Renovating a Victorian Home

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You’re in love. The delicate, detailed woodwork on the front porch, the heavy black slate mantels, the nook-and-cranny bay windows and the winding mahogany staircase have all caused you to fall deeply in love with this old Victorian house. Forget the lack of air conditioning, termite damage and 1970s kitchen, you are head over heels and there’s no stopping you from buying the Victorian charmer of your dreams.

So what now? It’s easy to be overwhelmed when purchasing a home built during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), so here are some expert tips on restoring your Victorian home to her original splendor.

Victorian Homes: Judge the Book Cover

Does the house look like it was built over 100 years ago from the road? If it’s been botched up over the years by various forms of siding, porch enclosures, or ugly storm windows, seriously consider doing everything you can as a homeowner to restore the front to its original appearance. Strip back one added layer at a time- the original house is waiting underneath to shine again. Small details like period-inspired mailboxes and exterior lighting can add an element of authenticity to your home’s exterior.

Victorian Homes: True Colors

Victorians loved bold colors. If your house has been painted over the years in a mix-matched palette of modern colors from 1960s blue bathrooms to avocado green in the kitchen, start thinking about choosing authentic Victorian hues. Victorians took their color cues from nature- greens, browns, deep reds were popular; they weren’t afraid to use dark shades. Contrary to the modern white Victorian house, this wasn’t a color used in the period.

Victorian Homes: Floored

It’s worth every penny (and every drop of blood, sweat and tears) to restore original flooring. It may be a few added layers down, but it awaits your revitalization. Victorian houses often featured darkly colored area rugs, with the original floorboards showing at the edges of the room. Wall-to-wall carpet should be avoided in most areas of the house.

Victorian Homes: “Trade the Path for a Bath”

So said magazine advertisements in Victorian times, when advertisers were encouraging homeowners of the period to add indoor plumbing, often choosing a hallway area to accomplish the sought-after addition of a bathroom. Stay true to the historical nature of Victorian bathrooms: a clawfoot tub is a must. Choose plumbing fixtures and cabinetry that are Victorian in style- modern styles will clash with the nature of the home.

Victorian Homes: Catch a Breeze

One of the most intriguing parts of a Victorian house is right outside it. In the days before air conditioning, porches were a way to stay cool in the summer, catching breezes from all directions. Honor this tradition by adding all-weather wicker rockers, a side table for iced tea and lemonade, and huge ferns- a Victorian favorite. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy!

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