Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Split Level Living Area - Before and After

Eating nook, complete with built in storage in the banquette
As you've probably guessed, I've saved the best for last.  The main living area of this house is almost unrecognizable from our starting point. So much has changed!  Gone are the low ceilings, cramped rooms and a center fireplace that took up way too much space in a small house!

Best of all, my clients got a living area that is customized to their needs.  We thought through every element of how the kitchen needed to work for them, including built in trash/recycle storage, an appliance garage and pantry space.  They wanted a mud bench with storage for all the winter gear we need in Maine.  And they didn't want a formal dining space - just casual eating areas, that included a view of the beautiful gardens they curate in the yard.

The kitchen has lots of storage and the island provides a great spot for family members and guests to gather.  It also has a drawer microwave, keeping it out of view and off the countertop! 

Don't you love this kitchen? 
Here was the original kitchen 

How did we do all this?  There were two major changes - first, we removed the big central fireplace.  It made the existing kitchen really tiny and took up a disproportionate amount of space in a small house.  See how it opens up the kitchen to the rest of the living space?

Second, we expanded the room by 5 feet.  Now, that might not sounds like a lot of space.  But it was the maximum we could do with the zoning regulations and it made a huge difference to the room.  It allowed us to install a sliding glass door out to the garden and a fireplace, complete with built ins.  See how much different it is?

The gas fireplace is such a cozy feature!  They chose the beachglass option - with lots of glass and driftwood.  Pretty cool for a beach house!  The built ins are simple and we topped them off with reclaimed beams from another house in the neighborhood - now that's a great sustainability option!!! And the warm wood with the old saw marks is so inviting!

But that's not all.  We added a mud bench with storage bins to hold all their winter/summer stuff.  In Maine we all have a lot of winter outerwear, but when you live close to the beach you also have towels, flip flops and beach bags that need a place to land when you come home.

And I can't stop sharing this stairwell - these balusters are such a wow feature!  

This stairwell extends all the way to the top floor and that dramatic space is a game changer on this split level.  The owners can't wait to hang a lot of artwork on the big, tall wall!

This may be my favorite viewpoint in the new house, because it really didn't exist before we started!  The closed off attic access and small footprint of the house was totally different from today. 

So I'll ask the question we started with on this project.  Do you still hate a split level?  Or do you think they can be reimagined into a modern home for today's lifestyle?

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The New Third Floor

One of the things that was really exciting about this project was adding a new floor.  By raising the roof a few feet, we were able to create a whole new living area.  That gave us the opportunity to add 2 bedrooms, a full bath and a laundry room.

The stairway to the 3rd floor is pretty dramatic - it has a tall ceiling that makes the space seem huge.  Nothing like the split level we started with!  

The staircase has tall ceilings - unlike the original split level

But the real difference is when you get into the new rooms.  The front bedroom has a vaulted ceiling, including a gable that overlooks the front of the house.  It's not a huge room, but it feels so big thanks to the high ceilings and the windows.  

The back bedroom is also a show stopper.

I love this new hall bathroom.  We installed a sink with a sea glass green top.

We used green glass accents in the shower, to add some design interest to the space.  

And the doorknob to the bath storage closet - is this fabulous glass pull.  I bought this so many years ago and now wish I had a lot more!!  It's perfect!

We also included a laundry room on this floor.  It's super convenient to the bedrooms and there is a nice little window the provide natural light.  

And see the light fixture?  It's from the original house.  So nice to have a bit of history there.

We made so many changes to this house, but the addition of this new floor made everything else possible!  

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Creating a Luxurious Primary Suite

So.... this house started with two bedrooms and a bath.  'Suite' wasn't even in the vocabulary when they built the house in 1949.  But my clients wanted a total of 3 bedrooms, with a primary suite to get away from it all, so we made some pretty big changes to create a full suite on the 2nd floor! 

We moved a lot of things around.  We made the front bedroom a bit larger and vaulted the ceiling - which made an AMAZING difference.  We also added new double windows to let more light in and provide a view to the water.

The old bathroom became the dressing areas 

with built in closets lining both walls for lots of storage.

And the back bedroom became a beautiful bathroom.  

The bathroom has it all - a large double sink, heated marble floors, custom shower with a bench and niche, glass doors,

a heated towel rack and a custom make-up vanity that matches the sink.

The living area is on the first floor and the other bedrooms and bath are on the 3rd floor - so this entire floor is devoted to the primary suite.  Now the owners really can get away from the noise in the rest of the house in their own private area! 

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Nautical Powder Room

I'd love to show you the Before & After of the Powder Room - but it's a brand new space that didn't exist in the original house.  So you'll only see the 'after' version.

Let's face it, powder rooms can be boring, especially if they don't have a window.  It can be a tiny, dull space. So our goal was to make this one interesting.  And I think we succeeded!  Every time a new contractor walks up the stairs and turns the corner, it's a WOW!   

The far wall is wallpapered with nautical chart wallpaper.  It's so much fun to look for your favorite landmarks on this wall!  And they were able to mark the house location with this little anchor - isn't that the best?

For the flooring, I installed this great hex tile, which has an undulating surface and fades from dark to light watery blue. 

We wanted a small vanity (and it is small!!!) so there was a spot to hide a couple rolls of TP.    And above it, we found a nautical light fixture with a porthole style mirror.  So say goodbye to a dull boring powder room, this one is a conversation piece! 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Split Level - It's Done, It's Done, It's Done!!!

We turned the keys over to the homeowners last week and they're busy moving in.  And I can finally start to share the Before & After Photos.

There were so many changes to the house, it's hard to figure out where to start.  But let's look at the exterior first, because that's the first thing you see when you arrive.  

Our goal was to add living space while ensuring the house still blends in with the neighborhood.  There were a lot of challenges from a zoning perspective, so we carefully balanced where we could build with keeping an 'old house vibe'.  We added a new top floor, which provided space for two bedrooms and a bath.  And we were able to bump out 5 feet on the right side of the house, as long as we stayed back behind the setback.

Split Level - Before

And from a functional standpoint, we removed the front door - which was a cramped space next to the garage door with dangerously low headroom to get up the stairs to the living area or down to the basement.  Now there is a normal front door that meets all building codes - yippee!!

The house was sided with vinyl siding and PVC trim - so it's a low maintenance lifestyle!  The homeowners opted to do the front stairs with meranti posts to bring the warm glow of natural wood against the gray siding.  It's complemented with sleek cable rail instead of balusters.  The decking is a low maintenance AZEK decking, which blends beautifully with the posts.  
And the result?  Well we're all pretty thrilled with how it came out.  Quite a change, don't you think?


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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Kitchen Update

I haven't done a kitchen update in awhile - and it's changed so much!  What was a tight, cramped space is now opened up to the entire living area!

Remember our starting point?  The huge central fireplace took up over 25 sq ft of living area and made everything super congested - probably typical in 1949 when the house was built, but totally unsuitable for today's lifestyle.   Removing the fireplace added so much flexibility for a better layout and the 5 foot addition along the south side of the house provides room for a sweet banquette with sunlight streaming in all day long.

The owners wanted a white kitchen, but we all agreed a pop of blue for the island would give it more interest and reflect its beach house location.  We built out the back of the island to provide room for stools and then painted the whole thing that gorgeous blue.

The countertops are a heavily veined quartz.


I covered them up right after they were installed to keep them safe, but here's a sneak peek. 

The owner asked for a backsplash that had mother-of-pearl accents.  I found this great mix of marble and glass that they love!

We've got a few more things to wrap up - but it's getting close to done! 

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Custom Features in the Living Area

To take this split level from ho-hum to wow, we want to add a lot of custom features.  And many of them are in the living area.

The house needed a mud bench to catch all the foul weather gear we have in Maine.  So we created a set of shelves that will be outfitted with wicker baskets.  In winter it can hold all the mismatched gloves that seem to accumulate!  In the summer it can store sunscreen and summer hats to take down to the beach.  

And the open space below the bench has lots of room for flip flops or snow boots, depending on the season!

The fireplace is a focal point for the living area.  I surrounded it with a beautiful honed marble, accentuated with a dark grout. 

Kyle added the decorative wooden trim and then created built in bookshelves next to the fireplace. They will both be topped with chunky reclaimed wooden beams. The vertical nickel gap paneling will provide a nice backdrop for both - particularly for the TV that will go above the mantle.  Doesn't it look great?

In the kitchen, we trimmed out the back of the island with nickel gap paneling and created side panels to create space for 3 bar stools.  Oh, and why the black wavy lines?  Well wood tends to shrink and swell with the seasons.  Once winter comes and it shrinks a bit, the part that shows is black and won't stand out like bright white on a navy island!  

And next to the pantry, Kyle built a banquette that will have a top that lifts up for storage.  This will create a little nook for a table and a couple of chairs.  The perfect spot to have a cup of coffee in the morning as the sun streams through the sliding glass door.

Once everything is painted, it's going to look amazing!!!

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