About The Blog

Plaster.  Marriage.  Remodeling.  Gardening.  Sinks.  Paint.  Demolition.  Reading.  Writing.  Construction.  Laughing.  Dirt.  Dust.  Mess.  Sheetrock. Frustration.  Renovation.  Tile.  Noise.  Progress.  Lack of progress.  Joy.  Failure.  Faucets. Flooring.  Disappointment.  More noise.  Restoration.  Old stuff.  New stuff.  Budget.  Over budget.  Chaos. Obsession.  Panic.  Hilarity.

Over two years ago, my husband and I bought an old house.

Husband and wife restoring an old house.  Construction, DIY home remodeling.

We moved from a pristine, Arts and Crafts, 1920’s home.  To a disaster 1890’s Victorian.
We have lived here while rehabbing.

It has been:

The Internet has become part of my life in a way that it wasn’t before. The last two years, I’ve spent an insane amount of time hunched over the computer. The access to ideas, inspiration, fixtures, tile, advice… has been invaluable.

The sites I’ve found most valuable are personal, house-centered blogs.  The ones with actual content. And actual homes, with real projects, real experiences, and real limitations. Not just gorgeous pictures and pristinely decorated, unattainable spaces.

I found myself wanting to be a part of that experience—to share the process of what we are doing with our home, with people who are similarly inclined.
I’m so glad you’re here!
April, 2012


  1. City Maman
    August 28, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

    Your blog is hysterical and you are living my dream: renovating an old house into a dream mansion (I’m obsessed with the Property Brothers on HGTV). I’m following you from now on… Once you’re done with that one, we’re hire you for our own house / Tribeca-loft-that-we-need-to-find :)
    Thanks for liking my blog, we are definitively working on our own madness project: raising a child in Manhattan!!



    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 29, 2012 @ 9:23 am

      I will say this—living the dream is *significantly* different than the actual dream. I thought I understood that concept in an abstract way… but now I can say with absolute certainty, that I understood nothing.

      And? I REALLY need a behind-the-scenes crew to make this come together in time for the next commercial break…
      p.s.- your gravatar image is so charming.


  2. Julia at Home on 129 Acres
    August 28, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, Victoria. I’m so glad to receive the direction back to your corner of the reno-DIY universe. The tone of your writing is fabulous. I’ll definitely be back!


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 29, 2012 @ 9:23 am

      When I saw the photo of your mountain of sheetrock/construction debris… I felt right at home. It’s always nice to see that other people have the same version of “normal,” as we do.


  3. Loni Found Herself
    August 28, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

    You look fantastic, too!

    I love everything about this. Well done! Can’t wait to read more.


  4. Apartment Envy
    September 12, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

    I nominated you for One Lovely Blog award today!


    Love your blog! 😀


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      September 13, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

      Hey! Thanks!! I will have to work on my “acceptance post.” You set the bar kind of high for that…


      • Apartment Envy
        September 14, 2012 @ 4:50 am

        You’re too kind! You’re such a great writer (hence the award) so I know you’ll be great!


  5. crazyinsuburbia
    September 17, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

    OK. You may live to regret ever liking my post about my best friend, and following me, because now I’m freaking obsessed, OBSESSED I say, with your blog! You are doing what I’ve not been able to convince my husband to do. That is, buying an old house and bringing it back to life. Jealous much. Just know I’ll be living vicariously through you, and checking in regularly.


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      September 18, 2012 @ 8:27 am

      Your husband may simply be smarter than I am. If he has any concept of how much work is involved. OR if he thinks you might turn into a maniac (I’m not pointing fingers here, just saying how surprised my own husband was at my instant transformation…) He may be protecting you from yourself. Or he may want to keep some semblance of a life… Lol.


  6. R.
    October 7, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

    Just found your blog and it’s fantastic. I’m enjoying your old-house adventures and your posts make me smile.


  7. D'Arcy H
    November 7, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

    Just found your blog through Freshly Pressed. Keep up the good work! We are renovating our Craftsman bunglaow near Seattle, and I feel your pain! And your joy, and your frustration … and your pride. I’ve just started blogging about our experience, too. Hoping that writing about it will keep us motivated, as we are the slowest renovators ever. I’m looking forward to exploring your site!


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      November 9, 2012 @ 8:46 am

      When we moved here, I imagined a process that was organized and timely and efficient. All words that are the opposite of any experience I’ve actually had.

      Slow. Agonizing. Those are better words… If anything, I’ve found that I enjoy the process of blogging about it WAY more than the actual project!!

      Good luck with your house. In the end it’s worth it… Right?


  8. alewyfe
    January 3, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

    I ended up here while looking for ways to win the not-yet-an-argument with my partner over marble tile vs. quarry tile for our bathroom. Yes, quarry tile, which until now I had been ok with… so practical! And easy to clean! And the fellow, he is a little rough on surfaces and lax with cleaning. So he’s probably right… but he saw the marble, and showed it to me and it was on sale and we put a hold on it… and I pictured our amazing future bathroom and imagined showering in it and suddenly NOTHING ELSE WOULD DO and the quarry tile would look exactly like a McDonalds, which is how I was feeling when he called from the material store, ready to pick up our pallet of luxury but for his cold feet, and his friend’s impromptu iphone research, and we weren’t getting the tile after all. Sigh. Back to the drawing board, and hanging insulation, and trying not to step through the hole(s) in the floor on the way to the coffeepot in the morning. But on the flip side, you made me laugh… especially the part about the respirator and the sledgehammer and the absurdity of it all. So, thanks… and good luck!


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      January 4, 2013 @ 11:01 am

      Yup… the pain of separating from “marble attachment.” I know it well. Also the fear of inadvertently building a McDonalds bathroom…

      Choosing our tile was truly miserable. In the end, I think it was worth it… but I really did spend a *crazy* amount of time/energy/brain power devoted to it. And I cannot say I managed to stay on the side of an “almost” argument.

      And? EVEN though I KNOW better… I am now considering marble for our kitchen counters. I KNOW this is lunacy… but like you said, once it gets in your head, nothing else will do.


  9. Shannon
    January 16, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

    I’ve nominated you for a Versatile Blog Award. Check out the deets here: http://thefoodiefarmer.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/huh-who-knew/


  10. TINA
    May 16, 2013 @ 2:10 pm



  11. Kathy
    June 20, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

    Just read your piece about that gigantic antique mirror you found on Craigslist and subscribed while crying with laughter. I don’t follow any blogs but my husband and I bought an 1890s Victorian back in 2007 and while we have done more decorating than demolition at this point, I share your love for beautiful old things and your need to get your hands on as many of them as possible. Most of my best finds have come from my local antique flea market but now I am going to pay more attention to Craigslist. Don’t worry; I am in MA so I won’t be stealing any of your future treasures! Best of luck with your beautiful house!


  12. Terri
    June 21, 2013 @ 12:23 am

    A friend directed me to your blog saying, she’s one of us!! We have a small group of friends on a social networking site that love the holidays, decorating, children, cooking… and we enjoy sharing our lives with one another! I enjoyed your piece on the mirror. Right now I am building a home, starting in July, and I am sure that will be an adventure for my husband and me. Looking forward to reading more posts on your blog!


  13. Keely
    June 21, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

    Oh man, I’m bawling with laughter. We’ve spent the past 4 years fixing up a house of indeterminate origin, so I feel ya on the adventures. But also? That Craigslist/your family consists of insane enablers convo? Weekly occurrence ’round here. (SO happy to have found your blog.)


  14. Wendy S.
    June 29, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

    Hi! I’m new here, and figured that after reading about 6 of your blog articles already, and having about another 6 in different tabs, that I’d leave a comment to say thanks. You’ve given me a lot of laughs this morning, and inspiration to go crazy (in a good way) So thanks for that, I look forward to reading more!


  15. Betsy
    July 1, 2013 @ 5:05 am

    I LOVE seeing this picture! The original BLUE in this window room, made me sad and cry along with the ceiling that needed to be redone in those pictures with the ladder in it…This looks so absolutely serene and calm and vivacious and exciting all at the same time! It’s that Narnia effect in the attic!!!! I would lay there in front of that window all day, reading a book….or at least DREAM of laying in front of that window all day with a good book….on a rainy day…while lying on a feather bed…with candles…and Oooo …we should put a firepace up there in that other part of the room…Yeah, IT WOULD be so COOL! …AND…..yeah….you and me and that idea train that races through our imaginations!


  16. Wesley
    July 1, 2013 @ 11:40 am

    Hi, I just found your blog and it is amazing! I love your writing, and I love your mirrors. This may sound odd, but your writing makes me feel like I can take on anything. And live to tell the tale. Weird, but true!


  17. Katie Cooney
    July 7, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

    Cracked up with the finding of treasure. That 15ft mirror is so rockin’ I would have had a total seizure! And baby where there’s a will there’s a way. When I find a treasure the last thing I’m worried about is “how to get it home.” Come on it’s 2013! Good for you girl. Our home is a small cottage in a village called Willow Glen otherwise known as Silicon Valley. The woman who had the home before was also a color junkie. Crazy stuff.

    Thanks for the Sunday chuckle!


  18. Nicki
    July 12, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

    My goodness, you made me laugh! I think our husbands may be related…mine also will eventually cave to my renovation lunacy (latest project-installing polished granite tile with epoxy grout in our 27 x 10′ kitchen~ “We have HOW long to use each batch of grout?? 55 min?? Are you kidding me?””I’m helping, it will be fine…..”) I have subscribed, as I love to laugh, and I love to renovate…you are my new hero!


  19. Anne
    August 13, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

    I just spent an entire morning reading ALL your posts, some of them twice. My previous house, a bungalow gem, was decorated entirely off Craigslist. My husband and I bought our current house last November. 1907, shabby but livable, much like yours. However, I have one thing that you don’t have: a badly installed jacuzzi-tub and mirrored walls on a third floor that could be my ballroom. It’s hideous.
    My husband, Dan (my version of Paul), is currently working on cabinets and a fermentation area in the cellar (homebrewed beer is another whole subject). That is his priority, and since he does most of the work, he (sometmes) gets to decide what to work on.
    Next, the butler’s pantry. Then, the backyard. Then, the kitchen, which is where we run out of money.
    I live in a fabulous, shabby house, in construction chaos, with no end in sight. I look forward to reading about your kitchen dilemmas and decisions. You make it sound so much more entertaining than it really is!


  20. vito andolini
    October 24, 2013 @ 9:12 am

    I was navigating through construction blogs and found yours. Read your informative and creatively written blogs and i find them amazing. great work victoria


  21. Martha
    January 12, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

    Hi Victoria
    I’ve just spent 30 minutes hidden in my office browsing your blog. I even locked the door so the kids can’t interrupt my thinking (ok, maybe it’s been an hour). It’s been a joy discovering your ideas, experiences and successes. I can relate to the elation and frustration you write about. Over the course of 9 years, we remodeled an entire house in Aptos, CA, only to put it on the market three months after it was “done”. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected NINE years to get it just right, much less let some other family enjoy it. During that time, I kept track of purchases in Quicken, (I actually use Quicken like a marital diary – my husband and I have used it since our first year of marriage and it tells us what we’ve done and how much it cost since 1998). But, I have never had the guts to run the report to see what my remodeling Grand Total was. Sometimes I thought that was a sign of unhealthy financial management, others I figured it would assay the guilt of not having recouped a nickel when the house sold (it was bad timing, not bad design). Now, we’re settled in a new town, in a new house. Experience had told us to find the “perfect house” that needed “no work”. Apparently nine years and gobs of money did nothing to satiate the need to redesign, repaint, remove, redo. I even avoid using certain rooms as a way to hold back the temptation. But at the end of the day, I know it’s just a matter of time before I start picking off the wallpaper that gives everyone vertigo. And I’m just thankful for all the people who do really weird (can I say stupid?) things to houses that I get to change (fix?) and pour my heart into. Thanks for your writing and the energy it takes to create this wonderful blog. I really admire you… Martha


  22. Laura
    October 4, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

    Hi Victoria,
    LOVE the blog! It has instantly become my favourite! Just got my husband to read the portal to Downton Abbey/Narnia Craigslist post — in an attempt to show him that my Craiglist obsession could be worse 😉 (I totally love that wardrobe though). Can’t wait to see what you guys do with the kitchen!


  23. Kim
    June 25, 2015 @ 9:20 am

    It took us 10 years. 10 years. 10 YEARS! to “finish” our house. That included an entire summer with my refrigerator on the deck and no stove, the year when we went to Italy rather than put in flooring, the wallpaper disaster, the hunt for replacement wallpaper since the original was no longer available ANYWHERE. The scrapping of the wallpaper and deciding to do Venetian plaster instead. The elegant and understated gold plaster bedroom plan that became a garish carnival tent orangy-gold in execution that I pretended to love afterward, knowing that to hate it meant tearing out the drywall or living with plaster dust and months upon months of power sanding of those indestructible plastered walls… The planned “pond” in the yard that became an empty pit that nagged at me for six years until I filled it with excess mulch and yard waste, thus insuring the perfect conditions for colonies of wasps to live…and finishing all this gloriousness in time to sell it in a short-sale, thus ensuring that we never, ever, not even once lived in a finished house. And we would buy it back in a heartbeat if we could, even with the wasp pit, the gold-ish bedroom and all. Even though the new owners have killed my lavender hedge I so carefully grew and, through inattention or simply not giving a crap, allowed my herb beds and rose garden to die. I would still move there tomorrow and remove the drywall from that bedroom and…sigh.


  24. Amanda B
    August 24, 2015 @ 6:55 pm

    I am so stoked to have found your blog via Pinterest. I grew up in Cinnaminson and know your house well. I used to trick-or-treat there and remember it being for sale for so long. At the time the house was for sale I was too young and did not have the money to do what you are doing.
    I love reading and living in Riverton through your eyes now that I am in the Metro Detroit area.


  25. Kathy
    December 25, 2015 @ 11:21 pm

    Hello Victoria,
    You and I are sisters under the skin. Incredible. I was laughing so hard at the subtle way you approach Paul to join you in Craigslist adventuring. I was reading the 15 foot mirror post. And then, I shared it with my husband. I did the voices and everything! He stood expressionless, shaking his head. Somehow, he missed the hilarity of it all. Did I mention that we spent Christmas Day slathering polyurethane on our reclaimed wood ceiling? Yeah, that was my idea. I ran across a fellow who was peeling the cedar siding off his house, convinced him to give it to me (for FREE!) and spent several weekends, trimming, de-spidering, and yanking incredibly well-seated nails. Now that lovely wood is my living room ceiling. I’m, ahem, WE’RE doing our darnedest to turn this 1977 rancher into a farmhouse. And so, I think my husband has nothing but sympathy for your husband. I’ll keep stopping back. I love to laugh.


  26. Lauren
    September 9, 2016 @ 2:04 pm

    Oh my god, girl. Your blog is crack. Seriously – stop feeding my addiction. Well, actually it’s not an addiction – It’s an addiction I -want- to have, but currently don’t because I’m poor and I don’t have a Paul. Everyone needs a Paul, I think. I’m pretty much my own Paul, but without Paul-level skills. I just read your blog and pretend like I’m Paul – in my head. It’s fun up there…

    I live in a 1982 monstrosity with literally. every. ceiling. vaulted. Yes, even the freaking bathrooms. WTF? Like seriously… WT actual F? I’ve come to think of the elevated cobwebs and clearly visible spiders as decorative. I’ll just live in the Beetlejuice house. Why not? It’s totes retro. Oh, did I mention the stamped plaster ceilings with stalactites of cobwebby plaster dangling down like looming daggers of death? I just don’t look up most of the time.

    My DIY renovation dreams were crushed in 2010 when I moved into my house with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I was addicted to watching the DIY network. And I applied to be on one of the shows. And we were. And it was a nightmare and awful. Master bathroom. Still not done. Functional, but not pretty. Don’t care. Too much trauma. We actually broke up for about a month after the filming crew left, lol.

    Anyway. Looooove your blog. Love your writing. And I too am the boss and the “I know exactly everything and why don’t you just shut your mouth and pick up the hammer and do what I say?” person.


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