Wednesday, July 25, 2018


This place is shaping up so quickly!!  Our talented trades have been working non stop and it's making such a difference.  We have passed our structural, plumbing and electrical inspections and drywall is underway, so it seems like the right time to give you an update.

First, this was NOT supposed to be a gut job.  Yes, we were going to remove some walls, but I had still hoped to retain a lot of the original plaster.  But as we dug into it, the structural work we did necessitated lots of demolition.  And before I knew it, there were only a few untouched walls.

Yup - we had to jack up the walls!  
My mantra 'This is not a gut job' didn't work.  Take a look at this video to see the latest.

So what changed?  Well, we removed 4 load bearing walls, which required lots of steel beams to support the house above.

The old porch is now living space and leads to the home office and master suite.

This antique french door (which I've been hoarding away in my storage facility for a few years) is finally going to make an appearance as the door to the office.

The living spaces are fantastic - a big living room (complete with a gas fireplace), dining room and an open kitchen.
How to choose which light fixture to use?  Tape them in place!! 
Look at the sunlight flooding into the living room!!
And the kitchen is dramatically different.  It's hard to show a true before and after, because the flue from the old furnace was in the way, but look how the french door makes the room bright and light - with beautiful views to the large backyard.

Kitchen looking towards living room

Opening up the stairwell made such a huge difference for both the first and second floor!!  Now the space is bright and open - and wait till I get my giant light fixture in there!

What else?  Well, we had gas service brought to the house and installed a brand new high efficiency gas boiler (95.5% efficiency - wow!!)

We also insulated ceilings, walls and the tricky crawl space under the front porch (seriously, I'm glad I didn't have to climb through this window to apply the foam insulation.  Those guys do an amazing job!).
Foam applied on the crawl space ceiling

And we have framed up two, brand new bathrooms.  Once drywall is primed,  we will start finish work!    So what do you think??  Will this be a great home for a future owner?

SaveSave Pin It

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Amping up the Curb Appeal!!

Okay, so this is an attractive house, BUT there is still some opportunity to improve the curb appeal!  We need a bit of drama to balance all the white siding.  As we've gotten it cleaned up - it's just so overwhelmingly white.   I need sunglasses to look at it on a sunny day.  So I started planning some changes.
Curb Appeal Plan
Centered Front door mockup
First, I wanted to center the front door. A new door would bring in lots of sunlight (sounds simple, but there were lots of challenges per this post).  So I did a quick mockup of the idea to give me an idea what it would look like.  The door was great, but sidelights will make it even better.  With that decided, we ordered the door and got to work.

Once we moved the front door, the stairway was in the wrong place - as well as the big bushes.  I hated to just chop down the Alberta Spruce, so I posted them for free on Craigslist and a nice man named Dan came and transplanted them to his house.  He got it done before the summer heat got too crazy, so hopefully they're doing fine.

We wanted to match the windows that were already in the house, so we ordered new Paradigm windows (Made in Maine!) to balance the front porch space.

Or course we needed to tear out the old concrete steps and walkway, since they led right up to the middle of the wall.  Instead, we built a new mahogany staircase and added a paver walkway.  That was a big job, but looks oh so great!!

But the biggest change was all about color.  It's just so white!!!  The front door can add a pop of color, but how do we offset that big bank of white?
There is just so much white!!!!

Part of the challenge is the white, boring windows.  I'm a fan of the new trend of black windows on a white house, but can't see changing out all the nice Paradigm windows in the house (and I worry that like any trend, it will be passé in a few years).  So instead, I wanted to paint the window casings a gray to make them pop a bit.  Cityscape by Sherwin Williams blends nicely with the gray roof.  I did a couple of test windows and really liked the look, so we started to paint them all.

And I know this sounds crazy, but I'm in love with the red/orange twin bed that I bought for one of the bedrooms and think it would be the perfect color for the front door.  I carried the footboard into Sherwin Williams and had them color match it.  And voila - we have a front door color!!!  Kind of a Blood Orange meets Robust Red color, that will really pop.

Barn Lights - Restoration Hardware

And the result?  Well, we still need some more painting and landscaping - and of course the new barn lights.   But I'm pretty pleased with the progress!  Farewell boring white, hello farmhouse!!

Pin It

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Farmhouse: The Master Suite

I'm always hearing from potential buyers that want a first floor master suite.  Sometimes it's because people want to age-in-place and have one floor living.  And sometimes it's because they have aging parents that are coming to live with them.  So it's nice to finally create one!  And it's going to be a really great space.

We're converting the room that was previously used as a living room.  It appears to have been an addition to the house, possibly in the 1980's.  It's a nice sized room, but the not-to-code wood stove and low ceiling made it a bit awkward for a bedroom with a large bed.

So we set out to change that (if you want to see the before and after floor plan, click here).  First we removed the chimney, which immediately made the room feel larger.  Next, we tore out the acoustic tile ceiling to see what the framing looked like.  The room has nice strong joists, but to create the vaulted ceiling I want, we needed to install a new structural ridge beam.  And to be able to handle the snow loads and winds that we see here on the coast of Maine, we also installed hurricane ties around the perimeter.
Installing the new structural ridge beam
And to my way of thinking, it's never too soon to think about light fixtures - thankfully Steve was a good sport as I considered options :-)
Master Bedroom light fixture, Option 1
We had to make other changes as well.  We had to enlarge one of the windows to add an egress window, to meet code for a bedroom space (it has to be large enough for a firefighter to climb through with full gear).  And since the ceiling space is narrower, we installed rigid spray foam, to give us maximum R-value for insulation.
I'm pretty excited about the rest of the room design as well.  This Pippa duvet and sham set from Pottery Barn will be perfect for the light, organic approach I'm taking to the interior.  I'll pair it with textured pillows and drapes, to keep it warm and inviting.
Photo:  Pottery Barn

One of our talented carpenters/metal workers is custom making a metal/reclaimed lumber headboard that I can't wait to see!  Here's a similar one that we used for inspiration.

I'm also adding bamboo roman shades, to provide some privacy with beautiful color and texture.

For the bathroom, I'm doing something a bit different.  I'm planning to mix some organic materials (marble & wood) with beautiful polished nickel fixtures.  So a bit of rustic and a bit of glam!

For the floor, I walked into the tile showroom and said  'I don't like wood look tile' - and then stumbled over this sample and fell in love.  It's got a bit of rustic with the reclaimed wood look - and a bit of sophistication with the marble look.  It's unique, but should give the room a real wow factor.

 We'll add a coordinating tile border in the shower.

Photo:  Restoration Hardware

The sink is this Gramercy console unit from Restoration Hardware.

We're using their Dillon hardware for the sink and shower faucets.
Photo:  Restoration Hardware
Photo: Kruge
And we'll be installing this fancy Kruge mirror, which has built in LED lighting & defogger.  So you never need to wipe it down after a shower.  Pretty cool!

Now I can't wait to see it all come together!!!  We're making such quick progress, it will start to look like a real room soon!!

Pin It

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Hiccups....the Inevitable Bumps in the Road, or Why I Suffer from Indigestion

No matter how much planning you do and how many details you define - when you're working on an old house, there will be surprises.  And while it can feel like a lot of setbacks, you need to remember this is normal.  Old house renovations never goes smoothly, there will always be hiccups along the way.  And some feel like major indigestion!!  But it's how you work through each issue that keeps the project moving forward.  And this house is no different - lots and lots of hiccups, with a few moments of severe heartburn.

The city still has the logbook from 1937!!!
First up, the neighbors want to update their sewer line out to the street.  And as luck would have it, the city records (from 1937 no less, in a leather bound logbook!) show that our sewer line intersects with theirs.....right under their driveway.  Yikes!!  And new sewer lines tend to be very costly, so I started worrying right away.
 EcoClean came out to take a look and ran a scope down our sewer line.  And we got some good news for a change!!!  Our sewer line had been disconnected at some point in time and replaced with a new PVC line.  Whew!!  The city records were wrong.  And we have a nice clean sewer line.  We don't need to add that to the list.  Hooray!
Video camera showing the inside of our sewer line - nice and clean!!
Next, I wanted to increase the headroom in the stairwell.  If you're 6 feet tall, you're going to bump your head as you get to the 3rd step of the staircase - and by building code, we need 6 feet 8 inches of clearance.  We've done this before in other houses and it's a big job, but pretty straightforward.

Stairwell with 'Hobbit Hutch'
Garrison creates cantilevered extension off of stairwell
But this house is anything but straightforward!  You see, this house is a 'double garrison' - meaning the second floor is bigger than the first on both front and back - with a cantilever extension.  This created some unusual structural challenges.

Our initial plan (which we had already bought the beams for) would result in losing the original little china cabinet that's built under the staircase. NO!   I hated that idea, so we brought in a team of experts and the structural computer models showed we need a steel beam to handle the load.  We also had to do a lot of extra reinforcement in the wall above - but that let me keep the cabinet (BTW, the guys think I'm crazy.  They nicknamed it the Hobbit Hutch and can't imagine why I want it!  But I love it!).  It's created a week of delay and a lot more work - but the cabinet will look great and the headroom in the stairwell is a game changer for tall people!!!
Steel Beam Installation
And then there is the fireplace saga.  I desperately want a gas fireplace in the living room.  It's the real focal point of the design and is such a nice addition with our cold Maine winters.  But as luck would have it, the electrical meter is only a foot away from the fireplace exhaust.  Thanks to some clever thinking from the folks at Embers Stove & Fireplace, we rerouted the gas exhaust, to give us the necessary 3 feet of separation.  It means I had to redesign the fireplace surround - but it will still look great!
The mantle will use a giant antique beam I've been hoarding!!

Here is the inspiration for the fireplace surround.  I've been hoarding the giant beam for the mantle for a few years now - and we can finally use it on the perfect project!

And then there was the vanity that arrived with a giant crack in the marble top.  We returned it and hopefully the new one will be fine.

The mullion should line up for the door and sidelights!!  
And the front door that was delivered wrong - was reworked - and was still wrong!!!  We are waiting for them to come and fix it again.

And the deck railings that came in wrong.....twice.  Thankfully third time's the charm!

And the bathroom shower plumbing that had to go in a wall I didn't want.....because of the joist direction.

What will go wrong next?  I have no idea, but I can guarantee it won't be smooth sailing.  And yet somehow, we work through all the challenges and it comes out beautifully in the end.  And in the meantime?  I'll be eating a lot of antacids!!!  :-)

Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...