Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Upstairs Floorplan - the Winning Design Option #15

Thanks so much for all the input on the second floor design!  The overwhelming majority of input was for the single dormer with 2 bedrooms and a full bath.  That will give us a total of 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths for the house.

The stairs were torn apart, to make way for new footings in the basement
But, this isn't an easy design.  There are some big challenges involved, since this is an old house that was built before current building codes.  But thanks to some great work by our structural engineer - involving complex point loads, cantilevers and engineered beams - we have a floor plan that we're pretty excited about.

However, the floor plan is tricky to execute and requires new footings to be poured in the basement, to carry all those new loads.  And we had to come up with some interesting approaches to hide the new posts and beefy beams that need to be installed on the first and second floor.  Is it worth all that complexity and cost?  Well, I'll let you be the judge.

Floorplan Option #15

Drum roll please!!!!  After months of planning, we finally have a winning floor plan.

At the top of the steps, you can turn left and enter the master bedroom.  This will be in the new dormered space, with a high ceiling.  The new, triple windows look out towards Portland and have winter water and city views.

The bathroom is in the back of the house, with lots of funky angles, thanks to the hip shaped roof and dormer.  This is going to be an amazing space!!  We will have a free standing tub as well as a large shower.

The 'loft' as we're calling it, is the space next to the staircase that leads to the front bedroom.  It's perfect for a little office or craft space.  There is a south facing skylight that floods the space with light.

The front bedroom has so much charm.  Like the bathroom, it has interesting angles that add a lot of coziness.  And we'll be adding a few closets for lots of storage.

When will we start?  Well Mother Nature needs to help out a bit.  We need a nice week with clear weather, which will hopefully be soon!  In the meantime, we'll be focusing on the first floor.

Pin It

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pink Bathroom Update

Wow - the question on the pink bathroom certainly got a lot of response!  I heard feedback from all over the world and really appreciated all your thoughts and suggestions.

The 'no pink bathroom' vote came in at 67%.  Most people felt that it wasn't a selling point and would make the house look dated - in a bad way.  Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the men responded with a very strong NO.  They don't seem to share Mamie Eisenhower's ideas about pink.

1920's ad from what is now American Standard
However, there were many supporters, who considered it from a historic integrity perspective.  But here's the thing.  This is not the original bathroom to the house.  This was a renovation that was done in the 50's or 60's.  So by removing it, we're not impacting the integrity of the original design.  In fact, the original design was probably a Sanitary Bathroom (click here for link on history in a previous blog post).  A bathroom that gives a nod to the original should have clean, easy to clean white finishes.  They wanted it to be 'healthful'!

So I decided to do a bit of investigation and removed a few of the tiles.  Guess what, there was a different kind of tile behind the pink.  But, it's not real tile..... it's some sort of tile wallboard, with indentations pressed into it to mimic tile.  Is it original to the house?  It's hard to tell, but I don't think so.

And this shade of green???  Well, I swear I have found this shade of green in every single house I've ever renovated.  It must have been very popular at some point in time!!!
Tile motif is pressed into the wallboard

So we will be bidding farewell to the pink tile.  And the toilet has to go - it won't pass code inspection because it uses too much water.  The sink might be staying.  There is a very tight fit between the sink and the door when it swings open - someone spent a lot of time finding the perfect shape to fit in that space.  And I'm still on the fence about the bathtub.  So many details to iron out!

But I do appreciate all your input!  Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and send me links with more information.  Stay tuned as we continue moving forward!!

Pin It

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mamie Eisenhower Pink Bathroom - Elegance and Refinement!

I've seen lots and lots of pink bathrooms and kitchens as I've toured old houses over the years.  I somehow thought they were related to I Love Lucy.  Some mid century fad that I just didn't 'get'.

Source:  Kohler
So I was surprised to learn that the color was actually linked to First Lady Mamie Eisenhower (1953- 1961) in the 1950's.  She loved pink and used it everywhere.  It became its own color: First Lady Pink.  In fact, while in the White House, it was dubbed 'The Pink Palace' as a result of her decorating efforts!

I guess what I never realized when I looked at that pink is that it wasn't the girly color that we think of today.  Instead, it was linked to elegance and refinement.  Something many, many Americans wanted in their own homes.  And from the mid 1950's to the early 60's, it was used in bathrooms and kitchens all over America.  Look at how the marketers glammed it up in this 1958 Kohler advertisement.

With all the American history behind it, it makes me feel somewhat guilty about changing this bathroom.   But I really, really hate pink tile.  And I just can't see this as a selling feature for buyers in the 21st century.  Since we don't have the iconic tub and sink....just some pink walls, what do you think?  Is it terrible to de-pink this bathroom?

Pin It

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

And Away We Go!!!

As luck would have it, our stretch of warm (almost springlike!) weather disappeared, just as we were ready to start the project.  Oh well, Mainers are tough, it's not going to slow anyone down!
We have a plan.  We have permits.  We have a demo crew and (drum roll please) we are ready to get started!  Hooray!

It's already exciting - and the difference after just one day is pretty remarkable.

First wall to get done - lots of plaster!
This is a load bearing wall, so it will get stripped of the old lath and plaster and then a temporary wall will get built to hold the load while the new engineered beam is installed.  It's a multi step process.  

Wall before
Look at how much the living room has changed by opening up this wall.  Now, as you walk in the front door, you can see the living room.  

Wall stripped of lath and plaster

And remember how dark the living room was, despite the porch windows along the front?  Well now the sun is streaming through, brightening up the whole room!

Ah, but you ask, what's the floor plan for the first floor?  That's finalized, so we can move ahead.  We're planning to open up a few walls, to provide lots of flow between the rooms.  That provides more options for furniture placement and will highlight the staircase to the second floor.

Still lots more to do, but this is great progress on day one.

Pin It

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Options for the Cherished Bungalow Renovation

For every house we have renovated, I have created an imaginary potential buyer for the house.  Sometimes it's an empty nester, sometimes it's vacationers 'From Away' (a term we use here in Maine that means you're from another state), and sometimes it's a family with young children.  I think about the needs of this imaginary buyer and keep that in mind as we develop and implement the renovation plan.  Many large retail companies do this, as they develop new products for their customers and it seemed like a good way to approach our projects.

But here's the rub. I have NEVER been right.  Seriously, you would think I could get it right once in awhile, but that clearly isn't the case!  So I took a step back and tried to figure out what I've learned with the houses we've done thus far:
-  100% didn't have children (either empty nesters or hadn't started a family yet)
-  67% were downsizing from a larger home
-  50% were single women
So my new strategy is to forget about targeting a specific buyer and think about how to create a house that meets some key interests.  The people I've worked with seem to want 5 key things:
-  Open concept floor plan - people want to move to smaller homes, but they want to maximize the space with a flow that lets them entertain family and friends
-  Antique charm - don't lose what makes the houses quaint and unique.  They aren't looking for new construction.  They want something that has a real history!
-  Modern amenities - but there is a limit to antique charm, particularly when it comes to baths and kitchens (nasty old plumbing will not do!)
-  Closet space -  this can be a tough one with an old house
-  Low maintenance - small yard, low maintenance exterior features

For this house, I was able to get some additional buyer insights.  When we held our 'Before' Open House the other weekend, I asked everyone to look at the 3 options for a new second floor design and to let us know which appealed to them the most.  One quick note - because this is a bungalow, the designs are a bit quirky thanks to the roofline slope and the knee walls.  So there are lots of limitations on what we can do, to make sure there is enough headroom.  What looks reasonable on paper, doesn't always make sense when you're faced with the angle of the roofline.

Option 1 - Leave the current roofline intact and finish the second floor as a large master suite, with 1 full bath.  The spaces you see around the perimeter are all behind the kneewalls - so not useful living space.
Option 2 - We had multiple variants of this (different locations for the bathroom), but they all add a large dormer on one side of the house and provide 2 bedrooms and a large bath.  At the Open House, I asked for input on options 2a and 2b.
Option 2a
Option 2b        

Option 3 - This option adds matching large dormers on either side of the house and includes 3 bedrooms and a full bath.

And the winner from the Open House marketing poll???  Interestingly, most people liked Option 2b.   A big factor was putting a large soaking tub in the dormer - which seems pretty fabulous!  And with two bedrooms on the first floor, they didn't really see the need to add 3 more bedrooms on the 2nd floor.  But a few people said they'd be happy with one large bedroom and liked Option 1.

There are some structural challenges with the dormer options (a structural engineer is helping to work through different approaches) and some city setback rules that may require a building variance - which can be a long, complicated process.  We're actively working through these issues now and hope to have a final approach soon.

But I'm curious - which Option do you prefer??

Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...