Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Centennial Cottage

There she is, our newest project!!!  The Centennial Cottage - well actually, built in 1918, she's 101 years old.  And she's seen a lot of updates over the years.  The first update you can see right away - asbestos siding (ugh!  One of these days I'd like to do a project without asbestos remediation!).  And there are even more updates inside.

What do I love about this house?  It's the old real estate mantra - LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!!!  Just half a block from the beach, it's on a nice sized lot with lots of privacy.  What?  Privacy close to the beach???  How can that be?  Most beach houses are so closely set,  you can practically pass a borrowed cup of sugar to your neighbor through the windows.

Well this lucky house is at the end of a dead end street with backyards from other houses surrounding it.  The views are so lovely!
Dining Room View
And it backs up to a condo association that has a huge meadow.  There are wildflowers, beautiful gardens - oh, and the beach!!
This deck looks out over the soon-to-be cute little shed and meadow - what a relaxing view for your morning cup of coffee!

And there is something about a gambrel roofline that makes my heart go a flutter.  It's such a New England element and when it's on a beach cottage, it's even better!

What else do I love?  The light!!  The living spaces in this house are flooded with sunlight and it's so light and bright!  That's something that we really can't fix, if a house has a lot of north facing windows or huge evergreen trees next to it, you'll never have a lot of light coming in - so it's a huge plus.

What don't I love?  Well, it's tiny.  814 square feet to be exact.  So everything is really tight inside.

And with all the updates over the years, they tore out every single bit of antique architectural interest.  Seriously, it's all drywall and knotty pine trim.  And ceiling fans..... there are a lot of ceiling fans.....
Living Room
Living Room - with an odd little cubby in the wall.....not sure why
Dining Room with Keyhole Opening to Kitchen (why???)
Oh, and a boob light in the dining room.
Kitchen Peek through keyhole opening
See, the kitchen doesn't have anything that looks like an old house, except maybe the hole we ripped in the ceiling to verify the joist spacing!!
And a 1960's newel post.
It's devoid of old house charm.  And I haven't quite figured out what to do about that.  Do we recreate it in antique style?  Or do I give it a more contemporary vibe, since I won't be destroying anything.
First floor bathroom
And then there's the tall person problem (and I am a tall person!).  This place must have had a lot of petite owners over the years.  Case in point, look at this shower!  John would have to do some sort of limbo move to wash his hair!

And the upstairs ceiling fans could scalp a tall person!

But wait, that's not all!  The staircase is a NIGHTMARE!!  The steps have a rise of 9" (typical is 7") and when you get to the top of the stairs, you have to do this weird 'twist and duck' motion so you don't hit your head and shoulder.  It's a challenge for those of us that are tall!  And then there's the whole issue of getting furniture upstairs.  We had lovely tenants living here over the summer and they had to leave their queen sized bed in the living room, because it couldn't make it up the stairs.

This whole hallway is a challenge!  Very narrow with a steep sloped ceiling.

Okay I lied, there is one antique item - this octagonal bathtub is pretty cool.  So there is one 'keeper' architectural element.  I've never seen one like this before and am curious if we'll find a date stamped on the bottom of it.

But as cool as that bathtub is, it's can't hide the fact that you have to walk through the bathroom to get to the bedroom.  Interesting design choice, don't you think?  
Bedroom #2 - you have to walk through the bathroom to get there!
And another ceiling fan!  
And then there is this tiny, tiny room.  The previous owners used it as a short term rental property and had a twin bed in here - tucked into the closet.  But not surprisingly, the City does not count this as a bedroom.  So it's sort of a closet room???

So what do you think?  I've spent the whole summer working on the plans, but I'm curious what your first thoughts are!

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  1. The bathtub is a keeper for sure! And I know this location very very well. SO. MUCH. POTENTIAL! It's definitely a dilemma about recreating the old charm versus going more modern. Personally, I think that unless you can do an architect-approved (if not fully architect-designed) modern renovation, it's probably better to recreate at least some of the classic original architectural elements. But that's looking at it from a long-term standpoint, I guess. What's hot right now may not last the test of time. (Personally, I'm afraid that black windows -as GREAT as they can look when on the right house! - are going to quickly look as dated as that knotty pine trim. Or rustic interior shiplap walls. Don't even get me started!)

    1. Totally agree with you on the windows and shiplap! And the exterior needs to stay in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood. But I keep thinking the interior could be a little more modern :-)

  2. What a challenge! I'm excited to see what you do with this property. Love following everything you do!

  3. Are you thinking of adding on? Moving the bathroom that you have to walk through??? This is so strange, and I can't believe people came up with this scenario?

    Since you won't be losing anything, I'd go full on modern (that obviously goes with style of house).

  4. And here “we” go again! Love the lines of the exterior but the interior is devoid of anything special other than the bathtub. Wish I could get inside your head to see you vision.

  5. Have fun and good luck! I’m one of many looking forward to the transformation. The blank slate interior will be a future stunner, I’m sure.

  6. Could the cubby have once been used for the telephone? I've seen a few like that in 1920s bungalows. As for the "walk-thru" bathroom -- my house was built in 1910 as a summer cottage and "remuddled" for year-round living several times since then. Had an equally strange bathroom, which made me wonder if the original house started out with no indoor facilities. ;)

    1. We had a 1940's house that had a cubby for the phone - but it also had a phone jack next to it. This doesn't seem to offer that, so it's a mystery!!!
      But I think you're absolutely right about the bathroom. This probably started as a seasonal summer cottage with very few amenities. When plumbing was introduced years later, this was probably the logical option!!

  7. Looking forward to seeing what your discover in the bones of the bathroom, Laurel. When we demo'd our strange circa-1960s bathroom, we found the framing for 2 large windows hidden behind the drywall. Which made me think that it was probably a bedroom in the original 4-room cottage -- with a privy somewhere out back.

    Seems weird to think that a lot of people didn't have indoor plumbing in the 1910s, but then again, my mom grew up in a 1860s farmhouse in the 1930s -- and remembered having a chamber pot under her bed until her parents finally added an indoor bathroom in the '40s.


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