Six weeks to totally redo a 1905-built house doesn't leave a lot of time to think and plan.
Instead, you've got to act and get it done, which is what viewers helped design experts do when they recently tuned into to DIY Network's Blog Cabin project in Mathews on the Middle Peninsula.
Blog Cabin host and licensed contractor Matthew Blashaw was in Mathews for the duration, sweating it out in hot, humid weather while celebrity hosts from other DIY shows came in and did their own brand of magic.
Josh Temple of "House Crashers" redid the living room, Matt Muenster of "Bath Crashers" renovated the master suite, Anitra Mecadon of "Mega Dens" built out a rec room, Dean Marsico and Derek Stearns of "Indoors Out" completed a backyard entertainment area, James Young of "I Hate My Kitchen" transformed the food area and Jason Cameron of "Desperate Landscapes" and "Man Caves" revamped the front landscaping.
"We usually do this kind of project in four months but this was six weeks of nonstop," says Blashaw, talking by phone. He's now taking time off in California before he starts the "Worst Kitchen in America" special later this year.
"At one point, there was a lot against us in this house. There was no AC in the house, we had to put massive pieces up three stories high and even a fridge in a house built in 1905 was a challenge."
Located on 16 scenic acres fronting Mobjack Bay in a Mathews community called Susan, the two-story farmhouse with three bedrooms and two baths was in surprisingly good condition although it sat empty for several years, according to Dylan Eastman, construction projects manager for Courthouse Construction. The local company bid on and won the contract to oversee the structure's renovations.
Lumber, especially the studs, in the house is unlike any seen in today's construction, according to Eastman and Blashaw. It's done with the balloon framing technique that uses continuous studs, sometimes 30 feet long, which run from the sill plate at the foundation to eaves along the roof. This method was popular in the 19th century, when long lumber was plentiful.
In addition to TV celebrities and viewers decorating the house, New York designer Victoria Lesser furnished and accessorized rooms, and she shopped Mathews businesses to do much of it. Virginia- and USA-made products are very much part of the décor.
The exterior is HardiePlank lap siding in a cobblestone color with taupe gables; the brownstone-colored composite slate tile roof is by DaVinci Roofscapes.
Outdoors, petite rose bushes, maiden sea grass and a mix of flowering annuals in pots gives the farmhouse a high-end, rustic beach design — with function and unique style, according to landscapers Marsico and Stearns.
For them, the home's three best outdoor features are:
•The patio with the Cobble Systems fan pattern that gives it the feel of old European cobblestones. Joints are grouted with silica sand and Ecosystems Grout that is hard like cement but allows water to drain through — which reduces potentially polluting runoff into the nearby waterway.
•The outdoor shower with a Jelly Bean shower floor that's mixed with the same grout that is solid but let's water pass through. They also added ribbon LED lights underneath the door so it's illuminated at night.
•The rustic fire pit, which looks like it belongs on the beach. They used a mixture of large, medium and small stones indigenous to the area to create a place where friends and family can enjoy the water view while they sit around a cozy fire.
"When you are designing an outdoor room, remember to always design your dream outdoor room — see the big picture and then knock off one project at a time," says Marsico.
"For homeowners around the Mathews area, make sure to focus on creating a strong patio base because the soil is very sandy and you want to make sure your patio sits on a solid base. Go deeper than the standard 3 inches of compacted crusher run. We suggest 5 to 6 inches. Also, think of products that allow water to drain well on property and help prevent runoff.
"Hardscaping and landscaping, in our humble opinion, is the icing on the cake for any home. You can have a beautiful house inside, but if the entryway, plantings and back yard are neglected, it brings down the whole appeal.
"Walkways, outdoor rooms and beautiful plantings can make your home rise to a whole new level."
See, then win the house
•The process of designing and building the Blog Cabin in Mathews starts with the fifth season at 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18; cable channels can be found at DIYNetwork.com/tv.
•Enter to win the Blog Cabin in Mathews Aug. 15-Sept. 30 at DIYNetwork.com/blogcabin.
Enter to win renovated 1905-built Blog Cabin in Mathews
Tune in Thursday to see how DIY Network experts turned it into a waterfront paradise
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