Friday, April 26, 2013

Fireplace and Mantle Update

Have I told you how excited I am to have a house with a fireplace?  It's a feature our last two houses didn't have, so I was thrilled to have one this time.  There's something so warm and comforting about a fireplace  - especially here in Maine!  We've been known to use our fireplace on a cold June night.

But this one was ready for an update.  This part of the house was built in 1960 and the fireplace reflects that.  It's gas - but set up for propane.  Since we're moving to natural gas, this will require a whole new log set. That's actually a good thing, the new log sets are 'vent free', so all the heat goes back into the room!

From a design perspective, I want it to reflect the architecture we have throughout the rest of the house.  Beautiful, simple moldings, to give it a traditional look.
So.....I started looking for some inspiration.  I started a Pinterest Board and found a couple that were really exciting.  This one is beautiful.  Love the top crown molding and simple trim.  

Source:  Better Homes and Gardens

Another favorite is this one from Better Homes and Gardens.  Like our house, they have a raised brick mantle, which has a dated look.  I loved how they trimmed it with molding.  I also really, really like the black brick.  But I'm not sure it makes sense to do that for a new buyer.  They can decide if they prefer the red brick or want to paint it black.

The other inspiration - the fireplace in our own house.  It's got the same simple trim, but with a cherry top and a stone/glass hearth surround.

So, with all those great ideas, I sketched something up.  And after lots of discussion (because we all had lots of opinions!!), Anthony created this beautiful surround.  Now that it's got a couple of coats of paint on it, it looks like it's always been there!  What a nice update!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Traditional Kitchen Update - Part 1

At long last, we're ready to put in the new kitchen.  Remember our starting point?  It was probably last updated in the 70's, and while still in respectable shape, there was very little storage, no dishwasher and the appliances.....well, let's just say I sold them on Craigslist for $25.  It was time for some updating.

We removed the scary staircase (remember this post? -,  tore down lots of walls, installed new windows and raised the ceiling - thanks to a whole new joist system that we installed for the 2nd floor.  Then we had to complete the key infrastructure.    It created a bright, open slate to start the new kitchen.

With that behind us, it's time to start installing the cabinets.  It's always amazing to me, how this big jumble of giant boxes and molding can come together so beautifully in a new kitchen.  Waterhouse Builders got to work and started with the upper cabinets.

Crown molding goes on first
We're using Martha Stewart's Ox Hill cabinets in a brand new color - Heavy Cream.  I love the simple styling of the doors and drawers for our traditional style kitchen.  We ordered glass doors for either side of the stove and we're using a complex crown molding to take the cabinets all the way to the ceiling - a nice custom touch that highlights our high ceiling.

The upper cabinets go in first, followed by the lowers and the fridge cabinet with side panel.

Getting ready for the new stainless steel vent hood

Coming together!
Cabinets are installed!  
Now that the cabinets are installed, we're ready for the fancy trim work, countertops, appliances and lighting.  Getting closer to completion!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Tree Trimming

Now that we have a 2 story house, we have lots of branches that practically scrape against the house.  It is an invitation to problems - everything from broken limbs to squirrels who can easily get into the house (have you ever tried to get rid of a squirrel infestation?  Not fun!  We spent months trying to get them out of a house - and kept finding acorns in odd places for many more months after that!  Try putting on a pair of shoes with acorns in the toe :-)).

So we called the guys from The Greater Portland Tree Company to come out and do a little pruning.  But what we found was a lot more than we bargained for!

As they looked closely at some of the big branches, they discovered that some of them had a lot of rot.

We didn't plan on removing this whole limb, but as you can see, there wasn't a whole lot to it!

Old Squirrels Nest 

The next piece that came down broke into pieces and this old squirrel's next looked like a mini explosion as it hit the ground!

They also removed this extra tall tree stump from the back yard.

The final result - a nicer shaped tree that's in great shape for many more years of shade!!!

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Mixing Old and New Hardwood Floors

Are those the signal strength bars for my cell phone????  No - just the weave pattern as we blended the new floor with the old.  Our project house presented some unique challenges to the team from Abrams Hardwood Flooring.

New Red Oak in Upstairs Hallway
But let's start with the easy part.  Since the second floor is essentially new construction, the guys were able to come in and get the new red oak floors installed pretty quickly.  We couldn't believe how much the new floors changed the look and feel of the house.  There's just something about new wood floors that immediately warms the space.

They sanded them and put down one coat of polyurethane to protect them.  After all the other work is done, they'll come back and add two more cots of poly, to get a strong, protective surface.
Look at how one coat of polyurethane brings out the beauty of the oak
Master Bedroom with New Oak Flooring

But the downstairs was a whole different story.  Since we removed several walls, each of those spaces was essentially a hole that needed to be filled.  We talked about putting a mock 'threshold' in to transition the space.  But we knew that wouldn't give the right look to the open floor plan and opted instead to have the guys skillfully weave old and new.

They start by cutting back the old floor to create the cell phone bar strength pattern - that gives the start for weaving old and new.  But we found a couple of surprises when we got started.  1)  The original house has a blend of white oak, red oak and even a little maple thrown in.  2)  The 1960's addition - which is in the same space - has only red oak.  After lots of discussion and input from lots of experts, we decided that since the area of the 'weave' was primarily white oak, we should use white oak.

Wood Weaving Complete, Awaiting Sanding

This is the view with the new flooring woven into the old.

Can You Tell Old From New???

And here is the woven floor, post sanding
Living Room Before Sanding
We also decided that the mix of woods in the back hallway, along with all the walls that were removed, made it necessary to take all that wood out and start fresh.  So what was already a big job, just became bigger.
Kitchen & Hallway - Starting Point
Kitchen & Hallway - New Floors!

I won't have final photos until we get the next two coats of polyurethane down.  But at this point, we think it look pretty fabulous!!

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Meet Adelyn!

Sorry I'm behind on blog posts this week......we've been a little preoccupied with the birth of our new granddaughter.

I've got lots of great house photos and will get updates to you next week!!

Laurel (aka Grammy)

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Contractors With a Sense of Humor

Some of the contractors we work with have a great sense of humor.  They don't take themselves too seriously and find a way to poke fun at their work.  Here are some of my favorites, but I'd love to hear about yours!

-  Port a Potty - My absolute favorite is BBI and their Port a Potty slogan - We're #1 in the #2 Business

-  Basement Waterproofing and Crack repair - A name like Concrete Prescriptions for basement crack repair and waterproofing is cute.  But crackologist for their website???  Hysterical!  

-   Insulation Installation - What happens when you install fiberglass insulation?  You get I&S Insulation - aka Itchy & Scratchy!!  Love that name!

-  The Greater Portland Tree Company has a 'We Save Kittys' sign on their bucket truck.  And guess what, they really have gotten calls to rescue cats!

So, what contractors have you seen that have a sense of humor about their name or tag line?

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Walls & Warmth

The exterior of our project is coming right along, but the interior is also progressing nicely.  It's finally starting to feel like spring in Maine, but with 20 degree mornings, insulation and dry wall make a much nicer house!

First things first.  The insulation folks showed up and added fiberglass insulation into all the new walls, the crawl space and a layer in the ceiling.  To meet building codes, we need all the new walls to have an R-21 level of insulation.  This required miles of insulation and stilts to tuck a layer of insulation into the attic space.  But as soon as they were done, we noticed an amazing difference.  Suddenly it was so quiet in the house!  All that insulation absorbed all the sound and gave the house a whole different feeling!


Next step - Drywall!  Dan Caron and his team made quick work of installing drywall.  I have to confess, I LOVE watching the big boom truck bring the drywall in through the upstairs windows.  So efficient!  And again, stilts!

More Stilts!

Last step - Blown in cellulose insulation in the attic. Building code requirement is R-49.  So we needed a thick layer of insulation over the pink fiberglass that they had already installed.  They snaked the hose up through the attic scuttle hole and started blowing cellulose.  It looked like it was snowing in the attic!

We're pretty sure Mother Nature will deliver a little more cold weather.  And we're ready for it!
Now that we've got the place all buttoned up, it's starting to look pretty good!  Next step - hardwood floors.
Soon, this will be the kitchen!

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Transformation Update - The Exterior

It's been awhile since I've posted exterior photos, but now that the snow has melted (hooray!!!), it seemed like a good time.  We still have more to do - but we've made some nice progress and are getting pretty excited about the transformation.

As a reminder, here was our starting point.  A 1947 rancher, that had a garage addition built in the 60's.

We took off the roof on the main house and added a second story with 3 bedrooms and two baths.  Our biggest goal - to make it look like it had always been there!  
To do that, we had to change all the windows throughout the house (lessons learned - replacement windows are built very differently than new windows, so you can't mix them and get a cohesive look.  And yes, that's a cha-ching-cha-ching $$$ noise you're hearing).  We also replaced the roof on the entire house, to give the new owners a nice, dry home.
New windows upstairs.....old windows downstairs, waiting to be replaced
Next up, we installed white siding on the whole house.  

We also added a front porch, to provide shelter from bad weather when someone comes to the front door and to give the house a little more character.  That's still a work in progress.  The brick steps need repointing, before we can add the columns and hand rail.  But hopefully you can get the idea!

We also need to paint the doors, add the shutters, lights and hardware.  But that's a couple of weeks away.  In the meantime, what do you think.  Does it look like it was always a two story house?
Look - no snow!!!  Maybe Spring is really coming!

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