At first glance, the bathroom in the Dusty Victorian appears to be of the period. Huge copper slipper bath with wooden trim, chest of drawers with marble top, mirrored vanity with copper sink, pump like faucet, antique light fixtures and highly decorated walls and ceiling. All the elements were carefully chosen in respect to the vintage of the house, But also, the previous owner spared no expenses to make sure it would be comfortable and convenient for today's user by installing heated floor tiles and two well positioned electrical outlets. The plumbing is independent to the rest of the house, set up so as to avoid sudden bursts of cold and hot water or loss of pressure in the shower. In my opinion, that's how it should be done.
When we leave this house for others to enjoy, I hope that something of ours will remain and blend with the new owners things. These law books have remained in the house well over 100 years and belonged to Leonard Harstone, Barrister at Law, second owner of the Dusty Victorian.
The first room our guests usually are welcome to is the library. It also serves as Brian's office and our family room. The biggest in the house, after the kitchen, it's the most used. We had bookcases built to Brian's specific requirements. His collection amounts to almost 4,000 books and he did not want any wasted space. Unfortunately, the library can only contain half of his collection, therefore more bookcases will have to be built elsewhere in the house. The previous owner had this room decorated using high quality wall paper, Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wall Paper. The Victorian esthetics are very present in this room, emphasizing hight, texture, rich and dark colours and patterns. The green marble effect is a "faux finish" and the lower brown part is embossed wall paper painted and glazed. I think William Morris would be very pleased.
Walking the dogs around town, Brian and I enjoy looking at the other homes. Some have been so beautifully maintained or restored, while others have been terribly defaced. There is a lot to talk about in a historic town. While Brian sees primarily "bone structure" and balance, I go further and focus on details, such as functioning shutters versus ones that are screwed in place. I'm proud to say that the shutters on our house can still open and close thanks to those clever hinges and locks. But the louvres are just too caked with decades of paint to be functional. Though I would rather see "fake" shutters than none at all, shutters are nothing much without the hardware that give them their true purpose. Call me a purist. I will let these before and after shots of shutter hardware speak for themselves.
Most of the time, previous owners will leave behind unwanted things, also known as junk. But we discovered in the shed this beautiful stove. Note the intricate decorative details and elegant proportions - very Victorian. Jewett & Root's of Buffalo, New York were obviously very proud of their folding door concept, casting the words right under their names. Once refinished, it will make for a stunning outdoor fireplace.
Coming from a design background, the selection of a colour palette is a very long, subjective process. But selecting colours for a house was an even harder task than expected. Natural light, which affects the appearance of colours throughout the day and the bleaching effects of the sun need to be taken into serious consideration. The previous owner had selected aubergine/taupe/dark green/cream. A very sophisticated selection I highly respect, but from a distance and with time, the aubergine now appears brown and the dark green appeared black, making this colour palette too neutral, sombre and giving the house a foreboding look. I'm in the beginning process of trying out different colour combinations. Sage green/burnt red/sage cream, is my first attempt. This particular green was one of the house's original colours, discovered while stripping the storm doors. I thought I would give it a try and see how it reacts to the different lights of the day, and to see if I still like it come Spring. I also think that this burnt red would make for a beautiful entrance door.
The first thing we had built at back was a portion of missing fence and a gate to keep the dogs from roaming. The existing fence was custom-made over fifty years ago and had to follow the slopping grounds. Not an easy task, even for an experienced contractor in these times of prefabrication. The gate had to be built on a slope, be wide enough for the car, not be too heavy and had to fit in with the design of the fence. I handed over my gate design to our contractor who was very comfortable "eyeballing it". We are very satisfied with the end results.
Although this shed/playhouse is not original to the house, I think it's worth mentioning. The previous owners had this two-storey structure, with balcony, built for themselves and their three children. Rarely do we see such attention given to a backyard construction. Gingerbread details found on the main house have been replicated for the adornment of the shed, such as the trim along the roof line, the stairs and balcony railings and the shutters. It is fully wired for electricity and a water pipe has been brought to the shed for ease of watering the garden. But what I enjoy the most is seeing the names of the three children engraved onto the three steps leading to the wooden stairs.