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All photos © Stephanie Munguia for Cheap Old Houses

Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

Episode 2

$125,000
Restoring a Giant Queen Anne Buried in a Jungle

c. 1885  Worcester, NY

This rambling Queen Anne, hidden behind decades of vegetation that had overtaken the lot, was no surprise to Enrique. Having grown up in Worcester, NY, he had seen the house peeking up and through the overgrowth “when riding bikes through town,” he shared with us on our first visit, along with wife Meghan. The details were all there — lovely spindles and polychrome colors that we couldn’t wait to free from behind the vines and other landscaping.

We had long known about the house, too. Before we met Enrique and Meghan, we had posted it on Instagram, and it quickly became one of the most popular houses we had ever shared on @cheapoldhouses! It makes sense: An intact gem, its Eastlake details sparkled even under all of the dust. Having the opportunity to work with Enrique and Meghan on a house so near and dear to all of our hearts felt a like a dream come true. Read on to see how we took this house from “dark, dingy and buried in a forest!” to “Hello, beautiful!!!”

All photos © Stephanie Munguia for Cheap Old Houses

Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

Episode 2

$125,000
Restoring a Giant Queen Anne Buried in a Jungle

c. 1885  Worcester, NY

This rambling Queen Anne, hidden behind decades of vegetation that had overtaken the lot, was no surprise to Enrique. Having grown up in Worcester, NY, he had seen the house peeking up and through the overgrowth “when riding bikes through town,” he shared with us on our first visit, along with wife Meghan. The details were all there — lovely spindles and polychrome colors that we couldn’t wait to free from behind the vines and other landscaping.

We had long known about the house, too. Before we met Enrique and Meghan, we had posted it on Instagram, and it quickly became one of the most popular houses we had ever shared on @cheapoldhouses! It makes sense: An intact gem, its Eastlake details sparkled even under all of the dust. Having the opportunity to work with Enrique and Meghan on a house so near and dear to all of our hearts felt a like a dream come true. Read on to see how we took this house from “dark, dingy and buried in a forest!” to “Hello, beautiful!!!”

Being a part of Meghan and Enrique’s home-finding journey has been an incredible privilege.

This rambling Queen Anne, hidden behind decades of vegetation that had overtaken the lot, was no surprise to Enrique. Having grown up in Worcester, NY, he had seen the house peeking up and through the overgrowth “when riding bikes through town,” he shared with us on our first visit, along with wife Meghan. The details were all there — lovely spindles and polychrome colors that we couldn’t wait to free from behind the vines and other landscaping.

One of Enrique and Meghan’s first reactions was regarding how dark the interior felt — blame that on the trees and vines growing up and over the windows, not the glorious, dark hardwood! So much of this home’s original character was still intact, from the double front doors to the newel post that greets you upon entry. For the front rooms, it was really a matter of pulling away some of the non-original add-ons and leaning into the history of the house once more.

BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT STAIRCASE! Or, do we need to? The exquisite Eastlake staircase in this house speaks for itself! All it needed was a fresh polish, and it makes such a statement in the foyer. We decided to leave the room minimal so the architectural details would shine. And boy, do they ever! The opportunity to own a statement piece like this staircase comes along only once in a lifetime, and we couldn’t be happier that Enrique and Meghan will be its stewards!

The After

Kitchen + Butler’s Pantry

The kitchen is, traditionally, one of the most remodeled rooms in the American home. As tastes and technology evolve, so does the design and layout of this highly-functional heart of the home. For this restoration and renovation, we wanted to bring the kitchen back closer to the ideals of the Victorian era, with collected-looking pieces and wooden cabinets, while still keeping the space inviting and contemporary for Enrique and Meghan’s use today.

Immediately adjacent to the kitchen was a generously-sized butler’s pantry — the stuff of cheap old house dreams! Historically, this provided additional storage and a place to stage meals before bringing them out to those waiting at the dining table. Have different dining sets for different seasons? Have everyday glassware and also fine crystal? There’s a place for it all in your butler’s pantry!

During demo, original beaboard was discovered hiding behind cabinets and a layer of tile. We took that cue and ran with it, bringing warmth and texture back to the kitchen through a beadboard backsplash. Free-standing cabinets with similar wood and a free-standing kitchen sink helped us to tell a Victorian kitchen story, and new appliances with a retro flair, courtesy of AjMadison, ensure the kitchen may feel vintage but performs for today’s lifestyle. Fixtures by Vintage Tub & Bath, hardware by Charleston Hardware Co., countertops by MSI Surfaces and vintage lighting tied this room together beautifully.

Designing and building out this home’s butler’s pantry was such a joy. We kept in mind Meghan and Enrique’s kids, and were so grateful that our friends at AjMadison and SMEG agreed that a mini version of the retro-style refrigerator in the main kitchen would be a sweet little addition to make this a space where they can come in for a quick snack before running back outside.

Dining + Living Room

The Victorians loved their wallpaper — so much that they created systems to cover nearly every square inch of a room, from the walls to the ceiling and all the points in between in the beautifully patterned textile! To go full-on would be a major design decision, and one that, in consultation with our lead designer, Jennifer Salvemini, we didn’t think would speak to Enrique and Meghan’s personal style. Instead, we came up with an approach which hints at that design legacy by using a stunning celestial star pattern by the incomparable Bradbury & Bradbury on the ceiling. When Enrique acknowledged, during the reveal, that the final result now felt like dining under the stars, we knew we hit the mark.

Jennifer had a ball looking at Spoonflower’s massive array of options to find the perfect floral fabric for the curtains. And through the pocket doors, a dining set by GreenRow makes a beautiful centerpiece in a star-filled room, made prettier still with artwork from Juniper Print Shop framed by FrameUSA.

Exterior

Taming this house’s overgrowth was a herculean task, and one that we absolutely couldn’t tackle alone! We needed some serious pro support, and George’s Nursery and Market didn’t let us down. The work called for a balance of brains and brawn — careful attention to see when a planting might be worth taming and keeping, and strength to cut through the thickest tangles of vines, fern, invasive saplings, and more. In their place, the team added beautiful plantings from Proven Winners, a long-time friend and supporters of ours.

When it came to an exterior color palette, we weren’t operating entirely in the dark. A combination of carefully scraping back layers of paint to reveal the base colors and a black and white photo helped us put the puzzle pieces together (the tonal variations of the black and white photo was just the level of information Scott Reed, our friend and amazing architectural designer, needed to solve this color mystery). Paint by Dunn-Edwards DURA brought the life back to this polychrome charmer. In fact, the palette was so good, we put it to use once more …

Playhouse

If we start an Instagram Feed called “Cheap Old Playhouses,” you’ll know where the inspiration came from! This petite little playhouse was completely covered over and falling apart alongside the house. We couldn’t resist the urge to feature the beautiful Dunn-Edwards DURA colors once more as we created a special place for Meghan and Enrique’s kids, and their friends, to call their own.

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
Painting

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

Editors

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
DIT

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
Paint

George’s Market & Nursery
Landscaping

Proven Winners
Flowers and plants

MSI Surfaces
Countertops

Vintage Tub & Bath
Kitchen fixtures

Charleston Hardware Co.
Hardware

Hawkins New York
Housewares

Spoonflower
Fabric and textiles

FrameUSA
Art frames

AjMadison
Appliances

Saratoga Sod
Sod

CertainTeed
Roofing supplies

Clapper Construction
Roof replacement

Kichler Lighting
Light fixtures

Bradbury & Bradbury
Wallpaper

GreenRow
Furniture

Venus, artist
Artwork

Juniper Print Shop
Art prints

The Before

You’d be easily forgiven for having trouble seeing the potential in this lovely c. 1885 home. After all, the decades of deferred landscaping had created a literal jungle of overgrowth. But that’s nothing a mower, a chainsaw and some pruners (and an incredible team of landscaping pros!) couldn’t fix.

Kitchen & Butler’s Pantry

This 1940s kitchen wasn’t original to the house, nor did it fit these homeowners’ style or needs. But with Cheap Old Houses, nothing lands unnecessarily in the landfill! We knew these vintage cabinets could easily find another home — perhaps with someone leaning into the fabulous 40s and 50s vibe. We carefully removed these and donated them to our regional architectural salvage.

Dining Room & Living Room

Playhouse

Now tell me you couldn’t help but save this petite playhouse … and tell me you could resist painting it pink! We’ll both know you’re lying *wink*.

More From This Episode
  • A New Roof for Meghan and Enrique’s Gigantic Queen Anne

    The house was stunning with original c. 1885 details inside and out! The roof, however, was tragic! Massively deferred maintenance had left this house vulnerable, something we had to address as part of our overall restoration and renovation plan for Meghan and Enrique....

  • How We Uncovered This House From Behind a Jungle!

    We were up against years (decades?) of deferred landscaping in Worcester, NY. But trust us when we say that behind those vines and beyond that foot-tall grass and under those branches, there’s a Queen Anne charmer just waiting to breathe again!...

  • Wallpapered Ceilings in Victorian Houses

    What's one trend we definitely need to bring back, especially if restoring a home from 1885? Wallpaper on the ceiling! ...

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