Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Big Move

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, getting us ready for the big day! It's hard to believe, but after almost 17 months, we have moved in!  Is it done?  Well.......not everything is complete, but all the critical elements are finished for a Certificate of Occupancy from the city - with a few provisions that we need to complete.

As usual, Murphy's Law was in full effect and we were constantly adapting to keep things moving forward for move day.  

A key element was getting our heating system installed.  The lead installer was sick for our install day, so Haley's Metal Shop graciously arranged for the team to come on the weekend and install our heat pumps.  Heat pumps are the primary heat source for the house, so we needed them for our occupancy permit.  

We installed a ducted system on most of the first floor, so we didn't have ugly mini splits on all the walls.  But that wasn't possible in the kitchen (where there is an inaccessible crawl space for ductwork) and we wanted mini splits upstairs, so everyone can pick the temperature they want for their bedroom (we can also close them off when no one is visiting).  

I found these cast iron radiators online and absolutely love them (Yup, I get excited at very odd things!! πŸ˜‚). 

I love these cast iron heating vents!  Such an old school look

I finished the wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom, just in time for the washer/dryer delivery.  But they forgot the stacking kit, so the washer and dryer won't get installed until they can come back next week.

The kitchen is almost finished.  The guys got the crown molding installed, which makes a world of difference in the look of the kitchen.  

And they got the big wooden butcher block countertop installed.

I sanded and finished the kitchen island top after the guys left the other night.  But there is just so much dust floating in the air, the finish looks terrible.  I tried again over the weekend - sanding off that finish (plus vacuuming, mineral spirits wipe and tack cloth to wipe away all the dust) and put on a new one.  But had the same problem by the time it dried.  So......we will live with it like this for awhile and I'll redo it after we've moved in and the dust has settled a bit.

The finish had so much dust in it, I sanded it off and tried again.

The appliances have come, but we forgot to order one of the parts for the wood panel kit on the refrigerator, so we are waiting for that to arrive.  In the meantime, it's a nail breaker to open the door πŸ˜‚.

The 2nd floor is almost complete - the only exception is the shower surround for the primary bath. It's on order and will hopefully be installed the first of the year.

It's going to take us quite awhile to get everything organized.  This isn't a typical SoPo Cottage project where I simply stage it for photos.  This time we have to figure out where everything goes in the cabinets!!  So we will have boxes around for awhile.  Please be patient and I'll share a room by room reveal as we get it all done!  

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Thursday, December 14, 2023

48 Hours Make All the Difference

In 48 hours we've gone from a masked off, painter filled house to something that is starting to look livable.  Truly amazing progress! 

With everything painted, the carpenters moved back into the kitchen and got the upper cabinets and the island in place.  

A big project was getting the island top made.  I ordered two cherry butcher block counters and Kyle biscuited them together to create a giant counter.  And after much deliberation (seriously, it took me all morning), we came up with the end profile to provide seating at one end.

While all of that was going on, the electricians started hanging light fixtures.  After living through COVID supply chain issues, I ordered most of these many, many months ago - so it was exciting to unbox them and see them put in place!

In other exciting news, we now have running water and a working toilet!  Seriously, all the comforts of home!

Is it finished?  Not quite, but it sure is close!

I know he looks unhappy - but it's just the opposite - happy & exhausted! 

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Monday, December 4, 2023

Antique Lighting

Like most other elements of this house, we want the lighting to be appropriate for an old house.  20+ years ago, we bought this chandelier at a little antique shop near Lake Winnipesaukee for a 1920’s house we were living in.  As luck would have it, it wasn’t quite right for that house.  So we carefully boxed it up and stored it away.  Several moves later, we still never found the right spot for the light, so it stayed in the box (looking a bit worse for wear).  


We were determined to finally use it!  But it was a bit wonky, the electrical wiring was crunchy and the whole light needed some work.  I took it to The Lamp Repair Shop in South Portland, so Brian could work his magic. He explained it’s a Swedish style light fixture. made popular in the late 18th century  He updated all the wiring and put a on new canopy (the part that connects to the ceiling) so we could use it with a modern electrical box.  The chandelier was missing a few crystals that we’ll need to find (Brian warned that modern reproductions will have glass that looks noticeably different), but I’m pretty excited about it!


We were able to find one other antique light fixture to use in the house.  We found it at Old House Parts in Kennebunk, Maine.  It’s a unique fixture that appears to have been made from parts of different fixtures.  But it’s perfect for our L shaped stairwell, to provide lighting over the entire staircase.  The Lamp Repair shop fixed this one up as good as new!  


The rest of the lighting was purchased new and I’ll be pulling it out of the boxes in the next couple of weeks.  I bought most of it many months ago (a remnant of supply chain worries from COVID), so it will feel like Christmas as I rediscover what I bought!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Kitchen Progress

In Maine, no one ever uses the front door (except maybe at Halloween), so the first room you’ll see when you enter our house is the kitchen.  I’m hoping it will be a ‘wow’!  We've done so much in that space - removing walls, rebuilding flooring systems and raising the ceilings - it's changed a lot from our starting point.  Remember this update from many months ago? 

So I have to start with the cabinetry, because it's absolutely gorgeous.  Crownpoint Cabinets built the cabinets in New Hampshire and the guys started installing them right after they arrived.

I love the inset doors, but I love the beaded edge around them even more - it ties to the beadboard on the ceiling and emphasizes that antique charm.   We don’t want anyone to mistake this for a new house!!  Inset cabinetry is the right style for this home.

The base cabinets got installed around the perimeter of the room, so we could get them templated and the countertops installed. We also did a layout check with the island cabinets, to see how it would all come together (and tried out a couple of stools, that we think might be too big).  But we had to put the wall and island cabinets on hold, so our painter can get his scaffolding in to paint the tall ceiling. 

I found the stools on Facebook Marketplace.  Not sure they're perfect, but we'll give them a try!

We're using a low key quartz countertop on the perimeter cabinets (the island will be cherry butcher block) that does a great job unifying all the neutral colors in the room.   Install was an impressive project by the Paul White team!  The lift was great to get it off the truck, but it took 3 really strong guys to get it in the house an installed on the cabinets.

Obviously we need to get the upper cabinets and island installed, but doesn't it look great already??

But more kitchen elements needed to be installed before painting can begin.
  First up was the antique cabinet we bought, it will be our future pantry. We raised it up a bit so we won’t have to do quite so much bending over for the bottom shelves - and when we put the crown molding back on, it won’t interfere with the window and door trim. 

Speaking of doors, I wanted a Dutch door out to the vestibule (the original one is charming, but has so much damage to different spots, we need to replace it). I like the idea of leaving the top half open for summer breezes, while keeping the dog safely contained inside. 

Next, Kyle started building the banquette. After much deliberation, we decided to not have it wrap around in an L shape and simply be a bench under the window. 

And that’s when it hit us. With the Gothic arch on the pantry doors, the banquette really resembles a church pew!  So it’s now nicked named ‘the pew’. 

And to add to the whole religious theme, I wanted to separate the mud bench (next to the door that comes in from the garage) from the eating area, so created wings on either side. Yup, you guessed it, that’s now ‘the confessional’! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ. 

Not sure how all that came to be, but hoping you won’t be tempted to make the sign of the cross when you see  it furnished with table, chairs, lighting etc! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Now we just need painting done so we can get everything else completed!  

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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Custom Details for an Old House

A hallmark of old houses is a lot of built ins and custom woodworking.  We wanted to include those elements in this house and our amazing carpenters have been hard at work to make that happen!

The first area they focused on is my workroom (I hesitate to call it an office, because it's more of a space for sewing, DIY projects, etc).  This was originally a wrap around porch, so it's a long narrow room with a little offset at the end of the room.  After I laid out the design with tape and markups, Kyle got to work creating a built in unit to handle storage, books and a television (because hey, doesn't everyone watch HGTV when they're working on a project??).  

Next was my husband's office.  He wanted lots of bookshelves, but also room for his turntable and record albums.  I think he's planning to spend a lot of time in this room!!  

In the dining room, I wanted a traditional wainscoting around the perimeter of the room.  We don't have tall ceilings in here, so we had the wainscoting height match the built in cabinet at the end of the room.

The cabinet is original to the room (although we don't think it's super old - we found a Brosco sticker on the back of it!) and we wanted to keep it.  But I had new cabinet doors made, so we could do stained glass inserts.  And of course we'll add lighting inside the cabinet, so you can see all that gorgeous glass!

What's next?  Stay tuned for a kitchen update - there is a lot of work going on in there as well!

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Traditional Bathroom Style

Ready for a sneak peek???  We made a lot of changes to the first floor bathroom.  We eliminated the door from the kitchen, added a laundry center (although we think we might hate a stackable washer/dryer!!) and stole some space from a closet to accommodate a new shower.

Original Bathroom - connected to Kitchen and Office

Updated bathroom - with laundry added

But probably the biggest change was the style.  Like the other baths in the house, I want to make the bathroom look timeless - with styles that would be appropriate in the 1920's or today.

And the biggest feature is the floor.  I wanted the hexagonal black and white floor that was so typical of an old house.  I looked at some of the commercially available patterns, but didn't see any that I really loved.

So I decided to design my own.  I won't tell you how many hours I spent on my hands and knees figuring out the pattern, but it was considerable!  I used multiple laser levels, straight edges and tracing paper to create the plan.  All this work gave me a whole new respect for the folks that created these floors 100 years ago, with none of the fancy tools we have today! 

Planning the intricate floor with starburst insets and black border

I wanted a black border around the perimeter of the room and a starburst pattern sprinkled across the center of the room.  It meant I had to lay it out with white tiles and then cut out the pattern to be filled with black. 

I had to do one section at a time, let it dry overnight and do then do the next area

It took a total of 4 days - but don't you think it's worth it? 

Tile install - before grout

The wallpaper for the room arrived (from Sweden!) and it needs to be installed on the back wall, before the console sink and toilet go in (otherwise I'd lose my mind trying to paper behind them!!).  I'm such a sucker for these William Morris-esq floral patterns.  Especially one as delicate as this one.  

The rest of the bathroom wallpaper will wait until all the trim is installed and painted, but I'm happy to have this initial section finished!  

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