WALDOBORO, Maine — It’s as peaceful and pastoral a setting as could be found anywhere in Maine.
The 1884 high-posted Cape Cod-style house, with 30 acres of fields rolling down to the broad tidal basin that is the mouth of Medomak River, sits on a dead-end road. On a recent cloudless, mid-September day, it was the sort of place that people from urban areas yearn to escape to, even if for just a week.
Yet as quintessentially Maine as the former Robie family farmhouse is, it has been inspected — inside and out — by millions of people. The DIY Network bought and renovated the house as its “blog cabin,” and will give it away in an online sweepstakes that closes Sept. 28.
In each of the last six years, the DIY Network — which is part of the Scripps Networks, which operates HGTV, the Travel Channel, the Food Network, the Cooking Channel and GAC, among others — invites viewers to vote on product and design choices as a selected house is renovated.
With 60 choices put before viewers during the Waldoboro house renovation, some 6 million votes were logged on DIY Network’s website between January and March.
The DIY Network’s Beverly Anderson and Dylan Eastman led a recent tour of the house, explaining the uniquely Maine touches that were included along with high-end amenities, a style Anderson calls “rustic refined.” The 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bath house is valued at $700,000.
The work began last fall, but did not get underway in earnest until the spring.
“We send crews up to film significant moments,” Anderson said, such as when the new roof, insulation and drywall are installed.
But the house primarily serves as a venue for the network’s various home improvement shows. The show Kitchen Crashers took on renovating the kitchen, House Crashers took on the family room, Bathroom Crashers worked on the master bedroom and bath, Mega Dens tackled the upstairs media room and lounge area and Desperate Landscapes and Yard Crashers worked on the front and back yards, respectively.
Products by sponsors were used and featured prominently, such as flooring by Lumber Liquidators, paint by Sherwin Williams, Budget Blinds, James Hardie clapboards and shingles, Mitsubishi heating and electric, Trex decking, Kohler fixtures and GE appliances.
The new windows were provided by Mathews Brothers of Belfast, a manufacturer based in the city since 1854. A tour of the plant was included in one of the shows.
As the person responsible for shepherding the various projects to completion, Eastman said waiting for the voting results delayed the work. And, he joked, if viewers are given the choice between simple and complicated, they inevitably go for the latter, creating challenges for contractors.
The crews and hosts each invaded the homestead beginning in late April, and “we wrapped shooting just before Memorial Day,” Anderson said, creating a hectic schedule.
Eastman enthusiastically showed off the individual touches given to the house, such as the double herringbone pattern in the entry area floor, old hinges and cabinet doors reused in the family room shelves, wood from a sheep corral, “which we literally found down the street,” for the kitchen’s coffee bar and reclaimed wood from the house used in a kitchen table.
“It’s elegant,” he said of the Georgian revival house, “but it’s also got that charm of wood tones.” Some of the rustic wood used as accents here and there came from shipping pallets, Eastman said, a rather humble, if “green” source. But there also is Australian cypress flooring on the first floor and American walnut on the second.
A small home office on the second floor, which had been an attic before the renovation, illustrates the mix-and-match approach used throughout. The room’s clean lines and gleaming floor are juxtaposed against a desktop of reclaimed wood and a chair made from an old hay rake seat found locally.
Other rural touches include a large “farm” sink in the master bath, the double front door repurposed as a set of swinging doors into the master suite, other old doors put together to form a rustic wall behind the bed in the master suite and the house’s original wood gutter used for chips and money pockets in the poker table in the second floor den area.
The local area’s highlights are featured on the DIY Network’s website, potentially giving a boost to the region’s tourism.
DIY Network donated 30 acres of land across the road from the house that leads to a nearby pond to the Medomak Valley Land Trust.
The final Blog Cabin show airs at 9 p.m. Sept. 27 on the DIY Network, then again at 8 a.m. Sept. 28 on HGTV.