How we restored an old Victorian Farmhouse from 1905!

This is us, Paige, Brandon and our dog Belle, on a road trip

We (Paige and Brandon) fell in love with the old Folk Victorian Farmhouse, built in 1905, when we first laid eyes on it. The house was a complete wreck where every little space in the house needed work from the foundation to the roof including everything in between like electrical, plumbing, siding, bathrooms, kitchen and all other interior. We decided to give the house all the love and affection it deserved. 

Old Folk Victorian Farmhouse, built in 1905

It was the summer of 2017 that we found this truly amazing house and decided to buy it right away. It had everything we had been looking for. We realized the amount of work it would take to get it in shape again but we were confident and determined we could do it. Off course we knew there would be tears, sweat and exhaustion but we realized there would also be laughs, joy and pure happiness! In the end we reasoned, it would all be worth it!

We’re both engineers by training and planned to do 99% of the work ourselves. Framing, windows, plumbing, electrical, drywall, tile, you name it! 

So, where did we start?

We pinpointed quickly a few things that we needed to do and consider first:

  1. Completely replace and upgrade all electrical work.
  2. Insulate both exterior and interior walls for warmth, sound and fireproofing.
  3. Save plaster, if reasonable.

Upstairs hallway

We started out with the hallway upstairs. The reason for this was because the hall was the simplest room to renovate and the most complicated room to actually have in the process of renovation.

This is what the hall upstairs looked like from the beginning
First thing we did was to remove old insulation, wiring, plumbing, windows, and plaster
Removing old carpets and our cat Bob is checking it out
As you can see carpet pads don’t lie! It was pretty disgusting to discover these pads beneath.
Discovering what’s beneath the carpet and the pads was a highlight! The floor is gorgeous!!!)
These floors will look amazing one day!
Here the groundwork is done and prepared for phase two
Painting the walls in the hall
Our windows touch the floor up here so off course they got plinth blocks. The upstairs is only about six and a half feet tall so to get full windows they mounted them at floor level. Too charming for words!
We still have to refinish the floors up here, our next upcoming project.
This space gave us confidence for the rest of the house
Many corners of the world are present here in this hall. The chandelier is French. The rug is Turkish. The hangings are American.

So we finished the hallway upstairs for now and the only thing left is that we need to refinish the floor. We are completely thrilled that we have an “upstairs hall.” An actual hall that can hold furniture. What a project it’s been and what a great feeling it is to enjoy this space now. It really gave us confidence for the rest of the house.

Downstairs hall

Next space to fix is the downstairs hall!

From the beginning we realized all the beautiful details in the hall like the staircase with the carvings and the furnace closet door with original shellac. It was important to us to be careful in our preservation work so all the details would come forward in the best possible way.

This is where we started with old plastic floor and carpet. Notice the beautiful stairs and door though, the details are incredible!
Hallway work in progress

The story of our chandeliers

I once bought a three-armed chandelier from France intending to put it in the downstairs hall. It was beautiful and perfect, but a smidge underwhelming. I moved it upstairs with a heavy heart, knowing I would never find its equal. I searched and searched until one day on a different website from a different seller in a different city in France…the same chandelier. But…WITH SIX ARMS!!! We quickly rearranged so the six-armed chandelier was put in the downstairs hall and the three-armed chandelier was put in the upstairs hall.

Our beautiful chandelier with six arms
We received an absolutely wonderful package that was stuffed FULL of fantastically amazing old house stuff. Amidst the gorgeous locks, knobs, hinges, and backplates were these little...triangles. We had no idea what they were. But a quick phone call to a friend revealed they were DUST CORNERS. To sit in the corners of your stairs (or rooms) and prevent dust!!
The door to the furnace closet under the stairs is one of the sweetest in the house. It’s made from tongue and groove bead board planks and still has the original shellac on it. You can see on the right the finish has darkened from a hundred years of hands pushing it closed. It’s also the only door in the house that retains all the original trim, albeit painted white.
Hallway downstairs almost done, notice the ceiling - isn't it just beautiful?!
Hallway downstairs complete with rug in place

Next project – The Kitchen!

A mostly unfitted, historically inspired, Victorian kitchen for our 1905 farmhouse was our next restoration project to take on. How we had longed to begin this project.

First of all cabinet design can really make or break a kitchen. It was important for us to have just the right historic cabinets that would blend well in with the rest of the kitchen. Also we were looking for retro technology to give the Victorian kitchen just the right look and feel.

It took ten months to complete our Folk Victorian Kitchen! We are so happy and thrilled with the end result! See our work and the end result in the following pictures.

This is the kitchen we began with, a kitchen that had been modernized over the years and not what we wanted. We were looking to bring it back to its original state again.
Fifteen hours, four states, and one wild Sunday later and I. AM. SCREAMING. All my electric range dreams had come true and manifested in this absolutely stunning piece of retro technology. It was so beyond perfect I couldn’t handle it. I love the way the older stoves have the space on the side or middle so handy! We put hot stuff on there all the time.
Found this amazing sink off of Facebook Marketplace
The gorgeous floors beneath the tiles were incredible but just needed a little work – here they are all DONE.
Cabinet design can really make or break a kitchen – just love all the details in the ones we found.
The kitchen is finally done!
The house originally had a single door here. And if I hadn’t fallen irrationally in love with these, I’d probably have put a single door back. But sometimes you want something and no amount of reason or logic will make you unwant it. So. Our doors are here to stay!

Bedrooms next!

The house came with several bedrooms, one which had a hidden fireplace. Here is a selection of a few of them just to give you a hint of the amount of work put in to each one of them.

One bedroom in its original shape
This is were we found the hidden fireplace
Our work to bring out the fireplace has begun in this picture
Work finished, any thoughts?
Just love this room and look at the gorgeous floor that we found under the carpet! What a treasury!
This is another favorite room in green. We are so fortunate that we have dozens and dozens of family history pieces that have been passed down through the years. The library table, that we are now using as our computer table, was made by my great-great-great grandfather and it is still in great shape!

Last but not least, the bathroom!

There was only one bathroom in the house and we planned to make the most of it! We had a vision from start when we had found just the right tile pattern, sink and lamps. First thing we did was to get rid of the carpet – there was no way we would leave it there!

Our only bathroom was carpeted! That carpet had to be removed immediately!
Today we installed the waterproofing membrane in the bathroom. We put down a layer of thinset first, scraped it with a grooved trowel, put the membrane on top then smoothed it in place. And honestly? It was kind of awful.
We had to mock up the sink placement to figure out where to add bracing supports. I had never seen it assembled before today.
We found the right tile pattern!! No border needed! No more searching! Just matte white penny tile from @flooranddecor and matte charcoal accent tiles. Affordable! Beautiful!
Many months later, we are about two weeks out in this picture from having a functioning bathroom on the main floor.
Here it is! Our bathroom was finally finished!! Just love every detail in here.
More bathroom pictures
Just love having a big window in the bathroom

Summary of our house journey so far

Over the last three years that we have been working on our house we’ve had highs, lows, and everything in between. If I could say so myself it has turned out pretty freaking spectacular and we are so happy that we did this.

Please visit my blog and Instagram to read about our entire journey and our continued projects.

Do you have a house restoration story or any other house or garden project to share? Please visit Share your story – Residence Journeys! We would love to hear from you.

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