Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wonderful Willard

Fisherman's Point - Willard Beach
As the weather transitions from winter to spring, it's a great time to appreciate this beautiful area where we renovate houses.  Should we pinch ourselves?  How did we get so lucky, to live in such a beautiful place?

Sunrise over Willard Beach
There aren't many neighborhoods with such beauty - and yet you can still walk to restaurants, stores and parks.
Willard Square and Scratch Bakery
Dogs love to run on Willard Beach
Where else can you find beaches, lighthouses, quirky treasures and beautiful antique buildings, in such abundance?
Cottages and more cottages....

And the natural beauty is just breathtaking.
Spring Point Lighthouse and Fort Gorges

Willard Beach
 This is a neighborhood that has evolved over the last 150 years..... and you can tell.

Willard Square - Early 20th Century
It's not a planned community where everything looks the same.  We have houses that were built 150 years ago - and others that are brand new - that all work together to provide an eclectic style.
Thankfully the snow has finally melted!!
And of course this is Maine, so elements of the waterfront are all
around us.
View of Portland Head Light from Fisherman's Point 
View of Spring Point Lighthouse and Fort Gorges from Fisherman's Point

Whether it's the lobsterman with his lobster traps in the yard,

or the lobster buoys decorating a fence

or a boat that's almost as big as the house, there is a character and vibe that is uniquely Maine.

But what really makes a neighborhood special are the people.  You notice that, when you're chatting in line at Scratch Bakery or dancing with the crowd at the annual Willard Fest.  It's a warm, inviting place, filled with lovely people.
Photo:  Sue Lessard
Photo:  Sue Lessard
And of course, now that the leaves are coming out on the trees and the sun is shining later in the day, it just gets better and better!  We are lucky, indeed, to call Willard Beach home! 
Willard Beach on an early spring day

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Exterior: 1906 Style - Expanded and Updated for Today

The Ugly Duckling
A big goal of this project was to maintain the charming architectural style of the original 1906 house.  The gambrel roofline - with its gentle 'swoop' at the eaves - was something we wanted to highlight on both the original house and the new addition.  And the small dormers on each side of the existing house are a great feature.

So, when we designed the addition, we mimicked that design, which allowed us to add an attached garage, master suite - and also rooftop deck, to enjoy views of the water.

And while we wanted to preserve the antique style, we tried to use products that don't require frequent maintenance.  When you live near the beach, you want to spend your time on the water - not painting the house!

So here's an update!  As a reminder, this was our starting point and the design plan. This was a big project, not only did we build a big addition - we also moved every single window and door!

As the framing got going, the new design started to emerge.

But it wasn't until we got to the finishes that the house started to come together.  So let's start at the top.

We decided to use copper flashing on the roof, windows and doors.  It has a long, long lifespan and is a very traditional touch!  Don't you love the new penny glint of copper?  It will develop a patina quickly in our sea air, but it's so shiny when it's new!!

Next, a key element of the exterior design: the triangular spaces at the top of each gambrel.  They create an inverted ledge, which provides room for corbels.  The triangular spaces were finished with traditional cedar shake shingles.  We used Maibec solid shingles in Cape Cod Gray. (they have a 50 year won't need to be replaced for a very long time!)  Below that, we added a freeze board and the corbels.

I have to admit - this might be my favorite feature on the house!

Woven corner shingles installed on the dormers
We also used the shingles to highlight the dormers.  We did woven shingles.....something that's pretty rare nowadays.  Instead of corner boards, the shingles are cut by hand and 'woven' together, to provide a long lasting watertight seal.  It's a painstaking, time intensive process, but it looks so much nicer than corner boards on a small dormer like ours.  This is something you see on old houses all across New England!

The porthole window has been trimmed out and adds a nice nautical flair to our beach house!  That window was a late breaking design decision (it's not in the original plan, see photo above) - but what a great addition (and it adds some nice light to the upstairs hallway!)

For the body of the house, we installed Hardie Plank siding, in a color called Cobblestone.  It's got a 30 year guarantee - and a 15 year guarantee on color - so no painting for a long time!!  The trim is all AZEK, so again, no painting!  I love a traditional look, with low maintenance!
Is it starting to look like a swan?

Rear view - Before addition
But we still have more to do.  The guys hoped to finish up the exterior siding quickly, but we hit a roadblock!  We ordered the custom basement door weeks ago - the first one was the wrong size, the second one was damaged and now we're hoping that the third one is the charm!!  Once that's in, it will be full speed ahead on the siding.

And once that's done,  it's on to the rooftop deck!  I can't wait till we can start sharing photos of that!

There is a lot to do around the yard as well.  We need to have the property graded with fresh loam and landscape beds.  And once that's completed, we can install the front steps and new front door.  Whew - that's a lot of work ahead!

But the progress is pretty exciting!  The Ugly Duckling has disappeared, what do you think of our 'almost'-swan???

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What Happens When You Integrate Reclaimed Lumber, Bead Board, and Engineered Joists?

On every project, I seem to get carried away on one feature.  It becomes a bit of an obsession and requires lots of time and money!  And when I get carried away, I do it in style :-)  For this house, it's the original ceilings in the living room and kitchen.  I've made the plumbers, electricians and carpenters a bit crazy - but wait till you see it!

New Steel Beam with a mix of old/new joists tying into it
You see, like many old houses, this one doesn't have high ceilings.  But since the original beams were left exposed, it still feels pretty tall.  And I love the look of exposed beadboard on the underside of the floor above.

How many guys does it take to get a steel beam into an old house?
But, to maintain this look is a HUGE job.....the old beams were over spanned, making the floors upstairs a bit like a trampoline (not a huge selling point, I might add).  So we installed lots of new load carrying beams, to strengthen the ceilings/floors and allow our open floor plan.

New LVL and steel beams installed in ceiling for additional structural stability
That created some challenges for the look I was hoping to achieve.  First - how in the world do you install plumbing and electrical, when you can't run anything through the ceiling (and of course I want recessed lighting!!).  We finally decided to create a 1 1/2" channel, to accommodate heating, plumbing and wiring.  And then we installed new beadboard, to hide all the mechanicals.  Second, how do you hide the joist hangers, that are required to lock everything together?  That takes a lot of fancy carpentry!

Finally, I wanted to make sure we incorporated the original 1906 Soule-Willard signature, that we found on one of the original studs.

To provide a venue for the sign, we decided to take the reclaimed lumber (that we saved from the second floor), and wrap the new, load bearing beams. The signature will be the last thing we install, after all the painting is done.

It took the talented Waterhouse Builders team two full weeks to do the detailed carpentry required to finish the ceiling.  We joked that they needed neck massages at the end of each day, since they spent the majority of the day looking up!
Don't you love how the reclaimed lumber gives character to the ceiling?
They did a fantastic job incorporating reclaimed lumber, dado'd trim to hide joist hangers and cove molding to dress up the edges.

And look how amazing it looks now!  We need to do a bit more sanding, but once the woodwork is painted white, it will really stand out against the reclaimed wood that's been added to the beams.
All the old brown beams will be painted a crisp white

So, after all this work, what do you think?  Was it worth it?

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Most Important Room in the House? The Mudroom

In Maine, we don't have Spring - we have 'Mud Season'.  All that permafrost that's set up over the winter is starting to melt and venturing off your driveway could land you ankle deep in the soft, gooey mess.  Your rubber floor mats become the most important accessory in your car (okay, maybe right behind your cell phone charger).  And walking the dog means 20 minutes of clean up, when you return home, to get those muddy paws clean.

That's when you start to realize why we're so passionate about Mud Rooms up here (disclaimer - we don't have a mudroom in our own house, so all of this is said with Mud Room envy).  

This house has a brand new mudroom - and a pretty big one at that.  And I want it to be amazing!  It will have every detail that I'd have in my own mudroom......if I actually had one :-)

So we've started from the bottom up.  First step, a great floor.  We need a durable surface, that can stand up to beach sand, snow, ice and mud.  I found a great porcelain tile, that mimics stone, without all the maintenance.  And since the mudroom is where you strip off your boots and walk around in your socks, we've installed a heated floor, underneath this great tile. Won't that be a treat on a cold night?

Next, we need storage.  With all our different seasons, everyone has a lot of coats (and boots and hats and gloves.....well, you get the picture).  And you need someplace to put all that stuff!  Not to mention beach stuff, when mud season finally retreats.

So I started with this Ballard Designs storage unit that I found on sale.  It has 2 big drawers below and a spacious cabinet at the top.  I really like it, but now that it's in the space, I think it's a bit short and squatty.  It looks odd, the crown molding is right at eye level and seems to be jutting out when you walk by.   So we're going to do a Ballard Hack!

To make it taller, Justin created an extra storage compartment in the middle (we plan to paint the whole thing white, BTW). This is a great place to put baskets, to store hats and gloves.

Next, he built a boot bench, so as you come in the door, there's a convenient place to sit down and remove your boots.  Of course it will have storage below for boots and shoes.  And once it's done, I've made this custom polka dot cushion to make it a bit more comfortable!

Mudroom Storage Wall - all the woodwork will be painted white

And on the opposite wall, he built a bead board wall for lots of coat hooks, to hang up all your stuff!
We just need to add coat hooks!
With all that white bead board, I'm thinking about Tidewater Blue on the section of wall at the top
Restoration Hardware Circa 1900 Steamliner Fixture in Polished Nickel
For lighting, we're installing these Restoration Hardware nautical style lights.  I LOVE them!!  There is only one bulb, so I'll install 2 of them, since the room is 13' long.

At the back of the mudroom, there's a powder room, which is also pretty convenient.  I'll be sharing more about that soon!

But for now, we're ready for mud season.  Bring on the spring thaw!!

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