About The House - Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

About The House

  • Smallish, tallish, Victorian.
  • Built in 1890.
  • Seven miles from Philadelphia.
  • Previously inhabited by color-mad owners.

See the project page.
Read the story of how we got here.

Popular posts:
DIY bath remodel.
Front porch stain-color-nightmare.
Greatest Craigslist find EVER.
Luxury kitchen rant.

Click on any photo to enlarge… Once enlarged, you can scroll through all of them with the arrows under the picture, or with your keyboard’s forward arrow.

Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring our Victorian home. Fixing up an old house with my husband has been challenging for our marriage because it’s hard to agree on design decisions. Restoring our 1890 Victorian home. DIY old house renovation. Finishing and insulating the attic. Frustration. Marriage. Old house renovation beginning with insulating the attic. Restoring our Victorian house. DIY old house renovation. A blog about restoring our Victorian home. Living in a house you’re fixing up can be overwhelming. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Before photo of our old Victorian house restoration. Before photos of our old-house renovation Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes.  Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Designing a kitchen layout to include the addition on our old house. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes.Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes.  Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. Restoring Our 1890 Victorian. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes.

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67 Comments

  1. ourheritagehome

    Wow, that is alot of colour! Very charming house with lots of potential;) look forward to following along and seeing your projects and transformations.

    Reply

    • VictoriaElizabethBarnes

      A lot of color… yes. Which equals a lot of primer. We have gone through a small sea of five-gallon buckets of white primer. Trying to cover that pink is enough to drive you crazy. We haven’t even tried to cover any purple yet, but I imagine it will be just as fun…

      Reply

      • letitia

        We just bought a house built in 1890 in Cincinnati Ohio. Hardwood floors under all the carpet, beautiful, but has buckling in three rooms in the downstairs. good thing is it is only like one board in each room that has lifted. I have not seen any boards like these. they are not as thick as normal ones nor are they as wide. These boards do have tongue and grove i think. It also has a design as a square starting in the middle working out from about 6 ft in the center of the room. it isa beautiful but need to find a few more boards to fix buckled boards. working now on down spots and getting the leaks fixed so we can move in it and finish the restoration. We have been told it is a three family but i suspect it was just a one family at one time. This house has 12 foot ceilings and beautiful intricate tall pocket doors downstairs. The front door is hand carved wood and i suspect it had stained glass in it along with the sidelights and the top. These are broken due to vandals but i am researching to see if anyone has pictures of the house originally and I will remake the stained glass. right now I am just trying to get my wood working machinery in the house so i can start to re manufacture the small intricate windows up on the third floor. I love to see your pics. and it has inspired me to continue. If u have any idea where to find things like door handles or old skeleton keys. The house has a slate roof and i have had 2 people come and look at it to seal it or repair a few slates but they didn’t want to get on roof because it is so steep. Anyone know of someone in Cincinnati who doesn’t charge an arm and a leg let me know. Again thanks for the pics. they are great and i wish u luck. Please don’t stop letting us know of your progress and more pics pls.

        Reply

      • Shannon

        What color is the outside of the home. It’s like an ice blue? Very refreshing. I’d love to paint my house that color. Could you email me the color code/name etc. to Shannon.oshea.darsch@gmail.com. I’m in the process or prepping my home now for the paint.

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

          It’s Behr, Cool Sky (Home Depot)… I hope you like it. I looked at about 57,000 shades of blue.
          GOOD LUCK!

          Reply

  2. hns83

    Lovely blog! We moved into a 1940s home a month ago and are in the process of working through renos as well. Our pervious owners were also colour happy (red, yellows, orange, blue)! Eventually we will tansform it to a lovely white box. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      Nice to meet a fellow renovator suffering the color-choices of their po… Sometimes people will tell me that these must be the original, historic colors. Which makes me laugh. No self respecting Victorian painted their interior and exterior ceilings orange…

      Reply

      • julian

        They really did use amazing color – including orange.

        Reply

  3. oddprofessor

    I… kind of like it, but I don’t have to live with it! My husband calls that kind of color “B&B choices.” He feels that an old house gets painted like that in order to create “whimsey,” and that’s the province of a certain kind of B&B.

    However, orange ceilings? :-D

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      Yes, whimsy we had LOTS of. It suited the previous owners… their décor and style was appealing it its own way. But for us, the color onslaught was crazy. I didn’t dislike any of the colors individually, but the effect of all the rooms together was too much. The bright-salmon color traveled through the foyer, up three flights of stairs, and down a hallway… it sucked all the light out of the area. By the time we got around to painting it, I couldn’t believe how much brighter the house was.

      Reply

  4. Tonya

    I can understand why it would make you a bit crazy, but I really like the color in what looks like an attic room.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      Hi Tonya,
      I’m sure you’re talking about the small room with the pitched roof and half-moon window… I actually really love that color. Kind of a robin’s egg blue. It was very cozy and the color was great in the small, unusual space… but we ended up returning the third-floor to its original layout. And I couldn’t imagine using that much color in a very large room!

      Reply

      • Tonya

        Makes sense. I found the picture where you were re-doing the walls after I posted:).

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

          That was a hot, dusty mess… let me tell you. I was ready to be finished after about 20 minutes… which was not nearly the amount of time needed to complete it!!

          Reply

  5. A city girl

    lime green and blue? orange and purple? that would drive me mad…I bet you got a good deal on the house because a lot of people house shopping can’t see the bones and floorpan of a house because all they can see are things they can easily change…like colors. I lovve your house and the things you are doing with it. I am an eclectic decorator but all those colors would drive me craaaaazy.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      The colors were absolutely insane. Looking at the photos, I’m still confused why anyone would do that to their house. We did get a good deal… but this was my first house purchase. I saw too much of the potential and not enough of the work!! I walked in and fell in love with the front doors. Literally, I was obsessed with the hinges, which are super ornate… maybe not the best reason to buy a house!!

      Our previous house, my husband had already been living in and was finished the renovation when I met him. He is extraordinarily capable, but without me having an understanding of the hard work involved, it kind of seemed like he just fixed stuff with magic.

      So when we considered this one, I just went ahead and fell in love with it and had no concept of the practicalities involved in renovating a 120 year old house. My husband did try to warn me…but I think until you actually do it, you cannot understand the scope of the project.

      Reply

  6. eighttreestreet

    Love your colors!

    Reply

  7. kathycarre

    What a beautifil home! We have those old hardwood floors, one of which is still under carpet…that is our next job! Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      The carpet is probably a blessing… it really protects the floors over the years. We needed to refinish about half of ours. We still have a few rooms to do, but it makes ALL the difference in the world.

      Reply

  8. dianeskitchentable

    I love your house! Okay, so you’ve got some funky colors but it reminds me a little of our first house in a way. The woman had painted every room electric blue, including ceilings…except for the purple room. It was only paint & we got a super deal because buyers had a hard time seeing past the overwhelming color.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      Well… I give her credit for going for her dream. Electric blue ceilings are a statement not too many people are comfortable making! I personally don’t need that much color in my life, but I’ve been surprised by the people who came over to our house and REALLY liked what I considered blinding!! Particularly the orange under the front porch roof. I thought it was insane, but a couple of people found it really appealing. Reminding me that I am not actually the arbiter of good taste for everyone.

      Reply

  9. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer

    The office building we bought had to be refinished, and we tried to keep it as authentic as possible. I guess that means we didn’t use the oranges, purples or lime greens!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      Sometimes we rip into something and find a new section of wall that is yet ANOTHER, different color we hadn’t even seen yet!

      Reply

  10. scottiev

    lol! I love that the colors are at least really happy! It IS a bit busy, though looking at the pictures all together did make me smile!!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      Yes, busy indeed! I didn’t even need to write any text for this page—the photos totally speak for themselves…

      Reply

  11. doyouspeakvintage

    E-
    Wow! You are in for a ride with all of that color. Good for you for taking photos before. Yes, the photso absolutely speak for themselves. go, girl!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      The before photos have sometimes escaped me… it was a lot to move in and be plunged into chaos immediately. There are whole rooms I don’t have a photo of, except once we’d dug in.

      I guess that was also back when I couldn’t imagine I’d ever need to be reminded how bad it looked!

      Reply

  12. skinnyonlinny

    Color-mad indeed! Good lord! I’m excited to follow your progress.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      I know, right? If I didn’t have the photos to prove it, no one would believe the extent of the craziness.

      Reply

  13. rabidlittlehippy

    Wow! This looks a lot like the house we’ve just bought. The previous owner wasn’t quite so colour mad… BUT… He did love ugly coloured suede paint! The walls are either blue, burgundy or mustard yellow and even some of the ceilings have been sueded. We too will be swimming in primer and sanding it back or in some cases, replacing the plasterboard. Looking forward to following your reno journey. Thanks for popping by too.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      Amazing, isn’t it? How with some paint and a texturizing tool, someone can make an unbelievable amount of work for the next owner.

      We had popcorn ceiling paint at another property… scraping it off was possibly the most tedious experience I’ve ever had. Fortunately (I guess it was fortunate??) there was wallpaper underneath, so it wasn’t adhered directly to the plaster. What a mess…

      Good luck with your projects. I can vouch for the fact that they will be miserable while in progress and that you will forget all about the misery after they’re done!!

      Reply

      • rabidlittlehippy

        We’ve got 3 kids under 5 so the option to do it ourselves in this instance really isn’t there and we want to move in asap and rent out our current house so I get to pass over the dubious pleasure of de-texturising our walls to a professional. Once the floors are done (tiling and carpetting), walls are painted and a new kitchen is in (sadly the existing one is in burgundy and black and is trashed to within an inch of its life) then we will move it. Greening up and personalising the rest of the house will come in time, when we have time around veggie gardening, raising chickens and playing with the 3 kids. :)

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

          Please take my word for it, that paying someone to do it for you? Is the best decision you can make… It’s pretty much my greatest fantasy at this point.

          Reply

          • rabidlittlehippy

            LMAO! I’ve done painting in my time, including suede although with judicious use of both colour and limited location, but having painted first whilst pregnant, with 1 containable child and later with 1 containable and 1 non-containable, the thought of 3 uncontainable children and a whole house needing painting gives me horrors. Best of luck with your reno’s and very much looking forward to following your journey.

            Reply

  14. Tressie

    Before you dive into that purple, a suggestion? Ask your Hardware store about how to K I L Z, KILZ a wall. This stuff cover virtually everything, usually only takes one coat then you can primer then paint. We used it on our lime green and sky blue walls, worked beautifully!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      YES! We essentially now own stock in Kills…
      Although we found that both the purple and the hot pink required a couple of coats. Something about dark red pigment is extremely persistent!

      Reply

  15. travelgardeneat

    Our century-old house was never a looker, probably more a working-class family home, farmhouse style construction, but gotta’ love those old house bones. It had been remuddled over the years when we bought it, and the entryway was one of my favorites — black and white stick on vinyl tile in checkerboard in the entryway, black metal/fake ironwork stair railing, textured walls with silver sprinkles scattered about for a late night disco effect. Renovating or even just “unmuddling” an old house is an adventure! I look forward to following yours. ~ Kat

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      I personally love a disco, so I hope you kept the silver spangles…
      Old homes are wonderful… it’s the intervening owners and their wild ideas about what’s appealing!!

      Reply

  16. food.life.zen.

    used to work at a paint store. God bless your soul for doing all this. Totally worth the work, it looks FAB!!!!

    Reply

  17. kolorfulkreations

    wow! my 4 year old son would love this house. He wants to have a “Rainbow Colored” house. :D

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      I laughed out loud. Apparently my previous owners had the same design aesthetic as your four-year-old!

      Reply

  18. Amanda S.

    Just stumbled onto your blog. Moving to the Philly burbs in a few months. What’s with the crazy paint?? I see it in so many homes on the market! What a great project!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      That surprises me, about other houses… I’ve been attributing the colors to our previous owner’s wacky sense of style… not, a trend that anyone else would find appealing.

      Welcome back to Philly!

      Reply

      • Amanda S.

        I kid you not, there was this house with the living room painted BLACK. JET BLACK!!! With a huge red lamp. It really didn’t work…at all…

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

          Well, you know… they say black goes with everything. We looked at a house where they painted all the ceilings a deep, crimson red…

          Reply

  19. Áine Warren

    That colour really is something but I love the house. I’ve been meaning to go through more of your posts to get a better feel for it!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      I know, right? Every time I look at this page, I’m amazed anew—at the sheer rainbow effect.

      Reply

      • Áine Warren

        Haha, yes. Actually, an old lecturer of mine has recently done something similar to his hallway in his house. All I could say when he showed me the pictures was “oh wow!”. But whatever floats these people’s boats!

        Reply

  20. Meghan

    Love your comment about color-mad previous owners! ALL the rooms in our house were yellow… the SAME yellow. I’m now on a mission to make every room a DIFFERENT COLOR and there are no yellow walls left!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      HA! We’ve painted every room yellow! A pale yellow. A nondescript yellow. Probably exactly what you wanted to get rid of… LOL

      Reply

      • Meghan

        haha… you sure you didn’t own my house before us!? I have nothing against yellow… I’m just more of a neutral wall kinda gal… :) I was actually thinking grey/white/yellow for our bathroom remodel and thought… do I really want to bring the yellow back!?

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

          Grey and white is a beautiful combination. Half of my Pinterest boards feature that combination… whenever I see it, I wonder why I haven’t used it before.

          Reply

  21. Christina

    Saw you on the Homies (congratulations!) and your title really caught my eye. We are also renovating an 1890s Victorian, just south of you too.

    Your house has so much character! Unfortunately for us, the previous owners “remodeled” and threw all of the character into the trash. Literally. It went in the garbage. So we make regular trips to the architectural salvage store to try to buy all the details back.

    Can’t wait to grab a glass of wine and browse for a while to see what your place looks like today, so happy to have found your blog!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      Hey! You’re like my blog soul mate!! Can’t wait to go through your site!

      Our house has a lot of the original detail, but some of the rooms succumbed to the 70’s… rooms that we did before I started blogging and I need to go back and do posts on them… on the third floor they “updated” a section of handrail/spindles… Arg… you understand.

      Philadelphia has fantastic salvage places… when we go there, and I’m like—WHAT can I do with a 30’ marble column?? Maybe a gargoyle? I need a bigger house…

      Reply

  22. Tracey Bradshaw

    Omg – the previous owners of our home were obviously related to yours or had the same degree of color blind, Bob’s your uncle, Jerry built, near enough is good enough, I have no real renovating skills type of approach to decorating. I look forward to seeing how it all comes together.
    PS – I am addicted to Gumtree – the Aussie answer to Craigslist and have a few interesting stories of my own – due to my incessant collecting, our garage and back patio now look like they belong to Sandford and Son:-)

    Reply

  23. Amber

    That is a COLOR EXPLOSION.

    Reply

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    Reply

  25. Mary Papageorgiou

    I just took a break from removing old veneer off the top of a sideboard but left it on the sides because I’m just that way ;) and cracked up laughing with the iron planter, when you asked your husband if he was there and he said no. I look forward to future entertaining reading breaks. I’m renovation fatigued and too broke to care. Instead to get my fix (I work on projects to sell). That way I feed my addiction and I get a better return (most of the time – LOL). Hubby is happy until I recruit him for deliveries and construction. Every time I have renovated I have had to move. I’ve decided to cosmetically make things better (my way) with minimal permanent changes. Also 3 children “accidentally breaking” and untidiness has given me a different perspective. My husband’s usual line is “why are you even bothering to ask me!” year 25 of this so don’t worry. Have a great day! Mary

    Reply

  26. John Park

    What a colorful design. This is amazing. Can I visit this house? It looks awesome.

    Reply

  27. Finishing the attic – a DIY Victorian house restoration.

    […] About The House […]

    Reply

  28. Josie Brady

    I just came across your blog this morning, and I’m loving it. I can’t believe the serendipity of your acquisition of the Victorian wardrobe, it is such a beautiful piece, and you have managed to fit the 2 portals into your living room without making the room look overcrowded. Not everyone has portals to Downton Abbey and Narnia! I guess quality works! I also loved the kingdom mirror, that was another amazing find. I used to find that I could go to 2nd hand shops and find exactly what I was looking for at a price I could afford, simply by visualising what I wanted and needed, or being in sync with the universe. I shall be following your blog, it is fascinating.

    Reply

  29. Heather

    Great House. Love the porch. The color is well hedious and I love color. There is no rhyme or reason for that salmon and oh geez that green! There is no flow just looks like the po went to the store and just randomly picked outrageous paint. Primer for years…but it will be fab. :)

    Reply

  30. Joelle

    Okay, I am new here so I am unsure yet if you have talked about this but I noticed you had an exposed-brick chimney running through your house. ATM I am renovating a 1910 house and two days ago uncovered the chimney in one small area (the brick is white…either from age or they were made that way) but am unsure if I should remove the plaster/drywall/knotty pine panelling that covers it all…Is there anything unsafe about the chimney that I should know? I suppose calling an expert would be the smartest. I am asking you though, because I am curious about how you dealt with the possibilities of asbestos & other chemicals in the walls. Your knowledge and feedback would be amazing! I am loving your blog !!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

      Beginning with the disclaimer that I am no chimney-removal expert…

      The best info I can give you is basically that it is a MESS to remove. You will want to put up plastic ceiling-to-floor to contain the dust/dirt/general filth. Depending on what was burned/exhausted through the chimney depends on the smell/debris. But you should be wearing a professional-grade respirator anyway.

      Ours was exposed already, so we did not have concerns about material it was enclosed in. My guess would be that you would be fine with the plaster… It’s dirty, but I have yet to find any of our projects that are not.

      p.s.- It has been a while since I brushed up on my asbestos history, but if I remember, it did not get popular until after World War II.

      Reply

      • Dorothy {ZzzonkOwl}

        What if you have a fireplace that’s TOO big? Do you know any ways to make it smaller? lol

        Reply

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