Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Input Needed - Kitchen Design

Once again, I've used an antique door for the pantry.  This is an old one - the guess is pre 1900!  I love the big glass panels and the two wood insets below. We'll clean up the glass and add replacements where necessary.  But here's the conundrum.   I can't decide.  Should it stay in its natural state (it's a bit rough)?  Or be painted blue?  Either way, it will be a nice focal point in the kitchen.

Photo:  AJ Madison

Which brings me to the range knobs.  We're installing a Thermador gas range in this kitchen,  Thermador has an option for custom knobs, that come in their trademark blue.  I'm crazy about these knobs (they are an extra cost....I could have bought a cheap range for what they cost...but I had to have them)!!    And I'd really like to paint the door the same color.

Photo: AJ Madison

What's your vote?  Blue?  or Antique wood?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Mother Would Be Proud.....or How to Upholster a Built in Banquette

I've been gearing up to upholster the built-in banquette for weeks.  At over 10 feet long, it's big, so it was a challenging project. And I bought the last of the fabric at the store....so if I screw it up, I'm back to the drawing board!  A bit intimidating, to say the least.

Subaru - the ultimate New England delivery vehicle!!
Kyle built the to-be-upholstered section for me a few weeks ago and brought it to my house to work on it.  I had planned to do it indoors, but it's so big the driveway made a lot more sense.

My husband thinks we provide a constant source of entertainment to the neighbors. We don't have a garage, so I frequently tackle DIY projects in the driveway. And when I'm working on a long narrow wooden box just before Halloween, well, you can see it might draw a few comments!  

So I dragged out my upholstery tools and got to work.  

First step was to apply the foam to the structure.  The 3M contact cement I used has all kinds of warnings (flammable, health, etc), I was glad I was outside!

PS - have you ever tried to cut foam rubber?  It's tricky!  But to make it easy, just pull out your old electric carving knife. (or you can get one at The Christmas Tree Shop for $7.99!)  It slices right though!

Next was to wrap it in polyester batting, to smooth the harsh edges of the foam.

And then finally, I started to add the fabric.  It's a bit tricky.  We built the banquette in sections and I needed to line up the pattern across the top and the base.  You see, my mother was an amazing seamstress.  She made lots of my clothes when I was growing up (very helpful, because I was so tall, we couldn't find anything to fit!).  And she taught me to sew as well.

One thing that she always emphasized was the need to match patterns.  She always worked hard to make sure that everything matches (and to this day, I'm sometimes shocked to see nice quality clothing, with plaids or stripes, that don't line up).  With that focus, I spent a lot of time making sure the pattern matches up.

Next steps will be to upholster the top and add the brass brads for a little extra style.  I'll do that just before installation.

And when the base was done?  Richard's first comment was 'your mother would be proud'.  Ha ha.  She would indeed.....
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Lighting, Lighting, Lighting

Just say 'no' to the boob light!!!
So here's the dirty little truth about lighting.  Lighting designs change every 7-10 years.  That boob light that you installed in the 90's?  Looks ridiculous now.

The Edison bulbs that we're all so crazy about (and I do love them!)?  By 2025, we'll wonder why we wanted them so much!  And nothing dates a house like out of style lighting.

So when I'm choosing lighting for a house, I try to go with something a bit classic - but with a current style.  Because whatever I pick, it will be out of style in 10 years. (Note:  original, classic lighting can be an exception to this rule....but I rarely get lucky enough to have a house full of classic lighting.  More about that later!).

For this house, I've gone a bit overboard on lighting.  Thanks to the original antique fixture in the foyer, I'm going with brass fixtures for this house.  And I quickly learned that nice brass fixtures tend to be higher priced than other finishes.

First up?  The kitchen.  I really, really wanted spherical fixture for over the island and the banquette.  I ordered these lovelies from Wayfair, but even though I like the size and shape, the finish seemed a bit cheap, so they got sent back.

That sent me into a tizzy of fixture hunting.  After weeks of online search (what else is there to do in the evening?), I settled on these Hudson Valley Coffey Pendant fixtures that I found through Wayfair.  We have HudsonValley lighting in our own house and I love it.  Very high quality and beautiful style.

For the dining room, I found this beautiful Hinkley fixture.  I love that it combines classic traditional style with a modern flair.

And for the living room, we have a high ceiling, so I went with this statement fixture from Ballard Designs.  So I did manage to get a spherical fixture!  Just not in the room I started with!

The bathrooms will also have beautiful lighting.  This Hudson River sconce will go in the hall bath.

And the powder room will sport these great sconces, with Edison bulbs (see, I do love them!).

And for the master bedroom, with its high ceilings?  I fell in love with the Pottery Barn chandelier.  It's iron, with brass elements.

But let's not forget vintage fixtures.  We found this really unusual fixture in the house.  I took it to the local Polishing Shop to clean it up.  And it didn't disappoint!  Can you believe how different it looks? Its a small fixture and will go in the vestibule, right inside the front door.  This is a fixture for the ages, after almost 90 years, it's still perfect in the house!

And there will be more, but isn't this a great start?

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Exterior Before & After - All the Big Changes Aren't on the Inside!

Front door before
While there is still a lot of work to be done inside the house, we've also focused on the exterior.   Tasks that could probably wait awhile in warmer climates, need to be completed before it gets too cold here in Maine.

First up - freshening up the exterior.  We started with a power wash and then got the painting done.  All the trim got a fresh coat of paint and our new doors are now sporting a lovely green.  The shutters have been painted a glossy black and give the house a classic colonial style.

And the custom whale house number from Maine Country Home in Rockland is fantastic!

We started tackling the overgrown landscape early!  


The biggest challenge on this property is creating a yard with outdoor space for living and entertaining.  This is a long, narrow corner lot with over 220 feet of road frontage.  The current 'con' is there isn't a lot of privacy or relaxing spot to enjoy the yard.  But the huge 'pro' is it has a fantastic view of the Rams Head Lighthouse - that really needs to be enjoyed!

So, we set out to focus on those areas!  

First, we added the new door off of the living room.  This provides great access to the yard and feels like an extension of the living space inside.  But we needed a place relax and entertain, so we installed a big interlocking paver patio.   This was a big job, but the guys got it done quickly and suddenly it created a quiet spot for a cup of coffee in the morning or an al fresco dinner.

And we didn't stop there - we wanted to make sure there was a spot to enjoy the lighthouse view, so we installed this  circular patio as well.  With a couple of adirondack chairs, it's the perfect spot to sit savor the view.

Next, we wanted to create a sense of space and privacy.  We started by installing a cedar picket fence around the yard.  This is a quintessential New England style and really enhances the property.  And the new owners can decide if they want to leave it natural (it will weather to a soft gray) or stain it white next spring, once it's had a chance to weather a bit (cedar is one of those woods that shouldn't be painted immediately).


That created a backdrop for landscaping!  We cleared a lot of underbrush and trimmed back some dead wood - suddenly the yard seems so much bigger!  Thanks to the mature trees around the yard, we have lots of shade.  So we focused on plants that like morning sun and afternoon shade.  Rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas are the foundation plants.  And then we added hostas and coral bells for pops of perennial color.  Finally, we planted a climbing hydrangea on the new privacy fence, next to the patio.  This will provide beautiful big white blossoms next summer.

We're trying to get some grass to grow, before the snow flies.  But it's a pretty big change, don't you think??

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