Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Creating a Ceiling That Makes a Statement

The odd thing about our house is that every room has a different ceiling height.  When we bought the house, the majority of the rooms had 7' 4" ceilings, so we have done our best to eke out any additional height that we can.  Some had a bit more expansion space, some a bit less.  And we got a bit carried away in the kitchen, where accessing the old attic space provided us with 14 foot ceilings.  This seemed so extreme compared with the rest of the house that we lowered it to a more manageable 11 feet.


As a reminder, here was our starting point in the kitchen.


Original Service Porch - will be eating area & mud bench soon

I do love the tall ceiling.  But even with the reduced height, the kitchen ceiling just seemed like a huge expanse of boring white drywall.  It needs to be more interesting!   So we set out to change it.


Since the original kitchen was covered in beadboard (very typical in old Maine cottages), we wanted to incorporate that original style.  But I have to admit, real beadboard can drive me crazy as it expands and shrinks with the seasons, creating lots of gaps.  My favorite solution is to install beadboard panels, so you only have a seam every 4 feet.  Kyle started with the top of the ceiling and then moved down the angled walls.


He 'picture framed' the edges to provide a finished edge, but also to provide a bit of expansion/shrinkage space for the panels. 

We also wanted to utilize the original joists that came out of the ceiling.  My husband cleaned them up and sealed them.

Original Kitchen Ceiling Joists

Then he held up a sample on the top ceiling, so we could decide if we liked them.  It got an enthusiastic thumbs up! Next step was to figure out the spacing.


The joists had to be carefully cut to exactly fit the angled ceiling.


Don't you love how they add a bit of character to the ceiling?  What a change to a big, boring expanse of white drywall! 

Ultimately the beadboard will all be painted white, in a satin finish.  The beams will get carefully wrapped to keep their original patina.  And the result?  Well, we can't wait to see it!  Pin It

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Progress Report

There is so much going on at the house now, it's hard to figure out how to share it all.  So here's a quick update. 


The drywall is done  - woo hoo!  And with the walls in place, you can get a sense of the new spaces.  The living room has a new sliding door that will go to a deck.  And you can see the new exposed beams.

What used to be a service porch is now part of the kitchen.  This will include a banquette under the window and a mud bench next to the door to the sun porch and garage.  We moved the door to the right and now we can see out to the backyard.  I love that extra peek of sunlight!
This bedroom probably doesn't look much different - but we moved the windows to create a bit of symmetry on the front of the house and accommodate some new structural posts on the other wall.


We got skylights!  The kitchen is on the west side of the house and is pretty dark until late afternoon.  With the addition of two skylights, it's a real game changer!  Look at that sunlight coming in!

And my painter has come in and primed everything, painted the ceilings and done a first coat of final paint color on the wall (color - Sherwin Williams White Flour, a warm white).  At long last, we can really see the rooms and it's looking so good!

Sunroom (aptly named - it faces east and gets the morning light!)


Home office

The flooring guys are stitching in new red oak to match the original red oak floors.  My guess is the old floors were installed in the 1940's, yet when we did a test patch to see how well they integrate with the new red oak - we were thrilled at how similar they are. 


The kitchen floor has already been sanded and a coat of sealer applied.  That's so the cabinets can be installed, which will be a really exciting milestone next week. 


A couple of weeks ago it felt like we were stalled - and now suddenly it's full steam ahead!  Stay tuned for even more progress as we move forward.  And as always, thanks for following along on our journey! 






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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Bunk Room Plan

At our last house, we quickly discovered that having a bunk room for all of the grandkids to hang out was a big hit (it also made bedtime easier, because they were excited to all sleep in the same room - big plus for their parents!!).   And I confess, I adore decorating a room for kids.  It's so much fun that I've made more progress planning this room than any of the others! πŸ˜‚

The bunk room in this house is a long, narrow room.  On the long blank wall, we will have two sets of bunk beds.  For the bunks mounted to the wall, each bunk will have its own built in bunk light.  We are hoping that will encourage old-school reading vs. computer games!


On the opposite wall, under the window we'll have an open bookcase that can handle lots of books and toys.  And there was a tall narrow dresser left in the house that I'll paint and repurpose for this room. 


The funky closet with the peaked roof is original (it used to lead to attic space over the kitchen - which is now a vaulted ceiling).  The grandkids call it their 'secret room'!


I'm really excited about the bedding for the bunks.  It's a whale print from Maine designer Sara Fitz (from LL Bean).  With girls and boys sharing the room, I wanted something that was unisex - and these whales are perfect!  Isn't the whale cute?


For wallpaper, I chose this Anna French print.  This wave pattern will make a great accent on the long wall.


I scored these great Julie Bernier prints at Art in the Park a couple of weeks ago - they'll be perfect to add some charm to the room. 


And last, but not least, I found this hand crocheted giant squid on Ebay.  I plan to twine him around the bunk beds.  He's soft and cuddly, he's sure to be a big hit with the kids! 

With the fun room figured out, I guess I need to get to work on the other spaces! 


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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

And Then There Were Walls!!!!

There are a lot of big milestones on a renovation project, but few more exciting than getting the drywall installed.  Farewell ugly old lumber, plumbing pipes, insulation, HVAC and electrical wire (although they make up a big chunk of our budget, it seems a shame to hide them!) and hello nice clean drywall! 

This was a complicated project, with lots of angles and special cut outs.  But the guys were up for it and did a beautiful job with the installation.  

These beams will be exposed on the ceiling (still trying to figure out how to hide the toilet flange!)



Then Dan came in and did all the mud and tape, to create beautiful seamless walls.


Finally we can see how everything is taking shape!  Next up is priming the walls and then the flooring goes in.  Woo hoo!  Pretty stuff coming soon!





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Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The Last Hurrah

Sure, we thought all demolition was done and we were on our way to getting the house finished.  And then we came up with yet another change, that unearthed a mass of problems.

There is a sun porch on the back of the house that connects the kitchen, garage, back deck and dining room.  It seems like it was added as an afterthought to connect the different spaces.  The roofline is weird.  None of the doors match (and there are 6 of them!) and the flooring has two different types of wood (we think one is fir and the other heart pine - and they will both be beautiful when they're finished! But the combo is quirky).

Great views of the backyard gardens

Doors to deck, dining room and kitchen

The room faces north and east.  It gets the first sun in the morning, making it bright and inviting for a first cup of coffee to start the day.  It's not big, but it looks out over the (soon to be) gardens and has lots of privacy.


This room has two phrases that cost lots of money in every renovation: 1) It has so much potential (seriously, how many times have I said that about a house? πŸ˜‚. You would think I know that means trouble!). 2) While we are at it, we should just do this too.  You might as well start hearing the Jaws theme music with those two phrases, because it really means trouble. 

So while the drywall is getting installed in the rest of the house, the guys started changing the roofline to make it match the rest of the ell addition.  And sure enough, that's when we found problem #1 - Carpenter ants.  Lots and lots of carpenter ants had destroyed the corner of the room and they went scurrying far and wide as they pulled back the sheathing.  


Sigh.....carpenter ants.....again......they went scurrying away!
So needless to say, we had to investigate further.  And that's when we found the roof must have had a major leak at some point and the other corner was disintegrated from dry rot.
This disintegrated into dust when we opened it up

Sometimes, it's faster to just tear it apart and start over and that was true in this case.   

Farewell rot and ant damage!!

The guys quickly got it framed up with a roofline that matched the rest of the house. 

No big surprise, but the sill was rotted out as well




And while I love how it looks from the outside with the nice, consistent roofline -  once it was framed, we started to realize just how amazingly different the interior space had become.  With the tall cathedral ceiling, it feels like a totally different space.   The guys got electrical wrapped up last week - now it's on to getting some walls in!  Woo hoo - can't wait!!

Look at those tall ceilings!!!



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Wednesday, August 9, 2023

What Color Will the House Be?

 Hands down, this is the question we hear the most (followed by 'when will it be finished' πŸ˜‚).  And the exterior color is not something we take lightly.  Choosing an exterior paint color is a big deal and will be a color we live with for a very long time. 


Often with an old house, you look back in history to see what colors it has been in the past.  We know from some early photos that it was both a very light color (possibly white) and also a dark color.  We also found some very old clapboards that have been buried on the interior of the house for 70-100 years that could give us hints. 

But honestly, I hate these colors!!!  This old color chart from Portland Paints shows two of these colors -Light Drab and Green Stone (what marketing guru would ever name a color drab!!!).  I just can't imagine painting our house either of those colors!  And since the house was built with scraps and leftovers from other houses, who knows if these color were original to our house - or came from some other nearby home that had extra materials that were added piecemeal to ours.

Photo courtesy: Scott Hanson, Restoring Your Historic House


So with that in mind, we will not be using a color from the house's past.  Instead, we will pick our own color.  Which is a good thing, because we want to use James Hardi siding - a cementitious siding that guarantees the color for 15 years (we used it on a house 14 years ago and it still looks great!).  It's available in a smooth finish, which many historic districts will accept for the appropriate old house look.  But it is limited to a set of color selections.


We are installing lots of nice white trim, including the original front porch, which we'd like to highlight. But I'm reluctant to choose a dark color, so I started looking for something off white or a creamy color, that would still allow the white trim to 'pop'.  When we recently visited our daughter, I fell in love with the house across the street.  They were kind enough to share a paint chip and I used that to pick a color.  I lined up the paint chip with all the Hardi siding colors in that palette, to make a decision.


And that's where it got interesting.  The color I like is 'Cobblestone' by James Hardi.  What I realized was I've used it twice in the past.  Am I in some sort of exterior color rut??  Obviously it's a color I like!!  

James Hardi 'Cobblestone' Smooth Lap Siding

James Hardi 'Cobblestone' Smooth Lap Siding

But I still drive by these houses all the time and I still really like the color.  So it's safe to choose it again!  Cobblestone clapboards will be coming soon!




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