56 Comments

  1. Sandi
    February 13, 2013 @ 10:06 am

    This is great. I had no idea why you did this but I can SO see your headspace as you’ve described it, here. You and the mister are a fabulous team even if he can’t see tea in the library and you can’t see non-tetanus-threatening scraps. :)

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 13, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

      I know YOU can see the library!!
      And I usually get the crap-tedious jobs, so I’ve pulled more than my share of nails… after you do it enough, you start to think you’d rather take your chances with whatever it is that happens when you get tetanus.

      Reply

  2. Jennifer
    February 13, 2013 @ 10:34 am

    Those are truly incredible hinges. We live in a historic district dating to about 1835, and I have never seen a hinge like that. I completely understand why you had to purchase that house.

    Ours was also full of holes. One set of windows was held together with wires. The carpenters had a very hard time because the house had been settling on its pilings for 100+ years. No right angles anywhere. It actually required mathematical equations to make ceiling molding and picture rails on competing slants appear (almost) parallel.

    I can’t wait for part two. I want to know how you and Paul solved these problems and made your house so beautiful… it definitely needed you. Those paint colors? Migraine. Your house is much happier now that you’re in it.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 13, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

      I hear wires are the technically-correct way to repair windows. 1835… It’s amazing when you think about a house that’s been standing for that long. And not at all surprising they’re having a hard time standing up straight.

      Those colors… looking back at the photos I am no less baffled by them now, all this time later.

      Reply

  3. Curt
    February 13, 2013 @ 10:50 am

    Well, VE – you know in a past life Paul and I might have been brothers, both perishing when a rafter from a 14th century cottage fell on our beans. We just hate crappy workmanship. If a fella doesn’t know how to use an adze he should just stick with making mud bricks I say. I suppose I’m lucky – my wife would have never noticed those hinges…

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 13, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

      I WISH you were Paul’s brother.
      p.s.- Paul would consider you the luckiest man alive. Or the smartest, to marry your wife. Sadly for you, you’ll never get the honor, since I would never tell Paul that there are women out there who do not get irrationally attached to small pieces of brass…

      Reply

  4. Gretchen
    February 13, 2013 @ 11:23 am

    Those hinges! I understand.

    Reply

  5. Garden, Home and Party
    February 13, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    Victoria,
    I’ve seen those hinges at a little antique hardware store in Orange for $25 each, would you like me to pick some up for the next house? You’ve done a great job with the rooms and porch that you’ve shown us. How many rooms are left to work on? You don’t want to risk “Paul burn out”.

    I will anxiously await the next chapter…will you share more photos of the rooms you’ve finished? I’ve seen the fabulous bathroom and the dining room and hall (upstairs, I think).
    Karen

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 13, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

      Yes… I’m trying to get back to the original plan of blogging about the house. I had gotten distracted— blogging about disco balls, blogging about blogging, blogging about me, me, me, me…

      But I’m refocusing, and I figured I’d go back to the beginning… I never really did any of this in a coherent way… I just jumped in with the bathroom.

      p.s.- you mean you can just buy antique hardware individually? You don’t need to buy the whole house?

      Reply

  6. Jessica@CapeofDreams
    February 13, 2013 @ 11:56 am

    It makes me feel so much better to see what you started out with. There is a lot of work to be done in my house, but most of it is cosmetic. I have not had to deal with holes in the walls. I look forward to reading part II.

    P.S. I would have fallen in love with those hinges too!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 13, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

      We had holes everywhere… walls, roof, doors, floors… Paul said it was like heating a colander… futile.

      I’m showing Paul that everyone here liked the hinges too… in support of my irrational attachment.

      Reply

  7. Nessa @ Isle Style Living
    February 13, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

    I can see why you love this house…. THOSE HINGES!

    To be honest, I would have been sold on the wrap around porch. Swoon!

    (not so)patiently waiting for Part 2!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 13, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

      You’re right… the porch really is better than the hinges… much more comfortable and usable. :) Especially considering you only see the hinges for about a minute a day during the winter.

      Reply

  8. Alex @ northstory
    February 13, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    “architectural salvage” – I am so stealing that from you so every time I drag home yet something else to stash in our basement that we are supposed to be finishing but yet are not finishing b/c I keep more stuff down there, that’s what I am going to call it and justify my thrift store expenditures. You know I love your house. I would trade in my McHome anyday for anything that remotely had been around for 100 years and a heating bill that I could fix. Because I love character. Hydro be damned.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 14, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

      Ah, well… full disclosure, I didn’t invent architectural salvage. It’s a “thing” here. There are people who do nothing but deconstruct old buildings… and then sell the pieces at mindboggling prices.

      Like 20’ marble pillars. Who doesn’t need a few of them?

      Reply

  9. Alex - Old Town Home
    February 13, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

    The hardest part is seeing what others cannot see, and then trying to let them see, even when there’s nothing to be seen yet. We were in the same boat. Friends said “I can’t believe you guys would buy a place that is so…crappy.” We didn’t see crappy, we saw then what we see now, a beautiful house that we will some day have. When we went through our house the only thing Wendy really liked about it was the front door’s rim lock. I saw the molding worth stripping, original doors worth saving, hardware worth salvaging (or replacing with salvaged), fireplace mantels worth loving, plaster worth repairing, and floors worth correcting. There wasn’t much to see that wouldn’t be changed in some major way, but it was all there, in it’s raw and tarnished form, just waiting for us. When I stand in front of our windows on a windy day and I can see our heavy silk curtains blowing, I see the original windows worth saving, not the dollar bills that are jumping from our pockets and floating out around the windows. Those windows will be perfect one day, and just maybe, those windows will keep someone warm for another 100 years. We’ve spent 10 years working and hunting for just the right hinges, just the right transom lift, just the right rim locks, all salvaged and not reproductions. IF we had finished the whole house in a matter of months, I don’t think it would be *our* house nearly as much as it is today. We may have no human children, but we have a cat, dog, and old house, and each is as much our child as I can imagine.

    Can’t wait for part two.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 14, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

      I think my parents thought we were crazy to even consider it. They tried to be supportive, but you could tell when they came over they were totally overwhelmed by what we’d gotten ourselves into.

      I should have done a better job initially, of not caring what people thought. I didn’t want anyone to come over and hang out or really spend time here… it was fine if they came for a tour, but I didn’t invite anyone for dinner or have a party or anything. I really put the life-in-the-house on hold. And if I could go back, I’d do it differently… (I’d also spend more time choosing a shutter color since the more I look at it the more I dislike it.)

      Reply

  10. jocelyn
    February 13, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    Brave, intrepid, balls-y. These are the words that come to mind as I read this Victoria. Some people jump off the cliff of home improvement and others (me) just linger on the ledge…

    And I just had a color-gasm when I looked that the blue and green paint combo in the last photo. Is that too much information?

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 14, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

      Lol… not at all. I take it that means you approve of the colors? I’m not sure you would, if you could see the room with pink walls and a bright orange ceiling. I actually really like the robins egg blue color… but the previous owners had a serious commitment to VARIETY.

      Reply

  11. AppleHillCottage
    February 13, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

    A blog friend of mine called it “keeping the after photo burned into your brain.” Of course, that is before any after photos are taken. It might even be before the before photos… Umm, my husband belongs to the tribe mentioned above as well. I’ve pulled out lots of nails. In fact the other day I dropped a board, looked down and sighed. Then I picked it up and took out the nails without being told…I’m glad we don’t have a Victorian– though I love them–it’s way too much pressure.

    applehillcottage recently posted http://applehillcottage.org/2013/02/12/48-not-just-sp…-bronze-finish/

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 14, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

      Wow… you’re a better co-captain than me. I totally try to hide the unfinished boards at the bottom of the pile and pretend like I did them all.

      It’s good advice to keep the end result in mind. It’s hard when the mess is so unremitting…

      Reply

  12. AppleHillCottage
    February 13, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

    Okay, so I just showed what a dork I am by posting the wrong link. Sorry about messing up your comments…

    Reply

  13. Shirley T.
    February 13, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

    “This is what my mother calls choosing your battles. And what I call: sending threatening, psychic messages.” I am all over that.

    I leave this quote for you:

    ““Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” ~Camille Passarro

    Reply

  14. Mandy
    February 14, 2013 @ 3:22 am

    The loft! oh, i love it and can totally picture that space as a library. And really, a finished house is BORING!
    And they are the prettiest hinges i’ve ever seen. :)

    Reply

  15. Heidi S.
    February 15, 2013 @ 8:51 am

    Love the post. I think having a vision is the only thing that keeps me going on our house. We have been in our old money pit over 12 years and we still have so much to do. I go through periods where I want to abandon it and move into new construction. Although then I drive up to it and smile (then curse whatever happens to be broken). If it makes you feel better when we bought out house my parents didn’t see it until after the closing and my mom was pretty close to crying. Granted it looked pretty sad covered with gold asbestos shinges. She then spent the next several years sending me house listings just in case we might want to move. She also suggested removing the back stairs when I was pregnant for the safety of her impending grandchild.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 15, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

      My father hasn’t ever fixed anything not using duct tape or twist ties, so I think he could not imagine anyone voluntarily taking it on. Also, he is the type to believe all free time should be spent reading Plato… not spackling.

      The vision thing is true. But at the same time, I feel like none of it is exactly as I imagined it. With the possible exception of the bathroom… I have fought compromise at every step of the way, only to end up accepting some form of it anyway. I guess you can probably relate to some part of that.

      Reply

  16. Sara
    February 15, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

    I missed you! Great post! Can’t wait for more.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 15, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

      Hey thanks! Moving the blog was crazy… but feel like I am finally getting it under control!

      Reply

  17. Tammy
    February 18, 2013 @ 11:09 pm

    I love those hinges – so intricate. Glad to see you made the new platform without any impact.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 20, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

      I love them too!! The switch was intensive… and I find myself spending time fiddling with behind-the-scenes stuff more than I should. I should spend the time actually writing, but it’s easy to get sucked into clicking one more button…

      Reply

  18. Our Heritage Home - Kari
    February 19, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

    I began following your blog part way through so this post is a wonderful way to catch up on where you started, great idea, waiting for part 2! The state of the house when you got it might not have scared me off but OMG, those green walls!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 20, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

      I KNOW! The green practically glowed. When combined with the orange ceilings in some of the rooms, it is literally unfathomable to me what they were thinking!!

      Reply

  19. Danielle
    February 20, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

    I’m pretty sure we need to spend an afternoon looking at houses with you and Paul because we’ve had basically this same conversation. We looked at an old victorian once and the only thing that kept ME from booking a moving company was that it was called The Bloodsoe House which sounds like the title of a new horror flick. Tyson could get passed the name, but not all the work it would take to make it livable. Love those hinges though. I could buy a home with those hinges.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 21, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

      Bloodsoe would have turned me off too. That’s like asking to be murdered in your sleep.

      We had looked at another house a few years ago… it was a disaster, and went under contract the same day we looked at it, so it was never a real possibility, but it was called Toad Hall… thrilled me to no end. It had a metal sign at the end of the driveway and everything.

      Looking at houses is some kind of illness I caught from Paul.

      Reply

  20. Mary Kathryn
    May 13, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

    “It’s trash…put it in the trash.
    Then.
    Do not step in the trash.”

    Bwahaha :) That made me giggle. I’m stunned by your remodel. The photos of the rooms with the walls stripped out are downright scary. Bravo for all your work!!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 16, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

      Your comment got absolutely buried in my email… why does real life think it should interfere with my blog-life like that?

      The scary rooms are EVEN scarier when you realize that you’ve just gotten used to them… and now it seems normal!

      Thanks for the visit! I’m checking out your bee-keeping! It’s been on my list of things to do… one of the things that keeps getting postponed until next year…

      Reply

  21. Princess Mom
    June 16, 2013 @ 1:27 am

    Thank you thank you thank you for showing just how very divorced my husband and I would have been if we had bought the falling down Victorian mansion that we found in our price range. I did not have a Project Paul. I did have three small boys under the age of 8 and a Handy Hal with absolutely no interest in restoring a lovely house to life. Thank goodness I listened to him. I do covet those hinges, though.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      June 16, 2013 @ 11:10 am

      It’s like a service I offer— debunking the myth that DIY old-house-fixing is fun and romantic.

      I literally have NO idea how anyone renovates a house, AND has children… or a life… or any money left to do anything other than try to finish the project before one of you kills the other.

      Unless you have lots of money… in which case it’s probably awesome and fun.

      Reply

  22. stephen whitley
    June 22, 2013 @ 12:22 am

    I totally get your love of houses with character…or anything old for that matter. My deal right now is cars…I am restoring a 1975 Cadillac Sedan Deville that I bought on Craigslist. My dream is to buy a Prairie style two story house but it has to have a staircase in the living room and one in the kitchen…better yet, it should have one that is combined! anyway, I just stumbled on your blog and I love it

    Reply

  23. Christy Kinder
    June 28, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

    I totally dig your writing style.

    Reply

  24. j hartt
    June 30, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

    Absolutely great blog.

    Reply

  25. Carollynn Campbell
    August 1, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

    I have (as Anne of Green Galbes would say) a kindrid spirit! thank you for being there for me to find.

    Reply

  26. Angelia
    March 17, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

    I enjoyed reading your story. Thanks for sharing. I can relate on many levels.

    My husband and I also own a Victorian, a three-story Queen Anne built in 1895. We bought the dilapidated mansion in 1994 for only $39,000 and lived it in until 2000, when I received a high-paying contract from a popular web company. We moved into a fabulous new house. Then, that web company went under, and we had a complete reversal of fortune. Our new house was foreclosed on, and we had to move back into the Victorian in 2003.

    We sank our remaining $120,000 into it to make it “livable,” which included rebuilding a collapsed brick exterior wall, new furnaces, air, plumbing, and electric, but, cosmetic-wise, you can barely tell that we put a penny into it.

    I hate living here so much. I’ve become a recluse as I’m embarrassed to have anyone over. The ceiling is out in the lower and upper hallway and covered with foam insulation to keep the drafts out, paint and old paper mars the walls, the pine floors are unfinished and splintery and impossible to keep clean, some of the woodwork is missing, the kitchen and bathrooms are ugly, and squirrels and raccoons get in in droves and chew in the ceiling. In addition, I have an abiding fear that the whole thing is going to collapse and kill us all.

    My husband is lazy and won’t work on it. He hasn’t touched it since around 2004. And anything he worked on in the past, never got finished. There’s still plastic hanging around the ceiling trim in our bedroom from when he put up the trim in 2003. I confess, I harbor some resentment for him. I’m also depressed about living here. My only hope is that, maybe, we can eventually get out of debt and sell it. For now, we’re stuck here.

    I highly recommend that anyone thinks twice before buying a home that needs extensive renovation. It will be hard in countless ways, but, especially, on your marriage.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      March 17, 2014 @ 2:12 pm

      I am sending you virtual hugs. I truly do not think anyone can comprehend the stress until they are actually living in it… At which point it is too late.

      Reply

  27. LarryO
    March 31, 2014 @ 6:16 pm

    My wife and I were very much interested in your blog. We are now in negotiations for an absolutely dilapidated 1870 Victorian and were wondering how much it cost to renovate yours. We love the house, but it is 2,600 sq. ft. are afraid that the renovation costs will exceed what we can budget. Thank for your great blog and for any advice you can give us.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 1, 2014 @ 9:44 am

      Cost:
      All time
      All sanity
      All money

      The problems you can see will only be outnumbered by the ones you can’t. My advice is don’t live there during construction, if you have another option.

      Reply

  28. The Well Tended Nest
    April 24, 2014 @ 10:52 am

    Thanks for sharing – it looks great. I love the hinges, too!

    Reply

  29. Lindy
    December 10, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

    I felt like I was reading MY story as I read this post today. We too have an 1890 Victorian. When we first looked at it, I too pictured the house in all its beauty while my husband saw all the work. We don’t have the breathtaking hinges, but we do have the wrap-around porch! I”m so excited to read more about all your projects!

    Reply

  30. Erin
    December 11, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

    We just bought a 1900 stone Queen Anne with a turret. A turret. I think that perhaps you have more personality similarities with my extremely handy husband, while I’m the one pulling nails out of scrap wood and neatly piling trash… That being said, I think you’re hilarious and honest and I would like to be more like you. I’m currently living in plaster dust, and I think your blog might just be the key to my survival and sanity.

    Reply

  31. deborah strickland
    October 23, 2015 @ 10:43 pm

    VEB
    Love your story and your style.

    Reply

  32. Sara Jo Floyd @ Bryarton Farm
    December 10, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

    Thank you for writing this post and seeing the worth in historic homes. It feels so refreshing to find someone who {is a bit crazy} thinks like me. My hubby and I bought an 1893 run-down farm in rural Kansas a year and a half ago. Restoring the farm is slow going and every time we finish a project we find new problems, but we are having a blast! The hardest part of our choice to do this with our life is constantly having to convince the people that we aren’t stupid.

    No one else sees the elaborate millwork, original windows, cast iron hardware, original heart pine floors, ect. as valuable. (Honestly, I sometimes get overwhelmed that we have no kitchen and we have rotted siding and think maybe they are right, maybe this was a bad idea.) Your blog has been one of those things that helps me go back to the reason we bought this farm. Because the breathtaking craftsmanship of historic homes is unmatchable and otherwise unattainable.

    Thank you for being on our side!

    Reply

  33. Kathy
    April 3, 2016 @ 11:25 am

    Love this! How are you supposed to notice the termite damage, the windows that won’t open, lack of insulation, etc, etc… When there is picture rail molding, old glass knobs on the doors and lovely old hinges? I speak from experience!

    Reply

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