Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Creating a High End Kitchen with a Modest Budget

As the kitchen starts to come together, we've worked through more of the details.  Our goal - a quintessential New England Kitchen, to fit in with our 112 year old house.  But we don't have a huge budget to work with.  So we've spent lots of time looking at options and have come up with this approach:

What do you think?  Did we get it right?  We hope to have it ready for 'after' photos in about 3 weeks!!!!  In the meantime, here's a sneak peek with Richard working on the island's butcher block top.

Cabinets - Martha Stewart Living
Appliances - Maytag
Hardware - Martha Stewart & Liberty
Exhaust Fan - Broan
Mosaic Tile - Home Depot

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Beadboard Wainscot Options

I am a huge fan of beadboard.  It provides a lot of durability and creates a beautiful, classic look.  When we bought our project house, it already had lots of beadboard in the kitchen.  We want to keep it, and add some more as well.  But we need to make sure we are using the best type for our application.

There are 3 different kinds of beadboard.  The first is true beadboard with strips of tongue and groove wood that lock together.  This allows the strips to shrink or swell with humidity.  This is what we have in our kitchen.  But the downside with this is over time and with successive coats of paint, it always ends up with unattractive gaps.  So for the dry winter months, I hate it (and we live in Maine, so there are a lot of winter months)!  But the rest of the year it looks great.  Click here to view the finished beadboard kitchen. 

The other 2 options are paneling, sold in 4' x 8' sheets.  One variety is very thick (1/2 inch or more).  It's nailed right to the studs and makes a great wainscoting, because with the chair rail nailed to the top, it's thicker than the sheetrock and provides nice definition on the wall. It's also very pricey, so we use it sparingly.  We've used it on this stairwell of our own house and it holds up to any traffic that kids and dogs can deliver!  

The 3rd option is thin paneling, but there are different quality levels to be aware of.  Some is really cheap with two thin grooves pressed into the surface..... and it never looks good.  But there are other grades, for just a few dollars more, that have a curved 'bead' built in and look very nice (it's also great if you have a curved wall - such as the back of this kitchen island we put in another house - because it conforms to the curve).  Its reasonably priced, you just need to make sure it is well sanded before it is painted.  

For our 1900 Victorian, we are keeping the existing beadboard that is in the kitchen (so yes, I'm trying to squeeze paint in between the gaps!).   And we will add new beadboard paneling in two additional places.  First, on the back of the new kitchen island - it provides lots of durability for kicking feet when people sit on the stools.  

The second application is a new project - a foyer coat rack and bench with a beadboard backing.  In Maine we go right from 'wintah' to 'mud season'.....both which require a place to sit and remove boots.  And in the summer, there are lots of beach goers with piles of flip flops by the front door.  A couple of baskets will give them a place to land.  

I've been saving clippings from magazines for years with lots of ideas.  But then this week, I stumbled across this great blog post that has fabulous ideas.  Take a look-  My favorite is shown below:

Source:  Conner Homes
What do you think?  I've sketched up some ideas.....and you can check out the finished product here!
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kitchen - Progress Update

We still have a lot more to do, but we're hitting some major milestones.

Getting the layout right
Before we can install the cabinets, we need the new kitchen floor installed.  Our entire house has 112 year old, red birch floors.  We quickly learned that there is a big difference between red and yellow birch - and while we will probably never match the patina of the old wood, we need to get as close as we can.  After lots of searching, we finally found some at a (sort of) reasonable cost.  John Abrams and his team were able to get it installed, sanded and put the first coat of polyurethane on it.  That gives us enough protection to install the cabinets.  The final two coats can be done when the rest of the floors are refinished (it will also hide any scuffs that appear during cabinet installation).

Ta-da....isn't it beautiful!
Lots of cabinet boxes!
We've masked off the floor, so we can start cabinet installation.  Good thing, because you can't walk through the dining room with all the cabinet boxes in there.  With my broken wrist, I'm not much help.  So we called the guys at Waterhouse Builders and Drew came back to help us.  He and Richard assembled the wall cabinets on the floor and then lifted them into place.
The first cabinets get raised into place

Drew got busy on the crown moulding while we worked on the hutch, with its butcher block top.  While I love the convenience of granite, I want to use wood butcher block on the hutch and island to warm up the space.  IKEA has great butcher block, that's very reasonably priced.  And birch is one of the wood varieties available - perfect with our new birch floor!

Next steps - get the island installed, cut the hole for the new exhaust hood and have the granite folks come template for countertops!
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Monday, February 20, 2012

How to Choose Paint Colors

Our 1900 Victorian
Picking the colors for our flip house is a challenge.  Starting with the outside, I'd love to take off the vinyl siding and get to the original wood siding - that's so much more appropriate for an old house.  But with so many variables regarding the condition underneath, it just doesn't make economic sense (plus we can't paint it in the winter).  So we need to leave that mint green vinyl (sigh....).

The next color challenge is the interior.  I've read lots of house flipping blog posts that recommend you paint the entire interior white or off white.  It's the cheapest option - no leftover half cans of paint in each room - and it's easy.  But it's so boring!  And since we will be staging the house, we want it to compliment the decor.  But, it still needs to be neutral to appeal to a future buyer.

Glass and marble mosaic 
So how do you pick a paint color?  Rule number 1, don't start with the paint color!  What other colors will be in the rooms?  Do you have a piece of artwork or fabric that is your color inspiration?    I've picked out a marble and glass accent tile that is going in both the kitchen and powder room.   This provides some great neutral color ideas.
Daphne is such a ham!

For accents, I'll be using this print fabric for window treatments - part of the Richloom Platinum collection print (and Daphne likes it too!).  This gives us a lot of colors to work with.

Rule number 2 - a cohesive color palette will make a small home feel bigger.  So we need to think about all of the rooms.  Look at your rugs and fabrics and see if there is a unifying color that will tie them all together and provide a nice background.  And again, keep it neutral to appeal to a wide range of future buyers.

Rule number 3 - Think about other elements in the room.  For example, our kitchen will have lots of white - cabinets and beadboard wainscot.  So we don't want it to be too pale, we want to provide a nice contrast.  But upstairs, It's just the opposite - I'd like something a little lighter and brighter.

So, I armed myself with my Sherwin Williams color fan and started looking at options.  I came up with some ideas - but that brings me to rule number 4 - buy paint samples and put them on the wall.  I ignored this too many times, and it caused a lot of grief.   Why?  Because that requires me to convince my color blind husband that we need to repaint - he doesn't get it when that tiny chip of paint looks different in a whole room!  That taught me a lesson and now I always sample first.  And it's also helpful to see how the colors look during different times of the day - sunlight or cloudy days can dramatically change the look!
Checking out color samples on the dining room wall
So, here's what I'm coming up with,  The darker shade on the right is Sherwin Williams Ancient Marble for the kitchen and bath.   And I'm looking at the next lighter shade (on the left side of the wall) - Nonchalant White -  for the living room and dining room.  And the creamy yellow in the center- Crisp Linen -  works beautifully for the foyers and upstairs.  Remember, with our open floor plan, we need the colors to complement one another.

What do you think??  Will these colors be neutral enough for prospective buyers??

Want to see the finished rooms with the colors on the walls?  Click here.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Imaginary Family - Need Your Help!

Since we will be staging the house when we put it on the market, I keep imagining the family that might live here.  We want the house to be warm and inviting, so prospective buyers can imagine themselves living there.

We have a lot of young families in the area, so I'm thinking that makes sense for the imaginary family.  Probably two kids - a boy and a girl.  The boy is around 6 or 7 and the girl is 11...not quite a teenager, but not ready to give up all of her toys yet either.  But I'm tired of referring to the bedrooms as the boy's room & the girl's room.  I need kids names - any suggestions?

Could Petey be part of the imaginary family??
Oh, and they have a dog....this is a big neighborhood for dogs.  People take their dogs to the beach every day, regardless of the weather.  At first, Richard was laughing at the concept of creating a family for staging the house.  But I think he's getting into it!  Today he started suggesting dog names.  He thinks it should be a black lab named Hobo or Rascal.  Really?  Seems kind of boring.  Any other suggestions?  

I appreciate your help!
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Drywall is Here!

Okay, so I know you're thinking 'big deal - so what?'  But this is a huge turning point.  To do the drywall, it means we passed the electrical and structural inspections.  The knob and tube wiring is history and we are meeting all the building codes.  Hooray!!  In fact, the electrical inspector thought that Dan Flynn's team had done more than required by code...much better than finding problems!

So what's involved to put up nice new drywall, to replace those tired old acoustic ceilings?  First step – drywall delivery.  This was so much fun to watch!!  Take a look at the time lapse video.  They came with a giant truck and crane and lifted up a stack of drywall, delivering it right through the front door and upstairs windows.  How cool is that????

Right thru the window!!

Next step, Dan Caron's team got all the new ceilings (and a few walls) installed in half a day.  Amazingly fast!  And then Dan got to work on his stilts - taping and plastering all the seams.  He made it look so easy and having beautiful flat ceilings is really transformational in the house.  Farewell 60's bumpy acoustical tile!!
New kitchen ceiling

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Dining Room Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Thanks so much to everyone that commented on Facebook and the Blog with input on the Dining Room hutch.  You were pretty divided on its outcome, but unanimous on dislike of the scalloped trim!  And there were some fabulous ideas.  Thank you. thank you!

With all those great ideas in hand, Richard and I looked at the hutch carefully and found some issues.  The drawers need rebuilding, the cabinet doors need replacing and there are big 1" gaps between the 7 mirror sections (and Richard keeps making cash register cha-ching noises with each discovery - aren't husbands cute?!?).  Couple that with the fact that it takes up 2 feet of precious floor space and I finally had to give in and agree that it needs to go.  But I'm hopeful we can figure out a way to reuse the mirrors - especially the big center one!

So, it's gone!  And now that the wall between the kitchen and dining room has been removed, the whole space looks dramatically different.  Sunlight streams in through the bay window and comes into the kitchen, helping that north facing space feel lighter and brighter (hard to tell in this photo, I'll take another on a sunnier day!).    
The first floor now has a whole different flow.   Next step is the drywall.  Once it's finished, it's going to be fabulous!!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Serenity Amongst the Chaos – in the Powder Room

Back in the mid 90’s – when houses were selling like hotcakes – we bought a house that had been on the market for over a year.  No one was brave enough to buy it.  It was a disaster of a home,  garage and basement would flood in the rain, there were two clunky furnaces, and the previous owners had painted almost everything (walls, windows, ceilings and trim) a pale cantaloupe color (except for our daughter's bedroom, which was navy blue semi-gloss....lovely).  In fact for years afterwards when we told local realtors that was our house, they always looked shocked and said ‘so you’re the crazy people that bought that place!’

We promptly started ripping it apart and it reached a point where there wasn’t a nice space in the whole house.  For whatever reason, the first room we renovated was the power room.  It was an oasis of calm and clean – in the tiniest room in the house.  Some days I would just go in there to hang out….to remind myself that the rest of the house, too, would ultimately look that nice.  It was just a matter of time!

Powder Room - Before
Oddly enough, that’s the first room that’s going to get transformed in our Victorian flip house.  It's at the back of the house, in a space we think was originally a porch.  This is more like a utility room, because it has the washer and dryer in it as well.  But we’re going to try and hide them behind doors at the back of the room.  That way, the rest of the room might seem a little less utility-like – and you can hide any dirty socks behind the doors.

Grouting the floor
Since this is right off the kitchen, we want to tie the color schemes together.  We installed a glass and marble mosaic ‘rug’ border, that will match the one on the backsplash in the kitchen.  And to keep it from being too monochromatic, we added an accent strip of absolute black granite - which links to the black lavatory countertop.  The rest of the floor matches the marble that’s in the mosaic border.
'Rug' marble and glass mosaic border

The result?  It's still a work in progress, but we think it looks pretty nice.  And if you stop by the house looking for me, you might find me hanging out in the powder room!

Powder Room - After

Paint color - Sherwin Williams Ancient Marble
Laundry - After
Mirror - Restoration Hardware, Dillon pivot (outlet store)
Sconces - Pottery Barn, Sussex Tube Sconce (outlet store)
Vanity - Home Depot - Foremost Westchester
Mosaic border - Home Depot
Laundry Room decal - ($9.99!)
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dining Room Hutch

This 60's vintage hutch takes up the long wall in the Dining Room.  I keep trying to pretend I'm Candice Olsen (one of my favorite HGTV Designers) and come up with a way to utilize all these mirrors and update the look. After all, don't mirrors bring in more light and make a space seem bigger. Isn't there some way to paint it and update the hardware? Add lighting?  But the knotty pine and scalloped trim keep overwhelming me.  Can you come up with a better way to modernize it?  Or would you rip it out? Pin It

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Past Projects - Before and After

We are at that point in the project where lots of things are torn apart, but not much is put back together again.  And on a dreary winter day (9 degrees when I got up this morning), I need some inspiration!

So I pulled out some photos from a project we did last summer - our master bath.  And as I look at it, it serves as a nice style guide for our new project.  After all, is there anything better than Carrera marble for a bathroom in an old house?

Before - Lots of battleship gray tile
We started with a battleship gray bath and a shower that screamed 'skinny people only'.  We couldn't change the footprint of the room, but we could move things around to make better use of the space.

The result?  A soothing, tranquil space with lots of clean, crisp white and my favorite shade of blue (green cast - Benjamin Moore).


Vanity - Pottery Barn
Lights, mirror and faucets - Restoration Hardware
Wire baskets - Pottery Barn Pin It

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Porch Renovation - Before and After wonder the insurance inspector wants a railing!
The front porch of our project is typical of the other period houses in the neighborhood, but the wavy, sagging floor pointed to structural problems below (not to mention the trampoline like bounce in the corner!). It doesn't have that welcoming look that we want! Our initial plan was to re-deck over the existing framing with minimal repairs, but closer investigation revealed that the porch had no footings and that the framing was inadequate and potentially unsafe.

The porch is gone!

So the Waterhouse Builders crew erected temporary supports to hold up the roof,  in order to demo and rebuild the porch. The demo was accomplished in record time, and the rebuilding began in earnest.  First step after demo - digging footings, 42 inches deep in Maine!

Our initial plan was to use pressure treated wood, but as we thought it through, we realized that the porch forms the first impression for the whole house.  We decided to give it the look it deserved - mahogany decking for the surfaces and crisp painted cedar for key components.
Sustainable  Malaysian mahogany

While the crew was hard at work outside, we started a paint shop in the basement....too cold for exterior painting in the winter (the touch up on existing trim will have to wait until spring)!

The result?  A pretty dramatic transformation.  And it doesn't just look good - it's structurally sound and will provide an outdoor gathering spot for generations to come.  Now we just need some warm weather to sit outside and enjoy it!

Our great crew - Waterhouse Builders

Shane Brennan, Henry Mayer & Mike Backman

Drew Mayer

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ode to Martha Stewart

Martha, Martha, how do I love thee…. let me count the ways
-   I love your color palette, with all its soft shades
-    I love the attention to detail - for a dinner party, kitchen décor or how-to instructions
-  And most of all, I love your design approach that links to today’s casual lifestyle
You are, indeed, the Diva of the Domestic.

So of course, when we started planning our new kitchen, I wanted to look at Martha’s new cabinet designs.  She uses a new manufacturing technique from Germany that completely wraps each cabinet door, creating a paint like finish - but with a much more durable surface (and much nicer than that plasticy thermofoil look). 

Home Depot is the only company that carries the new line of cabinetry.  So I made an appointment with Donna Boyian, our local Home Depot kitchen designer.  Donna was great.  She really helped us come up with a great design for our 11.5’ x 19.5’ kitchen.  She quickly whipped up a CAD model and we played with different design options on her computer.

As we all know, kitchens and bathrooms sell houses.  We want to do a dramatic transformation of this drab, dreary space.  Our vision is a quintessential white New England kitchen.   White cabinets with stone countertops (Traditionally they would be soapstone, but we want to spare our future owners the work required to maintain them and will go with granite instead).  We also want classic light pendants, bin drawer pulls and a bridge faucet for the sink.  And all stainless steel appliances, including a French door style refrigerator.

But even though we love the traditional white (which Martha calls Picket Fence) kitchen, we want to give it a couple of contemporary touches.  A stainless steel chimney stove vent is a must.  We also want a ‘furniture look’ built-in with glass cabinets and bookcase space for cookbooks or wine bottles.  And most importantly, we need an island to provide critical countertop work space, as well as room to pull up some stools to chat while dinner is prepared, or for the kids to do homework under a parent’s watchful eye. 

We’re pretty excited about the final design.  They said it will take 4-5 weeks for them to be manufactured – which is a good thing, because we’ve got a lot to do in preparation!  But we can’t wait to get started with this project.

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