Renovation

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Welcome to the second half of our Amazing Exterior Renovations blog series, where you get a behind the scenes look at some of the historic homes we’ve had the chance to renovate. Today, we’re diving into some exterior renovations that are a little different — from a lakeside home with a long history of lovely family memories to a Greek Revival renovation in Portsmouth’s South End.

Read on for stunning transformations (and check out Part 1 if you haven’t yet!)…

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Many of our projects begin with a totally clean slate — bringing a client’s vision to life by designing a brand new and completely custom home. But starting from scratch isn’t always necessary. When the location of a home is just right, or an existing home is rich with historic details, a client may choose to renovate instead. Over the years, we’ve had several opportunities to renovate historic homes in stunning locations — blending classic New England charm with the style and needs of a modern family.

Read on to learn more about some of our favorite exterior renovations…

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A beach cottage offers an escape from reality. It’s a place for quality time spent with loved ones, fun in the sun, and relaxation. Of course, the design of such a place should enhance the experience, creating a soothing sanctuary away from the demands of everyday life. That’s exactly what we did when we transformed the master bathroom of a 1950s beach cottage into an open, contemporary, and all-around luxurious retreat.

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Summer is here. Brilliant blues abound; crystal skies, fragrant flowers, and of course – the sea. From 4th of July to days “upta camp,” all of New England is preparing for her greatest season as a regional gem. Vacationland, crisp air, and smoky evenings of glittering stars by the water. The imagery never ends. But there’s a certain imagery that can become a part of your home, all year round: classic waterfront architecture. With a few touches or even full renovations, your exterior can have you dreaming of gorgeous summer days, no matter the season.

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Every house has rooms that live as the center of excitement: the living room, with its vibrant fireplace and sweeping view. The master suite, with its sumptuous comfort and unique textures. Even the bathroom, with its endless possibilities for relaxation and revitalization. All of these fun, enjoyable spaces can soak up all gleams of glamour in redesign and renovation; creative instincts lend themselves to things based in desire rather than pragmatism. The same is true when rebuilding for sustainability: water-saving fixtures in the bathroom, solar heating for the bedroom, double-sealed windows for the living room. Amongst all of these places – unless you’re a chef, of course – the kitchen is forgotten until the cupboards are simply too heinous to be looked at anymore. But before that moment hits, the kitchen’s renovation lives as the frightening undertaking, the one too overwhelming to even consider unless absolutely necessary. To do so in the pursuit of environmentally-friendly living may seem even more exhausting. But with just a few adjustments, the true heart and gathering place of your home can become one that exists sustainably for years to come.

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Appliances are generally first on any hit list for a kitchen. It’s the thing people dream about when house hunting, and it’s the thing least likely to compromise in a design. Naturally, sustainable design calls for appliances designed sustainably, but it can be far simpler than that. Consider the needs of your home in every sense: how much cooking do you do? How much space do you have? How much food do you really need for your family? Scale your appliances accordingly – there is no point in paying an electric bill to cool a refrigerator that’s always half empty, or one filled with food that’s partially forgotten until thrown away. From washing machines to dishwashers to fridges, most European homes have compact machines for this exact reason, while most homes in the United States buy machines designed at an unnecessary size. Using energy-efficient appliances can be brilliant, but they need to be used efficiently, too.

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Custom cupboards always add an effortless elegance to any kitchen. Lines masterfully intended for your own space, finishes artfully created for your own taste; with such specific design, the room can’t help but become a thing of comforting beauty. Of course, there’s an additional pleasure in hiring local craftsmen: getting to experience their process, support their work, and engage in the community. But by simply sourcing local timber for your project, you can elevate a gorgeous design with wonderful execution to being a sustainable one.

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Much like appliances can be energy efficient, but also just efficiently used less, the primary concept of sustainable design is finding ways to allow less to do more. One of the simplest is also one of the most satisfying kitchen aesthetics throughout history: reflective surfaces. Shining whites, sparkling stainless steel, glittering marble; their luxurious glows aren’t solely about appearance. They’re popular in kitchens for their clean lines and sun-soaked appearance, but like most things, they serve a dual purpose. Those shining, sparkling, glittering tendencies also allow less electricity to be used in lighting a space by accentuating its natural light – a trick your great-great-great grandparents likely used, and one well worth stealing when designing a lovely, eco-friendly home.

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There’s reducing, there’s reusing, and of course – there’s recycling. But this isn’t just about plastic bottles. Some of the most divine materials in contemporary interior design are currently made from recycled goods from textiles to floorboards, countertops to faucets. If such literal recycling seems too much of an overhaul for the renovation you had in mind, a quick visit to your favorite local antique shop could reveal another kind of recycling in the form of fabulous fixtures and to-die-for details.

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If the hope is simply to renovate your kitchen in a stunning fashion, that effort itself can be done sustainably. Rather than replacing everything, examine what can be refurbished, reshaped, and redone: in essence, what can be salvaged. The original structure of your kitchen might be a work of art, merely buried in poor glosses and bad paneling. Even its original features might have marvelous facets, with more character than any modern cabinet or kitchen island could hope to have – if only you have the patience to strip away that paint and oil those hinges.

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Any renovation or construction is overwhelming, in any home. A renovation that involves putting the place that makes your food out of commission may feel impossible. But whether you’re renovating the ancestral home or building the one that will last for generations, the best way to preserve its potential from present to future is to give it a sustainable foundation and environmentally-friendly structure. While its pragmatic purpose may often leave it shuffled to the bottom of your design dreams, revitalizing your kitchen is an investment in the real center and showstopper of your house to create a home that will last for every one of all those years to come.

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From first light to the end of the night, our days open and close in the bedroom. But no day truly begins without the ablutions of that most sacred space: the bathroom. We seek out ritual and routine to create order in the general chaos of daily life – rushing to work, rushing to errands, rushing to meals – and those seamless moments of waking start and restful preparation form a framework to it all. Any day of mayhem, particularly during stormy winter madness, can be washed away with a good scrub or a soak in the tub; the next morning of calm rejuvenation an exciting new beginning. And of course, though any bathroom can have its own sense of retreat, only one carries the real possibilities of sparkling spa and reviving relaxation – the master bath.

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In most spaces, every initial design choice is based on pragmatism. What function does the room serve? What does it need? What must be included? But with bathrooms, the basic necessities are already prescribed; the boundaries are clear. The best creativity comes from within set boundaries, and no place celebrates greater creativity than the master suite’s bathroom. This isn’t just a hallway powder room – this is the personal inner sanctuary of your home and daily life. In all likelihood, your bathroom already has the bare needs met. If you’re redesigning it, the desire is probably more aesthetic than practical, pleasurable than tedious. Go for the decadent multi-headed shower; add a brilliant standing bath. In choosing to redesign, and in every choice throughout: enjoy the decisions you make, and make decisions you will later enjoy.

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Fun isn’t merely tied to the traditional indulgences, either. Marble-topped counters and silky minimalist surfaces are always glamorous, but in 2017, those are only the beginning. Genius accessories can change your entire experience from scrambled slapdashery to timeless tranquility: LED heat lamp panels, custom hot towel presses, steam-warmed flooring tiles, zone-controlled thermostats, and even high definition screens the perfect size for catching up on your favorite shows from the tub at the end of a long day (adding a miniature wine fridge might not be amiss, too).

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If renovating and redesigning a preexisting bath feels wildly overwhelming, you’re not alone – and you’re not out of luck. Instead of replacing or moving the space’s large elements, focus instead on the manageable details that can redefine a room. Whatever helps you relax: monochromes or soothing colors, smooth textures or grounding shapes. Refurbish worn tiles with fresh colors or a different theme, exchange battered cabinet handles and testy faucets with sensuously appealing pieces; replace your tired bathmat with a Nordic wood platform, switch out old lighting fixtures for glowing choices that reflect in your new favorite mirror.  

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Of course, a healthy dose of pragmatism isn’t the worst idea in a design – especially when that pragmatism is gorgeous. In considering a design for any space, it’s easy to get distracted by the name items – a bedroom’s bed, a bathroom’s bath – and forget the important additions that will make enjoying time within the space actually enjoyable. You might have a beautiful freestanding bathtub the size of a pool and made from Massa-Carrara marble, but if you’re always tripping over towels and unable to find your moisturizer, that bathtub will be too often forgotten. And just as often, storage is the main reason for any redesign; but that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. Elegant lines, sparkling details, and exquisite fixtures can turn an omnipresent need into an artful accent. From cabinets to counters, Jack and Jill sinks to built-in shelves, for every solution required there is a sophisticated one to be created.

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Whether you’re building a space for the first time or renovating for the fourth, your home’s master bath is a unique opportunity filled with marvelous possibility. No other room exists for the total purpose of balancing usefulness and need with relaxation and escape. A private oasis, let your design be a complete expression of your tastes and comforts – and every day will start and end in perfect, calming luxury.

If you’d like to add a luxurious master bath to your home, or redesign any room for that matter, contact us for a consultation.