Saturday, April 30, 2011

That New Construction Smell

The construction portion of the new guest bath is done.  It's my favorite part of a project.  The dust, the noise and the strangers in your house are replaced with the smell of joint compound, new wood and primer.

I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Now my works starts.  I have two new thresholds that need to be stained and finished to match the floors, wood casings need to be spackled and painted...

...walls need to be painted in the dining room...

...and in the kitchen.

I love the view down my mini enfilade but the path and the view is partially obstructed by the TV stand in the living room.  It's been a real challenge figuring out a solution for this but I think I've done it.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Land and Sea -Snug Harbor Farm and Parsons Beach, Maine

Did I tell you I almost killed my toparies?  I was underwatering them and they didn't let me know until it was too late.  I cut them back and they're recovering but I'm not sure they'll ever be the same.  I had to run up to Maine today so I thought I'd stop and see my friends at Snug Harbor Farm.  They're just gearing up for the spring season so I thought I focus on the succulents in the greenhouses.

Blue and orange





Gray and green


Snug Harbor garbage can

On the way back toward Wells, Maine, a thick bank of fog was rolling in off the ocean.  I thought I would turn off and look for the beach.

Down this road which reminds me of France...

...were these beautiful salt marshes.

Over the dunes...

...was the roaring ocean...

I love going to the beach off season when no one is there.  You can pretend, if only for just a few minutes, you're the only person in the world.

Mussel Beach

Dinosaur bones.
I hope you enjoyed this quick little look at Land and Sea in Maine.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guest Bath Construction

By the middle of last week, the center of the house was a disaster. 

The portion of the original floor under the closets was, I believe, the original staircase to the basement (under the second staircase).  The joists that filled in that space were really insufficient for a bathroom so everything got ripped out and replaced.  New engineered joists were sistered alongside a few of the other old joists  just to better carry the weight of a tub full of water. 

By the end of the week, I would get up in the morning, go out my front door, down the sidewalk to the little alleyway, through the arbor and in the back door to take a shower.  The blogarazzi missed their chance to catch me walking down the alley in my PJs and bedhead.  This little charade prevented a battle with the cats who hate the temporary door being closed and sit nearby on high alert waiting for a chance to escape and roll around in the dusty mess.  

But things are looking a little better now.  I did a major cleaning on Friday night so I could use the kitchen for the weekend. 

Here's one side of the kitchen before.

And here's we are as of Sunday.  I had to push the stove down about an inch but I was able to squeeze the dishwasher right into place.   

The center table which is much-needed work space is about a foot too big and I'm going to have to find a solution until I can get to (afford) redoing the kitchen.


Here's the "before" of door on the kitchen-dining room wall.

And here's what that looks like now.  There's a sight line all the way down to the front windows in the living room which I what I love about the upstairs.  A few of you had some suggestions when you saw the floor plans and I'm really considering implementing those ideas.  You are all SO smart!

Here is the view from the living room looking back to the kitchen before.

And here it is now.  The door to the bathroom foyer is on the right.  I can't wait to get that window in there.  Having light come in from both sides of the house will be amazing.

When I first saw what this looked like, I totally freaked out.  I put in an emergency e-mail to The Architects.  Like they could fix it.  I've calmed down a bit and I'm actually liking it.  It's a good thing because I haven't heard back from the slackers.

This was the view looking in to the kitchen before.

I've always detested those double doors but the view is less dated than having to see that sink area from the living room.  In the end, this will look straight down a new kitchen island to the range and range hood which I hope to be a very attractive one.  Flanking that will be glass fronted cabinets with all my nicest serving peices.  It should look great.

Hoping to finish up this messy work so I can take a break in the work for the summer. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Flowers Outside the House

Photo:  Urban Cottage
Bergenia cordifolia

Hi, I'm Bergenia but you can call me Pig Squeak.

The Bergenia has been in bloom for the past week.   It's amazing how quickly the flowers rise from underneath the leaves.  It didn't bloom last year so I was thrilled to see the light pink buds emerging from the waxy leaves.  It also looks to be spreading quite nicely from the two plants in added two years ago.

Photo:  Urban Cottage

I find this a rather odd plant to be growing in New England because I think it looks tropical.

The squirrels finished off my crocuses when they bloomed this spring.  I give up on them.   So this will be my early bloomer from here on in.

For those who asked about the pots in my last post...

They're zinc pots from White Flower Farmhouse.  Found here.

Flowers in the House

A gutted interior can be quite gloomy so I thought I would infuse a little freshness into the space for the beautiful Easter weekend with some fresh flowers.  

I'm actually linking up with Small but Charming's monthly flower party so I thought I'd do something a little fun and different.

One of the old wood posts in the bathroom space had a large vertical mortise cut out of it and it seemed like the perfect place to tuck a few flowers.

I love the juxtaposition of the flowers and the 170-year-old beams.

Glamor shot.

I love having fresh flowers in the house but the cats think they're toys so they usually end up all over the floor.

'Lil Sassy loves them too!

I'll try putting them up out of reach so I can enjoy them.

Check out the Flowers in the House party here

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Bath Demo

Here are a few shots of the kitchen before the demo started.  This door went to the little kitchen closet.  When I ripped out the closets looking for the hidden window, I no longer needed to use this door so the fridge was placed up against it with my portable dishwasher in between to act as my only countertop.  I still have to wonder how housewives managed with no counters.

Don't you love my exhaust fan?  It actually works extremely well.  The new bathroom wall should hit just to the right of the fan.

I moved the fridge over to the other side of the room where it will stay until I can renovate the kitchen.  Just for reference, the doorway on the left goes to the dining room.  The open door on the other side of the fridge goes to the back porch.

The plaster is flying as demo starts.  You can see the hidden window on the right at the top of the basement stairs.  I call that the gnome door because it's about 5', 6" high.  You should see the dents in my head.

We found this little children's plate inside the wall.  It's a metal of some kind and has the alphabet around the rim.  I'm hoping it will clean up a little.

Here's the area opened up.  The door on the left is the basement door.  In the middle is the hallway to the front door and the door on the right is to the living room.  I put up the old closet door and barracaded the hallway just to help isolate the cats from the mess.  They'd be sitting in the middle of it all to see what was going on with their house.

Here's the bracing where that second staircase was attached.  It's still a bit of a mystery.  I don't think the family that lived here would have been wealthy enough to have a maid but the 1880 census gives us a clue.

Click to enlarge

Three lines from the top shows the family that lived in my house in 1880.  This is 17 years before Jennie Ray lived here.  If you missed that story, you can find it here.

You can see Caleb S. Buckman, his wife Sarah, and three children, Maude, Charles and Herbert.  Also living in the house was George W. Hale, a 19-year-old boarder who worked at a stationery store.  I believe the house was built with a rental unit to help defray costs.  The second staircase provided separation of the living quarters.  In my former condo in an 1837 Greek Revival, we had the original contract for the house that included a two-room tenement above the kitchen at the back of the house.  I think this was a similar situation.  Imagine, six people lived in this 1200-square-foot house.  And they probably only had one outhouse!

Interesting to this side story, I found Caleb Buckman on in someone's family tree.  I e-mailed the owner of the tree who turned out to be Herbert Buckman's great great grandson who lives in a suburb of Boston.  He told me that Caleb and Sarah soon divorced and he ran off leaving her with the kids and was  never heard from again.  (I like to think that Sarah was a cougar and took up with the strapping young boarder.)  I was hoping he would have photos of my house and he was hoping I had information about his deadbeat great, great grandfather.

Anyway, back to this photo.  The vertical boards aren't studs; they were added as a base to attach the lathe to.  The area between those boards is plaster.  This was done as a way of insulating.  After the sheathing was placed on the outside of the house, lathe was nailed to the back of the sheathing and the inside of the cavaties were plastered to provide insulation.  

Remember when I did the exterior of the house...

...and it was all opened up?  That was necessary to remove all that lathe and plaster so that insulation could be blown in.  I'll eventually have to take all this out so it can be insulated properly.

Back to the mess.  Note the strip of floor between the masonite on the left and closet floor to the right.  That's the original finished floor.  It doesn't seem to be finished or painted unless the paint was more like stain.  It's gray but you can also see the path worn into the floor where people walked in and out of the kitchen.  I'm very attracted to that area.  If I could only touch it to soak up their stories.

This wall that's being opened up is the gable end of the main house.  We were going to put a reinforcing beam under the original beam to redistribute weight to new posts below.

Here is that beam.  A huge hunk was cut out of it somewhere along the line.

This shows the piece that's missing.  On the left, the beam is sitting on the door frame from the kitchen to the dining room.  On the right, the leftover stump was left dangling off the post (at the arrow) on the outside wall.

That's it for today.  I may post more Sunday but I hope everyone has a great weekend and Happy Easter.