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All photos © Stephanie Munguia for Cheap Old Houses

Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

Episode 8

A Grand Victorian Restoration!

c. 1890  Menands, NY

The Victorians didn’t do anything small, so to go out with a bang, we decided that our season had to end with a Victorian house that was really OVER THE TOP. For our finale, we worked with Alison to find the perfect home for herself and her three daughters. We landed on a giant (and exquisite!) Queen Anne-style home with a wraparound porch that gives off all the most warm and fuzzy Norman Rockwell vibes.

All photos © Stephanie Munguia for Cheap Old Houses

Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

Episode 8

A Grand Victorian Restoration!

c. 1890  Menands, NY

The Victorians didn’t do anything small, so we decided that our season had to end with something OVER THE TOP. For our finale, we worked with Alison to find the perfect home for herself and her three daughters. We landed on a giant (and exquisite!) Queen Anne-style home with a wraparound porch that gives off all the most warm and fuzzy Norman Rockwell vibes.

The exterior of this house was actually in decent condition when we found it. Or at least, that is, compared to most cheap old houses. There was rot in some areas, but overall, it was in good shape.

But those colors? Well. Womp, womp. They were just … WRONG. The cool undertones of the baby blue and bright white competed with the warmth of the pinkish rusticated stone, so the whole thing just felt disjointed and awkward. Throughout history, colors were always considered as part of the architecture itself; originally, the stone base would have been one piece of a warm color scheme that would have felt like a giant hug, enveloping the entire house.

We knew that in order for the architecture to make sense again, we had to return this house to its original colors. But what were they?

BOY, ARE WE PROUD OF THIS EXTERIOR TRANSFORMATION. To get here, we started with what we do best: research, research, research! Our genius architectural designer Scott Reed spent hours scraping away the layers of modern paint to try to determine what the original colors of this house would have been. At the base layer, he discovered a range of terra cottas and chocolate browns that perfectly complemented (rather than competing with) the rusticated stone base. It made so much sense! Then, he worked with Dunn Edwards DURA to select (are you ready!?!) ELEVEN colors that closely matched the originals.

The Porch

All of the original porch features were there! It just needed to be brought back to life.

Now, this is the quintessential Victorian porch, meant for spending lazy days in a hammock with book!

Here, you can really see how the colors feel right at home. They mimic natural stone (a big trend throughout much of the Victorian era), and work perfectly with the heavy stone base.

We are so grateful to Business + Pleasure for all of the adorable patio accessories they supplied for Alison’s porch. They are the perfect, fresh nod to Victorian amusement parks!


Let’s Go Inside!

If I could sum up the house in one phrase, it would be: brown on brown on brown…

… on brown.

That said, the bones were fantastic! I’m talking ORIGINAL WOODWORK EVERYWHERE. Nothing had been destroyed; it had just been covered up with old wall-to-wall carpeting and beige wallpaper. Nothing we couldn’t fix! The inside just needed some love and life brought into it, but thankfully, the needs were mostly aesthetic. The house is solid!

Jennifer thought the porch reminded her of a carousel, so ran with a bit of Victorian amusement theme inside. With this in mind, the vestibule went from sad and beige to fun and whimsical. Along with a to-die-for art deco light fixture, a print by Janet Hill Studio brought the whole space together!

The house had been used for decades as a church rectory (built at the same time, the beautiful church next door makes use of the same rusticated stone—they complement each other perfectly!). The nice thing about the interior is that all of the original detail was there, from the pocket doors, to the incredible staircase, to the colorful tiled mantels, to the original wood casings around all of the doors. Even the windows were all original! Woo-hoo!

Staircases in homes of this era were all about making a statement, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Once we lifted up the carpet, we found the most beautiful hardwood underneath, and the floors in the house literally sparkle now!

Our team incorporates every homeowner’s own belongings into our work; this keeps things feeling personal, collected, and not too matchy-matchy. In the main hallway, we used Alison’s own Capiz pendant light (her favorite possession!) and let the architecture shine with a simple wall treatment using Portola Paints limewash. Our intention is to let Alison fill these walls with photos of her three girls, to eventually amass an epic gallery wall.

Throughout the rest of the house, the intention was to keep things youthful, colorful and fit for a young family. As always, mixing antiques with clean lines was the way to go. Good-bye sad beige wallpaper, hello warm, welcoming, colorful, collected and fun!

Most of the furniture was sourced secondhand, which allowed us not only to stretch the budget, but also to create a space that felt as if it had evolved over time. We simply love the way it came out! Now shining and restored, this staircase is such a joyful sight to see upon entering this happy home!

Living + Dining Rooms

Here again, lots of beige and brown. The rooms felt… tired. BUT as in all good Victorian-era homes, they were divided by a gorgeous set of original pocket doors, and were accented by fireplaces adorned with tiles in all sorts of jewel tones. Just stunning!

Let’s bring a little Wes Anderson into the mix, shall we?

With the double parlor being so close to the kitchen, we thought it would make sense to convert the second space into a dining room. Aren’t these colors just delightful?

The chandelier is a locally-made piece by lighttexture, and we love how it lends a slightly modern flair to this otherwise traditional space.


This atomic kitchen would have been perfect in a house from the 1960s. But the angled layout was extremely challenging, and nothing about the features worked with the rest of the house.

Designing kitchens in old houses is always a fun challenge, because both kitchen technologies, and the ways we use the space, have changed SO MUCH over the years. Back in the era in which this house was built, the kitchen would have been in the very back of the house, and would have been considered a very private space. No visitors would ever see the kitchen. Today, however, kitchens are our primary gathering and socializing spaces. That’s a big shift!

Our team didn’t pick a singular era to lean into with this kitchen. Rather, we designed a kitchen that feels as if it has evolved with the house over time. So by the 1940s, when modern refrigerators were common in all households, this type of retro-styled fridge would have entered the scene and never left the space. Thank you to AJ Madison for supplying this SMEG fridge, which lends such a sweet pop of color and is stylistically perfect!

Under what felt like a million layers of linoleum, we finally found the old hardwood floors. The striped tile (isn’t this gorgeous? Thank you, Karen Pearse Home!) was originally intended to be used on the floors in the event that the hardward was no longer there. Pivot! Put it on the walls! I do believe it’s now the star of the show, and in a funny way recalls the original beadboard, which most certainly graced these walls way back when (we know, because we found shadow lines of it behind the 1960s cabinets!)

The icing on the cake in every historical home? Wallpaper by Adelphi Paper Hangings! Here, Jennifer selected the pattern Strawberry Hill Floret. It ties the space together so well!

I’m not a huge fan of fixed islands in kitchens; I much prefer moveable tables, but it’s tough to find them at counter height. I was thrilled to have come across a FB Marketplace listing for this French Bakers table (I’m ALWAYS looking for these!), which sits at counter height and also adds so much warmth, texture and history to the space.

Alison remarks in the episode: “This is the cutest kitchen I’ve ever seen!” We could not agree more.


What was Alison’s biggest fear in purchasing this house? The lack of bathrooms! There was only one tiny bathroom in the house, which meant she and her three daughters would all be constantly vying for the space. Since this giant home had more than enough bedrooms, we felt totally comfortable converting the smallest of the bunch into a spacious bathroom for her teenage girls.

Tada! How about those twin pedestal sinks by The Bold Bathroom Company? Are they cute, or what?

The most delightful and soothing space, all ready for a family to move in!

The People

Our Team

Our deepest gratitude to architectural designer and fellow champion of old houses, Scott Reed, for his invaluable insight and guidance on so many aspects of honoring this building’s era and history. Thank you to the tiny-but-mighty design and build team, lead by interior designer Jennifer Salvemini, who worked hard to celebrate the building’s history and character.

It takes a village, and we’re so fortunate to work with a team of preservation-minded contractors, designers, fabricators, and more to achieve our vision.

Design & Build

Kent Hansen
Hansen Complete Remodeling
General Contractor

Brian Crabb and Ruth Storc
Design Producers

David Figueroa
Build Producer

Edin of Edo’s Home Renos

James Waterhouse
Jack of All Trades

Production & Filming

Ann Lewis Roberts, Jenny Daly,
Jon Beyer, and Bill Gaudsmith

Executive Producers

Phil DePietro
Line Producer

Steve Bowler
Supervising Producer

Cory Dross
Director of Photography

Mike Spencer
Audio Mixer

Kathryn Zavistak, Alex Nam, Greg Corwin,
Carlos Escoto, Kirk Murray, and Dan Tivin


Nick Batchelder, Paul Celello,
Owen Goldstoff, and Alec Wright

Production Assistants

Amy Goodfriend-Nussbaum
Clearance Supervisor

Kelly Taylor
Post Production Coordinator

Victoria Chiaro Snyder
Executive in Charge of Production

Erika Smith
Supervising Story Producer

Ann Marie Lizzi
Segment Producer

Bill Keller
Camera Operator

Tori Dunn

Kurtis Endreson
Production Manager

Jon Earnest, Kevin Lowe,
and Sam Rubin

Story Producers

Andi Nunez
Post Production Supervisor

Gregory McClintock and Goga Sordia
Assistant Editors

Elizabeth Stephenson
Associate Producer

Brand Partners

With our sincere thanks to our incredible partners:

Dunn-Edwards DURA


Kraftmaid by Cabinetworks
Kitchen cabinets

Charleston Hardware Co.

Vintage Tub & Bath
Kitchen fixtures

Adelphi Paper Hangings

Fabric and textiles

The Bold Bathroom Co.
Twin pedestal sinks

Mattress and bedding

Business & Pleasure
Patio furniture

George’s Market & Nursery

Heritage Tile
Bathroom tile

Proven Winners
Flowers and plants

Kichler Lighting
Light fixtures

Karen Pearse Home
Kitchen tile

MSI Surfaces

Juniper Print Shop
Art prints

Dining room chandelier

Don’s Moving & Storage

Thank you to everyone who made this project a reality!

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