Sunday, January 11, 2015

Restoring Charm

       Remodelista:  A Bewitching Old Stone House                                                            Old House Dreams

                                  In the Fields                                                                  Madeline Stuart

I was talking with someone about renovating an old house a few months ago and I came to
the conclusion that my goal isn't always "renovation" as much as it is "restoring charm."  One 
of the things I love about old houses are the details, sometime quirks, that they have.


Darryl Carter's Living Room

Darryl Carter, same room, different view

Some of my favorite details are shutters and moldings.

(While Darryl's shutters seem more decoration than original details, I like how he's paired
the shutters with roman blinds of the same color as a window treatment.  I also notice he
typically uses shutters that cover about 2/3 of the window.  I need to add, I love this room!)



Shutters, in particular, are really common on old New England houses.
I wish I could find the photographs of my old condo; it had shutters that
folded back into the wall.  I'll show you if I can find them.

This is one the charming old houses in Marblehead, Massachusetts that
looks still has its original shutters.



Shutters are also great for privacy if your house is right on the street.



I believe my house was originally built for laborers so there aren't a lot 
of fancy details; in fact, in typical Yankee style, the detailed mouldings
were installed only in the living room where guests would see them.

Now that I've replaced all of the windows downstairs, I thought adding shutters 
to all the windows would be a way to add charm and provide a privacy solution 
since my house is so close to the street.  So last summer I took down my drapes 
and rods so I could try living with the windows open and uncovered during 
the day.  I found that when it's light outside, you really can't see in at all.

I had just a few months earlier, seen Loi install shutters in his Maine house
so I contacted his source, Shutterworks in Lewiston, Maine, to see if they'd (A)
provide me an estimate and (B) be willing to work with me long-distance.
The price seemed really good and yes, if I measured carefully, they would
make the shutters and I would drive up to pick them up so save shipping costs.


Fred at Shutterworks does almost every style of shutter imaginable 
so my task was to choose something that "fit" the house.  I decided to
base the shutter panels for the windows on the panels in my tiny basement 
door which I believe to be original to the house.


Just to make sure I liked it, I asked Fred to make
me up a sample so I could see what it looked like.

And the "Urban Cottage" shutter was born.

I carefully measured each of the windows--three times each--and
sent the measurements off to Fred.  I think it took about two months
for building and painting the shutters and I drove up to Lewiston the
week before Christmas to pick them up.



And here they are!

Fred works with a painter so I was able to get them spray painted before the pairs
were assembled.  I used Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray.


So my first project of the year is getting these installed.

I'm looking forward to the old New England charm these 
will bring to my downstairs.  

75 comments:

  1. The shutters look amazing and appropriate to the age of your home. My sister lives in an old colonial in Jamaica Plain. She is exposed to the outside in the evening and it has always bothered me. I can't wait to see the finished work. I will be sending your blog link to her.

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    1. Thank you! I think we may learn to live with a different level of privacy in the city but it's nice to be able to close off the view if you want to.

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  2. Steve, your shutters look fabulous! I know you must be thrilled with them.

    Looks like you and I have the same replacement windows. It's refreshing to see another old house person talking about replacing windows, since this subject is a buggaboo and not something that we are ever supposed to even consider.

    Happy New Year.

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    1. Connie, I'm almost glad I didn't have to make the decision about replacing the original windows because you can't replicate the thin mullions and wavy glass of the originals but mine had been replaced at some point with really cheap vinyl windows that were so leaky I had to tape them up for the window. The new ones are Marvin.

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    2. We replaced our originals, which are now labeled and safely stored for whatever future another owner of our house may have for them. It's the one concession that I made to my husband's wishes for this place, who felt strongly that he wanted new windows. I threatened the contractor with immediate violent death if he altered any of the openings. If the window didn't fit, it was the window's fault not the building's. The originals can be reinstalled, if someone so chooses.

      Marvin Ultimate Double-hungs ... custom, and measured to the 1/8th of an inch.

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    3. Good for you for keeping the originals! Marvin Ultimate are the same ones I used too.

      If you didn't see it, click on the link to the Bewitching Stone House. It's a great house in the Hudson Valley and it's filled with charm. It's definitely worth looking at. I think you'll love it.

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  3. How you must have enjoyed the anticipation of your new shutters.

    I use interior shutters filling 1/2, or more, of my windows. Alas, totally shabby chic. I get my shutters from thrift stores, choosing those from 1940's-50's. With vintage decorator drapes in some rooms or alone in others, am quite pleased.

    Posting this to facebook so I have your resources saved. Just in case....

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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    1. I spent a deal of time looking for something vintage I could use but didn't have much luck finding anything that would fit well. It also seems ti be harder to find interior flat- or raised-panel versions rather than the louvered exterior ones.

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  4. What a great idea. They look fantastic. Having them painted helps provide the old, smooth painted look that old shutters would have had courtesy of time and many coats of paint. I like how the nickel (?) hinges blend into the shutter.

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    1. Having them painted also saved me from having to paint 24 panels. You're right that the hinges are nickel. I didn't want the hardware to stand out so thank you for noticing that.

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  5. Do you give measuring tutorials? I wouldn't have attempted sending off window measurements.. I can't even measure curtains accurately! This is such good blog fodder. I'm looking forward to more frequent posts.

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    1. I have to admit, I was really nervous about that aspect of it. If there were any mistake, I would have no one to blame. I just measured at three points, (top, middle and bottom) and used the smallest number as the measurement. Because all of the windows are new, they all seemed pretty square and consistent. If they weren't, it could be a real bear installing them. I'm not sure I would have wanted to tackle the project.

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  6. They're beautiful shutters, Steve! What excellent work they do. Can't wait to see them installed. I like how your windows go all the way to the floor. Also, thanks for linking to Loi's post ... somehow I had missed that one.
    Claudia

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    1. Thanks, Claudia. The living room windows didn't always go to the floor but it's a very common detail in Greek Revivals so I expanded them when I added the front porch. The thing I love about them going to the floor is they expand the illusion of space. The porch floor visually becomes an extension of the living room floor.

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  7. They are gorgeous! I have a feeling they're going to add more to each room than you thought! Can't wait to see your home after they're installed. Have fun :)
    am

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  8. Aren't those going to be just marvelous?

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  9. Steve your new shutters are just perfect for your home. Very smart way to order and to use Loi's source as well! Great color, I look forward to seeing them when installed.

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. I suspected the labor and operating costs in rural Maine might be less than in the Boston area and I was right. Well worth the cost of having to make the 2-1/2 hour drive to pick them up.

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  10. Fantastic! Everything about this project is perfect. You are honoring your original home, it's location, it's charm- I love it. Love this post! xo Nancy

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  11. Love these. I wish I could use interior shutters, but I have crank-out windows with all the accompanying hardware on the sills. I look forward to seeing your installation!

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    1. Ah, I never thought about that. That's a drag!

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  12. You are so right about charm and your shutters are neat

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  13. adore these steve. your place really has the DC look which i also adore. i guess i'm just adoring this morning. x

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  14. Love the color/style and the idea of shutters-they are at once very traditional to your home and yet sleek/modernish at the same time. Great call.

    I'm caught up in the Paris march this AM ( well, west coast AM ) and your post was a nice break.
    Cant wait for your reveal when you have them all installed ( a job I do not envy).

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    1. Traditional and simultaneously modern is a great thing.

      I was watching the rally too. It was quite impressive in it's scale.

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  15. Hi, Steve,

    I like the indented style of your shutters; they give a very authentic look, and the color is great, too. Your posting immediately made me think of my first appartment and its bedroom door. On the back of the door was a full bookcase. I worried that the books would fall out if I shut the door too fimly, but they never did.

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    1. I can't imagine how heavy that door must have been!

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    2. It worked beautifully because of the way it was hung, and as I lived alone, it rarely got shut anyway.

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  16. I live on the coast in NC so my house is 100% plantation shutters. I love them and do not miss fabric at all !!!! Every house around here has shutters of some sort probably because of the humidity and mildew problems that fabrics can have.

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    1. Interesting. I never considered mildew could be a problem with fabrics down there.

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  17. I have been wanting to have Georgian style shutters for the longest time, I have wood slat blinds on all my windows and they are such a pain to keep dusted. Shutters would be so much nicer and so maintenance free. Yours are beautiful!

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    1. I've never heard them called Georgian style but they absolutely would be. I can't imagine the dusting.

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  18. Just what the "restoring charm doctor" ordered!! And, isn't Darryl Carter something..a Virginia treasure!! franki

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  19. well done steve, again, and again, and.........

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  20. Just fabulous. No surprise to any of your readers, I am certain.

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  21. I love this house. Great interior colors, especially the trim.

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  22. Oh simply marvellous. And you're right, unless you're an utter purist, it is about restoring the feel of the bygone time. But I'd say your attention to the detail of the door as a guide makes for a very sympathetic addition and as close to what your home's builder would have used had he done it himself. Well done. Now for those of us with charmless homes, we are utterly lost and directionless as to how to create it. There is no guide for us...hopeless.

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  23. The new shutters are beautiful!

    Greetings & Love
    Ines

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  24. Beautiful, they will be stunning! I just love the look of shutters. We've thoroughly enjoyed them in our rental house and plan on using them in the new house. Great to know about the place in Lewiston! xoCatherine

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  25. I can't wait to see them installed! I am in love with all your inspiration photos.

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  26. Hey there, Steve! Catching up from the holidays and getting our house ready to show. Fred is awesome, and I'm delighted you two connected. Cannot wait to see your shutters in situ. They look very handsome. Gorgeous color, too!!

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  27. We bought an antique house on the Cape four years ago and I've been debating what to do with the windows closest to the street since then. I love the look of interior shutters but I didn't know where to have them made. Thank you so much for listing your source!
    I miss Cambridge. I spent so much time there a teenager. I love seeing how you've restored your beautiful home!
    Lori

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  28. Restoring Charm.
    I love that thought.
    Your shutters, perfect.

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  29. I can't wait to see them up. They are gorgeous!

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  30. Love the shutter idea, and I agree that there is something special about the New England homes with their shutters! Can't wait to see the final project!
    http://www.revivespace.com/blog/

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  31. Yet again you have focused with clarity on what was needed and how to achieve it. Spanking great solution to the next step in your house. I am breathless with anticipation for pictures of the final result. You keep the flame of possibility burning for us all. Happy New Year. Ann

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  32. "Restoring charm" is a wonderful phrase and I love the pictures you chose to illustrate it. Your shutters are beautiful, and I love the thought and care you put into them.

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  33. What?! How did I miss this post? They are gorgeous to begin, but doing them Stonington Gray takes them completely over the top. I adore that color. I used it in Sam's room and it's beautiful. It will be so lovely in your house! Can't wait to see them installed.

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  34. Love Ann's comment "once again you have focused with clarity on what was needed and on how to achieve it". I also love your "restoring charm" to the cottage comment. The shutters are a wonderful solution for privacy while adding another architectural element which does in fact up the charm quota. Catherine, Loi and Darryl all have refined taste and style as do you sir. I truly enjoy following the cottage restoration. Look forward to seeing them installed but probably not quite as much as you will. Now off to the Bewitching Stone Cottage...

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  35. I have been toying with the idea of antique style shutters for my 200year old homes windows. My window detail is very similar to yours and I cannot wait to see how your turn out, I love shutters and there classic appeal!

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  36. I love your "restoring charm" quote!!! Surely true when working on old houses!
    My family is from Suffield, CN., and my grandparent's home had Indian Shutters, which pushed back into the wall like a pocket door. The house was built in 1711, so they had great need of protection. Unfortunately the home is no longer in the family, but I still smile as I recall my Dad and I working an entire summer to release and refinish the shutters!
    Blessings to you,
    J

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  37. You don't miss a beat Steve. Eveything you do is carefully thought out and in keeping with the style of your home. I love that you don't "basterdize" the design but rather treat it with the respect and dignity it calls for.

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  38. Restoring charm is the perfect way to put it. And I love the reference to Darryl Carter's work. He makes the old features new and fresh without adding a lot of excess. Much the way you do.

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  39. It's been so long since I visited the blog! I love shutters - reminds me of New Orleans. Are they hung yet?! Would love to see pics!

    Winter is almost over. Yay!

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  40. Love your instagram posts but hope you will return to blogging too. The combination of your words and images are missed!

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  41. I GUESS THE BLOG IS DONE. SO SORRY. LOVED IT.

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  42. Steve,
    While I know you have a lot on your plate, just wanted to tell you how much you are missed by your Blogland readers. Truly addicted to your insight, creativity and attention to detail. Am praying that all is well with you but also secretly hoping you will once again grace us with the Urban Cottage and its charm.

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  43. the shutters are gorgeous - and I love houses without drapes. It is the first thing I take down when I move in, anywhere! So much more light can be let it.

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  44. I am missing your posts. How do the installed shutters look? How did your garden do this spring and summer? What have you spiralized lately? Hoping that you return soon to regular posting.

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  45. Steve,

    Just had to check in...I do hope you are well and that we get to see the shutters in place soon!

    Best, Tim

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  46. How smart of you to find that elegant solution! Our daughter lives in Marblehead....such a charming historic town!

    Gregory Street on the harbor!
    Bravo for your elegant solution !!

    Penelope

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    1. so stunning all the changes you have made and no doubt you have been too busy to blog, but I do hope that in this new year you will find time to share more photos of your gorgeously brought back to life house and home..

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  47. You have been away too long, I miss you. Ann

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  48. I WISH YOU WOULD BLOG AGAIN. I SOOOOO MISS YOUR POSTS!!!!!

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  49. Hi Steve.

    I just found your blog via a friend and as an old house lover I read the whole darn thing. I realize you must have stopped blogging, but this place you created is a treasure, so thank you.

    I hope you're well,
    rue

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  50. I wish you would come back to blogging. I really miss your posts and charm. Robin in Umbria

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  51. Looking to add charm to my 6-year-old home and happened upon this post. you've made me realize it's just a matter of making a decision and getting it done. Love the gray and the design of your shutters. Going to a newer post to see how they turned out.

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  52. You can't imagine how much I miss going along with you on the remodeling of your home. Ann

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  53. Dear Steve,

    I found you through The Gardener's Cottage and love your elegant taste. Wish you would blog again and post your recipes. Your kitchen (and almost everything up there) on Instagram is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing and your inspiration.

    Sincerely,
    Debra from SENC

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