Our Wolfeboro Home Renovation Begins!

My husband and I didn’t plan on adding on to our historic home in Wolfeboro so soon, but you know what they say about best laid plans! If you missed my first blog post about our renovation, check it out for a full explanation about how we got ourselves involved in an addition so soon after we completed a major renovation. Here’s the post: Wolfeboro Historic Home Renovation Round 2

Wolfeboro NH historic home renovation

And so it begins! The site work guys have arrived and excavation began this week.

To a homeowner, excavation seems like one of the less interesting parts of construction. It’s hard to visualize your dream home or addition emerging from a hole in the ground and most of us are just eager to move on to more exciting things, such as framing. Hopefully, the pros working on your project are a little more patient because the foundation is one of the most important pieces of every project. The height of the concrete floors, the exact location of the walls, and the right dimensions are all essential, particularly with additions. If measurements are off in any way, chances are good that you will be chasing problems the rest of the way through the construction.

Old houses offer their own unique challenges. None of the existing measurements are exact, framing varies and — in our house —  175 years of settling has affected things as well.

detail quote

We spent last Friday painstakingly measuring grades and floor heights. We needed to check and double check that measurements were correct to accommodate staircases and ceiling heights. Most of all, we needed to make sure we will be at the same floor height from the existing structure to the new addition when we connect the two sections.

Attention to detail is crucial. For example, we decided to shift the entire structure to the right by 8 inches. Seems like 8 inches wouldn’t matter, right? But I knew we needed to have a 30 inch finished interior wall in order to have built-ins fit right in the connection piece between the original home and the addition. Knowing this was one of our key dimensions, I had this on our checklist and lo and behold, we were off by 6 inches. As a result, we decided to do the shift to 8 inches… just in case!

Excavation should finish this week and looks like the foundation will be sometime the following week. I’ll keep you updated as the project progresses! (I promise the photos will get more interesting as rooms start to take shape).

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My New Favorite Exterior Railing

Are you giving your exterior railings the attention they deserve? Exterior railings are often viewed as a building code requirement rather than an important design element, but the right railing can be the perfect finishing touch.

Here are a few general considerations:

• Style and Design: The style of the railings should be in keeping with the style and design of your entire home. Be careful not to go too contemporary (wire or Plexiglas panels) if this does not fit the house. If your railing has balusters, pay attention to the scale (especially the posts — nothing looks worse that posts that are too skinny!)
• Materials: What are your priorities? Low maintenance? The look? Be sure to pick a material that meets your needs.
• Cost: The cost runs the gamut!! Determine the “feel” and style you are looking for and then price out a few different alternatives.

If your railing is going on a deck or porch that offers great views, you have a whole set of additional considerations. Here in New Hampshire, building codes call for an exterior railing height of 42″, which can really interfere with sight lines! To make the most of a gorgeous view, select railing materials to keep the view open.

One of my very favorite railings is this one from a recent project in Wolfeboro.

Wentworth Style favorite exterior railing

We added a wonderful deck that runs the full length of the house and a large screened porch so the owners could enjoy their spectacular lakefront views. Whether sitting outside or looking out the (many!) windows from inside, we wanted to keep the view open.

The home has a “cottagey” look. Typical balusters would match the style of the house, but the long deck might have felt a bit like a playpen with all those balusters! Fortunately, this client has a great sense of funky style and was willing to be a bit creative.

The end result was a railing designed using cedar and galvanized metal architectural mesh. Working with the local building supplier, the builder on the job found me the perfect scale of mesh (and met my challenge of wanting squares- not rectangles – as the grid pattern!). The cedar is low maintenance and will gray to become just the right color. Staying with code, a 4” space was added below the top rail and off of the deck – reducing the visual mass of the panels. Of course, we sized the top rail so it is the perfect landing place for a glass of iced tea!

We ended up loving this design so much, I carried it through to the interior railing detail. Instead of cedar, we will be wrapping the posts in pine and painting them white to match the other trim and woodwork finishes inside of the house.

What do you think? Do you like this railing or have other great railings to share? Feel free to comment!

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New England Home Design Treasures: Cornish Trading Company

People who know me laugh when they hear me say this: I hate shopping. Really.

But I DO love exploring and discovering the just right thing, for the just right space, for the just right feel in a home. I stand by my philosophy that your home is a special place that should be filled with special touches that just bring a smile to your face.

You may find things that you like in chain stores, but I feel the really special items are found in one-of-a-kind shops that tend to be off the beaten track. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite New England sources for home design treasures in the months to come, but I wanted to start with one of my MOST favorite places. Now that spring is here, the Cornish Trading Company in Cornish, Maine has re-opened for the season.

Cornish Trading Company source for Wentworth Style

The Cornish Trading Company is amazing. There is a wide array of styles (or what I refer to as “levels of rustic”. Some things will work great for a seasonal camp – other items for that renovated old home – others for a more traditional home that needs something a bit out of the ordinary).

It’s a co-operative shop (meaning multiple dealers) run by a great couple, Mike and Lisa Fulginiti. Their energy and creativity is clearly well represented by the dealers they let participate in the store. And as I spoke to Mike the other day, he was planning his trip to this spring’s Brimfield Antique Flea Market. This means more treasures on the way to Cornish!

Below is a shot of a wonderful new treasure… it’s an 1800’s clock that hung on the Town Hall in Morrisville, Vermont. Not sure this will end up inside or outside of the North Main Street project but watch for it… it will end up somewhere!

Oversized clock found by Patty Cooke at Cornish Trading Company

Here’s the link to their web site: www.cornishtrading.com.  And make sure to make a day of it with lunch or dinner at the BEST restaurant … Krista’s! www.kristasrestaurant.com (Save room for the chocolate cake!!!)

unusual home furnishings Wentworth Style

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Decorating with Vintage Postcards

antique photos for decorating

A client recently asked me if I knew of a good place to find antique photos of summer life in New Hampshire. Her question made me realize how much I love decorating with vintage postcards. The postcards not only have some wonderful images… they often have a “story” on the other side. It is fun to see the wonderful, script handwriting, the date of the postmark, where they were sent, and the personal messages that often tell great stories of days gone by.

I usually find vintage postcards in antique stores or even some consignment shops. Though the quality can vary, the postcards often are in great old frames. When hung up in a grouping they look wonderful! Antique postcards can also be eye-catching “filler” for small, odd sized spots where there is not room for a large piece of artwork, but the space needs something.

I often select a few cards and have them framed at the local framing store. I typically do these in a long, vertical shape as a way to fill a thin area of wall space that needs some interest.

On a recent project, I took my decorating with vintage postcards a step further. The kitchen on this project had “bin” style drawers with glass fronts. You’ve probably seen these drawers filled with dried beans or pasta (or sometimes flour or nuts) to create the look of an old-fashioned farm kitchen. Well… I didn’t want to do that! So first, I put in a bunch of antique doorknobs left over from the project. It looked pretty good… but I was worried that the weight of these (heavy!) old knobs couldn’t be good resting against the glass.

So… I selected a few antique postcards I had of Wolfeboro, NH. I took them to a copy center and enlarged the images. Then I inserted the enlarged vintage postcards in the drawer fronts. I made sure to use color images to add zip to the lower section of cabinets. They draw your eye from across the room and add a fun bit of local history to an old house.

Take a look…

decorating with enlarged vintage postcards

enlarged vintage postcards in kitchen

What do you think? Could you picture decorating with vintage postcards in your home? Click the comments link at the top of this post to start a conversation if you are viewing this post from the home page of the blog, or scroll down to leave comments and share the post if you are on the main page for the post. Can’t wait to hear from you!

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