48 Comments

  1. Martha
    February 19, 2013 @ 10:23 am

    We’re considering buying an old farmhouse. It’s all right, structurally (I think?), but cosmetically it’s stuck in the 80’s. Yes? No? Would you do it again?

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 19, 2013 @ 10:52 am

      Would I do it again… sigh. Yes.

      I should say that I wouldn’t do it with anyone other than Paul…or someone similar. His dedication to the project is the only thing that’s gotten it done. Even though it’s made me crazy, at times… without his skills and commitment, this would have been a disaster.

      Also, it depends on your personality. I am a control freak. I hate upheaval… I am not at all laidback. These are not great qualities for someone living in a construction zone. And someone else would have a totally different experience.

      If we were going to pay someone to do the work, I’d absolutely do it again… But I’m assuming you’re planning to be your own work crew. I guess my best advice is: be sure you love the house. You’re going to spend all your time and energy on it, and you’ll need the end result to be worth it.

      The 80’s were a particularly ugly time for houses, but if it’s mostly cosmetic stuff, you’re lucky. Replacing what’s been torn out will be challenging… but also fun. I will write a post about the good parts of this experience… but I still have one more “negative” post in me… take it as insight into my personal experience, not necessarily a deterrent.

      And? GOOD LUCK!

      Reply

      • Tkraft Art & Interiors
        February 19, 2013 @ 11:53 am

        Can’t help but put my 2 cents into this mix. You’re absolutely right… fixing up / restoring an old house is truly a labor of love and it will be all consuming for you as we’ll as your extended family and friends. If you get that gut feeling like falling in love go for it, document every step of the way with endless photos and journals. We’ve been living this dream like forever, some days are nightmares but those are the days you look back on and find joy that you survived. But most of all – be realistic and don’t set an unobtainable completion deadline because these old homes have a life of their own and the overall project will never really be done. Just make it livable with your own personallity stamp on it. (Our house was built in 1760 so we’re really only passing thought it’s rich history.)

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          February 20, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

          Wow… 1760! You put us to shame!! You’re so right about the labor of love… although it sometimes feels like a labor of frustration.

          Going back to the beginning, and writing about this… and looking for photos to accompany the text, I am disappointed with the lack of photos. I should have taken a hundred times more. At the time, I took them when I thought of it, not as part of a plan to document the process… I didn’t really understand how the photos would be the most important part!

          Reply

  2. Alex @ northstory
    February 19, 2013 @ 11:03 am

    When I was a kid my Dad used to buy a house, renovate it and sell. This is one of the reasons I moved over 8 times from Gr 1 – 8 and to this day barely have any lifelong childhood friends. It was House Flipping before it became a national sport and TV show on HGTV. So I complete relate to this post b/c watching my Dad do this all was insane and I swore as an adult I would do the opposite. So we have. To the most brutal opposite where we had no flooring on our stairs and landing on the first floor of our house for also 2 years after we moved in. It got to a point where I was like come on this is absurd. We need flooring.
    Living through renos is one of the biggest tests of a marriage b.c anything that can go wrong usually does. I admire your ethic during all of your chaos and imagine how kick ass it’s going to feel when it IS all done.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 19, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

      Wow. I was traumatized on your behalf! 8 times is too many. We moved when I was in my second year of High School, and it’s one of the worst things that ever happened to me. I lost touch with all my friends… it was terrible to make new ones… I can only imagine doing that 8 times… although you may be more social for it? I think doing it just once cemented it in my mind as horrifying. Maybe if I did it enough I would have gotten good at it.

      My dad never fixed anything. Unless it was with duct tape. Or twist ties. So there was always something broken… and it seemed normal. It’s one of the reasons I was SO thrilled with Paul’s handiness… AND one of the reasons I had NO idea what was involved.

      Reply

  3. Stacey
    February 19, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

    I know this is your story… but I’m sure for many readers it also feels like theirs. It certainly does for me. A story of BIG DREAMS, sheer determination… the “nothing will stop us, it’s going to be great” attitude. It all started out that way for us too. 48 hours into it I stupidly uttered the words “I think we’ve made a huge mistake”. Now I whisper them under my breath because saying it out loud makes me the bad guy…but I still think we may have. The mess, the disagreements, the exhaustion, the anxiety and fretting, the loss of any social life, shutting doors so visitors don’t see “how we are living” (which by the way is like PIGS!) Then at the same time, the days, months, and years are going by. You’re not getting as far as you’d like, you’re not getting YOUNGER either, and you seem to take longer and longer to complete a project. It makes you wonder why we did this. Why did we leave a perfectly beautiful home that was completely updated to be tortured and drained?

    I suppose our vision of what we will have and what it can be pushes people to go through such times. I agree that going through it with the right person will ultimately make the difference. I know many couples who didn’t make it. I know you and Paul will be winners in the end and maybe it doesn’t matter but you’re not alone. I imagine the same conversations are taking place at both our houses. (good, bad, and ugly). Hang in there because from where I’m sitting “It’s gonna be great”!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 19, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

      Thanks for this… seriously. As I was writing it, I thought… maybe that’s enough. It’s nice to be honest and all, but it’s hard to know how people will interpret something you’ve written.

      There’s yet a third piece to it, and I was kind of undecided whether I’d said enough. If you haven’t done it. OR? If you’re nothing like me. If you’re laid back, go-with-the flow, I can imagine someone thinking I am missing the point of the whole thing.

      Above, someone asked me if I’d do it again. And I said yes. But after I posted the response, I thought about it and part of that is that I CANNOT say I wouldn’t do it again, or else the last few years have been a mistake. And I don’t think they have been. Although? If I were going to do this again, I’d need a personality transplant. Or good sedatives.

      Reply

  4. Our Heritage Home - Kari
    February 19, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

    Your post is so true, on so many levels! Your house has come such a long way and that’s something to celebrate. The renovations will never be done but, at the end of the day you can say you’ve done it together and the accomplishments you’ve achieved will all be worth it. Keep up the great work!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 19, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

      Thanks!! Looking at the pictures, it’s hard to believe HOW far we’ve come. You forget, how bad it was when you started. And some of the photos, I literally was like—WOW. I forgot all about that. How did we live through that!!

      p.s.- hey, do you know your gravatar is not linking to your blog? Ever since switching my blog, I am hyper-tuned to every little detail… and I noticed you’re not linked up.

      Reply

  5. Garden, Home and Party
    February 19, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

    Victoria,
    Except for our second house we’ve always bought used. But “used” and historically old and in need of repair are definitely two different things. If I were younger I could see tackling a project like yours and Paul’s only if, and it’s a very big IF, I was married to a Paul-skilled person (I’m not) and/or if we had boat loads of money (we don’t). I still love reading of the adventure you experience and when I see rooms like your bathroom, I’m jealous of the historic loveliness that is inherent in old homes.
    I’m anxious to get to the good parts of this story…backed by images of the beauty you’ve achieved.
    Karen

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 19, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

      The good parts are still a way off. I started writing about the experience of how HARD it’s been, and I’m finding that I still have WAY MORE to say about it. WAY, way more.

      Initially I was tempted to just skip it, in favor of being cheerful, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like the most interesting things to read are the things that are honest…

      Reply

      • Garden, Home and Party
        February 19, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

        Victoria,
        I think, in this instance it’s way more important to be honest. There are readers that are contemplating the type of project and it’s critical that they know the challenges that can lie ahead.

        Still, there’s nothing like a before and after and it’s fun to see the before images and then the hard work paying off.
        Besides, you make it all sound entertaining…or at least for your fans. 🙂
        Karen

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          February 20, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

          Looking back at the photos (of which I did not take enough!!) I nearly can’t believe how far we’ve come… you forget JUST how bad it was!

          Reply

  6. Jessica@CapeofDreams
    February 19, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

    My plan was to be lazy and like this post. There is no like button, and so I am leaving a comment. Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed it.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 19, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

      Lol… yes, no like button on .org. THANK you for leaving a comment. I DO know it’s way easier not to. 🙂

      Reply

  7. Sandi
    February 19, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

    Ohhhh I can just see this.

    First, kudos to Paul for striking while the iron was unattended by The Rule Lady. 😉

    I grew up with a family that rode the California Real Estate Wave. Buying and selling every two years, fixing up and moving on. I lived in a permanent state of flux. I remember the discussions my parents had about things – but they were basically like one soul in two bodies so there was little disagreement except over how to lay brick. That, I remember.

    I am guessing you have learned that you make your own luck and that is done solely by hard work and good timing. And I think you’ve done remarkably well and I’ve loved watching it happen.

    You …watching it from a DISTANCE…

    Where I can applaud and no one will ask me to paint anything. *nods*

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 19, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

      The Rule Lady learns fast. Also? I think I have a natural aptitude for the role.

      One soul, two bodies… That’s how I had imagined marriage. (Also like a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical) And? Um? Wow. We are so not that couple. It’s been hard to stop seeing that as the BEST way. And anything else as deficient.

      I grew up in a house where nothing got fixed, and it did not prepare me for the intensive nature of renovation. Paul did try to tell me… but I did not listen to him. Something I’m going to complain about him not doing in my next post.

      Reply

  8. Sarah
    February 20, 2013 @ 11:44 am

    Yes! I know exactly what you mean! My husband and I bought a 1900s Victorian 4 days after our wedding. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster ride. I wouldn’t change our first year of marriage for anything but I’m certainly ready for a break. What I’m really ready for is being able to walk around my house barefoot. It’s been a year and 2 months. Maybe by year 2…

    I’m so glad I found your blog! It’s nice to see someone else sporting matching newlywed respirators!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 20, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

      I’m drafting my next post and LITERALLY say the same thing about crushing plaster underfoot…

      I went and fell into your blog for way too long. Your house is beautiful, and half the photos could have been taken here at mine. I wish I had thought to start a blog sooner… it would have ensured I took lots of photos, which is one of my biggest regrets… I thought I took enough, but I didn’t.

      I’m so glad to find your blog!!

      Reply

  9. Danielle
    February 20, 2013 @ 11:57 pm

    Okay… so I’m already a dedicated reader of your blog and you’ve got me completely hooked with this new “series”. I just got to the end and was like “What?! Where the hell is part 3?!!” Yeah… just print off part 1 and 2 and send it to a publisher because you have an amazing story that I can’t wait to hear more of.

    Your house is amazing and I’m thankful that you have invited us all along on the journey!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 21, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

      Thanks… kind of uncertain whether people find it interesting. Or at what point I will have strained their interest in my thoughts as opposed to actual projects. I think the point of a house blog is to blog about the house, rather than yourself… but I’ve always been extraordinarily self-absorbed.

      Reply

  10. jocelyn
    February 21, 2013 @ 3:25 am

    Gotta love a girl with opinions, and you gotta love a fabulous front porch – do you you ever form your opinions, spout them or fight about them whilst ON the front porch? That way, the neighbors can join in the fun, in addition to all your readers… 🙂

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 21, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

      For the most part we’ve refrained from open-air battles. Not because we’re shy, but who needs witnesses to possible murder?

      Reply

  11. Heidi S.
    February 21, 2013 @ 8:33 am

    Victoria I am really enjoying this series (and can’t wait for the next part)! I think the honesty is important about renovation. At first it seems so fun and exciting but ultimately it is not easy, it is incredibly messy, it is really hard on marriages and families, its expensive and it is really time consuming (i.e. a complete life suck where you don’t see your friends unless you cajole them into helping). I thought when we bought our house (before we were married and I was young) that we would be done well before having children, and we would just “play house” for the rest of our lives. Of course everything takes 3 times as long as you estimate and life intervenes. Now my kids are use to loose floor boards, plaster dust and half finished projects. Although I would do it all over again.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 21, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

      Paul had tried to explain to me some of the realities of what we were taking on… and I thought I understood, but I didn’t. Until you’ve actually lived in it, you just can’t know.

      When we’d been here a few months, we had someone in to give us an estimate for ductwork (which we ended up doing ourselves) and after he’d been in the house for a while, he said to me—you’re not living here… are you?

      I was like, um… yes?

      Reply

  12. Patina and Company
    February 21, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

    I am still trying to get the hang of commenting on this new and improved phenomenon of a blog of yours, and how to tell my email service you are NOT suddenly spam.

    However, just asking WHY the other person is soooo not be receptive to the information about the stress and tedium and dirt so obviously being their fault?! I mean, don’t we say it sweetly (before we get really, really mad)?
    I also notice that a husband’s idea of the scale of the project seems, somehow . . . minimalist. So much so that the idea of seeing him springboarding and shirtless becomes less appealing than the dancing Patrick Swayze at some point!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 22, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

      Ah… well, you can’t be sure. Don’t underestimate your junk mail filter! My secret end plan is to sell my readers cheap medication and generic handbags.

      Always hard to top Patrick Swayze doing anything. Especially if it’s dancing. And? YES! I do say NICELY—this is all your fault. Why doesn’t he appreciate my good manners??

      Reply

  13. D'Arcy H
    February 21, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

    I not only love reading your blog, I love reading everyone’s comments! They make me realize I’m part of a community of people who share something—VISION. A vision of what our old houses can be … whether it’s sparked by an Eastlake hinge, or a wraparound porch, or, in my case, French doors flanked by high multi-paned windows. My vision started 30 years ago, and I’m just now getting around to renovating the kitchen. (Like you, none of it would be happening if it weren’t for my talented and fearless husband.) I take courage in knowing there’s an army of us out there, willing to live in chaos and sacrifice our sanity to save our wonderful old houses … houses that would be easier to tear down and replace with something new and soulless. I need these stories to bolster my spirits as we slog along toward our goal, which seems ever out of reach. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one out there mentally sipping tea in the library, while in reality I’m writing notes to my husband in the dust that covers our stovetop. I’m glad you’re refocusing on your old-house stories. Keep up the good fight!!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 22, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

      This is one of my favorite comments ever. AND? Paul wrote me a note in the dust (a nice word for filth) on the range hood. No joke.

      **15 minuets later… I clicked on your comment luv link while I was trying to collect my thoughts of what I wanted to say in response. And? Now, all I want to do is send you virtual hugs. Your essay about your cat is AMAZING. The love and humor that you brought to the story and his personality is wonderful. I have a cat/baby. She is as much my family as Paul or my best friend. I LOVED your story.

      Reply

      • D'Arcy H
        February 23, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

        Virtual hugs accepted and reciprocated for your departed cat baby! I want to thank you for posting Rosey’s story on Facebook … I’ve noticed many new visitors to my blog. I find it so touching that Rosencrantz is still making friends, even though he’s moved on from this life! That’s so like my Rosey! THANK YOU!!

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          February 24, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

          I’m glad!! I knew everyone would love it as much as I did. You captured his story so well… and you made people feel like they knew him.

          Here’s a screenshot of my fb page:

          Screen shot 2013-02-24 at 12.10.14 PM

          Reply

  14. D'Arcy H
    February 21, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

    …And now I know how this CommentLuv thing works!

    Reply

  15. Tiffany
    February 22, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

    Hi Victoria! I’ve been delighted to find your blog, and those that comment on it too! My husband & I have been fixing up old homes and buildings since we met, but last year we decided to actually commit to a location and purchased our first home! It’s a 1912 Farmhouse (at least it was finished in 1912, it was started earlier, but we’re still researching all of that). I’ve been in love with historic homes since I was a child & to have this dream come true…well was just that. Luckily, my husband fell in love too. It is always so lovely to get to read about other people who have the same devotion and passion for these historic places. I ramble away to anyone I meet that’s working on an old house…but sometimes it can feel isolating when you don’t know anyone else really doing it, so that’s why finding a blog like yours is a wonderful treat! You all have done SO much – I wish we were at that stage, but we’ve got miles to go still. I am looking forward to keeping up & learning more about your process. Beautiful work!

    Thanks!!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 23, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

      I cannot tell you how many times we’ve gone to a party or out to dinner with people we haven’t seen in a while, and on the way home realized we have NOTHING to talk about that isn’t house related. This seems normal to us, but kind of sad in light of other peoples NON house-obsessions.

      I clicked over to your blog—and I was like WALLPAPER! You stripped all of that and are still alive? Well done. I’ve scraped ACRES of wallpaper. I have scraped wallpaper off ceilings… in some rooms where it was painted over. And in rooms where it was covered with popcorn texture. I will NEVER buy another house with wallpaper. Those people who say—oh! Ours came right off!! I dislike those people. STRONGLY.

      I didn’t have time to get past your first page, but I look forward to exploring your project!! It looks a lot like ours!! I’m adding you to my blog-reader under the category of “other slightly-crazy people.”

      Reply

      • Tiffany
        March 1, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

        You speak the truth! 🙂 I feel like all I ever do is want to talk house, and if given the opportunity it’s not pretty. I rambled on so much to someone the other day that they actually said, “well good for you” – I am pretty sure that’s the worst response a person could receive. I stopped talking immediately, and am still rolling my eyes at myself for rambling so long.

        Thanks so much for even checking out our wee blog! We started it as soon as we bought the house, so we’ve only had it about a year. It is wonderful to be able to look back at all we’ve gotten done, especially since we never feel as though we’ve gotten anything done.

        Wallpaper is devils work, and I will never ever look at the same. And the other day I read about someone’s amazing experience with removing their wallpaper, and my eye started to twitch….i have no idea how things like that work out so well for some and not others….i blame it on my irish heritage. 🙂

        thanks again for responding!

        tiffany

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          March 2, 2013 @ 10:53 am

          I tend to do that anyway: talk at length about something important to me, but utterly unimportant to whomever I’m talking to… And then later, cringe at my own ability to bore people.

          On a blog-related topic, I tried to add you to my bloglovin’ (stupid name) feed… but it couldn’t find your blog. I have no idea if this is a glitch with them, but I know when I “registered” my blog with them, they gave me a code to “claim” my site… maybe you want to consider that?

          I don’t usually give unsolicited advice to people I don’t know, but it’s the kind of thing I would want someone to tell me…

          Reply

          • Tiffany
            March 5, 2013 @ 7:34 am

            Thank you for letting me know – I really appreciate it!! I’ve fixed it now, so it should be working. 🙂

            Reply

  16. Jennifer
    February 23, 2013 @ 8:14 am

    Loved the post as it brings back so many memories and anxieties about the restoration of our 1905 house. We were still living somewhere else and had contractors working hard on renovations when one of them accidentally nicked a gas line with a sawsall and set the back of the house on fire. By the time I managed to race over (backing into a stranger’s truck in my panic), the fire was out but the roof was partially gone, the floor in that room was gone. For the next months we could look down into the 12 foot earthen basement (complete with rusty steam pipes) and up into the sky. The interior of the house developed its own weather patterns and ecosystem. As it was winter, you could see your breath in every room and the plaster walls became soft and started weeping moisture. Friends, family, even the painters we hired said we’d made a terrible mistake. This house would never be inhabitable. But, like you, we saw potential in the ugliness. And really it was a wonderful decision. We’ve never been happier and love everything about it, about the street, and about being a small part of the town’s historic district.

    As someone commented above, you have a knack for making your story feel like everyone’s story. This vividly took me back to a time I’d sometimes like to forget… but really value as very important. Many thanks!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 24, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

      I was kind of jealous about the beginning, where you said you weren’t living there and had a contractor… But then, as I read on, I progressed through about nine stages of horror. There would have been more, but I maxed out at the part where the plaster wept.

      Aside from horror, it’s amazing… what a house will endure, and still stand. And the odd feeling of victory… It may be victory over commonsense, but it still feels like an accomplishment.

      Reply

  17. homes for sale springfield mo
    April 11, 2013 @ 3:47 am

    Lol! Love the E L James comment! I’m glad the husband is taking it seriously! I hope and pray that all will be done soon!

    Rose

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 11, 2013 @ 10:50 am

      THANK YOU!! I think you are the ONLY person who got that reference!! I thought it was so funny, and then was overlooked by all but you… I feel much better now, thanks!!

      Reply

  18. Linda Stevens
    May 19, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

    Wow! I am exhausted just reading part I & II. I can’t wait to get to Part III, but it will have to wait til next time. You are a great writer and get me on the edge of my seat.. I am a dreamer, and renovator wannabe – unfortunately, my hubby IS NOT!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 21, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

      I clicked over to your blog before formulating a response to your comment (which totally made my day). And your last post made me laugh. NOT because I don’t feel for the guy rummaging through the trash, and you never know what hardships others are experiencing… but in ALL seriousness, Paul has no qualms about pulling up in front of “good-looking” trash and REALLY digging through it.

      It used to embarrass me to no end… but he’s brought me home some good stuff, so now I’m all for it.

      Reply

  19. April
    January 7, 2014 @ 9:14 am

    Hi Victoria,

    As I was reading the captions from your blog, I saw the one with the woman of the cover. It made me chuckle. Something I haven’t done in some time. It was soooooo something I would do. Well I enjoyed reading along. Thanks for the chuckle

    April (big smile)

    Reply

  20. Lee T
    May 6, 2016 @ 7:03 pm

    I think someone (my mother?) is looking down on me and helped me find your blog today. While my husband and I have lived through some major renovations, we have taken on a HUGE job that just hit its own “stage two.” I realize I’m late to your story, but it’s so great to read someone saying/ writing what I’m thinking and feeling so I don’t feel so crazy!

    Reply

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