Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Design Trends - Yes or No?

We wanted to do something a bit different, as we planned the design for the Beach Cottage.  We want to stay with colors that are typical of the beach - sand, sea, shells, etc.  But don't want to go overboard on the 'beachy' theme.  We also want to keep it fresh and updated, as we break away from the original 1940's design.

So I thought it would be interesting to see what the big design trends are for 2014.  But I always tread softly around trends.  I have 2 design rules that I always follow.  1)  For semi-permanent elements (i.e. tile, lighting, flooring, expensive furnishings, etc), go with classics and neutrals.  2)  For easy to change elements (fabrics, paint, accessories, etc), be bold and try something new.

Source:  WSJ
And there are lots of trends and predictions out there as we get ready to start a new year!  Here's a brief set of highlights:

The Wall Street Journal has 5 top picks:  Macrame wall hangings (please no!!!  I don't think I can live through that again!!), Corduroy fabrics, sheers for windows, Art Deco colors (amethyst, topaz, rose quartz, etc), and Venetian marbled paper prints (the swirly kind that you find inside of old books).

House Beautiful has their own predictions, from some of the top bloggers around the country: A Bevy of Blues, including a lot of Navy (that's something I think we could use!), soft black and white (nice!), traditional/timeless design, mixing and matching metallics, farewell to beige or greige and lots more color, including dark, moody walls!
Source:  House Beautiful
Elle Decor predicts: Bejeweled Kitchens (think cabinets in gemstone colors), honey toned woods, turquoise, animal hide upholstery, and the end of distinction between indoors and out. 
Source:  Elle Decor
Zillow compiles their own trend predictions, based on the most popular photos on their website (a pretty cool way to compile data!).  Their predictions include:  Black countertops in kitchens, dark paint colors and open shelving/glass front cabinets.   

I think I'm a bit partial to the House Beautiful predictions.  And I'm curious, which trends do you like?  Which do you dislike?  Will you be trying any of these in 2014?  I'd love to hear your perspective!

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Demo Daze

While  the Waterhouse Builders team was working on the second floor, Jeff Murphy and his team were doing lots of demo work on the first floor.  Their objective:  Create the open floor plan that we all love in today’s homes.
View from front door - Before
View from front door - After Demo
 As the walls started to come down, you could see the difference immediately.  And it was at its most dramatic right inside the front door.

By eliminating the front bedroom wall (to the left of the staircase in the photos), we were able to create a much needed dining room.  Now we have a lot more living space on the first floor.  Oh, and the cool, retro phone station that was on that wall?  We’re going to relocate it to the kitchen and hopefully outfit it with a USB port (which will provide lots of old technology humor 20 years from now!).

The living room and kitchen suddenly feel huge!  Even though we haven’t been able to completely remove the supporting wall (we’ll be installing a new load carrying beam, before that can come down), you get the idea, now that the plaster is gone.

The kitchen cabinets are gone,  as well as the multiple layers of flooring that had been added over the years.  We plan to replace the floor with new oak hardwood, to match the rest of the first floor.

The bathroom started getting its update as we pulled out the old, mottled blue bathtub.    Soon, it will be gleaming with beautiful new fixtures and flooring.

Best of all, we now have a circular floor plan.  Perfect for big parties and family gatherings!  What do you think of the changes?

Does it seem like the project is going quickly?  That's why we love demo.  Taking things down goes in a flash.  Rebuilding will take a bit longer :-)

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rebuilding Dilemma or Why Does the Flashlight App Have a Disco Setting?

The good news:  The 2nd floor came down in 2 days.  The not so good news:  With the house open to the elements, we got a weather forecast predicting the first major storm of the season.

The dilemma:  Do we just strap giant tarps down over top of the house and wait a few days, for the weather to pass?  Or see if we can get enough of the roof up, to weather the storm?  

(For those of you that have read this blog for awhile, you may remember our experience last winter when we had a blue tarp over rafters and ended up running back and forth to the project every two hours to dump snow off the mountains of snow between the rafters.  We were determined NOT to do that again!)

The decision:  Move forward!

Front and Rear Walls Going Up
The team from Waterhouse Builders moved into high gear and quickly got the walls in place.  Thankfully, they had pre-built the window units during the ice storm on Monday (sigh…'s going to be one of those winters….), so that helped it move very quickly.  They sheathed each wall and wrapped it, prior to raising the wall.  Next step, getting the rafters for the shed dormer in place. 
As they started installing the roof sheathing, the radio blared with one of those public warnings - the snow storm was now going to bring 12-18 inches of snow and include very high winds.  Yikes!  So now we needed gable protection in place as well, to protect from the winds.  So they started cutting plywood to start sealing up both ends of the 2nd floor.

Next problem:  It gets dark really early in December in Maine.  And as the sheathing went up, the space was getting darker and darker.  We hadn't thought to bring lights on site that morning, and didn't have time to run and get them as the sun started slipping over the horizon.

The not so great solution:  I tried out my new iPhone flashlight app, to provide some illumination.  But the darned think was stuck on the 'Disco' setting, which created a strobe effect.  So imagine this, you're using big scary power tools to cut plywood, and the light keeps flashing on and off, on and off.  Somehow, the guys just kept going, to get everything under cover before the storm.

The slightly better solution:  I tried one last search in the basement and found my daughter's old desk lamp, squirreled away in a box.  I brought it upstairs and suddenly its 60 watt lightbulb sent, what seemed like, a huge amount of light throughout the space.  The guys were able to finish the sheathing and we pulled one last piece of plywood across the opening to the stairwell to secure it from the storm.  Hooray, done in time!!

24 hours later…… and 12 inches of snow, the space looked great - with only a trace of snow that made its way through the eaves.  

And the desk lamp?  Well it looks kind of pretty with a dusting of snow that blew in during the storm!

Next challenge:  4-8" of snow tonight!  It's gonna be a long winter!!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mother Nature's Challenges: Ice, Snow, Sunset 4:04 pm, 15 Degrees

Mother Nature has thrown us some challenges, as we kicked off this project.  We delayed the start of the project for an ice/snow/sleet storm, and we've had additional snow showers each day.  And while the 'average' temp in December should be in the 30's, it was 15 degrees today.

But that didn't slow anyone down!  Despite a thick layer of ice everywhere, the dumpster driver popped the dumpster into our narrow driveway without any issues.

The crew from Exterior Alterations quickly started peeling the 2nd floor off of the house.  They cut a hatch through the roof and used that to toss debris into the dumpster.

First step was to pull out all the interior walls and finishes - but we kept reusable elements like built in dresser drawers that we can use again.

Next step was cutting away sections of the roof, so they could be safely moved to the dumpster.

New meaning to 'skylight' at the top of the stairs!
As the roof disappeared, we suddenly had a lot more light flooding into the first floor!

It was so odd to stand out in the open on top of the 1st floor.

The neighbors have already remarked on how quickly the project is moving forward.  We had to remind them that demo is fast - rebuilding will take a tad longer  :-)

Stay tuned as we start the new roof and do the first floor demolition.  Lots more photos to come!

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Getting Started……..Almost…..

Drum roll please!  We are now the proud owners of a variance, which has been recorded at the Registrar of Deeds!!!  Woo hoo!  Let the countdown begin.

Variance - Check
Permit Application - Check
Dumpster Ordered - Check
Material Delivery Scheduled - Check
Ice Storm…..yeah, well, that might put a little crimp in our plans.  But weather permitting, we still hope to start demo this week.

Stay tuned for lots of photos as we tear the current roof off and start building the new one!  It should be fun to watch.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

1892 New Englander - Before and After

As we ready the house for it's new owners, we thought it would be nice to take one last look at the transformation that occurred in the last several months.  It was a lot of work, but this house had such fabulous antique details, we loved every minute of it.  It was wonderful to highlight the old, while adding some modern amenities.

The Exterior Front - we started with a lot of peeling paint on the entire structure.  It took a crew of Lead Certified painters to bring the exterior back to its original glory (to see more, click  And of course we replaced windows/skylights, updated railings to meet code requirements, replaced rotting trim, repointed the masonry…etc. etc. etc!

Painting the house required Lead Safe Painting Practices
The Exterior Rear - The back of the house changed dramatically.  We tried our best to salvage the old garage, but there was so much damage, it couldn't be saved.  And in retrospect, it created a nice backyard and enabled us to put in new windows across the back facade,  flooding the house with sunlight.  For your entertainment, you can click here for the story of the garage and a video of it coming down!
Rear View - After Garage was removed

Rear View - After
Interior - The interior also saw dramatic changes.  By removing walls and opening up the floor plan, we created a big, open living space.  
The Kitchen and Dining Room
Kitchen and Dining - 'After'

Dining Room - After

Dining Room/Kitchen - Before
Dining Room/Kitchen - After

Mudroom/Powder Room - Before


Mudroom and Powder Room - By carving out a few feet, and removing a not-to-code staircase, we were able to create a mudroom entry off of the back entrance, as well as a powder room.
Mudroom/Powder Room - After

Living Room - Before
Living Room - Removing the wall between the foyer and living room, created a bright, open space.  And eliminated the narrow dark hallway that went nowhere!

The 2nd Floor - this changed from a 2 bedroom/1 bath space to 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths.  The most intriguing element - changing the former attic space into a bright, large master suite.  (To see more, click here)

Adding these 200 year old antique beams and the dramatic light fixture make this a special room.  And the master bath completes the space.

Hallway and Master Bath - To add the Master Bedroom, we had to create a hallway - changing the footprint of the family bath.

After - Hallway and Bath!
New Bath - Flooded with Light from the Large Skylight

The Nursery - The nursery is a light filled small room, that just needed new skylights and some decorative touches to realize its full potential.  Here's the step by step (The $16.29 Nursery).

The third bedroom got a facelift with a light paint scheme and bright pops of color.
It's always hard to say goodbye to these wonderful homes.  But we know the new owners will love it!    Please help us wish them many years of happiness in their new home.

If you'd like to see the whole story - click here and you can view the month by month updates.  Please subscribe if you'd like email updates on our next project.  Or 'like' us on here on Facebook for additional updates and photos!

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