Historic homes are often bursting with design character and charm that’s really hard to recreate in newly built homes. The layouts, built-ins, and architectural details in homes like Victorian and Edwardian houses add such richness to these interior spaces. Homeowners and renters are often able find function and beauty in the most unexpected places while living in these residential gems.
It’s quite sad to see a beautiful piece of architecture ravaged by the rotting effects of time, and it’s extremely hopeful and life-affirming when a home that’s been standing for years is able to be restored, maintained, and honored. After more than a hundred years, the homes below are still as grand and interesting as ever thanks to a little love and preservation.
1. This sophisticated 110-year-old home in Long Island has the best built-in bookcase.
Kate Pearce and her husband Billy have really made this historic home their own. They bought it as a fixer-upper, “which meant the price was right, but we could also put our own imprint on the home,” Kate says. Of all the beautiful rooms in this house, their dark green living room with the black built-in bookcase is the star of the show. But while they’ve modernized elements here and there, the spirit of the home’s history is still very much alive throughout the rooms.
2. This 160-year-old biophillic Victorian beauty has plants everywhere — even in the chandelier.
Sharon Lomas runs a nature-inspired design business, so it’s no surprise that her home reflects her work. “Living with plants is very soothing to me and I love to nurture them and watch them grow,” Sharon says. Green is definitely the theme in this 160-year-old Victorian home. While Sharon’s green thumb brings new life into this house, it’s still full of original period features like high ceilings, original timber wood floors, and a sandstone fireplace.
3. Every single room in this Edwardian-era terraced house is a different, bold color palette and it’s absolutely perfect.
Ola Zwolenik and her husband always knew they wanted to find a period property loaded with character. When they found this one in South East London, Ola decided to use every little nook it had to offer to add her own personality. “Especially with period homes, you have so many alcoves and weirdly shaped rooms,” she says. “But it’s what makes them special.” Ola’s style is colorful and eclectic and doesn’t hold back. From the blue monochrome alcove in the guest room, to the electric orange in the dining room, every room is fun and full of color highlighting the home’s unique architecture.
4. This 121-year-old colorful cottage features polka dots on the walls and a bright yellow door.
Marita considers herself a “recovering minimalist” and poured her rainbow-colored childhood dreams all over her historic home. “I would describe my style as the embodiment of childhood magic: colorful, happy, and fun!” she says. Marita looks to her four-year-old daughter for inspiration, which probably explains why the house has so much joy. When it comes to painting, “no rules” is the only rule, and each room ends up looking like a work of art. It’s perhaps an uncommon way to restore a historic home, but any approach that brings more joy into a home is being respectful of the love that went into building the home in the first place.
5. The wood-paneled walls are actually working in this 100-year-old home.
6. The original wood floors and exposed beams make this 1800s home feel warm and look wonderful.
Zach and Hugh from the Instagram account, This Yunky House, consider themselves “home renovation-attempters and backyard chicken dads.” The style in their 1800s home in Philadelphia is rustic farmhouse and colonial with a hint of eclectic. A leak on the second floor led to their proudest DIY, the beautiful exposed beams in the kitchen ceiling. The original hardwood floors are their favorite element in the entire house though. Zach says, “They’re worn, weird, and wonderful.” The couple’s ability to marry the home’s existing details with their own style is truly inspiring.
7. This home built in 1901 has four fireplaces, six cast-iron radiators, and a whimsical window seat.
Clare Bolger and her husband Oliver bought this home because it was filled with “architecture charm” but it still needed a lot of work. They were intentional about restoring the classic parts of the home, while making it modern and functional for their family. “I love the fact that the window seat is the spot where the family would’ve sat in the early 1900s to take their shoes off and warm themselves by the fire,” Clare says. She even framed the original house deeds and displayed them in a glass case in the hallway.
8. This 100-year-old Chicago condo was given new life with paint, wallpaper, and more
Interior design Julie Mitchiner and her husband live in this century-old condo in Chicago. Julie loves the original details like the millwork, fireplace, built-ins, and bay window and wanted to enhance them through her designs. “My goal was to make it cozy, layered, and unique, while still highlighting the original details,” she says. “The rooms complement each other while still having their own personality.” Added elements like wallpaper and paint were able to make this home fresh and modern while still feeling historical.
9. The crumbling brick walls steal the show in this 200-year-old+ Creole cottage in New Orleans.
Brent Rosen and Caroline Rosen own a cool historic home in New Orleans that was built in the early 1800s. “Both of our personal tastes veer toward the classic, but with some modern elements and twists,” Caroline says. Those tastes influence their design style and inspired them to leave the brick walls as-is. Since “trendy” isn’t really their vibe, the Rosen’s home is adorned with a collection of original and vintage artwork. It’s a visual gumbo of architectural charm and eclectic modern elements.
10. This Victorian built in 1896 is full of character, color, and pretty patterned wallpaper.
When Angela and her husband saw this large home on Zillow had been on the market for a while, they instantly fell in love with it. She called it “an unrenovated but meticulously cared-for dream” because most of the original elements are well-preserved. It still has the original door knobs, creaky hardwood floors, and (maybe the coolest feature) a laundry chute. Angela says “it’s convenient for laundry, but also fun for sending surprises from floor to floor.” Combined with her unique philosophies on color, the whole house is a joyful expression of now and then.
11. This home built in 1868 is full of charming little details down to the doorknobs.
Timothy Sheehan and his dog Reggie have lived in this 2300-square-foot historic New Orleans home for six and a half years. When Tim first found the home in 2010 it had been abandoned since 2004 and was in pretty bad shape. Nonetheless, he started renovating the day he closed on the property. Since then, he’s restored the hardwood floors, pine covered walls, and other original architectural details that are just too good to give up on.
12. This 150-year-old home’s big, beautiful front porch is so sweet and Southern.
The moment you arrive at Kristen Hallberg Reavis’ home in South Carolina, you are greeted with Southern charm. Beyond the picturesque picket fence is a large front porch that is as inviting and traditional as it gets. When it comes to the interior, Kristen says “the biggest challenge was finding a style that not only suits both of us, but also works with this house, which is 150 years old.” So she says they kept the wood-paneled walls clean and white as a blank canvas to serve as life’s backdrop.
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