Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lyman Cottage Before and After Series: Part 1

I thought for sure by now I'd be a full-fledged home improvement blogger with sponsored posts and a sweet book deal ;-) but somehow I let nearly a year pass without blogging about our renovation (or anything for that matter, yikes!) If you follow me on Instagram, you're probably familiar and perhaps by now even a little tired of my #lymancottage posts. But lately I'm feeling like I haven't actually shared as many before and afters on my Instagram feed as I'd like. My before photos are so poorly lit and dreary that they sort of bring the overall look of my feed down (did I really just write that? I hate my millennial self so much!) I figured the old blog might be a better place to showcase the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First up, our bathroom. The plaster wall above the sink was in poor shape after we removed the medicine cabinet, shelf, and sconces, so it needed to be drywalled, which we did not personally do. After a bad foray into mudding and taping in the spring (which I will tell you more about sometime, maybe after a glass of wine or two...) we decided it was best to leave that kind of work to the pros. We left the white paneling below as-is and just gave it a new coat of paint. In addition to the wall repair, we had the wiring updated and new outlets added. We had new sconces installed, as well as a medicine cabinet, a vanity, and unlacquered brass faucet fixtures.

Looking into the bathroom from the hall:

On the wall opposite the sink, we removed the shelving, updated the toilet and sang "paint it black" to the walls, the ceiling, the crown molding, and the tub. It hides so many imperfections. Black walls are the new black dress.

I've yet to decorate this room (it still needs a roman shade, the perfect étagère for storage next to the sink, just the right kilim rug, hooks, more art, etc.!) All in good time. But if we're only to have one piece of decor right now, I'm glad it's the whale print below by the artist Mary Maguire, whose work belongs on a Wes Anderson set in the best way possible. One of the highlights of my summer is seeing her new work at the Union Antique Fair in Maine.

This is the only full bath in the house, and you can see in the before photo below that it had a great clawfoot tub, but no shower! Rather than remove the tub and build a new shower stall, we had our plumber rig a shower extension for us. If you've ever turned a clawfoot tub into a shower, you know that it requires a PhD to find and install shower curtains for these rigs, and even after all of the hemming and magnets and hooks, you still have gross, wet fabric encroaching in on you while you shower. Not exactly a spa-like experience! We recently had an outdoor shower installed, and have since showered inside zero times. I removed the three curtains that were needed to traverse the rig, and from here on out we'll just use it for baths (but will keep the extension rod for showing in the winter months!)

Extension Shower - It's a love/hate relationship.
 More before and afters to come, stay tuned!


Sconces - Restoration Hardware Starboard Sconce in Antique Brass
Medicine Cabinet - Restoration Hardware Rivet Medicine Cabinet in Antique Brass
Vanity - Water Creation Madison 24" Single Sink in Cashmere
Faucet - Altmans 8" Lav Faucet in Unlacquered Brass
Basket - West Elm Modern Weave Handled Basket
Toilet - Kohler Memoirs 
Wall + Clawfoot Tub Paint: Benjamin Moore"Black"
Floors: Farrow and Ball Slipper Satin mixed in Benjamin Moore Super Spec oil paint

Monday, October 19, 2015

Renovating In the Spirit of Lyman

We've officially started referring to our new house in Maine as "Lyman Cottage." Lyman was a carpenter who owned the house with his wife several decades ago and we think he's the man responsible for crafting many of the quirky additions throughout the house that we have a love/hate relationship with. But rather than spend lots of time and money trying to disassemble these creations to bring the house back to its original 1898 state, we've recently taken on a new mindset of basically throwing a lot of paint at everything and embracing the weirdness.  Friends who knew him have shared stories with us about what a fun man Lyman was...he was a huge prankster, threw hopping parties on his glass porch with live bands, and could often be found at the island dump salvaging original turn-of-the century windows, cabinets, and other beautiful architectural pieces. He really sounded like our kind of guy. In the spirit of our predecessor, our new plan moving forward is to keep things light, playful, and utilitarian.
We may have said goodbye to Lyman's DIY bar, but his glass porch will stay for now, and we plan to throw a few parties that get the porch rocking like it used to :-)

When we first closed on the house, we came up with a simple game plan for the kitchen that slightly reconfigured the space to improve its functionality but stayed within the existing footprint. For a brief moment we considered taking out a staircase that sits adjacent to the kitchen to free up space to expand into, but when we found out the actual cost of taking out the staircase, the added square footage for the kitchen just wasn't compelling enough. The architect I met with on Friday thought our original kitchen plan was a good one, so we're putting the finishing touches on that plan and getting the ball rolling very soon.

We've spent some time figuring out how we want the kitchen to look. Over the past few months I've collected images of kitchens I love that feel very "Maine" to me. Here are a few favorites: 


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A New Adventure

My in-laws live on a beautiful island in the Penobscot Bay in Maine for half of the year, and my husband John spent many idyllic boyhood summers there. Because Boston is so close to Maine, we've had the opportunity to visit more this year than ever before. Its forever been John's personal Mecca, but being there so often really solidified my own love of the place and amplified our desire to be there more often, to bring family and friends up, and to someday give our kids the opportunity to spend time in this truly magical place.

In a much-too-cute but actually real moment, John and I were eating ice cream in the island ice cream shop (which doubles as a real estate office) and scanning a "for sale" flyer when a house we'd never noticed before jumped out at us. It looked like a good size, was well-located, and the price was about 1/10th of what it would cost in the city real estate markets we're used to. We assumed something had to be horribly wrong with it, but decided to schedule a viewing to see the surely collapsing foundation/leaking roof/built on an ancient burial ground disaster of a house for ourselves.
The photo from the real estate listing that caught our eyes

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Countdown to Spring

Hello, old friends! I have many lame reasons why I haven't posted in so long, but really my best excuse is being a transplant to Boston, this winter, of all winters. Far too many moments in my life recently seemed like they were lifted straight from The Shining....moments where I seriously didn't think I'd ever stop shivering, where grey was the only discernible color in nature, and where I resigned myself to the fact that I'd never be able to go outside again wearing fewer than two layers of pants. But this week the glorious sun showed its face, the hell-snow is melting, and I've triumphantly emerged from my hibernation.

When I wasn't busy dealing with the constant and stressful demands of just trying to stay warm, I spent much of this winter helping to launch an interior design/events/travel planning startup. I'll do a proper post on it later (we're still tweaking the website a bit!) But it's been an exciting learning experience and a great introduction to Boston's creative community.

I know what you're thinking..."Christine--you were stuck inside all winter---you must have absolutely transformed that little apartment!" And you couldn't be more wrong! I did very little design-wise at home this winter. Luckily, one of the only things I did do -- install these Crate and Barrel Jax Sconces in our bedroom --was so gratifying that I feel like it made up for my lack of progress otherwise on the home front.

They're plug-in sconces, so didn't require an electrician or anything more than a drill. They're perfect for reading at night, and as I mentioned when I posted on instagram about them, I love the fact that I now don't have to get up and turn off the light when I'm ready to go to bed.  A lazy girl's dream :-

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year! Hope you had a great holiday, or even better, are still celebrating! John and I just returned to Boston after a fun trip to Sanibel Island to be with his family for Christmas, with a quick layover in DC on our way home to ring in the New Year with some of our best friends and family.

I'm trilled to write to you today from my new studio space!  I'll write a much longer post after I decorate more, but in the meantime this is just a quick snapshot I took from my desk today. I share the space with a graphic designer, and I'm thanking the design gods every day for giving me a studiomate with fabulous taste. She found the cabinet in the photo on Craigslist and painted it black...I think it looks great! You'll recognize almost everything else from our DC home, which I was more than happy to liberate from storage to use here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


John and I celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents' house in upstate New York this year. We arrived just as the snow stopped falling, which made for quite the stunning welcome! We pulled the car over along the way and got out to take these photos (or at least I did... John kindly kept watch to make sure I didn't get hit by a car.) With so much snow on the ground I kept forgetting which holiday we were there for. I knew the stores were pushing it, but now even nature seems to insist on merging Thanksgiving with Christmas!
The following day we made a quick trip to New York City where I met up with my besties Pat and Daniel, who so thoughtfully planned a design-centric day for us. After a tasty brunch at The Gander in the Flatiron district we ventured a few doors down to the new homenature store...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Blue Ivy

I'm excited to share some recent photos of our bedroom with you today! Earlier this fall I posted photos of the antique blue delft tile fireplace in our bedroom that was the number one reason (for me at least!) we rented this apartment. It's since become my design muse! I must admit that I usually shy away from color and stick to a fairly strict palette of black, white, beige, brown, and green. But I'm enamoured with our blue fireplace surround which to me recalls Rebecca de Ravenel's stunning New York Apartment, featured in Vogue last year, and pinned dozens of times by yours truly. Hello, blue!
Love the Sister Parish Burmese fabric on the of my all time favorites!