Friday, September 30, 2011

Before and After: A house gets a facelift

peek of my new window seat

I wanted to share with you our summer project now that I have downloaded about 3 months worth of photos from my digital camera.  We knew we needed a portico for our "flat-faced" house after the never ending winter of last year.  The relentless snow and ice made entering our home a mission impossible particularly on our front porch.  The bricks were slick and the icicles threatened any and all who dared to enter.  We needed to tackle this problem before another winter was upon us. It also gave us an excuse to give our house a little face-lift with some much needed architecture.

A portion of the house before

This is the best "before" picture I could come up with.  Half the house is out of view on the left but you get the idea. It is a rambling mid-century multi-level with beautiful gardens in the back and a really lovely layout inside.  The outside did not match the inside and this was the time to remedy that.  We worked with our friend, Nile Ziemba, of Northriver Builders  to develop a vision for the front of the house.  He was able to pull together the three separate parts of our house and make them flow as one piece ( like they did inside our home). Of course our project grew from just a portico to "let's do the front of the house over" but that is what happens when you work with a design builder who has some pretty neat ideas.  

our house after
Now you can see that the house flows from one end to another.  He gave us architectural details that finally gave the house an identity.  We removed the one car garage that was in the middle portion of the house and repurposed it as a much needed mudroom.  We replaced the windows with larger ones and added more of our beloved window boxes to the house.  


As you can see, I did get my portico.  I just love the chunky corbels and the curved eyebrow above the door.  I can't say enough good things about the entire process, particularly about the lead carpenter, Andre Finn.  His work and craftmanship was amazing, we were sad to see them finish the project.

Side view of house

Above the new bay window you might notice the exposed rafters and the trellis to the side.  Next year, you'll see some climbing hydrangea making it's way up the walls.  We did have to rethink some of our landscaping because once the beautiful corbels came into play, we didn't want to hide them with overly large bushes.  Instead we went to lower profile shrubs in the front beds.

new walk way

As they say, "It takes a village" and it did in our case.  Ben Gifford created our beautiful "old" rock wall and brick pathway leading to the mudroom.  He was able to create a nice flow from the old brick stairs and patio to the new doors leading to the mudroom and back gardens.  His rock wall sits in front of what used to be the third garage  ( I believe it was original to the house before the add-ons). 

another view

Added bonus

With the addition of new windows came the ability to create a window seat in my living room.  It looks out onto my front gardens and has proved to be a comfortable spot for a cup of tea.  I worked with Mary Bablitch from Phillips Design in Concord to design the window treatments and window seat cushion.  I couldn't be happier.

front stoop

So glad to finally be able to share our summer project.  It's almost complete - we need to finish the driveway and then it's a wrap.  For now, I think I'll grab my art books, a cup of tea and sit in my sunny, comfortable window seat.

See you next week,

Ellen ~

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sunday Strolls ...

signs of autumn

It has been quite some time since my last post. I blame it all on the summer.  Once upon a time, summer seemed endless but now it is action packed and frightfully quick.  Most of our summer was spent doing renovations on the house - now that seemed endless!  I'm pulling those photos together and will showcase those before and after pics next week.  For now, I've got a fun new find (for me that is) that I want to share with you.  It's a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I stumbled across it by accident on the way to September's Brimfield Antique Market.  Let me show you how that turned out ...

vintage duck making get away

It rained and it rained and it rained some more.  We got there on Friday and the poor vendors had had it.  Many of them spent the majority of the week under 8 inches of rainfall.  Their stock was sunk in the mud and their spirits seemed that way too.  This little antique duck pretty much said it all ... I've got to get out of here so might as well swim!  The sun finally arrived on Friday (the same time we did - is it a coincidence?) and we did do a little shopping ...

Sweet little table 

I found this sweet little table at the tent of Tula Antiques.  We met the proprieter, Lisa Bobinski and spent some time chatting and checking out her fabulous finds ( there were many).  She told me that she also sells her finds at the SoWa vintage market on Sundays and that we should make an afternoon of it one day.  I was intrigued ... SoWa! you say?  I need to know more but first I need to take this table home with me ...

my new table
Here it is happily at home in my living room!  

SoWa Vintage Market Poster

I found out that the SoWa Vintage Market is THE place to be on a sunny Sunday morning or afternoon. 
It is a super cool venue where you find an eclectic bunch from artists to gourmet food trucks and farmers to  vintage furniture, decor and clothing vendors.  It is crawling with hip people and their babies and pets. It is located in the South End of Boston between Albany Street and Harrison Avenue.  They neighbor the Pine Street Inn if that helps to point you in the right direction.  I have to say that it has been awhile since I've spent time in that area and was pleasantly shocked to see just how beautiful the buildings and surroundings have become.  Boston has some pretty cool architecture and great old mill buildings.  It is so nice to see these places put to great use. 

ceiling of the parking garage - pretty cool isn't it?

Sowa Vintage Market

So off I went with my friends,  Grace and Alice.  The parking is easy and cheap and it is very easy to get to.  We had an awesome afternoon and would recommend that you take a friend, your husband or wife and even your kids.  There is something for everyone... food, art, antiques, people watching, farmer's market, small start up companies and even live music to accompany you.  They are open only on Sundays from 10-4 and only until December 18th.  I have it on good authority (Lisa from Tula Antiques) that the holiday market is fab!

at the Farmer's market

veggie stand

creative flower crates

honey jars

this way to the vintage market

Once you get through sampling all the delicious goodies on offer at the farmers market then you follow the signs in to the vintage market.  Once you get there - it is an entirely different world filled with lovely artist studios, boutique shops, gourmet food trucks and the Vintage Market located in the brick mill building.  

Tula Antiques at SoWa Vintage Market

Now we are back where we started at Tula Antiques but in SoWa and not Brimfield.  Take a look at that interesting mirror - you may just see it hanging in my house!  This is one of the first vendors you encounter when you walk into the building.  It makes for a great start.

elegant painted tables

inside the vintage market

This picture is a bit blurred but only because it was a bee hive of activity with so many people on the move.  It's organized chaos of the best kind.  We are going back soon - well, very soon because we have to pick up those totally cute tables in the picture above.  I hope you check it out -  you won't be disappointed!

Our Concord Grapes
I couldn't resist showing off our first batch of Concord grapes.  We planted our vines (thank you Ephraim Wales Bull) two years ago and this is our first season of honest to goodness fruit!  We had more fun picking the grapes and eating them right off the vine.  

Next week, I will show you some pretty great before and after pictures of our summer project here in Concord.  Until then - have a great week!