Fixing Up an Old New Englander in Maine

Laurel's New Englander in Maine BEFORE

Last year Laurel showed us how she and her husband turned a small ranch into a two-story Colonial. So when she told me about another old house they just finished renovating, I couldn’t wait to see the pics. This one’s an “1892 New Englander” in Maine that needed some serious TLC…

Laurel's New Englander in Maine AFTER

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw how it turned out. Laurel says, “We started with a lot of peeling paint. It took a crew of Lead Certified painters to bring the exterior back to its original glory.” (You can read her post about how to deal with lead paint here.)

The old entry was dark and closed in:

Staircase entry BEFORE

Removing the wall between the foyer and living room created a bright, open space and eliminated the narrow dark hallway that went nowhere!”

Staircase entry AFTER

closeup of staircase newell

Living room AFTER

living room open to kitchen

The second floor had an unfinished attic space before:

Former Attic BEFORE

They finished it to create a big and bright master suite:

New Master in former attic space

I think that new light fixture is so cool:

antique beams and chandelier

Back downstairs, Laurel says, “There was a good sized kitchen to begin with. The previous owners used it as both kitchen and dining room, but since we opened up the wall to the back of the house, we had an even bigger space to work with.”

Laurel's New Englander Maine Kitchen BEFORE

Here’s how it looks now:

Laurel's New Englander in Maine kitchen and dining AFTER

Another shot of the kitchen before:

SoPo Cottage kitchen BEFORE

They wanted lots of storage in the kitchen, so they added a bank of cabinets on either side of a new window seat: “The glass cabinets let you display beautiful pieces, while the butcher block countertops provide more work space or buffet space for a party.”

SoPo Cottage kitchen AFTER 3

SoPo Cottage kitchen AFTER 2

“We kept all of the vintage features that we loved about these rooms. The big beam in the kitchen stayed. The corner hutch, which was original to the house, is still there. And we restored all the wood floors.” (You can read her post about how they restored them here.)

SoPo Cottage kitchen AFTER

They created a chalkboard using reclaimed wood they found in the house while doing the renovations:

Blackboard in SoPo Cottage New Englander

The new dining room had lots of changes.”

Dining room and kitchen area BEFORE

“We removed the old, steep, not-to-code staircase from the back of the room and added a mudroom and powder room.”

Dining room in SoPoCottage New Englander

The pretty new paint color they used is Benjamin Moore’s Green Cast.

Dining room in SoPoCottage New Englander AFTER

Here’s a shot of the new entry off of the back entrance that has a mudroom and a powder room now:

New mudroom and powder room

The back of the house had an old garage attached: “We tried our best to salvage the old garage, but there was so much damage, it couldn’t be saved. And in retrospect, it created a nice backyard and enabled us to put in new windows across the back facade, flooding the house with sunlight.”

Here’s how it looked after the garage was removed and the back was exposed:

Back of House BEFORE

“Everyone in Maine has a front door, but very few people use them,” Laurel says. “In fact, lots of people don’t even have a walkway that goes to the front door because everyone knows to come in the back entrance.”

Here’s how the back of the house looks now, all fresh and purty:

Laurel's New Englander in Maine back of house AFTER

Laurel says, “It was a lot of work, but we loved every minute of it.” She adds that it’s always hard to say goodbye to the houses they fix up, “But we know the new owners will love it.” I’m sure they will! Many thanks to her for sharing it with us.

Visit SoPo Cottage for more photos and info, including the nursery and bathrooms.

blue back door SoPo Cottage

P.S. Laurel previously showed us how they gave a “Blah Brown House” some much-needed curb appeal:

Blah Brown House Before

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  1. Imre Zat says

    Amazing house! And the master bedroom!!! :)

    Dear Julia! Can I ask you some information about Nancy Meyers? Has she a new movie recently? You know, her movie houses’re amazing (Father of the Bride, Baby Boom) Imre

  2. Cheryl in Wisconsin says

    Such a fresh re-do!

    I have an unfinished attic like that, and I like seeing the potential in it.

  3. Dean says

    Really great renovation. Amazing difference in the foyer simply by opening that wall. The new powder room looks like it’s always been there. Love what they did with the attic space.
    I’m on the fence with the different floors though. In your “Here’s what it looks like now” kitchen photo, it’s jarring to me how those 3 different floors come together, but I understand it happens in 100+ year old houses sometimes and can’t be remedied without ripping up all the existing flooring.
    All in all, a fantastic job.

  4. Laura says

    They’ve done a great job. It still has the old house feel, but it’s been made more comfortable and convenient. A lot of people say they’re doing that and then they gut the whole place. I probably wouldn’t have opened the downstairs floor plan up quite as much, but all in all I really like it. In fact I’m a little envious because in our old house, my husband is very much against changing any of the original features. I’d love to have a kitchen that’s a bit bigger so I wouldn’t have to cook all alone!

    • JoLynn says

      I loved your comments! Maybe if you stop cooking al;l those delicious meals
      (cooking strike) then maybe your Husband will let you have a new, renovated kitchen :) Let us know if you succeed!

  5. says

    They did an outstanding job. The wood floors are beautiful. It’s great when some of the original features of a house is kept, instead of replaced, giving the home a sense of history and keeping some of it’s character.
    Again, an outstanding job.

  6. Jennah says

    What a beautiful restoration of a grand lady! I love all the period features, soft colours and mesh of new and old. There have been a few comments on the floors and as someone who grew up in a century home, that’s par for the course in an older home and I think it adds character. Thanks for sharing, Julia! Stay cozy on this deep freeze day (It’s -35*C here today)!

  7. says

    It just amazing. I like how just moving a wall out here and there created so much more light and room. Hard for me to pick a favorite because everything turned out so charming. The kitchen is to die for.

  8. says

    Love those old wide plan floors!

    I especially like what you did with the mill work details. Those old skinny trim pieces in the before pictures just weren’t cutting it on that farmstyle home.

  9. says

    Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments on our 1892 project! We worked hard to try and blend the old with the new…..and yes sometimes you get funky things like multiple flooring types, but we just call that ‘character’!! It’s always fascinating to try and figure out how these old places have evolved over the years. And it’s nice to have those bits of history for the future!

  10. jep says

    Lovely and thank you for including the wall color paint name…I really like it!

    • says

      Isn’t that pretty? I love when people give me their paint colors. I keep thinking I need to start a page on the blog that lists my favorites so I can keep them all in one place!

      • Jennah says

        I, too, appreciate you posting the names of paint colours. I have a little list of my favourites from various blogs. I’ve popped into our local paint store a few times to check and I’m surprised how different they look in photographs.

  11. elle says

    Bravo! You can feel the love you put into this project. It’s delightful on every level. Lucky people who will get to live there!

  12. Martha says

    This is gorgeous! They kept the charm while bringing it into the 21st century. Love the master bedroom!

  13. Rebecca C says

    Love that paint color. I’ve been looking for a shade like that. I may have to use it, it looks so good here. Also, now I know what it will take to scrape and paint the outside of our house. Yikes. It turned out great though. Lovely house!

  14. says

    Hi Julia!

    Oh, I soooo wish I was handy like that! This is amazing! Beautiful and very, very inviting!

    I was so happy to hear you had your son over for Christmas, Julia! That’s the best gift you can ask for, right? :-)

    Happy and Blessed 2014, my friend.


    Luciane at

  15. says

    It looks beautiful.

    I don’t know how they get them looking so gorgeous and then sell them on!

  16. Rachel says

    I toured this house during the recent open house. Honestly, it is even better in person! Laurel and her husband (And their roofers, plumber, etc) did such an amazing job with this home!

  17. says

    WOWW It all looks AMAZING :) I hope you had a lovely Christmas holiday.

    Check out my new post…Cute Swedish Curtain inspiration :)

    Have a fab day.

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis – Swedish decor, food, and fashion

  18. stefania says

    I love it, very bright and elegant. Good job!

    I have a question, though (unrelated to this post).
    I noticed that a lot of houses in the USA have black tops in the kitchen and I wonder why. I think that with white cabinets black and granite tops are too cold, but I don’t see anyone using other colors (white, butter, sand, red, yellow, etc…).

    • says

      It’s interesting that you mentioned Stefania that because I just read an article that said the most popular countertop color right now is black and most popular cabinets continue to be white. It all started with the black and white kitchen in the movie “Something’s Gotta Give” years ago (you can see my post about it here: Everyone went crazy for it. I’m seeing more white countertops and wood these days, but there’s still a lot of black!

      • Stefania says

        In my kitchen I wanted a red Verona marble but marble is very difficult to clean and once it is stained with wine you can’t take it away. So I bought a red top made with other minerals. I like it very much but I confess you that I would like to change it with a white/cream/sand top.

  19. Jano says

    Wonderfully done – not one design misstep. Speaking of literal missteps – Lord, that no-code stairway gave me a virtual heart attack.

  20. says

    I love how they kept the original corner cupboard and beam honoring the old farmhouse. Beautiful job! It’s so bright and cheerful now!!

  21. Thora Nutting says

    Love it! We bought a New Englander like this. Hud home that and it hadn’t been occupied in 2 years. How did you find out the age of your home?

    • says

      We were lucky in finding the age of the home…..the previous owners had already done the research. But if you want to get started on your own home, check with the city or town you live in. Often they have records available (we once lived in a 1790’s farmhouse and the city clerk found a copy of the original handwritten deed for us!). Or your local historical society can also be helpful! Good luck!


  22. Siri says

    Quick question w your attic master. Did you end up having to reframe everything to new code? We discussed this with our contractor and he said everything would require new studs (sistered) because our 1885 attic wouldn’t pass inspection otherwise. :(