Friday, January 31, 2014

Is That a Lake in the Basement?

For the past 4 months, the basement has been bone dry.  So dry, that it sometimes made me forget that there can be a problem with water seeping in.  But I was still happy to get a call from Dave at Concrete Presciptions that he could come start our water proofing job last week.

Of course just as they were getting set up, we got a brief January thaw.  The temperatures hit an amazing 40 degrees (downright balmy!!) and the snow had all started to melt.  They were predicting heavy rains overnight.  That can be a flooding nightmare, since the water can't soak into the frozen ground.  It tends to go wherever it can, often into a nice empty basement!  And as it started to rain, I noticed this little puddle in the back corner when I locked up the house at 6 pm.  I took a picture to see how much change we would get overnight.

At 8:00 the next morning, this is what we had waiting for us.  2 inches of water at the low end of the basement.   Okay, so maybe not a lake, but still a big surprise after months of dry basement.  

 JUST IN TIME Waterproofing!!!  Concrete Presciptions quickly drained the water and set about cutting out a swath of concrete around the perimeter of the basement and garage.  They discovered a drainage network of terra cotta pipes that had been put in originally, but in the 70+ years since the house was built, they had become filled with silt and tree roots.
The old pipes were pulled out and the guys replaced them with plastic drainage pipe, wrapped in a membrane that will keep the pipes clear (an important step from the 1940's practice).  This was surrounded with crushed rock.  But my favorite step is the 'dimple' board that goes around the walls.  It ensures any moisture that makes it through the foundation, will be whisked down to the french drain and out of the house.  The final step is to pour new concrete, so we have a nice basement floor.  Love it!
Water started flowing immediately as old pipes were removed

Adding crushed stone around new drainage pipe
Concrete finishing step over dimple board

Now we're ready for a spring thaw and lots of spring showers……that is if spring every gets here!

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Monday, January 27, 2014

A Touch of Gold……Well, Actually It's Brass

Have you noticed that brass is making a comeback in lighting fixtures?  I'm not talking about the 80's lacquered brass, or the 'antiqued' brass that used to be so popular.  Today's brass fixtures have more of a brushed finish and add a warm ambiance to the room.

Shades of Light, one of my new favorite catalogs, calls it the Golden Touch - “Golden” is a word that brings to mind various themes; of royalty and riches in luxurious palaces, of destiny and excellence in an opportunity or favorite, and of luminance and warmth from shining light or a glowing sun.   Okay, so that might be over the top, but you get the idea!!

Whether you call it gold or brass, we've decided to use brass fixtures in the living space of the Beach Cottage.  The few original fixtures that are in the house are brass, so it seems like a good choice.   And in a nod to the mid-century origins of the house, we'll be using some drum shades that give it a bit of a traditional touch, with an updated twist.  
Restoration Hardware

Hudson River and Visual Comfort are two of my favorite lighting companies, but their prices tend to be out of my budget.  For example, this New Caanan sconce has an MSRP over $1000. Restoration Hardware's Convoy Sconce is very similar (both are patterned after a fixture from the British Royal Navy), but retails for $379. With that kind of price difference, you can guess which one I bought (plus I found it on sale)!  
Hudson Valley Lighting

Lots of other companies are starting to carry the aged brass - Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs have some nice options.  Still a bit pricey, but beautiful (Lowes, Home Depot, etc. don't seem to have many offerings yet, but I'm sure they'll be adding them as the finish gets more popular).

Since we have such a tall ceiling in the master bedroom, we wanted to have a pretty dramatic fixture.  I found this Murray Feiss 'Arabesque' drum fixture.  It does a nice job of blending traditional and contemporary styling, with a bit of a wow factor when you enter the room! 

For the other bedrooms and the foyer, we'll use this Hinkley fixture in a finish they call 'brushed bronze'. 

For the dining room, we'll hang this drum pendant.  I love it's simple, sophisticated design with the antique, gold leaf finish!  

Kitchen Pendants

And as you saw in an earlier post, we'll be using these pendants over the kitchen island. 

Over the fireplace, these Restoration Hardware Library sconces with shades will be perfect.  I can't wait to send the current sconces off to the ReStore!  I'm sure some one else will love them, but I want something a little different.

I'm still finalizing a few more of the fixtures.  I hope to get them posted with the room designs soon!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Some Days, It's Like Being 8 Years Old All Over Again

Remember how excited you could get about little things when you were a kid?  I sometimes feel that way with the milestones on our reno project.  And this week was a fun one!

We needed a LOT of drywall delivered for this job.  And it's an awkward delivery, because the house sits on a hill with a big power line running across it.  Plus, our windows aren't large enough for a 4' wide sheet of drywall.

So…..we had to have the power company come out and wrap the high voltage wires.

And we had to remove a couple of 2nd floor windows.

Oh, and the drywall company had to send their 90' crane to lift the drywall up over the power lines and in through the windows, the door and the garage.  Check it out in this little 2 minute video (sorry it's so shaky, it was 9 degrees when I filmed this)!

So, admit it, pretty cool, huh?

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

T-Minus 10 Days to Paint Color - Yikes!

So… painter stopped by to give me a final estimate and announced he has a new approach he wants to use.  As soon as drywall is installed, he'll prime all the walls AND put the first coat of paint on the walls at the same time.  That's before trim goes in, or kitchen cabinets, or hardwood floors.

What???  That means I need to have all the paint colors decided - and the walls aren't even up yet!  For those of you that have been following the blog for awhile, you know that the paint color is the last thing I decide on (See How to Choose Paint Colors here).  So this has put me into design overdrive.  I don't just need to finalize the paint color, it's all the fabrics, tile, accessories, etc.  Geezzzzz.

I have paint fans everywhere.  Paint chips are spilling out of my purse, my minivan and are now taped to the walls.  I've been carrying fabric swatches around with me for months, now's the time to drag them out of the recesses of my bag and hang them up.  The tile I ordered hasn't arrived yet, so it was back to the tile store to borrow a sample.

Here's what I know:  the first floor will all be the same color, thanks to our open floor plan.  Color inspiration came from the beautiful recycled glass tile we're using for the kitchen backsplash.  The glass is a swirl of sand beige, cream, brown and blue.  And whether you call the it navy or twilight or ink or indigo - it's going to be a deep blue.

So here are my latest thoughts:

For the small window treatments, I'll be using this seahorse pattern.  I know we don't have seahorses in Maine, but love this pattern anyway! And since we're just a few steps from the beach, I like incorporating a few beachy items.  I hope to have enough fabric left over to make a couple of pillows as well.  For the large bank of windows in the living room, we'll be using burlap with a navy print for full length drapes - fabulous texture and a great complimentary style.
This was toooo gold - thumbs down!

The finalists for wall color?  I'm really liking 'Rice Grain' by Sherwin Williams.  I used that same color for the bedrooms in the Colonial we did last year (see here - isn't it nice?).   But I also like Softer Tan.

Rice Grain next to Tile  in Bright Sunlight
The color to the right is called Believable Buff - it wasn't so believable for me.  It got scratched off the list.

I'm going to leave these paint samples and fabrics up for a few days, so I can see what it looks like at different times of day.  But Rice Grain seems just as nice on a sunny day as a dreary one.  That's a good sign - sometimes there can be a big difference in as the lighting changes.

And for the second floor?  Well, I still have a few days left to figure that out!!!

BTW - want to see more photos and updates?  Be sure and 'like' us here on Facebook for updates!

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Inspection Ready - Round One

Despite the incredibly cold temperatures and now the mud bath from the thaw, there's been a LOT of progress on the house in the last couple of weeks.  Framing is complete.  We've gone through stacks of lumber, roofing shingles and windows.  And have a brand new 2nd floor plus an open floor plan on the first floor to show for it.
New windows!
Master Suite - it's a big room!
Back Bedroom 
Front Bedroom - note Katie's desk lamp is getting used as a temporary ceiling light!
Electrical rough in is complete.  Of course the 2nd floor got all new wiring and smoke detectors in each bedroom (per building codes).  The kitchen has been updated with GFCI outlets and wiring for the dishwasher, garbage disposal and range hood.  And we've also added cable hookup throughout the house (but I keep hearing that people are getting rid of cable, so maybe that wasn't a smart thing to do!).

But my favorite feature?  We moved the original phone cubby from the front hall to the kitchen wall.  It's wired with both a traditional phone jack (which will work beautifully with this phone I found on eBay), but we've also added a docking station to charge a cell phone.  I know I'm easily amused, but don't you think this is cool!!

The plumbing rough in is done.  And it was a lot of plumbing!  Upstairs, we added a family bath and a master bath - as well as a laundry closet for a stackable washer and dryer.  We also had to run all new hot water heating pipes.  Downstairs, we're updating the full bath and will be plumbing the new sink, once the kitchen cabinets are installed.

But the biggest change is in the basement.  Farewell old 1940's oil furnace.  And welcome to this new, super high efficiency, Rinnai gas boiler.  Isn't it a beauty?  Hmmm….maybe you need to be from Maine on a particularly cold winter to appreciate it :-)   The most exciting thing about it (besides the fact that it's going to have much, much less expensive heating bills)  - it's incredibly quiet.  With the single digit night time temps we've had, I double check to make sure the heat is working when we finish up every night.  But I can't hear it come on, so I go down to the basement and feel it to make sure it's running!  Amazing!

Once the inspection is done - we can insulate.  At long last, we'll have a warm house!

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Tweaking the Design

We always start a project with a clear plan……but it starts to evolve pretty quickly!  There are two reasons:  1) this is not new construction.  As you tie the new house elements with the old house elements, they don't always come together the way you anticipate.  So you end up making lots of decisions on the fly.  2)  as the house starts to come together, you start to discover better ideas.  What seemed brilliant during on the drawing board, might not be quite as clever in the real space!

Can you tell this is a diagram of a soffit detail???
So…..when the crew shows up to get started on the project, I can hand them a set of blueprints - but also a set of magazine clippings, red-lined drawings and some notes about 'wait until we see what the final configuration looks like'.  I'm sure I drive them crazy, as I drag out yet another picture for them to look at!!!   And we probably spend way too much time drawing pictures of what we want to do on any spare surface on the job site.  But ultimately, the house is better for it, as we figure out what works best for the space.

So what have we 'tweaked' thus far?  Quite a bit actually:


Starting Design

'Tweaked' Design

Master Bedroom Window Installation
Master Bedroom - The windows over the bed in the master bedroom were so low,  the headboard would have blocked them.  So, we changed the double hung windows for a triplet of awning windows.  They will provide lots of light and ventilation, but privacy as well.

Dining Room windows - the corner placement of the front window in the dining room seemed a bit odd.  Particularly from the street.  So we'll be adding two new windows in the center of the front wall, over the garage.

Living Room 'Picture' Window - we're going to replace the 50's style picture window with double hung windows that match the rest of the house.

Roofline - We decided to extend the front roofline over the garage.  It adds a little more dimensionality (?? is that a word??) to the front facade and gives us a great place to install lights over the garage and driveway.

Ceiling Height - The blueprints called for a 7' 6" ceiling height on the 2nd floor.  But, with the stick built construction we used for the rafters, we suddenly realized that we could have vaulted ceilings, providing lots of light and space!  And we are still able to meet the insulation standards required in Maine (R-49).  They're most dramatic in the master bedroom and bathrooms, but the other rooms will have higher ceilings as well.  The downside:  my drywall guy came out today and just shook his head - 'do you have any idea how much cost you've added?'  I'm not sure I want to see his new estimate….
Master Bedroom - Lots of ceiling height in here!!

2nd Floor Laundry - We figured out how to add a stackable washer/dryer on the 2nd floor.  We were able to include a laundry closet in the master bathroom.  We'll still keep the washer/dryer connection in the basement, but it's nice to have the option of doing the laundry wherever it's most convenient.

Built Ins - There was a built in chest of drawers in the old house that we want to reuse.  We've figured out how to build it into the gable end of one of the bedrooms.  On the same wall, we will also add a window seat under one of the big windows - a great place to curl up with a book as the sunlight streams in through the south facing window!

I'm sure that's not the last of the 'tweaks'.  And unfortunately, tweaks tend to be expensive, since they almost always drive additional costs.  But as we make these changes, we really like how they make the house look and function!  And we think they will be appreciated by the new homeowners.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

And the Winner Is…...

By a landslide!!!  With 50 votes on both the blog and Facebook, almost everyone liked Option 2 the best.

I laid it out with the 3 lights on the 'duct tape island' this morning and think it looks great!

 Thanks so much everyone for your input.  The guys are installing the electrical wiring this week!

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Opinions Wanted - Kitchen Island Fixture(s)

I've been agonizing over which light fixture to put over the kitchen island.  And I need to decide now - because the electricians are getting started.  It makes a big difference whether it's a single fixture or three separate pendants when they install the wiring!

So here's what I've been looking at:

Option 1 - A somewhat traditional island light, with brushed brass trim and opalescent globes.  Simple, but elegant and it will provide a lot of light.  But I'm not sure I'm crazy about the opalescent globes.
Option 2 - Individual pendants - most likely 3, lined up over the space.  This is a great traditional option, with classic appeal.  
Does it look familiar?  That's because I used it in the Craft Room of the Colonial With a Twist.  I loved it there!   
So what's your vote?  Option 1 or 2?

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Beach Cottage - Kitchen Design

 With the bright, open floor plan that we’ll have in this house, it’s important to have a kitchen that both looks good and functions well.  After all, you’ll see it as soon as you walk in the front door!  So we've spent a lot of time designing the space.

Here's a birds eye view of the layout.  Lots of work space, ample storage, a good kitchen triangle, and room for a crowd during a party (always a critical design element in my book!).

And we’re starting with some pretty cool design elements.  We want to mix a little contemporary flair with our cottage style.  First up, we are going to install a farm sink.  But not your run-of-the-mill white farm sink.  We found a sleek, stainless steel sink, that has a beautiful curved front edge.  We’ll add an industrial style faucet to provide a real workhorse washing station.

Hooked on Houses -Tyler Florence's Mill Valley Home 
I loved this sink from the moment I saw it.  And was thrilled to see Hooked on Houses post of Chef Tyler Florence's kitchen - with the same type of sink & faucet we have planned (oh, and he has a chopping block to die for). 

Another key design element - a large center island, which will be topped with butcher block.  It will seat 4, but also provide storage for a microwave, trashcan and recyclable pull out.  I’d love to share the light fixture that we’ll use above the island, but truth-be-told: I can’t decide which fixture I want!  The electricians come next week, so I better make up my mind soon.

And we've included something critical that this house never had - a dishwasher!!!  Hooray, no more hand washing all the dishes!

Even though this is a large space, it was a bit tricky to figure out a good layout.  An open plan doesn’t provide a lot of wall space for appliances and cabinets.  And with all the windows and doorways, we finally realized we needed to cover up one of the windows to install the refrigerator (no huge loss, it was a window to the screen porch, so there wasn’t a lot of light coming in).  We moved the stove to that wall as well, but left the kitchen sink in front of the window.  The cabinets will be Martha Stewart Dunsmere white, with quartz countertops. 

But my favorite design element?  We’ll be installing a new, slide-in gas range with a beautiful glass backsplash and chimney hood above it.  Since this is a focal point when you enter the house, we want it to look fantastic!  I found the tile at Old Port Specialty Tile.  It's made of recycled glass, called Vihara, from Sonoma Tileworks.  It's a soft blend of all the beach colored elements we love – sand, shells and a few hints of blue sky.  I’ll add an iridescent glass ‘frame’ around it, to really make it pop.

As usual, I was hopeful that we'd find a nice hardwood floor underneath the 'Congoleum' vinyl.  And as usual, I was disappointed.  We found an odd mix of fir and plywood, running in different directions.  So, now we're planning on installing an oak floor to match what we have throughout the rest of the first floor.  That will help blend all the spaces together, as well as provide a hard working surface.

We're still quite a few weeks away from installing the kitchen.  We need things like electrical and plumbing done first!  But what do you think of the design?

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