Before & After: Barbie Doesn’t Live in This Victorian Anymore

by hookedonhouses on May 7, 2010

Victorian house after-front doorReaders send me the most interesting e-mails! I recently heard from Renée, who wrote, “I found your blog because I caught a stranger outside taking pictures of my recently renovated 1890 Victorian. I asked her what on earth she was doing, and she blushed and directed me to this blog. I had to laugh because I have done the same thing!”

Now I want to know which of you was the one taking the pics? ‘Fess up!

Renée also sent me photos of the exterior of her house, before and after they restored it. Check out this one taken of it in 1912 as a parade was passing by:

Victorian house in 1912-paradeThe women in the parade were members of an auxiliary known as the Ladies of the Maccabees.

By the time Renée bought the house, it had endured several unfortunate remodels. Half of the original porch had even been hacked off, as you can see in the photo below. She says, “The tacky vinyl siding made it look like Barbie’s Dream House.”

Victorian house before

They had their job cut out for them. They proceeded to remove all the siding and repair, restore, and paint the original wood siding. She says it was in remarkably good shape underneath.

Victorian house after 1

This photo (above) was taken while the renovation was in progress, and before the 1980s door was replace with the ones you saw in the top photo. But you can see that they restored the original wraparound porch that connects the two doors.

They found the “new” doors in an antique shop (below). Renée says, “Under the original hardware they were dated 1865, so they are a little bit older than the house, but they fit perfectly so we can’t complain!”

Victorian house after-porch

She planned to paint the porch ceiling haint blue but learned that the Victorian tradition in their area had been to stain them instead.

hand-cut corbels

The roof is the original slate from 1890. “We’ve never had a leak or problem. They don’t build them like that anymore!”

The corbels, fishscale shingles, and cedar shakes are all original to the house, too–most were almost completely intact under the vinyl siding. Amazing. Their contractor Tom hand-cut some of the corbels around the porch to match the original ones when they restored it.

Victorian house after-turret side

The tower doesn’t extend to the 3rd floor, but it goes down into the basement. Renée says:

“The turret room in the basement is behind a door separated from the rest of that room and there is a creepy bin that looks like a coffin, but we think it must have been coal storage at some point. We still find pieces of coal once in a while although the house has been heated with a gas fired boiler for decades.”

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bungalowbliss May 7, 2010 at 7:23 am

What a treasure to have documentation of how the house looked so long ago. I can’t help but wonder about the division of the porch…another “what-were-they-thinking” moment, for sure!

Funny, I didn’t even notice the details of the corbels and fishscale siding in the “before” pic. Kudos to Renée for bringing attention back to these beautiful features and for restoring her home to its former glory. Well done!

MissCaron May 7, 2010 at 7:30 am

AWESOME. What a great job renovating!
.-= MissCaron´s last blog ..T P C =-.

molly b May 7, 2010 at 7:34 am

Oh! This reminds me of my old neighborhood in Buffalo. I miss it so much. Beautiful renovation!!

Kat in Texas May 7, 2010 at 7:58 am

While I’m not a fan of Victorian architecture, I can certainly appreciate the outstanding effort Renee has put forth in restoring this house to its former glory. Kudos all around!

Becky K May 7, 2010 at 8:03 am

Oh my, all of the detailing.
I love that someone else was taking a picture to blog about.

Becky K.
Hospitality Lane
.-= Becky K´s last blog ..I Have Chosen A Date! =-.

Kara May 7, 2010 at 8:05 am

So happy to see people restore historical houses instead of just remodeling (aka butchering) them. NICE job! It looks beautiful!

Rosie May 7, 2010 at 8:06 am

Inside…inside…what does it look like inside?????

Beth@The Stories of A2Z May 7, 2010 at 8:16 am

I adore old Victorians and have been blessed to live in areas where I can gawk at them frequently! This one turned out beautifully.
.-= Beth@The Stories of A2Z´s last blog ..Sunless Tanners 2010: Review and Request for Opinions =-.

Michelle May 7, 2010 at 8:19 am

That house is so lucky to have them, they did a wonderful job!! I really like the stained roof, it’s a nice change from all the paint so I can see why that was customary. The porch is beautiful, everything is so nice.

We are redoing our porch and my husband spied wood siding under our aluminum. I’ve been wondering if it was still under there and now that I know it is, I’m itching to see what shape it is in. My hubby keeps saying to me, please, please promise you won’t rip any siding off while I’m at work, please! lol Who, me?? ;)
.-= Michelle´s last blog ..Yard Sale Find =-.

Sheila May 7, 2010 at 8:23 am

Amazing! They did a fantastic job. I sent this link to my friends in K.C., who bought an 1800s Victorian that used to stand near Union Station (three Victorians were moved to their current location during construction) and returned it to its former glory — and possibly made it even better (it’s got orange on it; what can be better?!). I’m hoping they’ll submit pics to you for posting, if you like what you see. :) Happy Friday!
.-= Sheila´s last blog ..Misspellings and missed hyphens in La-La Land =-.

Bella Michelle May 7, 2010 at 8:35 am

LOVELY! I am inspired!!!
.-= Bella Michelle´s last blog ..Senior Prom…the final one…….. =-.

Kelli May 7, 2010 at 8:42 am

Why in the world would someone cover up all of that lovely woodwork with vinyl siding?! I guess because it’s less maintenance? Thank goodness it was preserved underneath. The owner is so lucky to have documentation of their home. So neat. Thanks for sharing!
.-= Kelli´s last blog ..Tuesday Truth #10 – I can’t stop looking =-.

hip hip gin gin May 7, 2010 at 8:50 am

What a wonderful preservation job! I’m always puzzled by people doing strange things to lovely old houses, vinyl siding, cutting off porches, covering up gorgeous details, why? Glad this old beauty found owners who truly appreciate and love her! Hope they are happy in this house for many years to come.
.-= hip hip gin gin´s last blog ..‘Tis Better to Give =-.

meaghan May 7, 2010 at 8:53 am

i’ve always wondered who goes to all the trouble to properly restore an old home, and…why?! NOW i know!!! this is gorgeous!!! i’m a convert ;)
.-= meaghan´s last blog ..Garage Sale =-.

Gwen May 7, 2010 at 9:02 am

Julia….this story is just precious. I love to take pictures of houses…always fearful that someone might really object. I love the landscape as much as the homes. I found interesting to stain the porch ceiling. I also have a “haint blue” porch but have often wondered if there is a specific color of blue that is most often used.
Thanks….as always!
.-= Gwen´s last blog ..Tiny Smocking =-.

pattie and allie May 7, 2010 at 9:15 am

Gorgeous! They did a wonderful job!
xoxo Pattie
.-= pattie and allie´s last blog ..Part 1 of the Giveaway ends tonight! Spicy Shrimp and Lago di Como =-.

middle sister May 7, 2010 at 9:17 am

Excellent and admirable job. What a great restoration-can we see inside?

Richella at Imparting Grace May 7, 2010 at 9:29 am

What a wonderful thing for her to have old photos of her house!

When we lived in a small town in Michigan, I was amazed at how many Victorian houses there were. While some of Victorian architecture is a bit much for me, I do love the high ceilings, long windows, and wrap-around porches.

I really admire anyone who will lovingly restore a home to its former glory. Then the house is a treasure not only to the homeowner but also to the community. Thanks to Renee’ and to you for sharing this treasure with us!

Cindy May 7, 2010 at 9:32 am

It’s so cool that they have that old picture. I admire people who invest so much in their historical treasures, especially those detailed Victorians. They did a fabulous job of restoration.

greenie May 7, 2010 at 9:34 am

Beautiful restoration! And thank the gods they restored the porch back to it’s original–the hatchet job they did on it is inexcusable.

Robin Feltner May 7, 2010 at 9:36 am

I adore Victorian houses! (so much!) I’m just in awe of the history of it all. Love the old photo. It really makes you realize how old those houses really are.
.-= Robin Feltner´s last blog ..Rocco DiSpirito Now Eat This =-.

Pat May 7, 2010 at 9:52 am

What an awesome and detailed job! I so admire the work and dedication it takes to restore one of these beauties!
Where is this house? It reminds me so much of one of our beautiful historic neighborhoods here in Michigan….so curious!
.-= Pat´s last blog ..Craving Tofu – NOT =-.

Nichole May 7, 2010 at 10:00 am

That is too funny. You are breeding house stalkers!

Lesley @ TheDesignFile May 7, 2010 at 10:18 am

Really beautiful. I love the color scheme.
.-= Lesley @ TheDesignFile´s last blog ..Be creative with your side tables =-.

Julie Harward May 7, 2010 at 10:29 am

I love them so much! Wish I had one here! We do have tourist stoppong all summer to take pictures of our home but I think the huge red rock mountain behind it has much to do with why they stop! LOL Today is a special day at my blog..come say hi :D
.-= Julie Harward´s last blog ..MOTHERHOOD IS SUCH A GIFT…. =-.

Amanda @ Serenity Now May 7, 2010 at 11:34 am

I liked seeing the progress through the years…such amazing details. :) Not personally a fan of the paint colors (don’t hate me!), but they did such a wonderful job. You can tell a lot of love went into this home. :)

Deidra May 7, 2010 at 11:37 am

What a cool house!

One day I was taking photos of a house in our neighborhood while my husband hid behind the trees. I shouted over to him “This is my very favorite house!” and someone answered, “Thank you!” It was the owner, hidden behind her shrubs while she pulled a few weeds. We chatted, but not too long because I was embarrassed when my husband wouldn’t come out from behind the tree and it seemed I had been shouting to myself.
.-= Deidra´s last blog ..Ta Da! =-.

Karena May 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Julia, I love to see your before and afters. My sister renovated a Victorian several years ago, quite a labor of love!!

Art by Karena
.-= Karena´s last blog ..Opening Night Art Exhibit & Reception =-.

Visual Vamp May 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm

These grand old Victorian girls respond so well to TLC!
What a wonderful transformation!
xo xo
.-= Visual Vamp´s last blog ..Jackie Von Tobel Invites Bloggers To New Media Day =-.

Kim May 7, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Julia. Wow. Wow. Wow. I sooooooo appreciate all the work that they went through to restore this house! Can you believe it! I need that kind of energy. I was even more impressed when I read what you wrote about the restoration being so authentic.
.-= Kim´s last blog ..Luncheon for a Mother and Daughter~ =-.

Visual Vamp May 7, 2010 at 12:19 pm

These grand old Victorian gals respond so well to some TLC.
What a wonderful transformation!
xo xo
.-= Visual Vamp´s last blog ..Jackie Von Tobel Invites Bloggers To New Media Day =-.

Jen May 7, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Ha! I hope the photo taker posts a confession.

I’m in Michigan, like two other posters above. This house definitely isn’t in my town, but we do have some very similar type houses.

Dagny @ Scandinavian Chic May 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm

LOVE all those details!! So intriate.
.-= Dagny @ Scandinavian Chic´s last blog ..Wonderwall giveaway – the Judith could be yours! =-.

Pat May 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

What a gorgeous restoration and beautiful house!
.-= Pat´s last blog ..Artful Blogging in the West Village =-.

Kim May 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm

What a beautiful house! I don’t understand why the previous homeowners wanted to cover up that beautiful siding and chop off the porch. I am just glad that the house was restored it to it’s orriginal state.

rue May 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm

OMG Julia. That house is amazing and I LOVE those people for bringing it back to it’s true self.

.-= rue´s last blog ..New doesn’t always equal better =-.

Lara Jane May 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Why anyone wants to put vinyl siding (or windows) on ANY house, much less an historic house, is beyond me.

Well done Renee & Co!

Annie@ A view on design May 7, 2010 at 5:09 pm

.-= Annie@ A view on design´s last blog ..Contemporary Subiaco Style =-.

Jenny May 7, 2010 at 5:31 pm

That is a funny story about the lady taking pics of her house! What a great restoration!
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..Links I Like: 13th Edition =-.

Susan May 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I would LOVE to see pictures of the inside! This is a real treasure–love those fish scale shingles and the new colors!
.-= Susan´s last blog ..Bathroom Beauty Snapping…This One’s for the Girls =-.

E. George May 8, 2010 at 12:35 am

Hi Julia what a lovely restoration I really love the way people built houses in the old days they are guaranteed to be good quality not like these days even when you pay a lot of money they still try to cheat in some way so this house has been saved for all of us to admire the love and workmanship put into it and thank you so much for sharing you never let us down. Well on that note I like to wish you and all the mums a happy mothers day. Regards Esther from Sydney on a beautiful Saturday autumn afternoon……

LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE May 8, 2010 at 7:51 am

Beautiful transformation! A lot of work there. Yes, the southern way is to paint the porch ceiling blue — to ward off evil spirits and birds. Thanks for showing, -s
.-= LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE´s last blog ..Blue Bahia Creates Wow Factor in Remodeled Storm-Ravaged Kitchen; House Part of Galveston Island’s Annual Historical Home Tour — This Weekend =-.

Tracy May 8, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Its a lovely house in person too! I pass it frequently when I am in upstate NY.

Jenn Calling Home May 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Wow, beautiful! Is she going to share pics of the inside?
.-= Jenn Calling Home´s last blog ..A Doctor’s Office Script =-.

Peg May 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Beautiful restoration! I love the exterior colors, and the use of color shows off all the trim so nicely. I’d love to peek inside too.
.-= Peg´s last blog ..Nashville/Splashville Update =-.

DesignTies May 9, 2010 at 10:21 pm

This is such a gorgeous house!! It looks so much better now that it’s been restored to its former glory. And the colours Renee used are fabulous!!

.-= DesignTies´s last blog ..The never-ending master bedroom makeover =-.

~ ~Ahrisha~ ~ May 10, 2010 at 9:26 am

It is so special to have the 1912 picture of your home. Amazing redo.
.-= ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~´s last blog ..Sooo Much Fun and Antiques Too =-.

Kathy May 11, 2010 at 10:53 am

I would have stopped and taken a picture too! This looks very similar to a grand old lady in our town. Her former owner did the same thing with practically the same colors!
Simply Beautiful,
.-= Kathy´s last blog ..A new look for an old fireplace =-.

Marie May 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Hello sweet Julia – I’m catching up from last week’s Met Monday! I love this story. And what a house! So fabulous. Love the before and after and all the history it has. The colors are amazing!

Thank you for sharing. I’d love to have you stop by and enter my giveaway!

.-= Marie´s last blog ..beautifully broken =-.

Lisa T. May 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Love the colors and the stained porch ceiling. Lovely job.

Juju at Tales of July 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Now that is one sexy Victorian!

I could totally see my self getting in trouble like this.
.-= Juju at Tales of´s last blog ..Contest- Superhero Needed =-.

jeanne illenye January 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

Absolutely FANTASTIC!!!! How wonderful to see such a spectacular and respectful renovation! Love it!

Mat Romano February 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I think this house is in my home town of Franklin Pennsylvania…..I cant believe I came across it, and if it isnt there’s a spitting image of it. Let me know

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