Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The New Old House - Getting the Details Right

We love old houses.  And we love restoring them.  But this house was a unique challenge for us, because it was completely gutted when we bought it.

First floor starting point
There really wasn't much to restore.  No walls, no doors, no hardware, just a shell of a building.  So our goal was to give it old house charm, even though we didn't have original material to work with.

How did we do it?  We tried to focus on the character of the house in key areas:

1) Architecture and Style

This house was built in 1906 and we wanted to capture that style as we enlarged the house.  That meant we copied the gambrel roofline as we added the garage/master suite.

What does that mean on the interior?  Well, we have lots of funky angles (we like to call them charm!), that are the result of the gambrel roofline.  As one of our contractors said the other day - 'this sure doesn't look like a new house! No one would create these complicated angles!'.
2) Antique Elements

Original ceiling.....not much to look at early in the project!
Even though there is a lot of new in this house, we wanted to have some antique elements, to connect it with its 1906 roots.  One thing we were excited about, was the original bead board ceiling.  Sure, it was overspanned (needing new structural support) and some of the joists had major damage - but that could all be fixed.  And it adds unique cottage character to the first floor.

But saving this ceiling was a challenge!  It meant lots of creative plumbing and electrical work and 2 full weeks of carpentry, to integrate the new load carrying beams with the old ceiling system

But the finished product, made it all worth it.  We wrapped the new beams with lumber reclaimed from the house and finished the rest of the ceiling in crisp white paint.  It has a real 'wow' factor as you walk in the front door.
And to make it even better?  The most exciting bit of history we found in the house was a 1906 stud, with the name of the original homeowner - Soule - and the landowner - Captail Willard.  We made it into a plaque and mounted it on one of the reclaimed lumber beams.  How cool is that?
Another antique element was a big job.  Since we were adding a new fireplace, we needed a mantle to frame it.  I found this Eastlake style mantle and knew it would be perfect for the living room.  It took a lot of work to remove the many layers of paint, that were covering up some of the beautiful carvings.  But look at how gorgeous it is now!  Our amazing carpenters modified the mantle to fit the space and added beautiful bookcases on either side.

3) Hardware

It probably sounds silly to obsess about doorknobs.  But it made me crazy that we didn't have old fashioned doorknobs for the house.  So imagine how excited I was to discover these replicas from Nostalgic Warehouse.
They had a huge number of choices, but I finally settled on this simple long plate, with an oval crystal knob.  Aren't they fantastic??!

The other element that really gives a house antique character is the lighting.  I spent countless hours, trying to find just the right lights for this house.  I wanted something traditional, but with a nautical flair, given our coastal Maine location.  This Circa 1900 Steamliner flush mount is a reproduction of a turn of the century ocean liner fixture, from Restoration Hardware.

They also had this reproduction nautical light that I put in the 'boys' bedroom.  It's fabulous in a room with a tall ceiling!

But my favorite is this nautical light for the dining room.  It's part of the Ralph Lauren Montauk line for Circa Lighting - and I absolutely love it!

What do you do in a dark hallway, with lots of funky angles?  Add a nautical sconce of course!  This one from Restoration Hardware is gorgeous, but they've since discontinued this line.  Such a shame - their nautical style lights are so nice!
And let's not forget bathroom fixtures, when you're looking for old house styling.  Carrera marble countertops and these gorgeous faucets from Watermark (made in Brooklyn) are perfect! 

But in my experience, while people love antique style, they still want modern amenities.  So we have an open floor plan, vs a lot of small rooms.  We have a modern kitchen, with new, energy saving appliances.

We have modern bathrooms - but have integrated classic materials like marble floors and insets.  So a great blend of old and new.

And we're pretty pleased with the outcome.  It has that old house character, with new house amenities.  As we finish up the last details, this house is feeling more like a home every day.  With a lot of new antique charm!!!

Door Knobs - Nostalgic Warehouse
Lighting - Restoration Hardware 
Master Bath Fixtures - Watermark
Bridge Faucet - Wayfair Charleston Faucet
Ralph Lauren Pendant - Circa Lighting


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ugly Duckling - Before & After Front Bedroom

While the guys try and finish up the exterior of the house (without much help from Mother Nature!), I've been able to get a head start on staging.  I just finished up the front bedroom and thought it would be fun to share it.
Front Bedroom - Before
From what we could tell when we bought the house, this was a small, awkward room.  The ceiling was low  (particularly in the dormer - you had to duck to see out the window!) and there were just two small windows.
'After' Bedroom - higher ceilings, bigger room, larger windows

We changed all that!  We widened the room by several feet, by adding a hallway that used to run alongside the room.  We also raised the ceilings (including the dormer) and added two large windows across the front of the room.  Don't you like the little closet tucked into the angled ceiling?

Now, it's light and bright.  With a beautiful view of the hemlocks across the street.  

Isn't it charming?  

Rug - Dash and Albert Tangerine woven cotton run
Quilt - Target
Blue Lamp - Target
Simple Life Plaque - Earth Angel Arts, SoPo

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Door Color Options for the Ugly Duckling

It's been a long day.  I had two options for the front door color - and I was sure one of them would be perfect. But that wasn't the case!  While I like bold door colors, neither of those samples looked right.   After two more trips to Sherwin Williams and lots more samples, I think we have the finalists.

What's your vote?  On the big photo - left or right?  Oh, and the door color needs to coordinate with the flower pots and the lobster buoy house numbers!

Thanks!    Laurel
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Magic of Paint

Look at this beautiful carpentry and paint job!!
Have you heard the old saying 'Caulk & Paint - Makes Us What We Ain't'?  It's directed towards bad carpentry, because caulk can fill in bad joints and hide imperfections - certainly not something our carpenters need.  But there is still a certain magic that paint brings to a project, that really can't be beat.  Suddenly this house is starting to look like a home and the gleaming paint finishes make a big difference!

Remember the old ceiling that I wanted to maintain (click here for all the before photos)?  The one that took two weeks of carpentry and challenged the electricians and plumbers to find creative ways to run their lines?
Original ceiling, with new structural beam
Well, it's exceeded expectations.  It's the kind of detail that makes you say 'wow' as you walk in the front door.  All of the original joists have been painted white.  We installed new, super thin LED downlights in the bead board.  And the guys trimmed out the new structural beams with original, reclaimed lumber from the house.

Don't you love it?

The rest of the open floor plan is really taking shape.
And remember the antique mantle I found, that was the inspiration for the first floor?  Look at it now!

Our other 'wow' element, the island, has been painted Sherwin Williams Tidewater Blue and is a real focal point for the kitchen.  We'll be adding a walnut, butcher block top to accent the curved shape.

Here's the 'Before' photo of the wall that now goes to the mudroom.  A LOT has changed!  For the first time, you can start to see how much the new addition has added to the house.  See the mudroom doorway in the before & after pics?
'Almost' After
Front bedroom when we bought the house
 Oh, and the upstairs?  Well it's pretty great too!  Check out the front bedroom, with all its funky angles, courtesy of our 1906 architecture. We moved the windows, raised the ceiling, defined the dormer and added a cute closet.  Now it's an inviting, south facing room - with lots of nooks and crannies.

The back bedroom has lots of windows to let in light and fresh air (I can't show you a before photo - because this is part of the new addition).

And the master suite is really coming together.
We're getting close to the finish line!  But there are still lots of details to complete.  Stay tuned for a lot more photos on the blog, Facebook and Instagram

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Made in Maine: New Countertops From Recycled Material

I've been wanting a Beachstone countertop for a long time - and this project seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Why?  I love that they're 85% recycled materials.  I love that they're made right here in Maine.  I love that you can customize everything about them.  And I LOVE that they're beautiful!

Aron Butterbaugh, the owner of Beachstsone Sustainable Products, was kind enough to let me tag along as he created our countertop.

The first step, deciding what color we wanted.  This was really tricky!  There are lots of glass colors to choose from, all from post consumer recycled glass (for example, think Sky Vodka bottles, for that deep blue color).  And there are a lot of base colors as well.  That's a lot of options.  And for added variety, we could also include other things, like sea shells.  But ultimately, we decided that simple is better for this project, so glass it is.

Since we want a beach glass look for the house, we tried a couple of different ideas.  And ultimately decided on 3 different combos to play with.  Aron made samples for me and I posted them on Facebook.  Thanks so much to everyone that voted.  The winner is a mix of a color called Tiara Blue, green glass (like old fashioned Coca Cola bottles) and clear glass.  And we're using a color called Tuckerman White for the base material.
And the winner is...... far left!  
Once we had that done, we could start the top.  Aron created a mold, to fit the exact dimensions of our bathroom vanity and the undermount sink I had purchased.  Then we randomly sprinkled the the glass bits across the base of the mold.

Next, he mixed up the slurry.  This includes the clear, sparkly bits of glass and the rest of his mixture - so it was a really noisy process!

He carefully poured on the slurry, so the glass bits don't get pushed to one side in the mold.  

And after the initial layer was complete, he went back with a second layer, to give it more structural integrity.

After letting it cure up for a couple of days, he carefully popped it out of the mold.  Thankfully he warned me that it's not much to look at, fresh from the mold!  Otherwise I would have panicked.
Fresh from the mold - and not a sparkle of glass to be seen!!
Then he started the process of grinding and polishing away the top layer - to expose the beautiful glass bits below.  They started to shine right away, but as he moved to a higher level of polishing, they really started to sparkle.

Finally, he filled any voids with a slurry mix and sealed it for protection.  He installed it yesterday - and it looks fantastic!
Who knows....your old bottles could be in this countertop!!  

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