Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Storybook Cottage: Porch Before and After

The house is finished and I can finally start sharing some Before & After photos.  So let's start at the entryway!   When we started, it was a 3 season porch right off of the driveway.

This was the primary entrance to the house and had a row of windows all around it - and an electrical meter against the wall (certainly not something that's allowed by today's code!!).

Now that we're finished -  it's the main entrance with year round use.

This explained why the floors were so bouncy! 
But changing all that was a bit of challenge.  As we got started, we discovered that the joists and footings were in bad shape.  We had to re-dig a couple of footings (not an easy task in January!!) and reframe the floor joists.  And since the sidewalls were essentially a row of old porch windows, we had to reframe them to provide enough strength for the new doors and windows that would get installed.

We wanted to make the space warm and cozy for our Maine winters, so we installed foam insulation in the ceiling and floors, to maximize the insulation value.

And we used this new living space to change how you enter the house.

Porch - Before
Porch Becomes Living Space - After
Now there is a big foyer/mudroom that will give the new owners a place to shed their coats and boots before entering the rest of the house.

The mudroom features lots of hooks and a built-in with shelves/baskets for gloves and hats.  Can you tell we live in Maine???  Certainly it's great for sunscreen and flip-flops in the summertime!!
Porch - Before
Porch - now foyer and office - After
To the right, there are french doors that open into a home office.  This room features two walls of windows that provide a bright spot to work.  And with a view of the giant lilac tree, it looks and smells heavenly!
This antique plate rack was a gift from a dear friend.  It graced her family's cottage for years - doesn't it look perfect in its new home??

Off of the foyer, there's an entrance to the main living area and also the master suite - but we'll save those updates for next time!  Stay tuned!
Office looking towards living area - before 
Office looking towards living area - after

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Storybook Cottage: The Home Stretch

We've reached that crazy phase of the project, where all the trades are jumping in and helping get us across the finish line.  I'm hoping to get this house on the market next week!

There's so much going on, it's hard to figure out what to highlight.  But I thought it would be nice to share a few updates.

The hardwood floors have been sanded and refinished - now they are gleaming!!

The kitchen is in and is looking pretty fantastic!

The reclaimed beams are going up to wrap the structural beams that we installed in the master suite and living room.  The wood that we are using in the living room came from the dismantled Portland Company on Fore St. in Portland.  Such a cool bit of history for the house!

The bedroom/bath beams are part of the original sheathing of the house.

Painting is underway and is adding a satiny finish to all the custom woodwork we installed.
  The walls are getting painted a soft off-white called 'Ivory Lace' by Sherwin Williams.
Master Suite in process
I'm in love with the banquette!  It will be such a great spot for the entire family to gather.  And wait till you see the custom cushions my dear friend Faith made.  They make it so cozy!

I've been tiling like crazy and finally got everything grouted over the weekend.  The new glass shower doors will be installed soon.

Now that I have a hardworking entry/mudroom in my own house, I couldn't wait to create one for another homeowner.  They are the BEST!  This one will have lots of hook for coats and baskets for gloves and hats - or flip flops and sunscreen now that summer is coming and everyone is walking down to the beach!

And when I can't get in the house because one of the trades has taken it over, I'm busy making window treatments. 
This will be a Roman Shade for the upstairs bathroom.

Operation 'lighten and brighten' the basement has made huge progress.  Now that the asbestos remediation is complete, we've removed the wall at the bottom of the stairs and installed a new door to the utility section of the basement.  George is adding new oversized bead board paneling to the finished room in the basement.

And there is a lot of progress outdoors as well.  The new walkway is going in and the gentle curve takes you past the ginormous lilac tree, that is covered in blooms.

We added gutters all around the house. I love watching the seamless gutter machine working!  It takes a roll of metal and turns it into these super long gutters!

We created replica shutters for most of the windows and they're going up on the exterior.

Can we be ready in a week???  Maybe!!  Stay tuned for a lot more photos!!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bunny Suits vs. Hercules. Who Will Win that Battle?

Last week was pretty exciting, we said goodbye to Hercules.  Hercules is a 1200 pound boiler by Sears Roebuck that started life burning coal in the basement (more about that later) and then got upgraded to oil at some point in its history.  Getting Hercules up the steps and out of the basement is truly a Herculean task, so we needed professional help.  Because you see, we could also see bits of asbestos around the edges and knew it needed to be properly disposed of.

Wait, wait, you say.  Didn't you already do asbestos remediation in the house?  Why yes, yes we did.  On week one of the project, we learned that the flooring in the kitchen and back bedroom had asbestos, So we had a remediation team come in and remove it.

And then you say, wouldn't it have been simpler and cheaper to have it all done at once??  Why yes, yes it would have been.  BUT, we needed Hercules to keep the house warm until the gas boiler could be installed.   So....it's a much more expensive proposition, but we're doing it right.

And doing it right is a big undertaking.  The team from Safe Environmental Solutions arrived and got to work.  First step, installing the decontamination chamber and containment unit next to Hercules.

The area was walled off from the rest of the house, with a special negative air machine that ensures any nasty fibers released in the containment chamber stay there due to the lower air pressure.

Once they started pulling Hercules apart (dressed in bunny suits and respirators of course), the real fun started.  To leave the chamber, everyone enters the dirty unit to remove the bunny suit, enters the shower unit to wash down and then the clean chamber to get dressed again (oh and they have special waterproof cell phone cases that have to be washed down too!)!!

And what did they find? Well just pulling it apart was an adventure.  They had to constantly spray the asbestos with a surfactant infused water (they call it 'wetter water' - catchy name, don't you think?) to keep it from becoming 'friable' - the term for the fibers becoming airborne.  And separating the different chambers was a big task.  This thing has been a single unit for 90 years and it didn't want to come apart.

They were shocked at the amount of asbestos.  The entire unit was wrapped in asbestos blocks, with additional asbestos between each chamber.

It was the most asbestos in one boiler any of them had ever seen - and they do this all the time!!  In addition, they discovered lots of coal soot, which meant they were covered with both white and black sludge.  Thank heavens the bunny suits are tough!
Solid blocks of asbestos
Once they're done, the air purifier runs for awhile and then a 3rd party tester comes in to do air sample tests.  We came out clean as a whistle - so they could pull the whole thing down.  Elapsed time was 3 days, so a big job!

Now we can start making that basement a bit prettier!  Stay tuned for updates! Pin It

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Mid Mod Kitchen, Bar and Mud Room

What’s one part Modern, one part mid century and one part pretty cool?  Our kitchen, with a separate wet bar and mud room. This whole house was totally different than anything we have ever done before, and it was a challenge - but we're pretty thrilled with the results!

So where did we start?  This kitchen is a great example of what was considered a new mid-century trend - making the kitchen the center of family life (historically, kitchens were small rooms - dedicated to the cook and not very family friendly). It has lots of room for the whole family to come together for cooking, meals and entertaining.

It has big, high ceilings and tons of space - but also a few challenges, like lots of doorways and walkways - not to mention it overlooks the sunken living room.

One of the biggest challenges we faced was how dark it was - despite having a giant skylight in the next room.  Here's a great illustration of the difference between before and after.  See the new window in the kitchen?  My husband says this is his single favorite change in the whole house.  While the old ribbon window was very cool, it didn't really let a lot of light in the room.  And once we installed the new window, we realized there is a beautiful view out to the courtyard. An added bonus is the light coming in the tall window makes the room seem taller as well.

We loved the idea of a center island and wanted to expand on that, with even more space for family and friends to gather around. Now we have seating for 6, as well as lots of workspace so everyone can lend the chef (that would be Richard!) a hand!

Kitchen looking towards bar and dining room - Before
Kitchen After
The other big changes?  Opening up the doorway to the stairwell. The stairwell is such a dramatic space with the giant skylight above it and a great, retro staircase.  By making the doorway from the kitchen taller and wider, it brings more sunlight into the kitchen and you get the bonus of seeing more of that great space!

If you've been reading the blog for awhile, you've realized I'm  a bit obsessed with tile. So I wanted to make sure we had something really special in our own home.  When I saw this pattern, I couldn't say no.  You see, it's called Stardust - after David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album, which was published in 1972 - the same year the house was built!!  Kismet!!

And then there is the bar!!!!  The bar is such a key element of the living space, we wanted to do it right.  The original, vintage wallpaper cleaned up beautifully and still graces the entire wall.

We updated the shelving with large glass doors, to display bottles, decanters and such.

We also kept the original sink, with its uber cool bottle holders.  But we removed the mirror and opened up the back wall, so you can see out to the living room and people can 'belly up to the bar'!!

We opened up the doorways on either end of the bar.  Now it's a bright, open space that links to every other room.

And then we have a mudroom!  I can't tell you how excited I am about having a dedicated mudroom - especially as we hit a particularly messy mud season hear in Maine.  We installed a hard working porcelain tile that can take any abuse that comes its way.  We replaced the original cobalt blue pantries with white ones that are a bit deeper, to provide even more storage.

But it's the details that make it such a great room.  The Bubble pendant, the wood coat rack and the very mid-mod wallpaper, really make the space!

Petey's getting the hang of being a dog model!

We've been living in the house for a couple of months now and are really enjoying the kitchen layout.  And while I'm wild about the mudroom, Richard is happiest mixing up fancy new cocktails!  Cheers!

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