Saying Goodbye to Our Grand Old Lady

We lived in our beautiful Victorian-era (1882) home for three wonderful years.  We found her in a depressed and dilapidated condition, and with lots of sweat, and on a steep learning curve, we transformed her into the proud and glorious lady she once was.  Saying goodbye was very hard, especially for the kids who had grown up and down on her stairways and played hide-and-seek in the wonderful secret spaces an old house shares with her children.   We all shed some tears as we said goodbye and backed down the long drive for the last time, with a great many memories that will stay with us always.  She will always be our first house-love!

We have many photos of our journey, I thought I’d share a few of the before and after shots so you can see how the transformation took place.  We faced lots of challenges, and maybe some of the things we discovered will inspire you to tackle your own space. 

Dilemma:  To Paint or Not to Paint?

Before:  Here’s the foyer leading to the main staircase (on the left); note the gorgeous woodwork and paneling, the hand-crafted newel posts and caps, and the 6-inch baseboards.  Oh, and the dark green paint on the walls.

The entryway was WAY too dark, so the job was to lighten the space up. Painting the walls a lighter color would help, but the amount of dark wood was overwhelming in the small space.  Did we dare paint over this historic craftsmanship?

The answer: Yes, we dared!  But with careful consideration to keeping as much of the original woodwork exposed as possible, and being very selective as to what we chose to color.  Here’s John at the beginning of the entryway project. 

Here you can see our stairway progress mid-way.  Note the paint going onto the spindles but not the bannister nor the newel posts and intricately carved caps. 

We also painted the kick boards below each stair step.  Interestingly, the white paint, judiciously used, really sets off the beautiful grains and colors of the wood.  Refinishing the exposed wood with a walnut finish highlighted the hand hewn wood carvings and accentuated the stunning wood grain. 

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And now…. After!  You can see what a difference the use of paint makes, while preserving the beauty of the woodwork and original craftsmanship. 

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With the addition of lighting fixtures and mirrors to reflect the natural light coming in from the windows, the foyer and staircase now make for a light, bright and elegant invitation into the house.