Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Garage Resurrection Project......Or Not....

So, once again, we have a debate on whether something can be saved.  In this case, it's a garage.  Or sort of a garage.  With the configuration of the driveway, it would be tough to get a full sized car in the garage - but a Prius could do it!  However, even if you don't put a car in it, it has lots of storage space and could make a great workshop for someone (it already has 220 power) or, to my way of thinking, it could be a lovely alfresco dining space.

Here's what I'm envisioning in the space.  Gorgeous - don't you think?
Photo: White Barn Inn

Here's what the guys see when they talk about the space!
Photo: you can probably imagine, there are some challenges to either one of these grandiose ideas (and since it's only 18x18, it probably won't look much like either one when we're finished!).

Problem 1 - The slab floor.  We have no idea when the slab floor was installed, but it has no reinforcement in the concrete and has buckled.  A lot.

Problem 2 - The roof.  You guessed it, it's time for a new roof.  They definitely got their money's worth out of this one!

Problem 3 - Sagging Back Wall.  Who knows if this window was originally level, but something's awry!

Problem 4 - No foundation.  It's simply sitting on dirt......which ties back to the slab floor problem.

But it does have some charm.  Really, I'm not making this up!  Look at the way it helps frame this brick terrace.  And don't you just love this column with the light and the climbing rose?  There really is some nice potential here.

We're still collecting bids for the job.  And it's a lot of work.  To save it, we need to jack up the existing structure, remove the current slab, regrade with a proper base layer, add footings and a new slab.  Then we'll lower the garage, shore it up where it needs it, put on a new roof and doors.  I'm worried the bids to save it, will be much more expensive than what an appraiser would value it for.

But tearing it down isn't a cake walk either.  It's been there a long time and is completely attached to the back of the house.  Once we get it down, we need to install all new siding and solve who knows what other problems we may find.

So, I'm curious.  What do you think?  If you are buying a house (in a cold climate like Maine - we had 100+ inches of snow last year), how important is it to have a garage/workshop space?

And if you want to see more updates, be sure and like us on Facebook!


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Monday, June 24, 2013

The 1892 New Englander

What, you might ask, is a New Englander?  Well, if you don't live in this part of the country, it's an architectural style that you've probably never heard of.

While not an officially recognized architectural style, a New Englander is so widely recognized here in Maine, that's it's a menu choice on the MLS (Multiple List Service) for house style.  Typically, it's a turn of the (last) century home with a steeply pitched roof (better for shedding snow), gable end facing towards the road, and multiple additions added on.

View from the backyard shows the multiple roof lines
This 1892 gem is our next project - and it's pretty much a classic.  From the steep pitch of the roof, to the multiple roof lines you see from the back yard, it's got all of the right ingredients.  I can't tell you how excited I am about this house.   It has lots of architectural detail already in place!

Originally, the house had a big wrap around porch.  But when the previous owners subdivided the property a few years ago, the porch got trimmed back to just the front section.  That explains the new section of siding that you see in white along the side.  But the porch still has all of its original elements, including the gracefully turned columns.  Can't you just see a couple of wicker rockers on that front porch?

We hope to get moving pretty quickly on this project, so stay tuned for updates!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Creating an Open Floor Plan from a 1940's Ranch Home - Before & After

It seems like ages ago, when we first walked through this simple 1947 rancher and started talking about how we could update it.  Fast forward 6 months and we're still pretty amazed at how much it has changed.

We started with a typical post war home.  Small, separate rooms with a small kitchen.  You can see the Before Photos Here.

Since we were putting an entirely new second floor on the house, we knew that the engineered joist system that we installed would let us remove any walls that we wanted on the first floor.  We were also installing a new wall-hung, gas furnace which allowed the chimney flue to be removed.  That gave us lots of flexibility to design the new space.
View from front door - Before

The result?  Well, we'll let you be the judge!

Because we removed so many walls and doorways, it's probably hard to believe this is the same space (hint - the wall on the right with the antique table is the only one that stayed).  The first impression as you come through the front door is completely different now.  Instead of a maze of walls and doorways, now you see all the living spaces in this bright, open home.

View from front door - After, with all those walls removed
Living Room - Before
Living Room - After

 The 1960's brick fireplace has had a facelift with a new, yet traditional style, mantle.  We added sconces and a new gas firelog set.  Won't this be cozy during a cold Maine winter?
Moving the furnace was a big job.  But in this case, it allowed us to eliminate the flue and open up the space.  Once the flue and supporting wall were gone, we added the hand hewn antique beams to give this post war home some architectural character.  It also provided a great transition as we changed ceiling heights between the spaces.
First Floor - Before centre wall and hot air ducting from furnace was removed

First floor After - same camera angle, without the central wall

Living Room/Dining Room - Before

This is probably the best vantage point to see how many walls were removed.  The only wall that still remains is the one on the far left and part of the mirrored wall (which provides a closet as you come in the entry).
Living Room/Dining Room - After
Back Hallway - Before
The back hallway has had similar, dramatic changes.  We eliminated the closets on the left, opened up the stairwell wall, took out the funky, angled arch and raised the floor level to match the rest of the house.  Quite a change, don't you think?

The second floor is all new - click HERE to see how it came out.

So, next time you think that a dated floor plan has to be stuck in the past.  Think again.  With a little creativity, you can make it a wonderful, modern living space!

Want to see our latest project?  Like us on Facebook for regular updates!

Original Paintings - Cooper Dragonette
Dining Table & Chairs - Pottery Barn
Wicker Wing Chairs - Pottery Barn
Leather Sofa - Horchow
Kitchen Cabinets - Martha Stewart Purestyle

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Before & After - The Traditional Kitchen

It was 5 months in the making, but we think the completed kitchen was well worth the wait.  We went from a circa 1970's space to one that has a timeless style.  Here's a quick photo update of the project:

Starting point - an awkward space with limited cabinet space, a basement stairwell that tied up a large corner of the room and and that 70's color scheme - harvest gold, avocado green and orange.
Remember the scary basement staircase?  We had a lot of debate on whether to spend the money to move it.  But now that we see the space - and realize how much we've increased the safety of the steps, we realize moving the staircase to the other side of the house was the right thing to do!  Look at what used to happen when you came in the door from the backyard.  What a hazard!

Here's the first view - in Process.  No staircase, walls removed and the antique beams are installed

And here is the after view!

And to give you a better feel for the space, here's the view as you enter the house from the garage:

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

So, what are the details that made the change so dramatic?  

1)  Architectural Interest - by adding these circa 1800 beams, we gave this 1947 house a sense of history that it didn't previously have.  It also provided a great transition to the taller ceiling that we created when the new engineered joist system was installed on the 2nd floor.
Installing the antique hand hewn beams

2)  Traditional Styling - We used classic colors and finishes.  The Ox Hill cabinets from Martha Stewart, in her new color - Heavy Cream - evoke a classic New England kitchen.  The tiled backsplash is reminiscent of a tin ceiling.  And the light fixtures add a traditional touch, as they brighten up the space.  

3)  Finishing Touches - the glass door on the pantry lends a bit of sparkle to the space.  Same with the glass cabinets on either side of the stove.  And notice that we took the cabinets all the way up to the ceiling.  That custom touch makes a big difference in the look and feel of the space. 

This was such a fun project, we're almost sorry it's over.  But we're thrilled with the results!  And in talking with the new owners, they can't wait to move in and start using it!

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Craft Room - Before and After

Do you remember this room?  I asked all our readers for their vote on how to stage it - and 'Craft Room' was the overwhelming winner.

We didn't make huge changes in here.  The paneling was painted white (a big job, to keep the tannins from bleeding through), some molding was added to dress up the desk, and new carpeting was installed.  But the difference is pretty dramatic - now it looks fresh, light and bright.

Thanks to my friend Faith, who has the most incredible craft room you could ever see, I had lots of cool props to borrow for the staging (don't you love Penelope the mannequin?).

And local artist Cooper Dragonette lent us some of his amazing paintings - which inject color and style to a room that could have been a little too white.  Aren't they beautiful?

And last, but not least, is my mother's circa 1970 Sears Kenmore sewing machine - which I still use on a regular basis!

The room is so nice, I'd like to start sewing here!

Pendant - Home Decorator's Collection, Home Depot
Chair - Crate & Barrel
Cool Craft Stuff - Faith's Craft Room!
Paintings - Cooper Dragonette, Cape Elizabeth, ME

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Before & After - The Exterior

With the frenzy of getting the house on the market, I didn't have a chance to share any real 'before & after' photos.  So now that I can catch my breath, I thought it was time to share.

This was the most ambitious project we've ever under taken.  We started with what was essentially a one bedroom ranch (unless you were very petite, then you could call the 2nd floor a bedroom - but for most of us, there was no way to stand upright!) and expanded it to a 4 bedroom colonial.

That big of a change, required a whole new joist & truss system.  But that system provided an excellent opportunity at the same time.  It allowed us to:
  -  remove walls on the first floor, creating an open floor plan
  -  create 3 brand new bedrooms and 2 baths in the new construction on the 2nd floor
  -  re-roof the whole house, to ensure a cohesive look for the house.
There were also some big hurdles to overcome - you'll notice the central furnace chimney in the middle of the house.  That had to be rerouted while the work was being done.  We also needed to meet all new building codes, since the scope of work was so extensive.  That drove additional costs.  And last, but not least, since it was January when we started, we had lots of fun working around Mother Nature (and a record breaking blizzard!).

Our biggest goal - make sure it didn't look like a clunky add on.  We wanted it to look like it had always been there.  And we had sub goals, which included adding a front porch to give protection from inclement weather and creating some architectural interest to give it Colonial character.'s the result!  What do you think?  We absolutely love this house!

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Check Out My Pottery Barn Feature!

I was interviewed by Pottery Barn this week, for a feature on their blog.  Remember this post -  How To Hang Nautical Charts ?  Well, Pottery Barn liked it so much, they decided to share it.  Here's the link: Pottery Barn Interview.

Better yet - come check out the 3 new bathrooms we just finished on our latest project.  Open House is from 11 am- 3 pm!  Hope to see you there!


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