I was so excited to be able to see my cousin Alison’s renovated 800-square foot beach house in Branford Connecticut this weekend. It’s her first house, and I’ve been following the project since she bought the house in January.
I wish she had had the time for a blog during construction; it would probably include all kinds of horror stories like a little paw stretching out through a kitchen vent; coming home and finding out the glass tile she splurged on was put on the wall backwards, with the backing side facing out; having to shower at the gym for weeks; staying on a friend’s sofa for six weeks instead of the promised one week; having to move all of the furniture from one floor to the other on a regular basis due to floor refinishing, etc.Â All of the suffering and frustrations have finally paid off! Just about everything is done, right down to the purple trim. The best part was that we were able to carry her two sea kayaks across the road and explore Long Island Sound.
(still has a few boxes left to unpack tucked under the table)
The former jungle is down to one plant:
A two-story addition was built out to the edge of this porch. It only adds on about 6 feet in width, but it makes all the difference:
The counters are soapstone. Alison traveled all over creation to find soapstone that wasn’t green. She finally found the perfect slab in Jersey.Â Julia Child had soapstone in her kitchen – it was a huge splurge, but it was absolutely worth it. As you can see, Alison opted to keep all the custom cabinets below the counters, thus saving the upper space for more windows. It makes the room feel much bigger. The island is chock-full of large drawer storage for glasses and silverware.
On the other side, there was this awful wall making the kitchen and the living room feel even smaller than they were:
She’s still not sure what to do about the stairs. There will be a cabinet about 1/3 of the way up, so the TV can be hidden. If you have any ideas, please share!
Although she fell in love with this door, it was too drafty for Connecticut winters and thus not energy efficient. She was able to reuse it as the door to the downstairs bathroom. The painter suggested painting it the same pumpkin color as the woodstove, and it came out beautifully!
Alison planned the bathroom colors around the painting by John “Cornbread” Anderson, and repurposed an antique table for the vanity.
The upstairs was extended out about six feet to form a guestroom/office.
Salvaged French doors separate the two bedrooms; when open, it is all one large space:
Here is the open door view:
The Main Bedroom BEFORE (I wonder if Alison’s parents are wondering what the heck she was thinking when she bought this place in this shot!):
By the way, these screens are the coolest thing. Alison did not want to waste indoor space, so she had her balcony doors swing open to the outside. The screens come out of the wall from a roll, run along a track, and attach to the other side with magnetic strips.
The entire upstairs bathroom (a new addition) was planned around the colors in the salvaged mirror’s layers of peeling paint.
Long post, huh? Well, Alison is truly an expert in remodeling now, from plumbing systems down to faucets and knobs. She was able to implement many green elements, including a no-tank water heater, Energy Star-approved appliances including front-loading washer and dryer, using salvaged doors and antiques wherever possible, saving the bricks from the old furnace chimney for a future patio, and saving lumber scraps for the woodstove. Some of the most important lessons she learned were to live in the space before planning it out (the porch addition was almost a separate room, which would have made everything feel much smaller) and what to splurge on. Soapstone, glass tiles, and quality windows and doors are worth their weight in gold.
Hope you enjoyed the tour!