Sunday, November 21, 2010

Window+Sidelights, Exterior Before+After

First, you'll notice that I've changed my header.  The change was an experiment to see how the header width affected the width of the entire blog page and, in turn, the size of my photos.  I feel the header better reflects my Urban Cottage, both inside and out, but I'll probably continue to work on it as I experiment with photo editing and the Blogger templates.  Right now I couldn't center my tag line if my life depended on it.  It's very frustrating.

On to more important matters:

All of the new windows and sidelights are installed so I thought I would show everything that's been done one final time...just in time for the holidays as I had hoped.

Let's start inside.

This is the front hall as it looked when I bought the house.  All of that wallpaper was stripped, the green carpeting was ripped out, the floors and stairs were refinished and the newel post and bannister was stripped of its mint green paint.

This was the result after that first facelift.  You can see to the left of the front door where the sidelights used to be.  They were filled in with a panel of wood on the inside (where the light switch is).

And this is how it looks now.  It's hard to take a photo with the camera pointed toward the light so this photo was shot just after dawn yesterday morning.  The sidelights really open up the space and make it feel larger.  They just need to be primed and painted.

This view is looking into the entryway from the living room after my initial facelift.

And this is what it looks like now.  The sidelights really bathe this area in light.  Unfortunately, it really highlights 170 years of people moving in and out and I can only imagine how many coats of paint.  I think I'm going to have to strip the paint off all this trim.

This is the view from the other end of the sofa...where I sit and write my blog posts. 

Let's head outside.

It's hard to imagine this is what the house looked like just over four months ago.  The sidelights had been entirely covered up with shingles and vinyl siding.  This is already a fading memory.

And this is the entry that will welcome my Thanksgiving guests.

(I should note in case you're thinking it, that I hate the natural oak sill under the front door.  I didn't want to try to match the mahogany deck so I told Sam to leave it natural.  I thought it would be darker.  But I think it stands out like a sore thumb.  I think I'm going to paint it a dark gray but I'll need to wait until it's warm enough to sand it down and prime and paint it.  It's easy enough to fix.)

The squirrel patrol is already on the job.  This photo nicely shows the waves and seeds in the glass.  Sam made these sidelights in his workshop using router bits to match the trim on the panels of the door.  They're really beautifully done.

This is what they look like at night with the lights on.  (The deck had just gotten its final coat of finish so the tape is to keep spectators at bay...and rotten children from writing their initials in the finish!)

This is the garden side of the house when I became its custodian...

...and here is now with the new windows installed.  Only these four were replaced because (1) they're the only ones visible from the street and (2) I haven't made definitive plans for the kitchen and the windows may change size or shape.   Or the windows may become french doors.  It's clear I need to do some landscaping over here.

And, finally, here is the front of the house back in April when I was photographing the house for my variance application.

This is what it looked like when you last saw it.  The rest of the windows have been replaced, the sidelights have been installed and deck has been stained.

And here it is today.
I'm so thrilled with the windows (save the reality that I have to prime and paint them on the inside); in fact, I'm really thrilled with everything that I chose.  I feel I've prepare this part of the house for its next 170 years of life and I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to make it happen.

I'm adding this photo a few hours after my original post because I realize that my photos are always so close up, you can't get a good idea of its scale.  Here, in relation to the Victorian next door, you can get a better idea of its small cottage scale.

As I move forward with the inside of the house, I hope that I'm able to translate the feeling of this new exterior to the interior.  I don't know how that will manifest itself but I have plenty of house spirits to guide me. 


  1. Your house, that mirror, the kitty, the sidelights and windows - all wonderful.

  2. Such a transformation! I'm feeling just a bit envious of you. Our own renovations have stalled, as we wait for our raising company to get their equipment out from under another house, which apparently is waiting on a permit to finish some work... I may be looking for another raising company, if this one can't deliver... And who goes into a huge project like this without having all their permits in order?

  3. Thanks, Kathleen. That mirror is kind of a funny story. When Jordan Marsh, an old Boston department store was bought out by Macy's, they liquidated their entire furniture department. I walked in and saw that mirror, originally priced something like $750 marked down to $75. I didn't own a car but my office was about seven blocks away so I paid my $75 and walked with the mirror literally on my back to my office where I left it for safe keeping until I could find a way to get it home.

  4. Oh that swooping baseboard just takes my breath away! A beautiful, beautiful house! Karin

  5. Hi, Karin,

    Yes, you really don't see details like that anymore. I'm not eager to strip them, but I can't wait to see what they look like as if brand-new.

  6. Hi Dianne,

    I don't know who you are but I'd like to thank you for all your kind comments through this project. I've tried to e-mail you but you don't have an e-mail address attached yo your account so I'm hoping you come back to see that I've appreciated all your feedback. Steve

  7. Just gorgeous. I love the side windows and the photo of your kitty peeking out. What a painstaking and beautiful restoration.

    I spent many shopping days at Jordan Marsh - the one at downtown crossing? It seems as if every store is Macy's nowadays.


  8. What you have accomplished is inspiring and motivating. It has turned out beautiful. I can't wait to watch your inside progression. I know it will be equally fascinating.

  9. Hi Kitty! I can't find the words to express how beautifully you've redone the exterior of the house. It's gorgeous, I love every single thing. The wavy glass is wonderful and the light it lets into the hall is amazing! I don't think I've ever seen those wavy baseboards before, I love them. Well done. Does Sam work internationally?

  10. Wow what a beautiful exterior change. Your home looks great.

  11. New Follower and so excited, I LOVE your home, very colonial to me, and that is what i love, you did an amzing job.. Cant wait to see more.

  12. Deb, Sorry, I have Sam locked up in the basement.

    Sheilaa131, Thank you.

    Gracefully Vintage, it's close to colonial. It's the style just immediately following colonial when the US wanted to distance itself from England. It's almost anti-colonial if you will. The windows are definitely the same as you would find on a Colonial for sure.

  13. Bonnie,

    Thanks for your wonderfully sweet comments!


  14. Steve,
    She looks so grand, and then when you see her by the Victorian next door, she's so sweet and petite. However, she has a whole lot of "look at me" attitude! Your vision is amazing. I can't wait to see how you choose to revamp her interior. Your house is very content right now. Good job. AM

  15. Well, I am honestly speechless at this transformation...but that wouldn't be much of a comment so I'll tell you that it is gorgeous Steve! It's amazing that it's the same house. I'm sure the house has to feel better with its historical details back intact. The colors are spectacular together, I love the glass in the sidelights and the porch is amazing. I kindof like the oak step. It adds a little modern element to the entrance. Did I mention the great door handle...I cannot wait to see it in the spring with the garden blooming - you've got to be the talk of the neighborhood.

    I think you should show us that artwork in the entry -

    I have a few exterior projects that need to be done - you and Sam want to visit NE? you're quite the team.

  16. Such a beautiful has all come together so well! I wouldn't sweat the shows the character! Congrats and happy holidays!

  17. P.S. I really like the picture you took of your cat in the sidelight. I think you should put that picture in your header too.

  18. Steve, it's just a glorious transformation, like it finally looks like itself again. I bet it is one happy house now. All your choices are spot on. I love the sidelights which are excellent for kitty-squirrel viewing, as you noted. I love the curved moulding at the stairwell- have never seen anything like that. Don't envy the priming and painting - I am doing the same to window trims now (including sanding) and it seems like I am getting one window done every month, so at this pace I will still be doing it next summer. I had the painting bug but it's tired and gone now. Now it is a chore.

    You have done your house proud! Just lovely - cannot wait to watch the progress. Are the exterior of your windows painted black - they look like steel but I guess they must be painted if you are painting interiors.

    xo's Terri

    P.S. Love the header. That vignette of the table with the architectural piece and such is just wonderful - it is sitting on my desktop so I can look at it every day....I switch around inspiration photos - there are always 3 or 4 on the go and that shot is there now...thanks!

  19. Ok, lots to say here. I adore the sidelights. Love the porch light. Love the black windows. Love the seed glass in the sidelights...a good choice...maybe it won't show kitty nose smears.

    The stairs and hall look fabulous...but WHAT...what about that mirror? That is over the top fantastic.

    I really liked seeing the distant view of your house and seeing it in comparison with the victorian next door. Your house really is a sweet cottage in comparison.

    Just love everything you are doing to the house and can't wait to see all you'll do inside too.

  20. hi steve,

    well it's all just freaking gorgeous. aren't you proud? all the time you took dragging us through the painstaking decision-making has really paid off, for all of us. you get to live there and we get to watch! i cannot wait to be drug through the interiors.

    love the exterior shot with all the leaves on the ground. thanks.


  21. Hi Steve,
    Always LOVE the stunning before and after shots! The house is absolutely transformed - so beautiful and it looks like it was never any different (a true sign that the restoration was done exquisitely).
    And LOVE that beautiful mirror in the entry!

  22. Steve -

    Absolutely stunning! Your hard work and attention to detail has paid off. It's a beautiful restoration - and I can't wait to see what you continue to do to the interior.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    (I for one - can't WAIT to see what you do with the kitchen!)


  23. Not much that hasn't already been said. Bravo. Love the kitty photo and I'd love to see it in the new header (which I love). The sidelights add so much! I'm envious of your Thanksgiving guests! Thanks for taking the time to create this blog. Very inspiring.

    Anne : )

  24. What an amazing job you did. All that work and I imagine hours of detail work and research. Can't wait to see how the inside will come along. Just beautiful!!!

  25. Applause, Applause!! What a fabulous before and after! I think the Historical Society should write you a thank you. A beautiful, thoughtful renovation filled with the love you have for your house. I love Sam. How lucky you and your house are to have found such an artist. That curved moulding. Swoon. Ahhh yes, the light. You will get used to seeing the new "highlights", and it's worth it to have all that lovely light in the entry! I love the entry mirror, and love it even more after reading that great story! I, too, think your kitty looking out the window should be in your header- so sweet!
    I can only imagine how proud you house will be to welcome your Thanksgiving guest in all it's new-found glory! Many blessings to you and your home.

  26. What a transformation. Stunning. I admire your vision and how you have stayed true to it.
    I'm glad you included the photo of your neighbour's house. Yours always seemed quite big until I saw theirs ha ha. Now I understand why your blog is called Urban Cottage.
    And I love that photo of the cat. It's like an art shot.

  27. Unbelievable what a transformation. It's just beautiful, and I want to highjack that mirror! Your neighbors must be out of their minds to see this improvement. Is the rest of the neighborhood in restoration mode, too? Or are you bringing yours up to par with them? I love the final choice on the sidelight glass.

  28. that sweet house of yours is saying thank you... thank you for loving and believing in me! I am a relatively new follower... but I have gone back and re-read all of your previous entries and loved every minute. Bravo.... job superbly well done... ur a new blog crush! diana

  29. That mirror!!! I keep seeing it! I am in love with the mirror..such a find at the old Jordan Marsh. What a treasure. Fits perfectly in your urban cottage.

  30. Are you SURE that's the same house?

    Amazing difference.

    I would never have thought (or had the courage) to use the black touches and such but what a difference.

    I am a new visitor and big fan of your blog and look forward to following you for more!

  31. Oh what a sophisticate you are and your urban cottage.
    Love to create a keepsake sketch of your home. I feel the love you have uncovered, unearthed and set free.
    It is all stunning.

  32. I just LOVE your house an how you restored it. I have an 1860 Greek Revival which I am painting this summer. What color did you use? I thank you for your time.

  33. Dianne,
    Thank you for your comment! The house color is Benjamin Moore Graystone, the trim is Silver Chain. The door is plain Black which seemed to best match the Marvin windows which are aluminum clad. Feel free to e-mail me at urbancottageblog @ if you have any questions. Steve

  34. I just LOVE what you have done to your home. It's so funny I should stumble on your blog, I just got home from picking up a qt of black oil base paint thinking I might want to paint my doors black. After seeing your home ~ the job will be done by dinner time! Love it!

  35. I know I'm a little late in commenting but I just had to tell you what a fantastic job you did in reviving the exterior of this home! So glad you ripped that awful vinyl siding off! I'm curious, did you have the original plans to the house or archival photos to help guide you in your decisions? Did you find any ghost marks as a clue to the difference in size of the window openings between the first and second stories? It certainly looks approriate for the time period of the home. I love your color choices and I think It turned out very nice!

  36. the house just looked so scalped and lysol-ed out before, like an old lady with a nursing home haircut. now it looks like it was meant to -- not refurbished or restored, but naturally lovely. what a good job.

  37. love your blog and your beautiful photography!