Wednesday, January 31, 2024

New Project - The Charming Cottage

We moved into this house for what we thought would be 9 months, while we renovated a home for ourselves.  18 months later, we've finally moved out and can start renovating this sweet place.  We loved living here - great neighbors, walkable to everything and a fabulous, private backyard. 

The guys keep joking that this is the nicest SoPo Cottage house we've ever bought.  It doesn't have all the major challenges that many of our projects do.  But after living in it for awhile, I've got a good idea what needs to be changed to make it work better for modern living.  First thing that needs change - this kitchen!!


I shared some photos when we first moved in, but here is the whole set of 'Before' photos as well as a few 'After' of the exterior.  I got impatient and we updated the roof and siding while we were living there!!!

The foyer is pretty tight as you come through the front door, but you quickly note the wide staircase and the fireplace wall in the living room.


The entry always seems a bit dark, even on a sunny day

The living room is a nice size with multiple windows and original oak floors.  We installed an electric fireplace while we lived there, but our plan is to return it to a wood burning fireplace and move the electric one to the basement.


The dining room is charming.  The French doors open to a brick patio in the backyard.  


The previous owners added heat pumps - and while I hate the look of them, they're a nice addition for heating and cooling.

It has two built in corner hutches, one full size and the other is built over the back of the firebox.


The kitchen is surprisingly large for the 1940's (isn't that when women were the only occupants and there were doors hiding it from view?πŸ˜‚).  And I'm pretty sure these are the original cabinets.  They may have been great in their day, but they are only 30" tall (vs. 36" for modern cabinets), which our counter surfing dog thought was fantastic!!! 





I don't think the sink is original - probably a 1950's or 60's update.  After using it for the last year an a half, I can tell you it's a workhorse of a sink.  We'll talk a lot more about the sink soon!

Upstairs is a really small bathroom.  And yet oddly, the dimensions of the room aren't bad, it's just the layout that makes it so tight.  We can fix that!



There are two street facing bedrooms that are almost the exact same size - so I'm not sure which you would call the 'primary'.   

Bedroom 1:


Bedroom 2:


The third bedroom is small (my husband used it as his office), but it would be great as a child's room with a twin bed.


And then there's the basement!  The basement is like a time warp - my parents would have called it the 'rec room'.  It has all the hallmarks of the 50's and 60's - Pickwick Pine paneling, a big fireplace and a built in bar.  I'm guessing there have been some great parties down there! And it could be whatever the new owners want - a kids playroom, a man cave, craft room or large home office.  It's versatile!

Check out that bar!!! 


The back of the basement has the laundry, utility sink, boiler and lots of storage. 


But the basement has one other feature - a half bath!!!  Isn't it a thing of beauty?  Now that's vintage!!


And of course there is the exterior.  We updated the old siding with blue vinyl and PVC trim (aka no maintenance) last year.  The trellis on the front of the house (and the garage) is from a much older house that was a gift from a lovely friend.  


There is a one car garage with a bump out on the back for extra storage. 


And the backyard is pretty fabulous.  The round brick patio is bordered by stone walls.  The plantings provide amazing spring color with lilacs and beauty bush.  






It's a small yard, so little maintenance is required - and yet it has fantastic privacy.

So the guys were right - this is nicer than our usual SoPo Cottage starting point.  But it's going to get even better when we're done!




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Thursday, January 18, 2024

Keeping Antique (or not so antique) Details

Yes, we have moved in.  But we didn't have everything completely finished!  So we are trying to prioritize all the details that really make a house a home.  

First example, the dining room hutch.  

This hutch was in the house when we bought it.  We assumed it was old, but as we worked on the house, we discovered it had a Brosco sticker on the back.....so maybe not that old!  We still order materials from Brosco today.   Nonetheless, we wanted to keep it.  We love how it's built into the wall and provides a focal point for the dining room.  And we can reuse the air duct with our new heat pumps (seriously, it's the little things that I get excited about)  But the hutch needed a bit of updating.


I wanted to insert stained glass panels in the cabinets, complete with lighting for the content.  But the original doors couldn't be easily retrofitted.  So we reach out to local cabinetmaker Steve Foss to create them for us.  He built them of mahogany so they wouldn't warp and would be stable enough for the heavy glass.


As usual, I reached out to the amazing Jim Nutting at Maine Art Glass Studio.  Jim has made so many glass inserts for me over the years and they are always fabulous.  


For this house, I wanted a simple semi-circular design that would have horizontal dividers that would create a clear definition for glass shelves.  I gave Jim this sketch to work from.  For the glass, we choose a simple, antique style that lets you clearly see the contents of the cabinet.

This is what he created!  πŸ’– Aren't they gorgeous????


Kyle and Rich got the glass panels installed and suddenly the hutch looked totally different.

My husband painted the interior of the weekend and then we installed the glass.  


Now I just need to empty all the boxes of treasures that we need to fill these shelves!  But doesn't it already look amazing?  


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Thursday, January 11, 2024

The East Guest Room

 For our first reveal, I'm sharing one of our guest rooms - aka the 'good' guest room (this means our kids will squabble over who gets this room! πŸ˜‚ Further proof that sibling rivalry never goes away).  It's a nice sized room with views of two lighthouses - the famous Portland Head Light and Ram Island Light.  

This room was just one part of the original primary suite.  It was a very large room, probably too big, so we cut it in half.   This room is the right hand side of the photo below.


This side had a cedar closet built in as well as a closet over one of the front windows (Why????).  We opened all of that up to create this bedroom (as well as a hall bathroom next door).   It involved moving the triple window to the right and eliminating the closet to expose the window.  The result is a bright, light filled room all day.

Do you notice what's missing?  Window treatments!  I'm temporarily using them in the living room, until I can get around to making new ones.  Then this room will look more complete.

One of the things I love the most about this room?  The fir door that I stripped down to its original finish.  Doesn't that pop of natural wood look great in this room?  Now I just have to finish the other 15 doors!


In the meantime, this is the door to the room πŸ˜‚.  My painter wanted to make sure he didn't paint the side that would get stripped!

This room has amazing views - of the Portland Head Light and Ram Island Light
Portland Head Light at Dawn 
Ram Island Light after yesterday's big storm

It feels good to have a room sort of finished.  Now I just need to keep working on the rest of the house! 









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