Sunday, January 11, 2015

Restoring Charm

       Remodelista:  A Bewitching Old Stone House                                                            Old House Dreams

                                  In the Fields                                                                  Madeline Stuart

I was talking with someone about renovating an old house a few months ago and I came to
the conclusion that my goal isn't always "renovation" as much as it is "restoring charm."  One 
of the things I love about old houses are the details, sometime quirks, that they have.

Darryl Carter's Living Room

Darryl Carter, same room, different view

Some of my favorite details are shutters and moldings.

(While Darryl's shutters seem more decoration than original details, I like how he's paired
the shutters with roman blinds of the same color as a window treatment.  I also notice he
typically uses shutters that cover about 2/3 of the window.  I need to add, I love this room!)

Shutters, in particular, are really common on old New England houses.
I wish I could find the photographs of my old condo; it had shutters that
folded back into the wall.  I'll show you if I can find them.

This is one the charming old houses in Marblehead, Massachusetts that
looks still has its original shutters.

Shutters are also great for privacy if your house is right on the street.

I believe my house was originally built for laborers so there aren't a lot 
of fancy details; in fact, in typical Yankee style, the detailed mouldings
were installed only in the living room where guests would see them.

Now that I've replaced all of the windows downstairs, I thought adding shutters 
to all the windows would be a way to add charm and provide a privacy solution 
since my house is so close to the street.  So last summer I took down my drapes 
and rods so I could try living with the windows open and uncovered during 
the day.  I found that when it's light outside, you really can't see in at all.

I had just a few months earlier, seen Loi install shutters in his Maine house
so I contacted his source, Shutterworks in Lewiston, Maine, to see if they'd (A)
provide me an estimate and (B) be willing to work with me long-distance.
The price seemed really good and yes, if I measured carefully, they would
make the shutters and I would drive up to pick them up so save shipping costs.

Fred at Shutterworks does almost every style of shutter imaginable 
so my task was to choose something that "fit" the house.  I decided to
base the shutter panels for the windows on the panels in my tiny basement 
door which I believe to be original to the house.

Just to make sure I liked it, I asked Fred to make
me up a sample so I could see what it looked like.

And the "Urban Cottage" shutter was born.

I carefully measured each of the windows--three times each--and
sent the measurements off to Fred.  I think it took about two months
for building and painting the shutters and I drove up to Lewiston the
week before Christmas to pick them up.

And here they are!

Fred works with a painter so I was able to get them spray painted before the pairs
were assembled.  I used Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray.

So my first project of the year is getting these installed.

I'm looking forward to the old New England charm these 
will bring to my downstairs.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

I always think of my grandmother on New Year's Day.  She was a very superstitious woman 
even though I now suspect many of her beliefs were made up to keep my brother and me in line.  
But she was clear about New Year's Day:  what you did on this day determined your fate for 
the next year.  Things such as cleaning the house or doing laundry would certainly doom you 
a year filled with endless housework for the next year.  I wish she were still alive today so I 
could get some clarifications on things such as painting window mullions, blogging, cooking, 
or even eating for that matter, because I don't know if these are positive or negative endeavors.

I'm also not sure where she would fall on issue of undecorating the Christmas tree.  It certainly
includes a cleaning component.  But this New Year's Day has become my traditional day to
undecorate and take down the tree.  There's just something about cleaning up, putting away and 
cleaning up that feels to me like a good way to start a new year.  And, even if she would claim it's wrong, I would argue it's a perfect way to spend a few moments thinking of her.

However you spend this first day of the year, I wish you best throughout the new year!