Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Tiniest Bathroom - is Also the Grossest Bathroom

Every old house has at least one gross project - and the winner for this project is the little bathroom on the first floor.

It’s really tiny – 5.5 x 5.5 feet – and has a shower, toilet and sink!  That means there isn’t much room for people J  It’s not part of the original house, it’s more like an appendage that got added later.  It juts out from the side of the house with a crawl space below it.



Bathroom addition 
In all honesty, we should just get rid of it.  But a first floor bathroom is a pretty nice feature and if anyone ever wanted to use the adjacent office as a bedroom (maybe for a parent that needs first floor living), having an adjoining bathroom would be a real plus.

So, it will stay.  It just needs a major facelift and, as we quickly discovered, some infrastructure work as well.

The challenge with a bathroom above a crawl space in Maine is keeping the pipes from freezing in the winter.  I had assumed that they did a really good job insulating the room when they built it, but we quickly discovered that was not the case.  The only insulation we found in the walls was 1” of Styrofoam, which has a negligible R value. The pipes in here must have frozen a lot!

And last week we finally opened up the crawl space below the room.  Well that turned out to be an adventure!  Behind the sheathing, we discovered the same 1 inch of Styrofoam.  But behind that was a foam mattress pad!!!  Cut up into pieces, it had been shoved up against the walls, along with bags of old clothes and other junk (including lots of rodent nests). I guess the pipes kept freezing and they just filled the space with whatever they had on hand.



None of us really wanted to go crawling around in that, so Rich grabbed a shovel and started to dig it out– only to have a mouse come flying out at him!!!  

Mattress Foam Padding, bags of old clothes and lots of mouse nests
Once we stopped laughing, we realized it needed some serious attention.  So we dug down around the perimeter and installed metal hardware cloth (I feel like an expert on this stuff after dealing with the squirrel problem at my own house!) all around.  It will keep mice from coming in, even if they dig.  And then we added new sheathing.
 
On the inside, we sealed the floor with 10 mil plastic as a vapor barrier. Next, we will have the walls foamed with closed cell spray insulation.  This will not only keep the pipes nice and warm – but mice don’t like to chew through spray foam!

For the ‘beautification’ part of the bathroom, there is also a lot of work to be done! I found this tiny little vanity – so at long last this little room with have a bit of storage space.  I love the blue, in person it’s a bit more of a navy and really looks lovely.

This shower will get a new white base and I’ve been searching for some sort of ‘wow’ tile to use in the shower stall.  We’re adding a recessed light in there, with a glass door, so it needs to be pretty!  I really like these glass octagons.  They shimmer like water in the light.

For the floor, I love this white marble mosaic.  A bit contemporary and a bit traditional at the same time!



The room will also get a new square window, to match the others on the house.  So farewell to the contact paper covered one that’s in there today!

Insulation is scheduled this week, so we're making nice progress.  Hopefully we won't have any more gross discoveries at this point and the mice have found a nice new home!
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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Centennial Cottage - Project Update

SO MUCH PROGRESS!  We hit a couple of major milestones in the last few weeks, so it seems like a good time to give you some sneak peeks of our latest project.

As a reminder, we started with an 800 square foot house.  Building code setbacks allowed us to enlarge the house - but it had to be a long, narrow addition.  So we added a new living room, master suite and 3rd floor bonus room & deck.

Oh and we also installed the driveway last week, so we have a great place to park once winter snow and ice arrives.

Framing went quickly and last week the roof went on and the windows are in process.  That really makes it start to look like a house!
They are all wearing fall protection gear, but it freaks me out to see how they can walk across a roof!!
The 3rd floor deck is getting built and the rear of the house is taking shape.


While the roof went on, we added a skylight in the old upstairs hallway.  It's transformational - goodbye old dark hall!!


But the thing I was most  excited to see was how the  new open spaces look, now that we're connecting the old house to the new house.
Farwell old wall - hello open floor plan!
As they guys took the wall away, I realized just how big this first floor would be!!  The living room is big - and as you see the new sight lines, you realize how big this place is!
Views from living room to stairwell, kitchen and dining room
View from other end of the house, towards the living room
And when you stand at the kitchen counter facing the stairs and living room - you'll have this big open stairwell with sunlight flooding through from the 2nd and 3rd floor landing!

I know it seems odd to do it this early, but the gas fireplace went in last week, so it can be in place before drywall installation.  Now I just have to keep the glass front from getting broken!

Electrical in all getting done and we tested out a new bevel LED, to see if it would flood the whole fireplace wall with light - it's going to be great!

What started as the living room will now be the kitchen - and it's so much bigger than the original kitchen!

Upstairs, the guys started cutting away the new walkway from the old house to the new - and it's pretty great.  What a change from the old cramped 2nd floor.  Here was our starting point.
Original Hallway
And this is what it looks like now! 
Old hallway looking towards new addition
New hallway, looking towards original house
Is there more to do???  So much more!  But at long last, it's starting to feel like a house and it's pretty exciting!  Stay tuned for more.



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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Bubble Window Room

Lots of dry rot in the ceiling and under the bubble window
Now that our local NBC affiliate has started airing their story about our mid-century renovation (News Center Maine - click here to watch the videos), it occurred to me that I've never shared the 'after' photos of the Bubble Room - and it's about time!!  Many of you will remember the challenges we found in this room - rotted plates & joists, collapsing ceiling, all the structure under the bubble window rotted away - (click here for photos) - but we got all that fixed and now it's one of our favorite rooms!  After all, how many people have a giant bubble to look out of?

Once we replaced the original 'bubble' window with a new, watertight one and fixed all the other issues, we were ready to start decorating.  Isn't it a fantastic architectural statement on the exterior??!!
The new, watertight 'Bubble' Window - aka a skylight mounted on its side!!!

By cutting away the damaged section - it's as good as new!
One of the original elements the previous owners left us was a Finnish Tampella fabric wall hanging in the living room.  It's such a great, vintage element, a pattern called Ovaali by Marjatta Metsovaara.  We wanted to use it!  But, the bottom of it had been badly damaged from getting wet in the garden area of the living room.  I was able to remove that section and it was ready for a new home.  And the perfect spot was at the end of the very long hallway to the bedrooms.  I love that it's such a statement piece as you head down the hallway.

Isn't that vintage wall hanging fantastic at the end of the hallway?
Don't you love how the bubble window reaches out into the yard?
We wanted to make this room a great spot for guests.  And while we have added lots of bookshelves in the rest of the house, we still needed a home for more books, so we contacted Stacey at Vintage Modern Maine to find true vintage shelving.  She had these amazing Cado shelves available and they are perfect in this room.
The 3D Bubble window provides a great view of the yard

 And with a queen sized bed and 3 large closets, there is a lot of room for our guests to spread out!!  They may never want to leave :-)


I stripped multiple layers of paint off of these original closet pulls and refinished them - aren't they fantastic?

Even our granddog Etta likes staying in there!  


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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Kitchen Planning for the Centennial Cottage

Now that we have the basic framing in place, I'm finalizing the kitchen design to get the cabinetry ordered.   I started this design months ago - but as we got into demo and framing, we had to make some tweaks.  So it's still a work in progress!
I always tape out the future kitchen to see if in the space
Here's what we have so far.  As a reminder, we moved the kitchen to the middle of the house.  Why?  The old location was a bit cramped and right next to the toilet (never a good spot!).
And I loved the idea of standing at the kitchen sink and gazing at peeks of Casco Bay.  Somehow, it seems like that would make washing dishes a bit easier!!!
But the new location does have a couple of challenges.  It will have a major walkway through the room, so we need wide aisles.  It is next to the stairwell, so there isn't much space for upper cabinets.  We'll try to make up for that with lots of lower cabinets and a sizable pantry.  And of course we want a nice big island, with seating for four.

So here's the layout.  Lots of cabinetry, a curved island and a separate area for the fridge and pantry (makes it easy when you come home from the grocery store and need to unload all those bags!).


These renderings will give you a better idea - they're so realistic, it almost looks like a real room - a big change from my painters tape version above!  Isn't the curved island great for kids doing homework or to have a glass of wine while chatting with the cook?  And the bookcase next to the microwave is a great spot for cookbooks (my daughter uses a shelf in her kitchen for toy pots and pans for her toddler).

I had considered white oak cabinetry, but since the floor will be white oak, it seemed like that would be a lot of natural wood.  Instead, we'll use white cabinets around the perimeter and a black island with a butcher block top.


The rest of the countertops will be some sort of quartz - but I need to choose it in conjunction with the tile for the backsplash.  And that's where I'm stuck.  I've been to every tile store in town and can't make up my mind. The one I like at the moment is this one.  It's a bit bold, but I think it would be a wow!!  It does a great job of linking all the colors together, while still maintaining a neutral palette.

We'll have a suite of Thermador appliances and a stainless farm sink.  I haven't picked out the faucet yet, but it will probably be a tall professional style.  I'd like to do a valance in this Kravet fabric above the window.

Oh, and the pendants over the island remind me of Hershey kisses!!!  Aren't they great?

So that's all I have for now.  I'll continue to wrestle with tile and countertop selection, but since we don't even have walls yet, that can wait for another day!

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

About That House Color - The Shed Beautification Project

So let me start by saying I'm going to disappoint you.

I know, I know.  When I gave you some options for what color to paint the house, the VAST majority voted for black/dark gray, like we found on the original siding.  And I also really, really love the look of a dark house.

Just not on this one.  Why?  Well there are a couple of reasons.

1) Size of House - Because it won't be very deep, this will be a very wide house (almost 60 feet wide!!!).  Creating a big black house, 1/2 a block from the beach would look pretty unusual.  One of my goals with this house it to make it blend in seamlessly with similar homes in the neighborhood.  A black house would be a focal point - but not in a good way!

Here's an illustration of the front and back with dark siding (and a dark roof).  That's a big dark spot on the streetscape!

2) Neighbor input - As you can imagine, several of the neighbors have stopped by to comment on the color options.  Not surprisingly, they chose the lighter, more neutral color - that helps it blend into the neighborhood.  BTW - the samples below are the same on both walls, but don't they look different depending on which side of the house they're on!
Samples of Northwest facing wall
Samples on East facing wall - don't they look different???
And since we needed to get the shed fixed up quickly, before the neighbors built a new 6 foot privacy fence next to it, we got to do a trial paint color.  I think of this as the shed beautification project.  And boy did it need beautification!  Rotted, sagging doors, failing roof,  and vines growing up and through the roof!!!

The guys tackled the shed with gusto.  It got a new roof, new custom made windows and a beautiful new door, to replace the rotted one we started with.

The neighborhood consensus was a color called Monterey Taupe - a James Hardie Board siding color.  It's a great neutral shade and I'm pretty pleased with how it looks against the bright white trim.

I found some antique lobster buoys to add to the old hooks on the side.  And now when you look out the dining room window - it looks pretty charming, don't you think?

So please don't hate me for not painting the house dark.  This neutral home will be a nice addition to the neighborhood and will look great for years to come!







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