Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Open House Sunday, October 18th, 11-2, 127 Providence Avenue

And it's done.  Thanks to the hard work of an amazingly talented crew of people, we've gotten this one across the finish line.  And we truly have Romanced the Ranch.


I promise to start compiling all the 'Before & After' photos soon, but for now, here's a few peeks of the finished product.

The mudroom is a show stopper as you come through the front door.



And the antique newel post and balusters provide some historical charm.

But the bigger 'wow' moment is as you enter the main living space.  This may be the biggest open concept living space we have ever done.


It's an inviting room with the wall of windows and doors looking out to the private back yard.  The fireplace wall is flanked by built ins and provides a focal point for the large space.  Of course Holly Lombardo's amazing painting is the finishing touch!  


The kitchen is large and the island provides the perfect spot for family and friends to gather.

Remember the old living room?  Now it's turned into an ensuite bedroom - what a difference!


And the old basement is now a bright, light living space that the new homeowners can use any way they want.



If you're local, we will have an Open House this Sunday from 11-2.  We will be following all the COVID safety protocols (so please don't come if you have any symptoms) including wearing masks, limiting the number of people in the house, social distancing, open windows, etc.  We want everyone to be safe!   And as usual, we'll be collecting donation for the South Portland Food Cupboard.  If you could bring some non-perishables or a cash donation, they would really appreciate it!

In the meantime, I'm going to start sorting through the hundreds and hundreds of photos I've taken and see if I can start creating some fun 'Before & After' posts!  




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Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Pandemic Project - aka Romancing the Ranch


We bought this house in February 2020, just as we started hearing reports of some new coronavirus that was spreading across the world.  In March, our daughter in NJ was expecting twins and we drove down to help out for a couple of weeks.

And that's when things went crazy.  She went to the hospital to deliver, just as they were setting up the first COVID tents at the hospital entrance.  Her husband was allowed in with her - but he had to stay until they were all discharged.  We were back at their house, helping with their 2 year old, who didn't quite understand the whole idea of getting a new baby brother and sister.

Our couple-of-weeks stay turned into almost two months, as a household of sleep deprived adults tried to take care of 3 tiny, demanding people, while it seemed like the world was melting down around us.  Only a few miles west of Manhattan, we watched the daily Governor Cuomo updates as hospitals and health care workers toiled endlessly to help the mounting number of COVID cases.  And we ordered all of our food online and then bleached everything on the front porch, terrified of bringing the disease into a household with newborns.

My daughter and I had to stop watching the news, it was just too upsetting and anxiety producing.  

The thing that kept me sane?  Planning this project.  

COVID changed everything 

I brought all the dimensions from the existing house as well as a series of photographs.  That let me create the design in my CAD model and start developing options.  It was a distraction from what seemed like a world that was falling apart.  Playing with my CAD model was soothing.  I tried moving the kitchen to different locations.  I also played with taking some space from the existing garage to create a better entry, that would let the old living room become a bedroom.

But the evolving pandemic started to influence the design.   Suddenly, having a big entryway that let you shed your outerwear (and mask) in a safe manner made lots of sense.  Similarly, having a sink close to the front door so you could wash your hands was also helpful.  

And what about lots of storage space for all those pantry items?  Seriously, where do you keep all those paper towels and cans of soup???  A big pantry suddenly seemed like a smart idea.  And a laundry room with lots of storage space was a slam dunk.

All the room in the basement?  Well that could suddenly be flex space, to to be used however the new homeowner saw fit.  It could be a home office and gym space - or a playroom for the kids.  Whatever works best for them!

With all the built in bookshelves - this could be a perfect home office

This is a huge room - how would you use it?

With all that pandemic inspiration, the design was born.  The house has a big foyer with lots of room for outerwear (because we have a LOT of that in Maine).

I love this foyer/mudroom with its tall ceiling and bountiful storage!  

The big kitchen also features a walk in pantry to hold all kinds of staples. 


Have you seen the Fall 2020 Maine Homes magazine?  This project got a shout out! πŸ˜€



We started the project on May 1st.  Fast forward 5 months later and it's almost done.  All those ideas have become a reality and we hope to put it on the market next week.  And while some of the features were tied to COVID, they'll be fantastic for the new owners after the pandemic is a distant memory! 

Here's a sneak peek of the new living room turned bedroom - with an en suite bath!!
This used to be the living room!  The front door was on the left, inside of the new closet

All the last minute items are getting completed!  Stay tuned!
This probably looks like chaos - but it will all be finished soon!!

So while the official name for this project is Romancing the Ranch, I think I'll always think of it as the Pandemic Project - that just doesn't have the same ring to it. πŸ˜‚



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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Curb Appeal Update

There is a lot going on inside the ranch, but there's been a lot of activity outside as well.  So here's a quick update on our Curb Appeal progress.  The dumpster got moved to the driveway, so I was able to capture this photo in the 5 minutes that we were dumpster less!!  πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚


As you may remember, we added a double, false gable to the front of the house, to clearly define the new front door.  


We also closed in the alcove between the garage and the main house - to create a new bathroom.  Oh, and we also installed all new windows, which brought lots of light into the house, but created some nice energy efficiency as well.  And the round vent at the top of the gable??  Well that may be my favorite feature!

Since we wanted to give this place some romance,  I had these custom window boxes built and the guys installed them for me.




They also built this lattice trellis I designed, to provide a spot for a vine and also provide an accent under the bathroom window.



The light fixture, house numbers and mailbox provide a nice focal point next to the front door.


Speaking of the front door, remember when I asked for everyone's opinion on color?  The overwhelming input was for color #6.  And in the afternoon (when it's shady) or on a cloudy day, I liked it too.  But in the morning with the sun shining right on the door, it looked like Smurf Blue.  And I just couldn't paint it that color.  So instead, I went one shade darker, with a color called Endless Sea.  Not quite as overwhelmingly bright blue - but still pretty nice (and there is painters tape on the glass inside, which is why the panes look a bit odd)!

And now that the dumpster is moved to the driveway, we're trying to grow a bit of grass.  Give us another 10 days or so and I hope to have an 'it's done' photo of the front yard!!



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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Kitchen Sneak Peek

You know you're in the homestretch when the kitchen cabinets get installed!  This place is finally looking like a home instead of a construction site (well sort of, there's still a long list of things left to do!).

As a reminder, here was our starting point.  A dark room with no natural light, dark paneling and a nicotine encrusted light fixture.  We opened up walls, added a skylight and suddenly it started looking so much lighter and brighter!


Here is a sneak peek with our current progress.  Can you believe the difference?  These photos were taken from the same spot, it's just hard to tell.  See the (new) antique pantry door on the right?   That's the old doorway that came in from the garage.  With the walls gone and all the new windows, it seems like a different room entirely!



Don't you love the custom stained glass insert in the cabinet?  I visited Jim Nutting at Maine Art Glass in Lisbon, ME and once again, he worked his magic to create an amazing cabinet feature!


And what do you think of this change?  Amazing, don't you think?  The stove wall has a custom vent hood and will feature a beautiful marble mosaic backsplash. So different than a few months ago!


It's probably hard to tell, but the kitchen will have a giant island.  The back will be painted a deep slate blue to match the island cabinets and it will have lots of room for stools.  The perfect spot for the entire family to gather!  And pretty sweet for entertaining too!  The quartz countertops have been templated and will arrive in a couple of weeks. 

And did you notice the beams in the dining room and living room??  That cathedral ceiling is so big and blank, it needed something to ground it.  The solution?  A little romance!  These antique beams came from a church in New Brunswick.  


They have these very cool carvings on them and just look amazing!!  We made sure the carvings are still visible now that they have a new home.

This living space is just so warm and inviting - I'm absolutely thrilled with how it's all coming together!
Stay tuned - there's a lot more to come!  









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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Foyer (aka Mudroom)

So if you don't live in Maine, you might not understand our obsession with mudrooms.  You see we only have a few seasons.
  • Winter (really, really long) with lots of boots, gloves, hats that need a place to be put away - not to mention ice melt grit that gets tracked into the house on your boots.  
  • Summer (really, really short - but fantastic!) which means flip flops and beach sand that gets tracked into the house.  
  • Mud season - which is that weird time between Winter and Summer when the top layer of the ground has melted, but the permafrost below it is still a solid hunk of ice and the mud seems endless.  
All of this means you need a hard working entrance that can handle the elements, but still look warm and inviting.  It's a tall order, but we're trying to do just that (keep in mind, this used to be the garage, so it's changed a lot!!!  Here's the starting point - concrete floor, unfinished walls and ceiling - as the guys opened up the wall into the main house).
The mudroom was originally the garage - day 1, when the guys opened it up to the main house

First step was to get it all closed in, with lots of insulation and nice new drywall.  Don't you love the tall ceilings?  What a dramatic entrance for what was once a basic ranch home!
 

Next thing we needed is a durable, easy to clean floor.  I can't tell you how obsessed I am with this tile.  It really looks like wood and terrazzo, but it's a heavy duty tile.  It also has a non-skid surface, so it's great on a cold night when you track snow in with your boots.

What else?  Storage, storage, storage.  Seriously, is it possible to have too much storage?  I came up with this design, inspired by a Pinterest post months ago.  It has a center row of baskets for masks (after all, we still have COVID to contend with), gloves and hats.  But it also has lots of space for boots and coats. 

A bit of romance (because after all, we're adding romance to this ranch) is accomplished with this antique newel post and balusters.   They took me weeks to strip the old paint and refinish - but totally worth it! 
Antique newel post - they don't make them like this anymore!!

Once the flooring was in place, Kyle and I started turning the design into a full scale plan.  I had ordered lots of baskets (to hide all the mismatched gloves and mittens!) and wanted to make sure the custom built shelving was sized correctly.  As we started drawing up the plan, he made a cardboard 3D mockup, so we could really get a sense of how it fit in the space (cardboard is a girl's best friend!!).  Not surprisingly, we ended up making a few tweaks.  But ultimately we found a plan that worked.
And now that he's gotten it all put together, well it looks pretty fabulous, don't you think?  
Almost finished mud bench



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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Outdoor Living

When you have a nice private backyard like this one, it's so important to create an outdoor living space to enjoy it.  But it turned out to be a big job.  The original house had a deck and we thought it might just need some simple updates - but that was a pipe dream!!!  We discovered broken joists and a broken footing, so it ended up getting a major refresh.
Rear of house and deck - Before
And since we were doing such a major update, I wanted to do it right.  In keeping with the low maintenance approach for the exterior of the house, I wanted a decking material that wouldn't need a lot of work.  I had seen a composite decking material at a Hammond Lumber new product show last year and decided to look into it more.  There's nothing I like better than a good Made in Maine product and the decking is a perfect example!

Duralife is a composite decking system that's made in Biddeford, Maine.  I love that 90% of the decking is made from recycled materials and all of the raw materials come from within a 500 mile radius.  They were kind enough to send me a few photos of the manufacturing process.  This is the color we choose - called Slate - coming off of the extruder.  It's guaranteed not to stain, fade, mold or mildew for 25 years.  So that's about as maintenance free as you can get! (BTW - there is no kind of paid endorsement here, I just like that it's made locally!)
Getting ready for shipment
But before we could start installing the decking boards, the guys needed to rebuild the basic structure.  That's done with pressure treated lumber - which is in extraordinarily short supply during the COVID pandemic.  Maybe because everyone stayed home this summer, they built their own deck???  We ended up having to order different sizes than we originally planned - but were grateful we could get the lumber (oh and you've probably guessed, but the prices have skyrocketed!).

The decking went on pretty quickly.  The deck boards were 20' long and installed with hidden fasteners.  A pretty great look!


But to really finish a deck, you need to trim it out properly.  I just love this bright, white AZEK trim.  It requires zero maintenance and is such a great look!

Can you believe how much the back of the house has changed?

And while the rest of the house isn't finished, I just couldn't resist putting a few pieces of furniture out there to stage the deck.  Doesn't it look inviting?
The deck is so big, I don't have enough furniture to stage it!!!


I just love that wall of windows and doors!
Isn't this the perfect spot for an al fresco meal?





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