Same Photo Angle!  Can you believe the change? 

And finally, I have to mention the major overhaul of all the infrastructure in the building.  The house didn't have grounded outlets, so we had to rewire everything - including 10 hardwired smoke detectors.  We upgraded the insulation throughout and installed a high efficiency heating system - ultimately exceeding our energy goals.  And obviously the plumbing was updated with the kitchen and bath work.  While this isn't technically a new house - it's pretty darned close!
Best of all, the new owners love it and are happily making it their own home for many years to come.  So now we're moving onto our next project - a very cute bungalow!  Stay tuned! 

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

My Christmas Miracle

So........ just when I was totally despondent, thinking I'd never find another project to work on, I got a phone call.  A local realtor had a client that wanted to sell, after decades in his home.  The house needed some work he said, but had good bones.  The seller had been in the house for decades and just wanted an easy sale.  Did I want to take a look?

Did I ever!!!  I tried not to act too excited, but when I saw it was a bungalow - well then I was over the moon!  Seriously, does it get any better than that?  We quickly agreed on terms, giving him plenty of time to complete the move and make it as easy as possible for him.

A bungalow!  Don't you love it???
It will take awhile before we can get started.  I have to get the design completed, permits pulled (thankfully I can do that before the expensive new sprinkler ordinance goes into effect), and get super busy contractors lined up.  But I'm so excited!!  This will be an amazing project!

Happy holidays everyone!!  I hope you get your miracle too!  

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Bedrooms and Bathroom get a Makeover

While the open floor plan with the high ceilings looks very current in the main living area, you quickly realize this is a 1950's ranch as you step into the hallway of the original house. The original rooms were on the small side with small windows.  And while we didn't make major changes to the original bedrooms,  they did get some nice updates.  And the bathroom?  Well that got a pretty major overhaul.

Remember this little homemade ship that we found behind the basement staircase?  Well it became the centerpiece of the smallest bedroom.

The room started with one small window, that didn't meet fire code.  And another 'window' that was the frame from the original house, that got covered over when the addition was built in 1972,  We decided that a window made of stick on mirror tiles probably wasn't a design element to keep.  So we opted to enlarge the real window to meet code and cover the fake one up.  That provided a nice wall for furnishings.

Oh, and we replaced that ceiling fan with something a bit better proportioned!!!  I love this fixture!  We used it in all 3 bedrooms.

The duvet and pillow sham are perfect for Maine, where the working waterfront is part of our daily experience.  We have cargo ships coming and going all the time.  And once cruise ships start sailing again, we see them on a regular basis as well.  Oh, and isn't the sea captain pretty cute?

This little bookcase gets used in almost every staging project - it's perfect for creating a little reading nook with kids books.

The front bedroom also had larger windows installed, which made a dramatic difference in brightness (as well as getting rid of the non-functional roller shades!!  And again, the super low ceiling fan had to go!).  There was an odd boxed area on the far wall - we think it was once used for an air conditioner, but we quickly learned it was an entrance for a huge wasp nest.  We got rid of that and closed the whole thing in.  So much better!  


Before:  the day we bought the house
I made the cute window treatments and with an antique headboard, it's a pretty sweet room.

The bathroom got a big update.  At some point, the original bathtub was taken out of the house and replaced with a too-wide shower.  There was only 18 inches to squeeze past the sink on your way to the toilet - way too narrow!


That's not real tile above the bathroom sink - some sort of stick on sheet.  Needless to say, we changed that.  But I did like the look of the bead board wainscoting.  So we kept that idea - but replaced it with a wider, more contemporary version when we did the update.  

We opted to go back to a standard tub/shower combo, providing so much more space.  And with the odd leftover space at the back of the tub, we built a pony wall and topped it with Carrara marble.  So now there is a lot of room for shampoo and such!
I fell in love with this tile the moment I saw it.   The blue pattern is a bit of a wow and I love the color with the Carrera on the countertop and the basketweave floor.  

That completes the before and after photos of the first floor.  Stay tuned for the basement.  It got a big, big upgrade!


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