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Remodeling a 130+ Year Old Victorian House: Personal

You guys! This blog post has been a long time coming! I know a lot of you have been asking to see photo of the inside of my house and everything that I've done. I've been waiting to this blog post until everything was done BUT as a homeowner, nothing is ever completely done. The remodel on my upstairs bathroom was just finished and since that's the last major thing for awhile, I figured it would be a good time to FINALLY make this blog!

For those of you who don't know, I purchased my house back in 2014. It's a Victorian Stick Style House that was built in the 1890's! I fell in love with everything about the house, the original accents, the size, the rooms, the detail, the proximity to downtown Lafayette.

The history of my house is pretty special! The land my house is built on was given to James Cochran from President J.Q. Adams in the 1820's. The land passed hands a few times and eventually in the 1870's Thomas and Margaret Stingle owned the land and eventually passed it on to their daughter Eliza Vickery in 1884 who was married to Onias Vickery. Eliza and Onias built our house! It changed hands a few more times and then in 1919 Herman and Emma Steffen owned the house. The Steffen family owned the house for many years until about 1974. One of the Steffens owned Taylor Steffen Co. and they were tailors. They were the ones that started the corduroy pant trend and decorated cords for college Seniors! A couple of Purdue Seniors saw some yellow corduroy in their shop window and had them make them into pants which they decorated to celebrate their graduation. This is what started this whole trend! How neat is that! If you read the recent issue of Vogue with Harry Styles, you will see the Steffens mentioned since they inspired the cords Harry wore! Another one of the Steffens' husband, Jacob Link, was the president of the Lafayette City Council! After the 70's there's not a lot of info on the home and it seemed like it passed hands throughout the years and was an antique shop at one time as well as a knitwear shop.

Sadly, when I purchased the house, it had certainly seen better times. It went through a foreclosure and someone purchased it who lived out of state. They just "gave" it to a rental company to run and rent it out. That certainly wasn't the best idea! I think most of the wear and tear and neglect on the upkeep happened because it just wasn't cared for and loved by the people who rented it out. So I spent the last 6+ years fixing it up and helping it get back to it's gorgeous state!

I'll talk about each room below and show you some before and after photos so keep reading! Most photos of the remodeling process are taken from cell phones and a lot of the before photos are from a previous listing so the real before was in worse shape that what you see, some of the after photos are with a cell phone and some are with my camera. I'm also not someone who styles their home for the photo and re-arranges things so these are in no way HGTV quality! haha

Also, fun fact, last year I went through the process to get the house designated as a Local Historical District! What this does is it will make it hard for someone to come in and demolish the house or change it in a way that isn't sensitive to its design. So the house is now the local Vickery-Norris-Dixson Historical District! Huge thanks to the Preserve Lafayette Historical Committee for helping me and all that they do to save historic properties!

A lot of time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears went into this house! So before we dive into the before and after's here are some fun photos of the remodel!

Sooooo, the first place we should start is the exterior!

There is still have a lot of work left on the exterior of the house but it's certainly came a long way! When I purchased the house, someone put vinyl siding on the 1st floor but didn't put it on the 2nd floor so it was certainly a mismatch. It was light and dark green, which I didn't hate! (Apparently in the 80's our house was a Pepto-Bismol pink!) I decided that I wanted to change the color to a light blue and white. The one thing I really didn't want was to cover up or remove any of the Victorian accents, I mean, that's what really makes the house. I originally wanted to paint and restore the original wood but a lot of it was deteriorated too badly and it just didn't seem like it would be possible. Although I hated the thought of having to put vinyl on this house, it seemed like it was the best bet in the long run to stop any water intrusion and to insulate the house better. It took a lot of searching but we finally found a siding company that would side our house to protect and keep the Victorian Stick Style. We had a lot of trouble with this siding company throughout the whole process (but that's a story for another time!) but in the end it looked exactly like what I wanted and kept all of the details!

Here's a little before and after for you! I also had the roof re-shingled back when I bought the house. I still need to finish painting the windows, porch/step areas, corbels, and accents.

While we are talking about the exterior, I will also mention that we refinished all the doors! They were in pretty bad shape as you can see below when I bought the house. They are the original doors so we wanted to make sure I did them justice! If you want to read all about how we refinished the doors, click HERE!

But now they look great!

For the backdoor, I had a custom storm door made to keep it aligned with the Victorian Style!

The Details

I was really lucky that even though the house was in rough shape when I bought it and that it passed through a lot of owners in the last decade or so, that most of the original Victorian accents were still present like the trim, transoms, stained glass, doorknobs, hardware, etc. Here are just a few and a few more are sprinkled throughout the post.

They don't make door hardware like this anymore!

The Windows

There are around 45 windows on the house. Only three of those are small normal windows, the rest are 12 foot windows. Most of the windows are original to the house and are gorgeous! A previous owner did replace a few windows with the horrible vinyl windows that I'll be replacing on down the line. The wooden windows were neglected and needed to be loved. This summer, I scraped, glazed, primed, and painted all but 10 of the windows (the remaining 10 will have to wait until the spring). If you want to see how I glazed, primed, and painted the windows (along with what I used) click HERE to view the blog where I talk about just that!

Here's the before with one of the smaller windows. You can see how the glazing is a goner and how neglected they were...

And, here's the after!

Now, let's see the entry way and stairs!

I always wanted one of those huge entry way rooms with the large chandelier and round table! This house does not have that BUT it has an amazing stairway! This is the original stairway and woodwork and it's gorgeous! The floors were redone once I moved in and I got new runner carpet for the stairs (which now need to be replaced again because the cats- looking at you Dior- like to scratch the stair runner.). I also did lots of painting. The ceilings in the house are 12 feet tall sooooo that meant that there was sooooo much stairway to paint and the extension paint poles didn't really do the trick and I had to use a ladder as well!

This is the before....

And now, the after!

Next, let's move on to the living room!

The living room still had the original fireplace, which is pretty spectacular! It also has some amazing double doors with original hardware and details. The trim in this room is also the original. I didn't have to do much in here except paint and replace the floor. I still have some trim to replace above the bay window. This is on the first floor of the house. So first, this is what it looked like when I bought the house...

And, this is what it looks like now!

All the details on the fireplace are truly to-die for!


On to the master bedroom!

Again, I didn't have to do much here! I painted and replaced the carpet. I also built a shoe closet and installed a couple of wardrobes for all of my clothes and shoes (I have a problem, I know!). I also replaced the light in this room for an amazing chandelier fan! This room has original trim and has gas light fixtures that are behind our headboard. This is on the second floor of the house.

This is what it looked like when I bought the house....

And, this is what it looks like now!

Next up is the guest bedroom!

Again, here I didn't have to do much, just paint and replace the carpet. This room also has the original gas fixtures and you can see those above the dresser. There are two closets on the side that you can't see as well as a door that leads to the attic. This is on the second floor of the house.

Here is what it looked like we when bought the house...

And here is what it looks like now!

Onward to the dining room!

I painted and replaced the floor in this room. We also took out a boarded up door that was no longer used and turned it into a chalk board. This room is still a work in progress and will probably be my next thing to tackle! It will get a new ceiling, paint, and decorative trim added to the walls. This is on the first floor of the house.

The before....

And what it looks like now, again, this room will go through another glow-up!

Now time for my office!

This room would have been a reception or receiving room back in the day and has a ton of Victorian accents! There is a stained glass window above the outside door that leads to my office, some GORGEOUS Victorian scroll work trim that is on the door that connects this room to the living room, this room has the Edison Electric Light plate that tells you how to use electric lights vs gas lighting, and has the original electric light switch! I painted and installed new floors in this room. I also repurposed some swinging doors that were in the kitchen and painted them and put them in the space that led from my office to the dining room. I do need to replace the ceiling at some point. This room is on the first floor.

This is the before....

And this is the after!

My office also has some fun original details like this Edison Electric Light instructions and switch!

And this pretty decorative detailing that's on the door that connects my office to the living room.

And the stained glass window on the door to the porch and decorative keyhole!

Downstairs bathroom!

I did not do much to this room except install some shelving and re-paint everything. For some reason they decided to paint clouds on the ceiling of this room as well as put some cloud covering on the window. I painted everything and I took the weird cloud glass covering off and replaced it with some privacy film. I also replaced the horrible exhaust with a pretty exhaust! I will eventually re-model this bathroom as well but since our upstairs bathroom was JUST finished, I decided it was better to wait on this one until later! This room is on the first floor.

The before....

The after.

Upstairs landing/hallways.

The first floor of the house is in the normal Victorian style where you walk through rooms to get to other rooms. There isn't really a hallway except for the entryway. This was pretty standard back in the day and there would usually be a bell type system that would be used at night in case someone needed to pass through your bedroom to get to another room.

The upstairs of the house was remodeled a bit before I bought the house so I'm not 100% sure what the layout originally was but it does look like a lot of the rooms connected (there is even a hidden staircase that I can't wait to open up one day!). There is now a hallway that leads from the main staircase to all the rooms upstairs. I don't have any before photos but here's what it looks like now.

The animal room/bedroom.

This is the smallest bedroom in our house. I played with the idea of turning it into a closet but I really didn't think it would offer me that much room so I decided to keep it as a bedroom. I turned it into the animal room. I keep everything for Dior and Luna in here. I didn't do much to this room at all except paint and replace the carpet. This room is on the second floor.

The before...

The after. (I know this isn't exciting and please ignore the cat litter but this is really all this room is used for: their litter, scratching plywood, and multitude of toys!)

Upstairs music/sewing/sitting room.

At one point in time I think the house was split up into two different apartments because this bedroom actually had a kitchen in it! It was a pretty gross and mix-matched/hodgepodge together kitchen so I decided to just tear it out. This room is currently being used as an upstairs sitting room and music and sewing room and where I do my pilates. This room is on the second floor.

The before...

The after.

This photo is of an original gas light fixture! There is this one in this room, one in the guest bedroom, and one in the master bedroom but it is currently hidden behind my headboard. I love these!

My sewing machine cabinet is an original vintage model and folds out to reveal a vintage sewing machine as well!

The laundry room.

I didn't do much to this room either, just painted and installed some shelving. I have more to do in this room like actually finishing that painting, building a table/laundry basket area, and replacing the horrible vinyl floor. This room is on the first floor.

The before...

The after. Again, this is also next on the remodel list and will get a new floor, paint finished going around the machines, new chandelier, and finish the boarded up window. (Luna followed me around for some of these photos if you can't tell...)

The kitchen!

These last two rooms were the biggest remodels! We completely gutted and re-did the kitchen! When I bought the house, there was just one side with cabinets and that was it! The kitchen is fairly large so it had so much potential! I gutted it completely and did everything new! I left all the trim and windows since they were original. My dad was doing kitchens back when we re-modeled so he designed and completed our kitchen cabinets. I put down new flooring and I did the backsplash! This room is on the first floor.

Here's the before...

And here's the after!!!!

The upstairs bathroom!

This is the other huge remodel! This bathroom was gross when I bought the house, several layers of carpet, peeling wallpaper, chipped and stained baths, etc. I wanted to completely re-do the bathroom but had other projects to do before then so it just kept getting pushed back and back. We gutted the bathroom when I bought the house but that was pretty much it. Every year I would be like, I need to do the bathroom and then the year got away from me! Sooooo 6 years later I was over it and called my friend Brandon who does tiling and remodeling work to see if he could do the remodel and he did! This room had already been remodeled at some point in the house's life and, sadly, lost a lot of it's Victorian detail. This made it easy for me because I really wanted a modern bathroom and I could do that without feeling bad about removing any Victorian details. While Brandon was tearing out the old plaster and drywall, he found some AMAZING hand-painted Victorian wallpaper!!!! It was perfectly preserved behind a wall that someone had built over it. The wall paper didn't really match my vision for the bathroom but there was no way that I could just tear it out or cover it up sooooo I decided to make it a little accent wall/shelf area in homage to the house and I LOVE the way it turned out!

Want to see more images of the bathroom and the remodel process? Click HERE to view a blog filled with those details!

Here's the before...

And here's the amazing after!!!

To end the post, here are some fun drone photos my friend Mike Butram took for me!

AND a fun drawing from the amazing Nicole at The Stardust Studio!

If you want to see more of the house and the remodeling process, click the "home improvement" tag below!

What's next on the remodel list?

- Finish painting exterior windows, porch areas, corbels and decorative trim.

- Replace ceiling in dining room, install decorative wall trim, and re-paint.

- Replace floor in laundry room, finish painting, finish drywall, and install new light.

- Open up secret staircase and see what's in there and hopefully re-open it!

- Turn attic into library/game room.

- Re-shingle garage and paint doors and windows.


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1675 Main Street; Lafayette, IN 47904

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