Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Bubble Window Room

Lots of dry rot in the ceiling and under the bubble window
Now that our local NBC affiliate has started airing their story about our mid-century renovation (News Center Maine - click here to watch the videos), it occurred to me that I've never shared the 'after' photos of the Bubble Room - and it's about time!!  Many of you will remember the challenges we found in this room - rotted plates & joists, collapsing ceiling, all the structure under the bubble window rotted away - (click here for photos) - but we got all that fixed and now it's one of our favorite rooms!  After all, how many people have a giant bubble to look out of?

Once we replaced the original 'bubble' window with a new, watertight one and fixed all the other issues, we were ready to start decorating.  Isn't it a fantastic architectural statement on the exterior??!!
The new, watertight 'Bubble' Window - aka a skylight mounted on its side!!!

By cutting away the damaged section - it's as good as new!
One of the original elements the previous owners left us was a Finnish Tampella fabric wall hanging in the living room.  It's such a great, vintage element, a pattern called Ovaali by Marjatta Metsovaara.  We wanted to use it!  But, the bottom of it had been badly damaged from getting wet in the garden area of the living room.  I was able to remove that section and it was ready for a new home.  And the perfect spot was at the end of the very long hallway to the bedrooms.  I love that it's such a statement piece as you head down the hallway.

Isn't that vintage wall hanging fantastic at the end of the hallway?
Don't you love how the bubble window reaches out into the yard?
We wanted to make this room a great spot for guests.  And while we have added lots of bookshelves in the rest of the house, we still needed a home for more books, so we contacted Stacey at Vintage Modern Maine to find true vintage shelving.  She had these amazing Cado shelves available and they are perfect in this room.
The 3D Bubble window provides a great view of the yard

 And with a queen sized bed and 3 large closets, there is a lot of room for our guests to spread out!!  They may never want to leave :-)

I stripped multiple layers of paint off of these original closet pulls and refinished them - aren't they fantastic?

Even our granddog Etta likes staying in there!  

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Kitchen Planning for the Centennial Cottage

Now that we have the basic framing in place, I'm finalizing the kitchen design to get the cabinetry ordered.   I started this design months ago - but as we got into demo and framing, we had to make some tweaks.  So it's still a work in progress!
I always tape out the future kitchen to see if in the space
Here's what we have so far.  As a reminder, we moved the kitchen to the middle of the house.  Why?  The old location was a bit cramped and right next to the toilet (never a good spot!).
And I loved the idea of standing at the kitchen sink and gazing at peeks of Casco Bay.  Somehow, it seems like that would make washing dishes a bit easier!!!
But the new location does have a couple of challenges.  It will have a major walkway through the room, so we need wide aisles.  It is next to the stairwell, so there isn't much space for upper cabinets.  We'll try to make up for that with lots of lower cabinets and a sizable pantry.  And of course we want a nice big island, with seating for four.

So here's the layout.  Lots of cabinetry, a curved island and a separate area for the fridge and pantry (makes it easy when you come home from the grocery store and need to unload all those bags!).

These renderings will give you a better idea - they're so realistic, it almost looks like a real room - a big change from my painters tape version above!  Isn't the curved island great for kids doing homework or to have a glass of wine while chatting with the cook?  And the bookcase next to the microwave is a great spot for cookbooks (my daughter uses a shelf in her kitchen for toy pots and pans for her toddler).

I had considered white oak cabinetry, but since the floor will be white oak, it seemed like that would be a lot of natural wood.  Instead, we'll use white cabinets around the perimeter and a black island with a butcher block top.

The rest of the countertops will be some sort of quartz - but I need to choose it in conjunction with the tile for the backsplash.  And that's where I'm stuck.  I've been to every tile store in town and can't make up my mind. The one I like at the moment is this one.  It's a bit bold, but I think it would be a wow!!  It does a great job of linking all the colors together, while still maintaining a neutral palette.

We'll have a suite of Thermador appliances and a stainless farm sink.  I haven't picked out the faucet yet, but it will probably be a tall professional style.  I'd like to do a valance in this Kravet fabric above the window.

Oh, and the pendants over the island remind me of Hershey kisses!!!  Aren't they great?

So that's all I have for now.  I'll continue to wrestle with tile and countertop selection, but since we don't even have walls yet, that can wait for another day!

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

About That House Color - The Shed Beautification Project

So let me start by saying I'm going to disappoint you.

I know, I know.  When I gave you some options for what color to paint the house, the VAST majority voted for black/dark gray, like we found on the original siding.  And I also really, really love the look of a dark house.

Just not on this one.  Why?  Well there are a couple of reasons.

1) Size of House - Because it won't be very deep, this will be a very wide house (almost 60 feet wide!!!).  Creating a big black house, 1/2 a block from the beach would look pretty unusual.  One of my goals with this house it to make it blend in seamlessly with similar homes in the neighborhood.  A black house would be a focal point - but not in a good way!

Here's an illustration of the front and back with dark siding (and a dark roof).  That's a big dark spot on the streetscape!

2) Neighbor input - As you can imagine, several of the neighbors have stopped by to comment on the color options.  Not surprisingly, they chose the lighter, more neutral color - that helps it blend into the neighborhood.  BTW - the samples below are the same on both walls, but don't they look different depending on which side of the house they're on!
Samples of Northwest facing wall
Samples on East facing wall - don't they look different???
And since we needed to get the shed fixed up quickly, before the neighbors built a new 6 foot privacy fence next to it, we got to do a trial paint color.  I think of this as the shed beautification project.  And boy did it need beautification!  Rotted, sagging doors, failing roof,  and vines growing up and through the roof!!!

The guys tackled the shed with gusto.  It got a new roof, new custom made windows and a beautiful new door, to replace the rotted one we started with.

The neighborhood consensus was a color called Monterey Taupe - a James Hardie Board siding color.  It's a great neutral shade and I'm pretty pleased with how it looks against the bright white trim.

I found some antique lobster buoys to add to the old hooks on the side.  And now when you look out the dining room window - it looks pretty charming, don't you think?

So please don't hate me for not painting the house dark.  This neutral home will be a nice addition to the neighborhood and will look great for years to come!

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Shape of Things to Come

Centennial Cottage - Starting Point
We've made so much progress in the last couple of weeks!  What started as a set of plans is starting to look like a real house.  The structure is coming together and it's really taking shape!

Future Cottage with large addition

Framing goes pretty quickly, which is a good thing, since we want to get everything sealed up before winter really sets in.

The first floor addition is a large living room and new staircase.  The original staircase wasn't good for anyone over 5 feet tall - this will be a HUGE improvement!

The second floor will be the new master suite.

And the third floor is a bonus room with a rooftop deck.

As we got to the third floor, we were pretty excited to see the view.  Which is prettier?  The water or the copper colored leaves on the maple?  Ah beautiful!
And of course there is a lot of other work that will be done.  We are upgrading the service and moving the electrical meter to the new corner of the house (farewell electrical wires going across the front of the house!!).  The new service will let us install a heat pump, which will save on heating bills, and provide air conditioning!  That will be a fantastic change- my tenants told me that there was no airflow in the bedrooms over the summer.  It was stifling, so we obviously wanted to change that.

Will we get it all closed up before snow flies?  Well let's hope so!  At least we're off to a good start.
Executive Summary :-) 

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Centennial Cottage Inspiration

By the time we start on a new project, I have a pretty clear vision of what the finished home will look like.

But not this time.  I've spent countless hours agonizing over the design and styling for the interior.  There aren't any original features to highlight in this house, everything has been removed.  It's all drywall and 1980's pine trim - nothing for inspiration there!  So that means we could do something really different, which could be really fun.

My first thought was to go super contemporary.  I loved this home in New England Magazine - traditional on the outside, but modern on the inside.  I love the clean lines and simple style.

But most of all I wanted one of these sleek, modern staircases.  You see, the staircase will be the primary feature between the living room and the kitchen.  So to get a real open floor plan, it needs to be unobtrusive - something you can see right through.  Something like this, with lots of glass and 'floating' stairs would be perfect.  But then I went out and got a quote - $45,000!!!  Um, that's not going to happen!
For the kitchen, I thought about going with a wood/white oak finish, that's incredibly popular now.  Lots of warm wood finishes.  But as I talked to more people, it made me wonder if buyers are ready for that much wood yet.  White painted finishes are still the norm.  But I do love white oak (maybe that's why there is so much of it in my own home)!

So I kept looking and suddenly stumbled across this photo.  It's 'the one'.  I can't tell you how much I love this room!  It's warm, it's inviting and it's still light & bright.  And with our long living room, a fireplace focal point at the end of the room will be perfect!  I'm using this inspiration to start building the rest of the design plan.
So how do I describe the inspiration for the Centennial Cottage?  I think 'transitional' is the best term.  Lots of clean, somewhat contemporary finishes, but still has a connection to a traditional cottage.  Do you think that will appeal to a future buyer?

Oh, and I'm still trying to figure out how to get an affordable open staircase!!!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Demo Day!!!

So it feels like we're doing things a bit backwards with demo coming so late in the game!  But all the trades are so busy here in Maine, you can't always do things in the usual order.  So we had the demo crew going on while we started the addition - we could do both things in parallel!

And as usual, we found some funky things during demolition!  The big story in this house - insulation.  We need to make huge improvements in the home's insulation!

For example, the first floor bathroom was added onto the outside of the house - so it's hanging outside of the heated envelope of the house.  The floor, ceiling and 3 walls are exterior walls.  I would have expected it to have really robust insulation.  Instead, we found this 1" styrofoam (kind of like the stuff you find packed in a box you get from Amazon).  And some of the walls had nothing!!!  How in the world didn't that room, with lots of water pipes, freeze all the time (or maybe it did!)?  Obviously, we need to make changes there.
Bathroom wall with exhaust fan
While we're on the topic of insulation, the second floor ceiling is insulated - but it's installed upside down!!  The way it should work is the vapor barrier (the brown Kraft paper you see on the other sloped walls) should be on the warm side of the building.  Installed this way, it allows warm air to get trapped in the insulation which could create mold and rot.

Maybe that explains why we found so many mouse nests (see all the mouse poop??) in the ceiling!  Ick!!!
And that's what it looks like when mice live in your ceiling!!!!

And the final insulation discovery was in the basement.  There was some foam insulation sprayed around some of the walls (okay, a lot of foam, look at that big bubble of it!!), so I assumed that the walls were insulated and they were just sealing a few gaps.

Wrong!!!  We opened them up and discovered there was nothing in the walls.  Add that to the list for insulation as well!

Did we have some nice surprises?

Well yes, now that it's opened up, it looks so much bigger!

Here's the view from the front door before:

And now you can see all the way through (and it will be even better once we remove that load bearing wall!)

Here's the view once you step into the living room before and after demo.  Removing that non-load bearing wall made a huge difference!

Remember the two small bedrooms upstairs - that barely had room for a small bed?

Well by removing the closet (we will relocate them), now there is room for a larger bed and a dresser!  It's still a small room - but it's a huge change!  And the flooring looks fantastic under the old closet walls.  That's a bonus!

We also tore out the old floors on the first floor.  It was a mismatch of fir, patches, laminate and vinyl. The updated house needs a cohesive floor throughout the entire first floor, so we are starting from scratch. 

So now that we've pulled it apart, it's time to start putting it back together again.  Stay tuned!  

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