Monday, July 28, 2014

In which we make a groovy discovery

Greg and I spent a large part of the weekend prepping the front of the first floor of the Ocean House for painting.  We were a bit annoyed at how the trim around the door was handled, so Greg ripped it off and I cleaned out the 1960s newspapers that were rolled up and nailed to the interior board to act as insulation. We covered the interior with spray foam insulation and packed pink insulation in around the window above the doors, but not before we documented the incredible construction feature of the front entrance to the building.  

We were told by our favorite previous owner that the sides of the entrance into the front door used to BE the front doors...I kind of believed it, but never thought anything of it.  When we bought the building, these windows you see below were just thin sheets of plexiglass.  New frames were made (twice) and double panes of glass installed

This window frame was covered over with thin cardboard that was stapled to the frame....there must have been quite the draft through there in the winter!

As I removed the rolled up news papers, two things struck that under the 1960s newspapers were trim boards painted metallic silver...groovy!!  and two, that the hinges for the original doors were still in place, meaning that one day 54 years ago, someone just propped open the doors, cut them down, and framed them in standing ajar, creating a new single doorway

 Sorry to say that I sprayed insulation over all of this and then we framed in the doorway with beige trim.  No more groovy silver for the ole girl, she has gone more conservative these days!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

In which....Brambles!

Here are some photos of what I like to think of as the "Brambles" space.  We got together with Lisa in February or so about the space and she really understood our vision for the building and for this space in particular.  We have admired Lisa's business since we found her shop one day in Damariscotta.  When we heard she was moving to Belfast, I thought to myself..."self, this is the beginning of the boom for Belfast if Brambles is moving to town."  And now, we get to have her as our anchor tenant.  The Ocean House will truly be a destination place now! 

As you know, our favorite painter has been working on the ceiling here...four coats of clear fire retardant paint.  The photo below shows the finished product. This is one of those times where I am glad we decided against doing this job ourselves.  I almost passed out trying to paint the first coat of this stuff. My eyes watered and I got dizzy...and was dizzy for the hour after I left the building.  OFP didn't seem to mind though, but he is experienced in applying the coating.  

I am taking the morning off at present to enjoy this quiet morning on the porch listening to the birds and feeling the breeze, but come noon, I will be at the space ready to prime and hope to finish that today.  I spent an hour or so there last night and did the back three walls, so I am confident I can tape and finish the prime coat today.  

We are going to pick up the heart pine flooring on Tuesday. We purchased a five inch wide unfinished solid heart pine floor with random long widths, which seems pretty appropriate for the space.  It has to acclimate for 72 hours before using, so next weekend may be floor weekend.

 I'm glad we replaced the frames on the small windows and added the clear window above the door...the view onto Main Street is the really see what is going on town and my reservations about the front porch darkening the space and taking away from the window view were completely unfounded.  

People watching is great from in here!  

 and there are so many windows and so much light...something that is rare for a retail space in Belfast. 

Progress so far from the hour I spent priming last night...not too bad 

Friday, July 25, 2014

In which I post random thoughts on what is currently happening at the Ocean House

Over the last year I have found a number of old potsherds on the property.  The rain has been uncovering them and they are fascinating to me as a decorative arts historian and a private collections curator, because I come across full pieces of these sherds in almost every auction catalog I get in the mail
The two sherds on the top most like date from the 18th century and they are examples of "Queen's Ware" or creamware...a popular utilitarian ware made in England.
The one on the bottom right is a piece of early 19th century English "Mochaware" with a seaweed decoration on it.  From the shape of the sherd, I think it came from a jug or a mug.  There is a collection of mochaware coming up for sale in a few weeks at an auction in NH.
I can't identify the blue and white sherd, but I think it is also English, made to look like export from China, which was very popular in the period.  These pieces predate the Ocean House by several decades or more in the case of the Queen's Ware.  Fascinating!!

The lower level stucco color is set and looks great!  People have gone out of their way to tell me how great the color is and how much they love that it grounds the building like a brick foundation.

Sorry for the angle, I held my camera up over my head to try and get a good shot of the interior of the first floor.  We emptied it of stuff so that our favorite painter could spray the ceiling with three coats of fire retardant paint.  Tomorrow, the last coat goes on and then we can prime and paint the walls, trim the windows, put in the floor, and get our favorite electricians back to finish up.

The floor in the lower level is a very good fake acacia wood laminate click-and-go floating floor

The lower level is also serving as our painting studio.  Here we have the brackets for the front porch.  Greg just finished painting the ceiling for the porch too.  

Oh, and they started the roof yesterday....YAY!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In which there is little time to post here, but I wanted to share some progress photos.

This is one of those "sorry for not posting in so long" posts.  We have been busy!  

The final foundation coat went on last Thursday.  I immediately thought "Oh shit, what did we do!" It is quite red.

Then a few days passed and I was cool.  This is five days in and I love it!

The North side will take a bit more time to cure.

We still have to back fill here by about 6-8", so really, one won't notice the foundation colors from the front of the building.  But, we decided that the lower level needed a bit of eye catching....and it works!  I really think the brick red was the way to go.   

Greg has been hard at work making the front of the building as adorable as possible.  His railings are gorgeous and so impressive.  The first floor railings are not finished yet, in case you were wondering.  I am trying to get all the old caulk off the boards on the first floor before we prime and repaint.  It is a bitch, but satisfying!

 a shot of the railings on the upper porch

The apartment has been looks like a real apartment now...well, almost

I love all the angles here, they came out well

I spent yesterday faux-ing the new support columns to make them blend in with the old wood

I have also been spending a lot of time in the lower level, painting and getting it ready for flooring.  We were going to stain the floor, but several problems arose.  One, the mudders never put down paper before doing their thing, so the plaster stained the floor.  I spent three days scraping and washing the floor to nice effect, but the stains are still there.  Two, we think a floor will really finish off the space better and make it more attractive and less basement-like. 

This photo shows the walls as yellow, yet they are linen white, but the ceiling is this gorgeous blue that we discovered several years ago.  Nice trim on the windows though.

The colors are better in this photo, but I wanted to show the window trim in the photo above. 

We played hooky yesterday afternoon and had a well-deserved rest on the boat while our favorite painter slapped some toxic fire retardant paint on the ceiling in the first floor space.  

Apparently we will be getting a roof starting tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In which we are official

Putting it out there officially:  We are looking for a renter for the lower level of the Ocean House.  Ideal retail location with off street parking, views of the Harbor, lots of light, heating and AC, 1350 square feet with private bathroom.  Ideal for gallery or retail location.  Space comes with a 250 square foot outdoor terrace space facing Federal Street. ADA accessible.  Building has recently been rehabbed with new windows, doors, insulation, sheetrock, floors, etc.   This is a chance to be in one of Belfast Maine's premiere buildings with lots of visibility.  The incredible Lisa duHamel and her shop Brambles will occupy the first floor.   The space is still in the raw stages, which would give potential renters the option of choosing finishes.

Monday, July 7, 2014

In which there is paint...lots and lots of paint

Thanks to our neighbor Karen for snapping this photo of Greg painting the front of the building yesterday.  I have been laid low with either food poisoning or a stomach bug, so I spent the day in bed and elsewhere in the house.  Greg got two coats of paint done on the upper, hard to reach, half of the building and a single coat on the rest.  In other painting news, we also painted more trim boards over the weekend so that the front of the building can get finished up with trim

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

In which we are feeling the ceiling on the first floor

As I said in a previous post, Greg told me that he would work on the ceiling of the first floor and that he had a plan all worked out to make it look great.  We had a lot of replacements to make to the ceiling above where there were lots of holes and pipes from years past.  After spending several days scouring the wood and getting all the crust off, Greg got the ceilings looking fresh, but still old-y-timey. He decided to blend the old and new with stain.  It took a few tries, but he finally found a formula and technique that worked magic.  
The orange support beam that you see in the foreground is an LVL beam that helps hold up the building.  Greg vows to make it disappear.  

Keep in mind that the "Y" posts are all new, Greg simply applied his magical wood aging process and now they appear to be oxidized the same way the ceiling is.  After he finished, Greg looked at me and said, "see, it looks like our house now...and everyone loves our house!" Which is completely true.  

 Meanwhile I worked getting the old sun blocking film off the big picture windows and wanted to show these photos with all the new double paned glass in place.  A bit of elbow grease and some glass cleaner got the big windows cleaner than they have been in years!

The view straight to Main Street through the front windows

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

In which I don't really have a topic, just photos

So much is going on right now and it is going on so fast that I haven't had a chance to do much more than work and take photos.  
The last couple of weeks was devoted to the Our Town Belfast benefit auction gala, which raised over $12,000 after expenses from all you generous folks.  We had a great time helping, and my dashing husband won best dressed of the evening for his black tie ensemble.  

We have both been fiendishly working on the building around the guys who are trying to finish up the exterior.  Below is a photo taken yesterday, mostly focusing on the dormers, which should be finished by the end of the week.  The stucco foundation is done and is curing before our favorite masons put on the final skim coat.  I have to say, the masons have been a pleasure, nicer guys one couldn't find.  I like that they take pride in their work. 

Speaking of the final skim coat, we had the masons do a couple of color patches for the final coat, I really wanted something that would replicate the pinky brick of the old foundation, but Greg liked the darker red color of a newer brick.  I couldn't wrap my head around this lighter color shown below, even though it matched the pink brick pretty well.  I decided that it would be a bad choice because at some point it will fade and become very pink...bad idea.  The darker will fade as well....and will probably fade to the color I see in my head. 

We had to tent the front of the building last week to remove the probable lead paint from the facade.  We were told that we couldn't scrape the boards down ourselves because of the new laws concerning lead paint removal.  It only took the contractors about half a day to scrape though...the paint pretty much fell right off.  No need for sanding!  It is all ready for us to prime and paint this week.  I might start today on it. 

And, I have been busily priming the lower level space, which is HUGE! Seriously, I cannot believe how big this space turned out to be.  One friendly local came through the other day and told us it was the smartest thing we had done with the building.  I don't know about that, but the space does represent all the hard work that went into this place. 
 temperature wise, it is also the coolest place to work!  

I am saving photos of Greg's work on the first floor space until he gets a bit further.  He essentially told me to concentrate on other areas of the building because he had worked a plan up in his mind for the first floor, and, I must say, his experimentation with blending the new and the old in the space has worked out beautifully.  He spent four days cleaning and washing the ceiling rafters, which made such a difference!  Now he is working on staining the newer boards to resemble the older boards and it is hard to tell which is which.  We have to spray the ceiling with a clear fire-rated paint coating, so he is getting ready for that and then we can prime and paint the walls up there.  Today is July 1 and we have loads of time to finish before September 1.

And....on a bittersweet note, my beloved Little Bohemia will go under contract today.  This was my first foray into real estate investing and it was a learning experience. We will walk away with some money, the beds, and the dishes, which we'll need, so that is still good. I will always love the architecture of this cottage.  I had fun furnishing it and take it as a compliment that the new owners negotiated for all the antiques that I bought for the place.  Luckily, they like the house the way it is and will only make minor a few coats of paint.