Connecting Historic Preservation with Modern Living

A Victorian Gem in East Austin

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Simultaneously, when this lovely Victorian home on Austin’s rapidly growing east side was originally being built in the late 1880s, the state capitol building was also under construction. Materials that were being used in the construction of the capitol migrated into the building of this two-story Victorian. Today, the home is beginning a new chapter in its story with new owners who have lived on the East side of town and long admired the home. The young family has undertaken the challenge to have the home officially registered with the City of Austin while lovingly restoring and simultaneously updating to suit their modern, active lifestyle.

The Victorian-inspired design for this project began with the selecting the exterior color scheme. The previous coral/pink is returning to its original white color, with a dark green roof to evoke the original turn of the century era of the home. Remodeling Austin historic homes can often contain surprises along the way, and our project provided a few. Construction unearthed the original lime pit which workers had used to mix plaster during construction of the home. We were thrilled to discover and salvage original brick in the interior and found horsehair insulation in the lathing of the walls.

Challenges were also revealed during the process, such as creating space to accommodate HVAC for modern, efficient heating and cooling, and bringing a staircase up to modern code while salvaging the original banisters and hand rails. Two fireplaces originally used to burn coal were deemed too narrow to burn wood today and were designated decorative-only. Some doorways and windows required relocation to accommodate the flow for our client’s lifestyle.

Throughout this process, the commitment for Victorian-inspired design influenced every decision–especially when it came to materials. Interior wooden shutters were added to the windows. Metal mesh was used in kitchen cabinet doors. Stone kitchen countertops, and iron-flecked seneca paver-style floor tiles evoked materials used in the Victorian kitchen. The ceiling was sheathed with pale green and blue painted beadboard throughout the kitchen to the porch, connecting the indoors to the outdoor living area.

Trim around the large original windows adorned with ornate rosettes was reproduced and repeated throughout the interior. The original wainscotting was copied as well as carried through the interior and used in the lower stair hall.

To enhance the feeling of space and light, the interior walls were painted a creamy white, and trim and doors were stained dark. The distinctive bend in the walls of the living room and kitchen required a custom seating solution to maximize space and comfort. A five-piece sofa with an all-over pattern was designed and reassembled to fit perfectly under the sash of the living room window, addressing the seating needs for entertaining and relaxing.

In the master bedroom, custom shelving was designed to accommodate workspaces which featured a honeycomb pattern inspired by the lattice in the original windows. Slatted shelves were added as a nod to the original Victorian style. Custom bathroom vanities were designed with bun feet and stained to look like furniture next to freestanding claw-footed tubs.

Creatively blending the old with the new–integrating styles from over a century ago with modern needs was the challenge and joy of this project. The homeowners committed to preserving this beautiful home, not only for their own personal enjoyment but for its evolving story. We were honored to be a part of its telling.

 


Amity Worrel

Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.