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Thursday, October 7, 2010
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010
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Nestled in a quiet neighborhood of charming cottages and modest Colonial Revivals, this stark 1940s suburban home has never quite lived up to the neighboring properties, due to its largely featureless facade, bland paint job and a seemingly tacked-on garage (in reality, it’s original to the house). The biggest shortfall, however, is that the home does not take advantage of its greatest asset – a picturesque and panoramic view of the Charles River, which winds behind the house. The home’s interior, which boasts a vintage lemon-yellow kitchen, pink-and-black tile bathrooms and an overabundance of dark-stained woodwork, is also in desperate need of updating.

“The house is in sad shape; it was nearly untouched for seventy years,” said This Old House Host Kevin O’Connor. But it’s in a great neighborhood and sits on the banks of Boston’s famous Charles River, so it has great promise. And that’s what we do at This Old House; we give new life to tired homes with great potential. It’s going to be an inspired project.”

When Raveen and Allison Sharma purchased this property just three short months ago they immediately began to prepare for the renovations necessary to modernize the home for themselves and their two children. The Sharmas hired local architect Harriet Christina (Chris) Chu, AIA, who created a budget conscious plan to expand the house by only 200 sq.-ft. while making strategic decisions to dramatically alter the home both inside and out.

This Old House General Contractor Tom Silva will work with the entire This Old House team to infuse character and curb appeal into the project by adding new garage doors, additional front windows, a pergola to mitigate the protrusion of the garage and a badly needed paint job. Silva also plans to add a gabled roof to the flat-topped garage, which will help it meld better with the house itself. In back, the old sun porch will be demolished then rebuilt on top of a new family room that will extend from the house’s walkout basement. A new deck with cascading stairs will also create a connection between the house’s first floor to the backyard and nearby river.

Inside, the plans call for a modern, expanded kitchen, the addition of an entry hall and mudroom as well as changes to update the bathrooms. The team will also strategically remove walls to create more open spaces, paint dark woodwork to brighten the interior and add new, larger windows that will open up the house to the outdoors maximizing light and creating spectacular views of the river from many areas of the home.

Throughout this project, the usual issues of limited time and budget will meet site specific challenges including asbestos removal, termite damage, new EPA lead paint laws and strict conservation guidelines intended to protect the Charles River.


By Paul Epsom   |   Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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purple flowers

The best time to plant annuals depends on the specific plant and your climate. Annuals are designated as "cool-season" and "warm-season," based on their hardiness and ability to grow in cool soils.

Herbs and Vegetables

By Paul Epsom   |   Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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By Paul Epsom from The Victory Garden

Here's What's Growing This Weekend: Herbs and Vegetables

When the temperatures reach over 65 degrees you can set out seedlings and sow seeds outdoors for tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, beans, corn, cucumbers, potatoes, squash, and most vegetables.

If you are planting in a kitchen or container garden make sure your soil is fertile and moist. Herbs like basil, parsley and rosemary do very well in pots. Tomatoes do well in containers too. For smaller varieties of cherry tomatoes consider hanging baskets.

If you are planting a larger garden the classic way to sow vegetable seeds is in shallow furrows created by dragging the edge of a rake or hoe handle along the planting line. Then place the seeds or seedlings at spaced intervals—3-to-5 inches apart.

If you planted asparagus, radishes or lettuce earlier this season you may be able to start harvesting. For asparagus – cut the spears as they reach 6 to 8 inches. If you don’t they’ll shoot up, get skinny, and go to fern. You don’t want that.

If you have peas keep picking them! They will continue to produce more peas.


By Paul Epsom   |   Monday, August 23, 2010
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By Paul Epsom from The Victory Garden

This week we're talking about perennials.

Late June and early July are great times to find and plant flowering perennials—plants like spirea, Shasta daisies, day lily and Iris.

If you want to go the seed route instead—there is still time to start perennial seeds in the garden. Where the growing season is short, like in New England - even quick-to-bloom perennials may not have time to do much this year, but they'll be mature and likely will bloom next year.

Sow seeds indoors to start—in peat, pots or even plastic—plants like Shasta daisies, coneflowers, and coreopsis. The seeds and seedlings will be easy to care for if started in trays or flats.

When the seedlings are growing well, transplant them to an empty row in your kitchen garden or to a sheltered spot in the flowerbeds. When the weather cools in late August—move them to permanent homes in the garden.

For the perennials that are in your garden now and blooming—don't forget to deadhead—it is critical in keep plants healthy and blooming.


By Paul Epsom   |   Monday, August 23, 2010
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It's time to get those shears out and start pruning. While you may think pruning is mostly a late summer/early fall activity – I have news for you – the time is now!

Anytime right around this week you will want to prune back any spring-flowering trees, dogwoods for example, or bushes like azaleas, rhododendrons, forsythia, and lilacs. Don't feel like you need to prune every year—but every two or three years is a good thing.

By now, these trees have likely stopped flowering and soon enough they'll be making new buds for next season - so if you wait too long you will end up cutting off next year's flowers, which you don't want to do.

Begin by pruning off dead or injured branches.

Then prune back tall, gangly limbs shooting out of the top of the bush—this will make for a better-shaped bush for next season.

If you want to add some mulch at this point—make sure it's acidic mulch—like pine straw or pine needles. Since mulch eventually does break down, the acid mulch will help these acid-loving trees through the summer and into the fall.

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