Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Decorating the Nursery - Part 1

We made some nice progress on the 'not so pink' nursery for our granddaughter.  But despite the request to tone down the pink, you probably won't be surprised to hear that we ended up with far more pink than Beth ever dreamed possible!

We thought it might be helpful to share some of the 'how to' instructions in this post.

Here was our starting point - a dark beige room with a double window and closet.  Not exciting to start with.....but it has nice hardwood floors.  And lots of wall space for furniture placement.

Pottery Barn Kids - Hayley Quilt

Step 1 - The inspiration - Pottery Barn Kids - Hayley Quilt.  Beth loves that it has so many different colors to work into the design scheme.  The pastels are great and to keep the 'pinkness' toned down, we decided to go with blue, white & yellow for our color scheme on the walls.

Step 2 - Painting the walls.  We wanted a striped focal wall and after much debate, we chose Behr Monaco Blue and Decorator White.  For the other three walls, we went with Behr Summer Moon, a very pale yellow.
We agonized over which blue went best with the calico in the quilt

The stripes were pretty straightforward.  First, we painted the entire wall Decorator White.  We let is 'cure' overnight, so the paint had a chance to adhere to the wall.  The next day,  we pulled out our calculator and divided the height of the room by 8, to get the spacing for evenly sized stripes.  We got out the tape measure and level and were able to quickly tape them up (Suggestion: use the tape for sensitive surfaces to protect the base coat).

Then we used a trick that I find really helpful.  Paint the edges with the color that you've taped over.  That way any initial 'bleed' will be the same color.

We had Mom and Dad 'to be' painting and after two coats of blue, we pulled off the tape (I always pull it off while still wet, to minimize any chance of the base coat coming off).  Love those horizontal stripes!

Step 3 - Creating the baby's name.  I ordered the letters from PaperSource (very reasonably priced at $3.75 each!).   Then we picked out scrapbook paper to match the colors in the baby quilt.  Covering the letters was easy.  I started with a coat of spray paint, followed by a coat of spray adhesive.  The paper went on easily and I cut it with a sharp x-acto blade.

Hint:  Try embossing the edges with your fingernail prior to cutting - particularly for the inside of letters like A and e.  It makes it much easier.

We still have lots more to do - but we're happy with the results so far.  What do you think?

Want to see the completed nursery?  Click here

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Drama - There Are Always Surprises in an Old House

It occured to me that if we were an HGTV show, this is the part of the show where you find nasty surprises that kill the budget.  You know the segment....the music changes (to something like the Jaws theme) and there are lots of close ups on people looking stressed.  It's when the designer/contractor and the homeowner get into heated arguments, as they try to figure out how to pay for the unexpected surprises and still do all the other things they have planned.

Since we can't see the point in arguing with ourselves, we'll forgo the drama!!  But we did find some issues that are going to cost more than we anticipated.


This is what rotted wood looks like.  It's got the texture of a dried cellulose sponge - if you squeeze it, it gives a bit. And if you get it wet it can be downright slimy.

This is in such bad shape, it makes you wonder what was holding everything together!

It's the result of a poorly pitched roof and flashing on the shed.  See how the shed roof slopes the wrong way - back toward the house!

We hadn't originally expected to have to replace sheathing on the back of the house.  Especially where it's hard to get at, in a spot like this.  But guess again - now it's in the plan!


We had some basement flooding back in December when we had 5" of rain in one week.  We assumed that was an extraordinary event and it wouldn't be the norm.  But this week, we had some snow melt (and this is Maine, so that's not an unusual occurrence!!!) and the basement had 2" of water in it again.

I've gotten pretty good at channeling it over to the sump pump, but we have to get it fixed.  Thankfully we have experience dealing with this issue, so we called Concrete Prescriptions and they'll be out in a couple of weeks.  So once again, we'll have a full perimeter drain dug around the foundation.

Underspanned Joists and those Scary Basement Stairs

Look at that - 2x4 joists in the floor system!  I think we were so busy looking down at the basement stairs, we forgot to look up.  No matter, we'll be fixing this as we tear out the basement staircase and move it to the other side of the house.  We got approval from the city for the change and hope to move forward soon.  This is a pretty expensive change, but we think it will be well worth it in the long run.

So, what does that do to our budget?  Well, thankfully we had a nice contingency cushion in there, which we haven't completely exhausted yet.  But hopefully we won't have too many more big budget surprises!!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Going Retro: Funky Finds

It's always interesting to see what you discover, as you tear an old house apart.  I thought I'd share a few of the things we've found.

First up - How do you like that paisley tie???  We found this box of neckties in the back of the crawl space.  My theory (and I can see my own dad doing this) is they were Christmas presents that the owner didn't really like, but he wore each one once and then buried them in the attic so he wouldn't hurt anyone's feelings.  I offered them to our crew, but no one would take them!!

Next - Very cool dresser that was stuck in the back of the attic.  Don't you love the serpentine top drawer?  It is missing a few key pieces, but I'm still hopeful we can get it back together and make it useful.

This is a really big painting on the wall in the basement.  Do you think there was a schoolteacher living here?   This is definitely staying right where it is!!!

Signs - These signs crack me up.  This one is right next to the door as you come in from the garage.

And this one is as you leave.  It must be left over from the teenage years.

I'd love to hear the funkiest thing you found in your house when you bought it!

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Ya Gotta Love New Construction : Expanding a Ranch Style Home

Now that the roof has been torn off, we're ready to start the new second floor.  The team from Waterhouse Builders has made huge progress in the last week.  We've gone from an odd, roofless house to something that's starting to look like the colonial we have planned.

First step - All new I-joists that span the length of the house

This was a rancher, that was never designed to have the load of a second story on top of it.  That necessitated the installation of engineered I-joists that will carry the load.  And they give us the added benefit of making some of the first floor walls redundant, since they're no longer load bearing.  Hello open floor plan!  We can't wait to take out some of those walls!   It also gives us a nice space for all new plumbing and wiring that will need to be installed.

Second step - Install Sub Floor and Build Exterior Walls
First Walls Go Up!!!  Woo hoo!!!

Step 3 - Raise Roof Truss System

This step drew lots of onlookers, as the trusses got put on top of the newly built walls.  This was a bit tricky, thanks to the giant tree in the front yard.
The snow covered tarp 'roof' gives the 2nd floor a nice glow!

And it was finished just in time - before we got 6 inches of new snow.  The blue tarp 'roof' helped protect the 2nd floor during the storm.
6" of snow......doesn't slow them down a bit!

Step 4 - Raise Roof Truss System
Once the snow storm was over, the team quickly got the trusses in place!  

Step 5 - Roof Sheathing

With the sheathing installed, it's looking good!!!  Now the Typar wrap is getting installed.  Next step, finish buttoning it up and get the roofing on before our next storm.

 Like I said - ya gotta love new construction.  It's hard to believe they could get this much done in one week!!

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Thursday, January 17, 2013


And we're off!!  We're having a week of decent weather and it's an ideal time to get started.

We're not calling this the demolition phase, because we're trying to save everything that can be salvaged.  We know we'll fill a few dumpsters, but would like to keep as much out of the landfill as possible.  We've spent a couple of weeks taking out all the things we can reuse (doors, hardware, etc), donating mid century elements to Habitat for Humanity(glass cabinet doors, handles, light fixtures, doors, etc) and selling off old appliances on Craigslist.

So at long last, we're ready to get started:

First step, we had to remove the roof from the main body of the house

These pictures make it look easy - but there was a huge amount of work involved.  
They cut an access hatch to clear out the attic

So weird standing outside as you climb up the staircase!!

See all that snow?  These guys don't wear coats and I'm standing there dressed like the kid in 'A Christmas Story'!  I can't seem to wear enough layers to stay warm.

Next, we removed interior walls and surfaces:
View as you enter the front door - Before

New View from the Front Door!
Here is the new view as you come through the front door.  As you look straight ahead, you're looking at the Kitchen and Family Room.  And the stud wall that you see will eventually be removed, but at the moment it's holding up the ceiling!

View towards Living Area - Before

View towards living area after flue removal

  The view towards the bedroom & bath - Before

View towards bedroom & bath - After
We're thrilled with how open and spacious the house feels....even in its current messy state.  Next up - we'll be putting on the 2nd story and new roof system.  Stay tuned!!!  And if you want to see more pictures, check out our Facebook page.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane (aka my Mother's Washer & Dryer)

If I didn't know better, I would have sworn my mother decorated/furnished this house.

This is the same model washer and dryer we had when I was a kid.  Sears Kenmore.  And these still work like a champ.  I sold them on Craiglist last weekend for $25.  (I should also add that I hate my new, very fancy Sears Kenmore washer, maybe I should have kept this one!!!)

This was our kitchen shelf lining paper that I grew up with.  Harvest Gold and Burnt Orange.  Do people still use Contact paper for lining shelves?

A couple of the cabinet doors have these handles - you push the button in to open them.  I remember something like that,  but I think it's from a car door!!!

This is the kitchen floor.  We didn't have this particular pattern.  But my mom probably gave it some thought.  So here's my question.  Can anyone name that pattern?  We don't actually have any prizes for a contest (unless you'd like a SoPo Cottage T-shirt!) but we'd be really, really impressed if you know what it is!!!

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Farewell to the Cottage - Before & After

Exterior - Before
We turned our little Cottage (previously known as Diamond in the Rough) over to its new owner last week.  It was such a dramatic transformation, I thought we'd share one more time (one of our readers reminded me that you can never share too many before and after shots!!):

Dining Room - Before
The living room saw lots of changes with walls and doors removed - opening up to the dining room and the former front porch.  
Living Room - Before

Living Room - After
Open Floor Plan - Before

Open Floor Plan - After
Kitchen View - During
Kitchen View - After
Kitchen - Before

Photo:  Jamie Salomon
Powder Room - Before

Foyer - Before (it was the porch behind the windows)

Foyer - After

Hallway - Before

Hallway - After

Front Bedroom - Before
Front Bedroom - After

Back Bedroom - Before

Back Bedroom - After

Bathroom - Before

Thanks for following our progress through this entire transformation.  We are so happy for the new owner.
Exterior - After

Want to see more updates on SoPo Cottage projects?  Like us on Facebook for more photos and ideas!  We're always working on a project.

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