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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Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Never Ending Door Project

This week, one of our painters accused me of being a masochist.  And he might not be wrong.  Sigh....

You see, I love old doors.  In Maine they're typically made of Douglas Fir and they're absolutely beautiful if they're not painted.  But every one of ours is painted.  All 15 of them.  Layers and layers of paint over many, many decades. 

I've stripped doors on some other houses and know it's a big job.  But I was up to the task!  I decided to make my life a bit easier and bought a Cobra Speedheater infrared stripper.  It heats the old paint up so you can easily scrape it in long pieces, eliminating lead dust and it doesn't heat hot enough to vaporize the lead paint.

But even with that advantage, it took me over 30 hours to do one side of one door.  And I still needed dental tools to dig out paint in some of the crevices.  Yikes!

The next door I used a combination of the Cobra and a non-toxic paint stripper and that took the time down to about 15 hours.  A huge improvement!  But I wasn't as happy with the finished product.  It's a bit blotchy (and the top rail is pine, which looks odd next to all the Douglas fir).  

And since I have bathrooms to tile and wallpaper to hang - I'm  not going to have time to do all those doors when we move in (or maybe never is what my husband is thinking! πŸ˜‚). So for now, my painter and I have agreed he will paint the backs of the doors - but the fronts that we see all the time will not be painted and will just wait for me to get to them. 

It's a compromise and will look a bit odd - but it feels like a plan!


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Thursday, November 2, 2023

The Beauty of Old and New Hardwood Floors

Back in the old days – BC (Before Covid) – there was a logical sequence to the different contractors that renovate a house.  But with the shortage of labor and skilled trades, I’m constantly pivoting the schedule when a trade suddenly becomes available, even if it's not the best timing.  


Case in point, the hardwood floors.  We wanted to get the new kitchen flooring installed, sanded and a coat of finish on it before the cabinets got installed.  But we weren’t really ready to have all the floors done.


But when our amazing flooring guy called to say they could come the next week to do the whole house – well of course we said yes.  And we pivoted and got everything ready for them (and put everything else on hold).  That's just how it works these days.


We could only save the original floors in 2 rooms – the living room and the bedroom at the top of the steps. They stitched in new red oak for the rest of the house and it’s amazingly similar.  Our guess is the floors were done 70 years ago, so I'm still surprised they look so similar!


Aren’t the floors gorgeous???  They make the rooms glow, as the early morning sunlight floods the rooms.  

The room we were really curious about was the sunporch.  Part of the room had 5” wide Douglas fir.  The rest of the room had 3” wide fir flooring – except for the section next to the window which was 2 ¼” oak (they used whatever they could find!).  

Sunporch floor 

It didn’t sand up perfectly.  In fact we’re down to the nails in some areas, which means we’re at the tongue (of the tongue and groove) and can’t go any further.  But we’re okay with that.  This is a porch and probably had lots of weather hitting the floor at different times in its history.  We like the character that the floor shows.  One of these days we’ll have to replace it completely, but for now we’re going to celebrate its history.

I immediately covered all the floors, to protect them until we get a bit further along in the project.  So I'm glad you got a peek at them now! 

New Kitchen Floor and doorway to Sun Porch (aptly named, because look at the sun!!)


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