Thursday, October 18, 2018

Vintage Colonial - Dull and Drab to Sleek and Sophisticated

When we started this house, my husband wasn't convinced we could make it beautiful.  It hadn't seen many updates over the years and needed everything - insulation, heating system, new plumbing, electrical , windows, doors and more.  But it turned out to be a great project!

First time homeowners bought it and are bringing so much excitement and energy into it!  The house is ready for another generation to make this place their home.

So let me share the before and after:

We started with a 1938 Garrison Colonial that had seen few changes since it was built.  Dubbed the 'Vintage Colonial', we updated the exterior with a new porch, front door, garage door, stripped the bland aluminum to re-expose the original door and bay window trim, and replaced all the windows.  We kept the white siding, but painted the shutters black and the front door a vibrant blue.
After - new porch, new windows, new front door and all new window

On the back of the house, we completely updated the screened in porch, to create a lovely outdoor living space.

Insulating crawl spaces is never a fun job!
But the majority of the changes were on the interior.  We started by making major energy and safety updates - abating the asbestos, upgrading the electrical system and replacing the 1950 boiler - and then insulating the whole house.  Once that was done, then we started the fun stuff!

But still a smile!!
We removed 3 major walls to open up the first floor.  That created a wonderful circular flow, perfect for entertaining.  The first wall to go was next to the front door.  By opening up the wall between the staircase and dining room, suddenly the whole space was much lighter and brighter.
Of course we made other changes as well.  We added custom wainscoting, nautical charts as wallpaper, new lighting and a newel post.

Dining Room - Before

Dining Room After - we kept the original corner hutch!

The room that probably saw the most dramatic change was the kitchen.  We eliminated a door to the backyard, opened up two walls and added all new cabinets and a peninsula that provides seating space for two.
Kitchen Before - Ready for an Update!
Here's the view from the kitchen to the dining room before we eliminated the wall
Kitchen Before wall to Dining Room was removed
And here is the view with the wall removed and all the updates completed.
Kitchen with wall removed and new peninsula 
We tried to keep some of the character of the original glass front cabinets - but added custom stained glass and quartz countertops.
Kitchen Before
Kitchen - After
Don't you love the glass penny tile I installed behind the new stove?  
And while the footprint of the living room didn't change, opening up walls to improve the traffic flow really helped make it more livable (and with insulation in all the walls, the curtain used to keep drafts out isn't necessary!)
And see that fireplace?  Eliminating the old wood stove and cleaning it up to be wood burning made a huge difference.  New sconces and custom wainscoting helped too!

The living room is also open to the screened in porch - which is wonderful living space in the summer months! 
The screened in porch has changed a bit since we started! 

One of my favorite features of the house is the office.  It's conveniently located off the living room.  It was an unheated, uninsulated refrigerator like room when we bought the house, but now it's a bright, warm inviting space.

Office - Before

The new custom cabinet doors, radiator cover and these vintage knobs give the room a more sophisticated look.

We also made a lot of changes on the second floor.  This front bedroom changed dramatically when we opened up the wall at one end - adding an extra window.  And we added a closet and custom bookcase for storage.
The master bedroom saw lots of changes, including these two new closets - providing much needed storage.
And the new window seat is a cozy spot with a steam radiator underneath of it!

But the biggest change to the master bedroom was the addition of a master bath.  We renovated the old family bathroom to create this calm blue and white bath.  It meant we had to relocate the door and vanity - but what a difference!
And the tile?  I love this large format carrara hexagon!

The third bedroom is a bit smaller than the others, but with two windows and a nice closet, it's still a great room!

And the former landing at the top of the stairs gave us enough room to create a hall bath.  It was a big job - we had to move the steam radiator, move the window and eliminate the linen closet.  
But oh, what a difference!

And last by not least, we cleaned up the 'rec room' in the basement, to create a get away space.  
So that's the project!  And my husband?  Well he can't believe how much we were able to change it!  Nice that I can still surprise him now and then J

Want to see more?  Follow along on Facebook or Instagram for all our updates!  Or click here to see this project from start to finish (you can navigate month by month on the lefthand tabs).

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  1. Where did the art come from that is hanging in the rec room? Beautiful job!

    1. The painting is a giant canvas print of a Catherine Breer (Maine artist) painting that I bought years ago. It’s one of my favorites!!

  2. As always you have done it again. You design ideas are right on. I often wonder if ask you to sell them the stagging. I know there would be a couple of things from each house that I would like to have if I was the buyer.l


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