Tuesday, February 27, 2018

My Antique Roadshow Moment..... Sort Of.....

Shortly after I posted a photo of the amazing anchor andirons we found at the house a couple of weeks ago, I received a Facebook message from one of my wonderful readers.  Her friend Jim is an antiques dealer specializing in nautical elements (check out his Facebook page - great collection!!! James Beougher Antiques )and he thought they might be really old.

Seriously???  In all the years I've been renovating houses, I've never found anything of real value.  Weird and interesting - yes.  Valuable - no.

So I started to get excited.  For years, I've fantasized about going on PBS's Antiques Roadshow, but since I don't have any wealthy relatives that left me priceless antiques in their will, I didn't have anything to bring on the show.  Maybe that was about to change!!
Photo:  PBS

Jim thought the andirons might be part of the William Koch collection.  An America's Cup winner, Koch has amassed am amazing collection of nautical memorabilia.  And the photo they sent me did look very similar.

So my excitement mounted.  I had planned to clean them up and paint them with spray paint.... but Jim was so horrified, I quickly gave up on that idea.  If they are fancy antiques, I certainly don't want to mess them up.

I brought them by, for him to take a look - and quickly discovered that they are not late 19th century antiques.  My dream was crushed!!!   But, Jim does think they date back to the 1920's, which makes them almost 100 years old.  So while a bit disappointing, it's still one of the nicest discoveries I've ever had.  They are so unique, they really make a statement!

And I want them to look really nice in the firebox.  So Jim had me scrub them with cooking oil to remove the rust and then bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour.  My husband was not happy about this (hee hee), but it worked pretty well.  J

Best of all, we will get to use the andirons in the fireplace.  Remember the wood stove insert that so many people hated at the 'before' open house??

Most people want a real fireplace vs. a wood burning insert

Well, the chimney experts came out and pulled it out and after carefully inspecting the flue, they declared it 'pristine' (Seriously, that's not a term we hear frequently in the houses we work on!).  They installed a new chimney cap for me with a modern damper.  It's ready to go!!

And the cleaned up andirons?  Well they look great!  I can't wait to get them set up in the finished house!  I hope they new owners will love them as much as I do! Pin It

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Old House Mystery - Part 2 - Sometimes it Gets Scary Around Here!!

So.....let me start with the scary part of the mystery.

We needed to have lights in the living room.  It made me crazy that there was no switch when you came into the room (not to mention it's a building code violation).  Talk about a dark room - particularly in a Maine winter when it gets dark really early!

So, I came up with a design for sconces up over the mantle.  I drew it in, with the sconces that I picked out to scale.  My wonderful electricians knew it would be a bit of a challenge - lots of wires needed to be fished in - but they were up for it.

And then they started cutting holes.  That's when it got exciting in a scary way.  Because as they started, they found old electrical boxes for sconces!!  And they were live wires, that had simply been embedded behind drywall!!  Good grief!!!   Live wires, buried behind the wall.  And to make it worse, they had stuffed the boxes with newspaper.

Geezzz......thankfully it never started a fire over the years and no one got shocked as they cut into them.  We pulled out the newspaper and discovered the boxes were covered up in 1942.  Wow - 76 years ago.

And here's the mystery.  The City says the house was built in 1938.  The mercury head dime we found over the kitchen doorway was 1943 (supposedly a tradition to mark when a house is built).  And now we found these sconces were covered up in 1942.  When was this house built???

I need to get to the Registrar of Deeds to do some digging!  Hopefully I can figure it out soon.

Oh, and by the way, the sconces I came up with were in almost the exact location as the originals!!!  Classic design And since the electrical was already in place, we're going to use their placement!!

And on the good news side, electrical rough in is complete and we're almost finishing up plumbing.  Woo hoo!  Lots of progress!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The New Hall Bath - or How I Learned Everything I Need to Know in Kindergarten

While this house managed just fine with one bathroom over the last 80 years, I really wanted to add an additional bathroom as part of our renovations.  And thanks to my friend Annie, who lives in a house by the same builder, I knew it could be done!!  Her house has the bathroom at the top of the staircase and she was kind enough to let me come see the layout of her house as we got the project going.

But it wasn't easy to make it happen.  We had to squeeze it into this small space.

It helped that demo removed a lot of the walls and you could start to see it take shape.
That's when I got my kindergarten skills going.  I created paper dolls of key fixtures - toilet, tub and sink.  And then I started moving them around, until  it started to make sense (I did it in advance on my CAD system, but nothing beats doing it in the actual space to get a real appreciation for the challenges!)

And there were some challenges.  It's a tight space, so I didn't want a door that swung into the room or the hallway.  So we went with a pocket door (which made my electricians crazy when they had to install light switches and ground fault outlets!!).

I was willing to steal a couple of feet from the adjoining bedroom, but we still needed to make space for a bedroom closet. (that's the finished floor next to the Sink in the photo above).

Oh yeah, and did I mention that cat pee is my nemesis???  Evidently the linen closet doubled as a litter box (although with what we discovered, I think maybe there wasn't a box!!), because the smell was AWFUL and there were urine crystal stalactites hanging down on the boards below.  Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.  Solution - chop out all those boards and replace them!!!

And there were some other challenges.  The final design left the window in the shower stall - never a good option!!  So we needed to move the window, which is a pretty big job.  I'm not sure I realized it at the time, but it had such a big impact on the exterior siding, now we have to redo the siding across the back of the whole house.

That's a lot of radiators!!!
And the steam radiator was in the wrong spot as well.  They're tricky to move, but we realized we could embed it in the wall that's shared with the closet - an elegant solution!  However, the old one didn't fit, so it required a trip to Boston to have it reworked into a smaller size.  (sooo, can you hear the budget cha ching cha ching sounds????  It feels like we are spiraling out of control on this room!).

But even though it's a small bathroom, I wanted it to be lovely.  So we will have beautiful finishes for all the bath elements.  And even though it's brand new, I'd like it to have a bit of a classic look and feel.  So that means a traditional carrera marble floor, classic reproduction sink, fixtures and medicine chest.  But I will add a bit of pizazz with a bit of mini glass subway tile on the shower wall.  I'm such a sucker for spa blue glass!!
That's the plan and it's starting to take shape.  Can't wait to see it it 3 dimensions - and not just paper dolls on the floor!!  But those kindergarten skills really came in handy!!  

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Best Kind of RePurposing

One of the things I love about my job is the interesting people I get to meet.  Case in point - Will, my new Craigslist friend.

You see, when cleaning out the house, we found this big plastic tub thing (technical term, I'm sure) up in the attic.  None of us had any idea what it was, but we found a label on it that said Lab Sink.  Huh.....still not sure what it was for and it's big!!  Almost 6 feet long and 3 feet wide.

I hated to just send it to a landfill, so I posted it on Craigslist as a 'free to good home'.  And what a great home was waiting for it!

Will Zinn reached out to me with a great idea.  You see, he bought a house in North Deering last year with a large piece of land.  He thought it would be great for a community garden and posted a satellite photo of it on Facebook and asked if anyone wanted to help clear it.  Fast forward a few months and the Portland Recovery Community Garden was born.  And thanks to donations - from Skilins Greenhouse, Greencare Landscaping (I love those guys!) and Garbage to Garden, they've been able to grown the garden and get everything in order.

The garden is available for anyone recovering from substance abuse to come help work in the garden.  It provides a great opportunity to meet other people, spend time outdoors and see the benefits of their labor.  Because the vegetables that they raise are available free to all the participants!

He wants to use the giant sink as a bed for growing herbs.  With its built in slope and drain hole, it's pretty perfect for that application.  And I love that it will be used by so many in our local area.

Will's invited me to come take a look at the herb garden, once they get it set up in the Lab Sink.  I can't wait!  Isn't that a great way to save something from a landfill and find a new use for it?  Win - win for everyone!!

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Design Approach for the Vintage Colonial - or How an Amazing Tile Sample Can Change the Plan in a Heartbeat

There's a point on every project where I get so tired of dust, dirt, and cobwebs - that I need to do constantly remind myself that this will eventually be a pretty house.  Thankfully, it's time to do some design work, so everything can be ordered and ready to go when we get to the finishing details. And I get a couple of fun days without grime!

I've been pulling together different ideas and inspirations for the house for awhile now.  My Pinterest, Houzz and dog eared folders (because I still love looking at real magazines & catalogs) started filling up in a hurry!  They create the inspiration file that I use for the entire house.

My inspiration file started to show a few clear themes.  Soft blues and greens, the perfect colors for a coastal home..  Traditional - but with a modern twist (aka transitional) - I'd like a young and energetic vibe, rather than a sedate, run-of-the-mill colonial.  We'll do this with light fixtures, hardware and artwork.

SoPo Cottage Project #2
Since the house is in a coastal community near Casco Bay, I really want to include a coastal look in the design plan.  So one of the early decisions was to paper the upper dining room walls with nautical charts (note: they're not called maps when they are for water).  I love these charts - I've used them to paper a powder room in an earlier project.  And we have them in our own home.  My dear neighbor supplied many of them - he'd been storing them for decades (because now everyone uses GPS) and they have some creases and notations that just make them more interesting.

With that decided, it set the color scheme for the house.  Watery blues and greens.  With a neutral beige to tie it all together.

For the kitchen, I ordered white Shaker cabinets  We will do quartz counters and a simple colored subway backsplash.  I loved this blue tile....but worried that might be too definitive for future buyers, so I started looking for beige instead.

And then I stumbled across this glass penny tile.  In an instant, I knew I had to use it.  It picks up all of the colors I'm using and with the swirls of glass, it really resembles water.  It's perfect!  I'll use it for an inset above the stove.  And just forget about that other plan J

Sherwin Williams - (clockwise from top left) Medici Ivory, Irish Cream, Ivory Lace & Steamed Milk
With that decision made, the rest of the plan came together quickly.  The living room will have creamy beige walls.  I sampled 4 different colors and am still deciding which I like the best.

In both the living and dining room, we have these large, graceful bay windows.

Style:  Coastal, Transitional (traditional with contemporary influences), Young & Energetic
I'm planning to use these gauzy Pottery Barn linen panels with blue and white stripes, to frame each side.  And the antique brass and satin nickel on the fixtures will complement the colors beautifully.

We had an amazing discovery the other day.  While cleaning out a pile of stuff on the screened porch (because the snow had actually melted for a few days!!), we discovered these anchor andirons.  They must have been used before the previous owner installed a wood stove, because they fit perfectly!!!  Thankfully, they never threw them away and kept them outside.  I can't wait to get them cleaned up and reinstalled!!

Of course I don't even have walls up in a lot of the house yet - so we won't get to this for awhile.  The finish line isn't even in sight yet.  But it's so nice to step away from the messy stuff for a bit and plan for the end result!

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