Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Cherished Bungalow - Before Interior Photos

Good News!  The inside of this 90 year old bungalow is already charming.  It has beautiful woodwork, great light streaming through the windows, and original features throughout.  Our challenge is to retain that charm, while updating it with modern amenities and a nice flow throughout the living space.

So let's start at the front.  There is a nice bright sunporch that runs the whole width of the house.  It faces west, so it's lovely to sit here on a cold winter afternoon and just bake in the sunshine!

The living room is big, but has some pros and cons.
Pro:  A nice fireplace at one end and beautiful built in bookcases at the other.

Cons:  A long narrow footprint that makes it tricky to furnish, and with the sunporch along the front, the room is a bit dark, even on a bright, sunny day.  The fact that there are no overhead lights makes it very dark on a dreary day.

View from Living Room to Dining Room and Kitchen
There is a lovely, big dining room, thanks to a gracious bay window that faces the south - bringing in lots of sunlight!

And the staircase to the second floor is hidden in the corner.

The kitchen?  It's a good sized room.

And I love, love, love this original sink!!!  What a great focal point for the kitchen!  It's supported by a nice, custom built cabinet that will also be staying.

 This is the hallway that leads to the bedrooms and bath.  It's a really nice little space, that also has a door to the basement stairwell.

The first bedroom is in the back of the house and has two good sized windows (and drapes that I love!)

The smaller bedroom is across the hall.

And the bathroom?  Yup, it's pink!!!  It might be time for an update  Ha ha!!!

And the 2nd floor?  Well it's a blank slate!  We're still noodling over ideas, but it's so much fun to have a space like this to finish.

Last, but not least, is the basement.  It might be funny to highlight it, but at the Open House, everyone was talking about it.  Why?  Because for this part of the country it's amazing.  It's big. It's bright.  It's dry (with no funky basement smell) There is a high ceiling.  It includes a laundry area, with an antique soapstone sink.  And it has a nice garage at one end.  Seriously, in this neighborhood, it doesn't get any better than that!

So what do you think?  Lots of possibilities?  Click here to see more exterior photos.

Thanks to all the folks that came to the Open House, I've got lots of great input for the design.  We're meeting with the structural engineer this week and hope to get plans finalized, so we can get started!!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Cherished Bungalow - Exterior Before Photos

So many food donations!!!  Thank You!!!
We had such a fantastic turnout at the Open House over the weekend!!!  Thanks so much to all of you who stopped by.  And special thanks for bringing so many food donations for the South Portland Food Cupboard.  Your generosity will really help a lot of folks in need.

We loved hearing all your ideas and input for the Bungalow.  It was fantastic to get so much input from people that are familiar with the neighborhood!  We're still working through design options, permit requirements and this week we're meeting with a structural engineer to determine key beam sizes.  So lots of prep work in progress!

For those of you who couldn't attend in person, here are some of the before photos.  As I mentioned in my last post, this bungalow is in great shape.  It's been beautifully maintained over the years and you can tell it was really cherished by its previous owners.  Of course, that doesn't mean  there isn't an opportunity to make some changes.  But we won't do many on the exterior, it already looks great!.

The first thing you notice when you see the house is the beautiful landscaping.  Stone walls surround most of the property, since the house sits on a little hill.  The previous owner was a master gardener and it really shows.  Hydrangeas, hostas, day lilies and more surround the entire property.

And while many homes look pretty blah in the winter, this one looks just as lovely surrounded by a blanket of fresh snow!  In fact, you can really appreciate the stonework and terracing that has been done.

Rustic stone steps wind up from the driveway, with beautiful plantings.

And the deck is a great addition on the back of the house.

One of my favorite features is the bay window on the south side - and the rustic stone fireplace.

Isn't she a beauty?

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Setbacks...... the Design Process That Will Never End

I don't think I've ever had this much trouble finalizing a house design.  We are now on Design Option #14 for the second floor.  And after a meeting with the city this week, we discovered we have property setback issues that will potentially create timeline setbacks.  Geezzzz.....

We have a no-dormer design.  We have a small dormer design.  A large dormer design.  And a double dormer design (requires a modified variance).  All of them give less than desirable ceiling height around the perimeter of the room (worst case is 5' 9").  But to bump up requires a major variance, that could take months to work through (and could look a bit wonky as well).

So I'm looking forward to lots of input from folks at Sunday's 'Before' Open House.  What do people in the area want?   One large master suite upstairs (for a total of 3 bedrooms in the house).  Or 3 bedrooms (for a total of 5) for a family with young children?  And of course my investment numbers are looking a bit crazy at the moment.  We can't get too carried away.

Are you local?  If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Sunday.  Hope to see you at 180 Preble Street,  1-3 pm in SoPo! (PS - you can't park in front of the house, but it's convenient to park on the cross street)

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Design Inspiration - Mixing Upcycled Elements in a Warm, Cozy Setting

We were having lunch in a little café in Amsterdam, when I fell in love with this design approach.  There was something so cozy and gezellig about the place (Note:  gezellig is a Dutch word that doesn't translate simply to English, but means homey, warm, and inviting - particularly when getting together with friends and loved ones).  Let's face it, we all want our kitchen to be gezellig.

As I sat there eating my salad, I tried to inconspicuously take some photos (so please forgive the photo quality).  I want to take a few of these ideas for the kitchen on our next project.    Here's what I found that I want to try and incorporate.

White tile with aged wood accents.  I love the mix of the high white gloss tile, with the earthiness of the old wood.  These hanging bread baskets wouldn't really make sense in a home kitchen, but maybe we could do some kind of shelving unit!

And look at the reclaimed wood on the back of the island!  This wasn't the only element they up cycled.  The owners proudly showed off the recycled marble countertops that they installed.  Marble, it's a classic touch.

Cream colored woodwork.  I was surprised how much I like this.  Typically I would use white cabinets and woodwork with white tile.  But this cream color really brought out an added dimension in a monochromatic palette.

Oh, and are chalkboard walls passe' now?  I do like them in a kitchen.

Look at this brass faucet hook - isn't it great?  They had these for people to hang their coats in several spots around the cafe.

Chunky light fixtures.  Love the industrial down lights by the windows. may be seeing some of these elements on our next project!

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

The 'Before' Open House - 90 Year Old Bungalow

When people come to tour our finished projects at the Open House, they always ask what it looked like before we got started.  Let's face it, we all love to compare the Before and After!  So I thought we'd do something unique this time.  I'm going to hold a Before Open House.  This is the chance to come see what the place looks like, before I start ripping out walls and building new spaces.  The last time this house was sold was in 1998, and since I bought it in a private sale, no one has seen it on the market in a long time. 

Now, I need to add a disclaimer.  This is the nicest house I've ever bought.  There are no scary staircases.  No ankle deep puddles of water in the basement.  No precarious decks hanging off the back. So it's safe to tour!  Ah, but you ask, since its in such great shape, why did I buy it?   Because it has a completely unfinished second floor (that will be lots of fun!) and has a lot of great features from when it was built in 1927.

Yes, it has some fantastic original features that we want to retain - a great fireplace, a cozy sunporch and an old fashioned, enamel kitchen sink that is drool-worthy.  And even though I've been noodling over the design for the last year or so, there are still lots of things that need to be decided.    Should we add 2 bedrooms or 3 to the second floor?  Should we expose the bricks (they weren't as pretty as I had hoped)?  Is the kitchen big enough for an island??  And last, but not least, what should we call the Bungalow????  If you're able to stop by, I'd love to get your perspective!

I found these old blue prints in the attic!!!
So come join us Sunday, January 24th, from 1-3 pm at 180 Preble Street, South Portland.  Feel free to wander around, check out the 'inspiration wall', and try to decide what you would do if this was your project!

If you do join us, I do ask one favor.  The South Portland Food Cupboard needs some donations, now that the holiday season is over.  Their Director, Sybil asked if you could bring non perishable items to donate.  It will help make these dark winters days a bit brighter for some folks in need!

Thanks and hope to see you soon!  Oh, and if you can't join us, not to worry - I'll be posting some before photos after the Open House.

Laurel Pin It

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Project Planning - What do Homeowners Want in 2016??

As I work on layouts and designs for our next project, I always like to look at trends in the housing industry, to see what people want.  And of course there are lots of predictions at the beginning of the year!  So here's what I you agree or disagree??

The American Institute of Architects does an annual survey and has identified a couple of key elements that I need to consider.

For instance, there is a big increase in the desire for walkable neighbourhoods - with easy access to shopping, dining and public transportation.  Check - we've got plenty of that, plus a nice beach!

They also found that people are more interested in smaller homes - but that they want them to have a real emphasis on style.  A simple, blank box room won't do, they want architectural features and high quality finishes.  Check - we'll include lots of that, we always do!   Remember this project - our Craftsman Bungalow?

The website Houzz did their annual predictions and some are really intriguing:

Source:  Sarah Richardson Design
Kitchens - two tone cabinets.  Simple white for the top and then something different for the lower cabinets.  I've been toying with the idea of a reclaimed wood island.  Maybe I should give that some consideration this time.

Farmhouse styling - I really, really like the mix of old wood and natural materials in an old house.  Don't you love this mudroom foyer??  Our little cottages don't have enough space for a mudroom this big, but there is some nice inspiration here.   Look at those weathered beams!

Farmhouse Entry by Roxbury Architects & Building Designers Haver & Skolnick LLC Architects

Sunrooms - Yes!!! Maybe it's our cold Maine winters, but having a nice room to sit with the sun streaming in seems like the ultimate luxury to me. Love this idea!

Beach Style Sunroom by Philadelphia Photographers Gridley + Graves Photographers

I've also read that there is a huge increase in the desire for a home office, as more and more people work from home.  Is this something that makes sense to you as well?  Should I make sure this project has space for a home office?

We will be starting our project in a few weeks, but in the meantime, I'm trying to take some of these wish list items and see if they can be incorporated in our plans.

What would you do?

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