Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Project Number 9 - The Soon-to-be Gracious Gambrel

It’s got ‘good bones’.  How many times have you heard that about a house?  And what does it mean?

Well, for our new project, it means we have a good solid house, with the foundations for a sophisticated, gracious home.  The ‘bones’ are the generous sized rooms, the wide staircase, structural integrity and the great floor plan.

But for now, it’s still sporting an 80’s look with dark kitchen cabinetry, tiled countertops, and only one bathroom.
This was the height of fashion in the 80's!
Ditto for the light!

Best of all, it’s a Gambrel Colonial – often called a Dutch Colonial if you live further south.  I think of this as a quintessential New England style, with the steeply pitched roofline, that gives the house so much more character than your basic colonial. 

Our new project was built in 1930 and still has many of its original features.  I am in love with the foyer light fixture and can’t wait until we get it shined up to its original luster. 

But the fixture at the top of the steps isn't quite as exciting :-) We'll say farewell to the pull chain soon!

We have 3 large bedrooms.  
The master bedroom is large - and has 3 big windows.  

and one very tired looking bathroom, that will be gutted back to the studs (we had the pipes freeze last winter, causing a bit more excitement than we needed, late one night).

The doorknobs are large glass globes, a bit different than I’ve seen in other homes in the area.  LOVE them!

And we have a few of the old fashioned push button light switches, that give the place such a historic feel (although truth be told, it probably means we have knob and tube wiring as well…..sigh…..).

And it has a few other challenges as well.  Per building code, we can’t have a wood stove venting into the fireplace.  And while I love all the built ins, the living room might be too sunken.  It seems odd to walk down so many steps - and it makes the windows seem oddly high.  But if I raise the floor, that would mean getting rid of the built ins, or changing them dramatically.  I'm still scratching my head about that one!

And I can’t decide if we should keep the original kitchen/dining room combination and use these two spaces as multiple living rooms.  Or, create a giant kitchen, with a formal dining room and just one large living room.

Should this be a Dining Room or second Living Room?
Oh, and did I mention that it has a fantastic view of Rams Head Lighthouse from the yard?  I’m thinking we need a little patio out there – so you can sit and enjoy the view!

Want to come check it out?  We’ll be holding a ‘Before’ Open House on Sunday, July 17th.. 1-3 pm.  Feel free to stop by and see it for yourself.  I’d love to get your input on some of the design concepts we are thinking through!  And if you do come, could you please bring a donation for the South Portland Food Cupboard?  They are so grateful when we can help neighbors in need!

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  1. Exciting! My house is a 1930s Gambrel with a not dissimilar foyer. I will definitely be watching how this one unfolds with extra interest.

  2. The family room looks like a later addition and I suppose they built on a slab to save money. I don't think the windows in the family room are really that high or that there are too many steps, but it would be possible to frame in a new floor to raise it a bit. Then just carefully remove the bottom cabinets and shorten the bookcases above--as far as I can tell they are separate pieces.

    I would also consider doing something with that window opening next to the fireplace--perhaps extend to the floor and frame out as a nice open shelving built in so it looks intentional. I think open spaces are over-rated and the room sizes are nice, so I would keep the existing plan--the overall kitchen arrangement looks functional and the cabinets are in good shape. I wish I lived nearby to buy them off of you if you are replacing them! I think a new floor, backspash and counter would be enough to make them look less dated, maybe a coat of paint.

    It might be possible to have two flues in the chimney if it is relined and the fireplace is converted to gas. Worth asking an expert.

    BTW, they do sell push-button light switches for modern wiring. If they are on interior walls that or uninsulated and on circuits that aren't overloaded, you might even be able to keep some of the knob and tube without problems. The splices are soldered rather than twisted together, so it is in some ways superior as long as it hasn't been altered. Depends on how deep of a renovation you are doing and the local building code, and what condition the wires are in.

  3. Wish that the left side of house telescoped or did something different to break up that facade.


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