Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The All Important Back Entrance - With Mud Room and Powder Room!

Everyone in Maine has a front door, but very few people use them.  In fact, lots of people don't even have a walkway that goes to the front door.  Because everyone knows to come in the back entrance.

'Before' view coming in the back door
Staircase next to back door

That's why we gave a lot of thought to the back door on this house.  It's right next to the driveway and is the logical entrance.  But we knew it needed some changes.  When we bought the house, the first thing you saw was this scary staircase to the attic.  Needless to say, it didn't take long for us to decide it had to go.

'After' view coming in the back door
The Mud Room
There were a couple of things we wanted for this back entrance.  1)  It needed to have a place to stow coats, boots, mittens (this is Maine after all), right as you come in the door.  So we created a mud room with lots of hooks for 'stuff', and a bench to pull your boots on and off.  We used bead board for a vintage touch - but it's also incredibly hard wearing.  And as an extra touch, we install radiant heat in front of the bench, so your toes can stay toasty warm as you slip off your shoes!  The flooring is a US made mock-travertine (super durable!) with a marble mosaic inset.

Powder Room
2)  Equally important was having a powder room on the first floor.  Am I the only person that seems to always need the bathroom when I get home?  We liked the idea of having the powder room right next to the mud room and tucked out of the way of the rest of the house.

It's a small space, but with the vintage style pedestal sink and beadboard walls, it has an old fashioned charm.  We added an oval medicine chest from Kohler and Pottery Barn Mercer sconces, to complete the look. And again, we have radiant heat to keep the floor toasty warm in the winter.

Best of all, we added new windows to this back space.  They're on the east side of the house, so it floods the space with light in the morning.

Want to see more?  Check out the whole house transformation here.  Or 'Like' us on Facebook!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Creating a Master Bedroom from Unused Attic Space

Somehow, in the course of 120 years, this attic space never got finished into living space.  It was one of the features of this house that excited us the most, when we started the project.

But it wasn't an easy job.  The joists were over-spanned.  The roof rafters didn't meet new codes.  And of course there was no insulation.  But we quickly tackled these challenges (see details on insulation and structural updates) and added new elements like collar ties of antique, hand hewn beams.

And the result?   Thanks to new windows and a large skylight - and a very cool light fixture - the room is light and bright.  No more dark, creepy spaces.  The gabled roof provides architectural interest to the space.  And the room is large enough to have room space for a reading nook by the window.

And we were able to add a half bath at the far end of the room, complete with a marble mosaic floor and classic fixtures.

So, it might have taken 120 years to get this room finished, but it's ready for the next 120 now!  What do you think?

Chandelier - Shades of Light
Bathroom Fixtures - Kohler & American Standard
Rug, Bedside Lamps & Linens - Homegoods
Wall Color - Benjamin Moore Green Cast

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Monday, October 21, 2013

New Englander Kitchen and Dining Room - Before and After

Now that the house is completed, I thought it would be nice to go back and post some photos to help you clearly see the 'Before' and 'After' changes we made.  And since the kitchen got a lot of updating, that seemed like a logical place to start.

As you might remember from an earlier post (click here), this is a good sized kitchen.  The previous owners used it as both kitchen and dining room, but since we opened up the wall to the back of the house,  we had an even bigger space to work with.   

In the kitchen, we kept the incredibly efficient 'U' shape for the workspace, but widened it and created a big peninsula that incorporated seating.  This way you can chat with the cook or eat a casual meal.  We used black granite, so the counters are hard working as well as beautiful.
Kitchen 'Before'
We also wanted to have lots of storage in the kitchen, so added this bank of cabinets and a window seat on the far wall.  The glass cabinets let you display beautiful pieces, while the butcher block countertops provide more work space or buffet space for a party.

Kitchen 'Before'
The new dining room had lots of changes.  We removed the old, steep staircase from the back of the room and added a mudroom and powder room (more about that in a future post).  We replaced the leaky old windows with new, energy efficient ones.  And we got rid of the florescent work lights and installed recessed lighting and a new pendant chandelier.
Demo Day  - check out the old dining room light fixtures!
But we kept all of the vintage features that we loved about these rooms.  The big beam in the kitchen stayed - and we created a chalkboard with a reclaimed wood frame from some wood we found during demolition.  The corner hutch, which we think is original to the house, is still there.  And we kept all of the wood floors that were in the house ( click here to see how the flooring was restored).  

We also added some new, contemporary touches to the space.  The backsplash has a vertical glass accent, that adds sparkle to the space.  The light fixtures are a unique blend of old and new.  And the stainless steel appliances are incredibly durable, but also have a sleek look to them.

We had an 'It's Finished' party last weekend and loved how well the space flowed and how well it accommodated a crowd (after all, when you have a party, everyone wants to be in the kitchen!).  All in all, we are thrilled with how this space came out!  What do you think?

BTW - be sure and 'like' us on Facebook for even more updates!

Accordion Pendant Light - Pottery Barn
Dining Room Pendant - Lowes
Paint Color - Benjamin Moore, Green Cast

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Open House - Sunday October 20th!

The house is staged and ready to go!  We are having an Open House on Sunday, from 11am - 3 pm.  294 Pine St, SoPo, ME.  List price - $319,000.  We can't wait to start showing it off!  Here are some of the photos from the MLS, I promise to get more before & after photos out soon, so you can really see the transformation.

The open floor plan has a really nice flow.  The granite countertops provide lots of work area in the kitchen triangle.  And the abundance of lighting and dimmers let you set the mood!
The dining room is a new space, thanks to the wall that we removed.  With the large windows on each side, there's always sunlight streaming through the room.
The built in hutches provide additional storage space and the window seat is a cozy space to curl up while you keep the cook company.

The built in chalkboard, framed with reclaimed lumber from the house, provides a great message center for the household!

The living room is open to the kitchen and dining room.

The large living room is nice and bright with windows on three sides and provides ample living space, as well as beautiful corner built ins.

This house has wonderful antique details throughout.  Isn't the original newel post with balusters beautiful?

The second floor has 3 bedrooms.  The master bedroom is a brand new space (see the starting point here).  The vaulted ceiling with hand hewn beams provides a dramatic focal point.  And the reading nook is a great place to get away from the rest of the household and enjoy a good book.

And the master bath has a half bath incorporated in the space.  

The front bedroom is a large room with a big closet!  

We just love this nursery!

Want to see the whole transformation story?  You can start here in June Link and work your way through the month by month archives.  A lot has happened in the last few months.

All, in all, this is a wonderful home!  Just ready for a buyer!

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Investing in a Solid Foundation - the Basement

The basement isn't the sexy part of the house.  But a big chunk of our budget was invested there.  And in reality, if you don't get that right, all the fancy stuff upstairs won't be worth it over the long haul.  So we wanted to share some of the big investments.

How long will this stay so shiny???
When we bought the house, it had oil heat and a tired old steam boiler.  We learned there was gas available on the street and quickly arranged to have the line brought into the house.  Now we just need a new, gas boiler (quick tutorial for a question that comes up a lot - a 'furnace' is for a hot air system, a 'boiler' is for hot water or steam).

The next challenge - getting a new boiler down the narrow basement stairway.  Thankfully our plumber Dominic was up to the challenge!  He had the boiler delivered unassembled.....which looked like a 1000 part, 3D jigsaw puzzle.  But he was able to quickly assemble it and now we have this beautiful, shiny new boiler ready for the winter!  (maybe it's only in Maine that we get really excited about heating systems!).  This coupled with all the new insulation in the house should make a big difference on heating costs.

Root Cellar - Before

One part of the house that I haven't shared with you, is a bit unusual.  We had an honest to goodness root cellar - complete with roots - in the back of the house.

This part of the basement is dirt.....which was crumbling as we got work done in there.  And it's a lot of work -  adding plumbing for 2 baths, steam heat pipes and new electric.  Many houses of this era have dirt basements, but its important to seal the space from moisture.  And we have a couple of other issues we want to correct. The joists for the room above are overspanned and need additional support (note the support post that's sitting on a big rock!!).  This explains why the floor above is so bouncy!  So it's a big job!
The systems were added quickly, but the dirt wall began to erode and make a big mess.  We called the guys from Concrete Prescriptions to come in and stabilize it.  They quickly added a new retaining wall, which was reinforced with re-bar and concrete.  The entire space was covered with landscape fabric and then covered in a heavy plastic, to seal out moisture.

In addition, they installed new support piers, which allowed us to put a new support beam right down the center.  This stabilizes the entire floor above.

The previous owners told us the room above was always drafty.  So we had spray foam installed all around the perimeter.  This will totally seal the space, so there won't be any air infiltration.

Root Cellar - After
The result?  Okay, so it's not sexy.  But now the basement is a nice, dry space with a sturdy structure for the floor above, miles of new electrical wiring, and a shiny new furnace.  A big improvement!

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Friday, October 11, 2013

New Tile Patterns

I've had the tile saw working overtime, as we try to get this house done!  I finished the last of the grouting today and though I'd share a peek at what we've been working on.

The mudroom and powder room got this oversized travertine-like floor (see more about travertine here), with a marble mosaic inset.  It adds a little interest, as well as visually widening the space.  Best of all, we have radiant heat under the floor, to keep your toes warm as you put your boots on to go outside in a Maine winter!

We did the master bath in a classic carrera marble pattern.  I can't get enough of this gray and white combo!  And like all the baths, the floor has radiant heat.

For the family bath, we went with a traditional white hexagon - but in a 2 inch size.  It really gives a vintage look to the room.

Coupled with this white subway and dramatic glass insert around the tub, it created a bright, inviting space!

We wanted something a little different for the kitchen backsplash.  After looking at lots of options, we decided on a glass and subway combination.  The glass stripes tie in the key colors of the house and play on the vertical accents we introduced in the space.  Don't you love how the light reflects off the glass?

Sources:  Travertine, Hexagonal and Green Ocean Glass - Paul G White Tile, Portland ME; Marble Mosaic - Lowes

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