Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We're in!

Sorry for the long lapse in time since my last post! We're in. Well...we're mostly in. Of course today is June 30th, which means we will be totally in by midnight tonight. Our lease expires as of July 1st and I still need to go over to the shanty to clean/move out the last remaining items.

The new house feels so big inside! And even though I promised myself not get overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs attention, I have become overwhelmed. No matter how hard you try to see all of the little problems while viewing a house, you can never see all the problems.

One problem with our new place that I didn't really notice while walking through during inspection is the condition of the windows. Most on the second floor are in pretty bad condition. Broken sash cords, chipping paint, just plain bad putty jobs done in the past. We really have our work cut out. But hey...at least they're pretty, right? Hah.

A few annoyances in the electrical system have become apparent as well: both Jon and I have electric toothbrushes, you know those really fancy Sonicare ones? Well, it turns out that the only plug in the only bathroom is connected to the light switch. So the light has to be on for the plug to work, which means our toothbrushes will never charge all the way.

This little electrical issue and the fact that while the claw foot tub is awesome for baths, it's not really all that fun to highstep naked and sleepy-eyed into the shower every morning, have helped us prioritize our 'projects':

First up: gutting the entire secondfloor el (in New England, additions are called els). There is an el on the back of the house that is definitely run down and we've decided to gut it and add a bathroom, closet and master bedroom- making that our master suite. Hopefully the electrician will remember to put the light switch and outlets on different supplies! We are going to gut the room ourselves, and will probably have a contractor help with framing and the roof, which needs to be replaced (plus I really want to add two dormer windows...right Jon?). It's fun to dream about the possibilities. The space is limited, but an extra bathroom (and one with modern conveniences) will be AMAZING. This will wait until after the 4th of July, as my parents and brother will arrive in 2 days! If it's still raining for their visit...I might put them to work. ;)
The cable company came today to turn on our internet and t.v....so the blogging can pick up in pace again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Walk through

Jon and I just had our final walk through in our new house. We close tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. I can't believe it's already here! Seeing the house empty...or nearly empty...reminded us how much work we inherit as soon as we sign all those papers tomorrow. Jon's words while we were walking through the office/guest bedroom were, "Wow, I forgot how much work there is to do." 

Yeah. Me too. 

We have wallpaper to strip in 3/4 of the house. A room to completely gut and redo. A kitchen that needs major overhaul (not sure when we'll be able to afford that little project). A 1/4 bath that needs to become a 1/2 bath (who puts a toilet in a closet, but neglects to add a sink?). Carpets to rip up. Walls to patch and paint. Windows to strip and reputty. Etc, etc. 

We will go from living in a mini-shanty to a normal house with bedrooms! I think I need a drink.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Introducing Porter...Public Enemy #1 to floors and a fur-free existance

I forgot to mention yesterday that my husband and I have an 110 pound Bernese Mountain Dog named Porter. He is such a love and I really can't imagine life without him. That being said...he poses a major design challenge to anything that we might want to do to our house. 

In addition to the ungodly amount of fur he sheds, the 11o pounds of dog carried on four huge paws with a total of 20 claws can do some serious damage to gorgeous old pine floors.

The house has a nice entryway with a curved stairway going to the second floor. The stairs are in beautiful condition. How in the world will we keep them that way with Porter's travel up and down? While I'd love to keep the stairs free of any carpet, I think it will be absolutely necessary if we are to protect the wood from our monster dog. 

I've started researching carpet runners for the stairs, but I'm really not a fan of the normal, run of the mill, oriental-looking runners that you see on most stairs. Because the stairs in our new house have such a gorgeous curve, we'll need something that brings out the architecture, but allows for the curve. (And conceals dirt...)

After scouring Apartment Therapy for stair runners I found a comment listing Thomas Paul as a resource. Some of the patterns are too contemporary, but I love the colors. Here's one that I love:
Unfortunately I don't think it comes in the colors I would need, i.e. dark enough to hide black fur. Also, it's most likely way out of my price range. The search continues. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

4 days and counting

My husband Jon and I moved to Maine exactly nine months and 21 days ago. We moved from Providence, RI where we owned a tiny little carriage house on the East Side. Living in Providence spoiled me. We were surrounded on all sides by gorgeous clapboard homes from the 1800s with precious urban gardens and painstaking homeowners. 

My husband worked at Brown University and I worked in Boston at WGBH's FRONTLINE. My commute was the pits, but we were generally very happy in our little life. A job opportunity opened for Jon at Colby College in Waterville and we couldn't pass it up. So, we packed up our things, sold our carriage house, and moved into a 'temporary' rental in Belgrade, Maine. We've aptly begun calling our rental, "the shanty." It's basically a one-room summer cottage on Belgrade Stream. I imagined we'd live in it for 3 months or so before we were able to find a house to buy. 

Obviously, I was wrong. 

The shanty has kept us dry, mostly, and warm, mostly, but the search for a house to buy was long and excruciating. We had our hearts set on an old home south of Augusta and weren't willing to compromise on our aesthetics. There are plenty of old homes up here, but finding one that hasn't been butchered by previous 'renovators' is close to impossible (especially in a 20-something's price range)! 

After nearly 10 months of searching (we began before we moved to the area), we found a fantastic Greek Revival home in Gardiner, Maine. The home was built in 1840 and is known around town as the N.K. Chadwick home. I've tried finding more about N.K. Chadwick, but so far I've only found that he served on the vestry of his church in the 1800s. 

We are due to close and move in on Thursday, June 25th. We learned from the previous owners' children that the house once served as a small orphanage and as the neighborhood dance hall. I'm sure we'll discover more fun history at the closing!