An Already Gorgeous Victorian House Has Been Energized With Bold Color
Angela Wator and Jeramy Webb weren’t planning to buy a home when they stumbled across an 1896 Victorian outside of Chicago where they live. (Amazingly they each found independently while daydreaming on Zillow and emailed the listing to one another!) However, once they’d glimpsed this time capsule of a home, they couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Living in a small apartment in the city, they dreamed of their family spreading out within its walls and making it their won. “The interior was an unrenovated but meticulously cared-for dream, and the house sat on a huge double lot under a canopy of tall trees,” says Angela. “I can’t explain the instant, intense attraction we felt to this house, but it was like I could hear our kids laughing in the halls, see the fancy holiday parties we would host… We were obsessed!”
The couple was so enamoured of the house that they would drive out to visit it on the weekends while they scraped together a down payment. When they were finally in a position to make an offer to buy it, the couple wrote a heartfelt letter to the owners, who had owned the home for more than 70 years—and their offer was accepted!
When they moved in, the family was coming from a much smaller space, so they didn’t have furniture for all of its many rooms. “My first instinct was to fill them and finish everything as quickly as possible,” says Angela, “but I knew I needed to take it slow, see how we would use each room, and make smart, deliberate decisions.” Because the couple hadn’t planned on buying a house, they also didn’t have money budgeted towards furnishings or projects. So, Angela sourced the things they needed immediately, like lamps, from estate sales, and held off on any larger purchases until she had a better feel for the space.
Most original elements of the 1896 home were preserved—from the ornate door knobs to the feel of the creaky, well-worn hardwood floors. “We also have very tall original windows, and the wavy glass combined with their height results in the most beautiful, moody lighting all throughout the day,” says Angela. However, the family didn’t want to live in a museum, so they brought the house into the present with tons of color, patterns, and contemporary furnishings. The house is an ever-evolving work in progress.
On that lilac living room: “I wanted a color that felt fun and playful during the day, but romantic and sophisticated in the evening,” says Angela, who sampled a few different warm lilacs before landing on Behr’s Uptown Girl. “That shade glowed in the perfect way when the light hit it!”
On stay-at-home life: “Our love for this home runs deep,” says Angela, who says that they have come to appreciate it even more after spending months inside during stay at home orders. “I spent my days crossing ambitious home projects off my to-do list that I didn’t think I’d tackle for years, like learning to cultivate and maintain our large garden, and making Victorian-era crafts from anything we found around the house,” says Angela.
On creating a whole-house color scheme: “I was afraid I’d lose the peaceful quality of the house if I went too bright, so I worked out a rich, warm palette that played up the amazing lighting we get in every room instead. I like to weave colors from room to room, so peach walls in one room will carry on through a peach bedspread in the next room. This gives the whole space a sense of continuity and is especially nice when you’re viewing one room from another, something that happens a lot in old houses with wide doorways,” says Angela. She even made a color-blocked floor plan to make sure there aren’t any weird color transitions before she started painting and wallpapering!
On choosing wallpaper: Most of the rooms in the house had vintage wallpaper when the family moved in, and they kept anything that was still in good condition. “In the rooms that needed new wallpaper, I focused on bold patterns that kept the house from feeling like a time capsule,” says Angela.
On her interior style: “I love mixing vintage furniture with well-worn heirlooms and bright, modern, unexpected accents. I’m a big fan of mixing patterns and layering on textures, whether I’m getting dressed, merchandising my shop, or decorating a home. By piling on all these elements, the finished look tells a story—in the case of our home, it’s the story of our travels, our family history, and the four families that lived here before us.”
On the power of elbow grease: “This is actually a pretty simple thing, but when we first moved in, all the original hardware throughout the house was black. I suspected some of the hardware was brass, so I tested all of it and then spent a week scrubbing and polishing every handle.”
On inspiration: “Old movies are always a great source of inspiration for me, interior and otherwise! I usually pay more attention to the sets than the story line,” says Angela. Traveling also gets her creativity going. “Little bits of every trip I go on creep into my style.”
On staying organized: “I can’t relax around clutter, so every single thing that comes into our home has a permanent location somewhere out of sight. Since each item has a designated home, the kids are great about cleaning up and putting things back where they belong, and I can walk around the house without feeling super anxious all the time. “
On painting just half the wall: “Half-painted walls act as a large scale pattern to add more interest to a room,” says Angela, who notes that Ramona’s room has vintage wallpaper on two walls (and the kitchen had floor to ceiling wood cabinets on two walls). “Both rooms needed a paint treatment that could balance out everything happening on the other side. A plain old wall just wouldn’t cut it!” she says.
On raising kids in a historic house: “All the quirks of this home, from the secret staircase pantry to the kid-height laundry chutes definitely make it a magical home for curious kids to grow up in,” says Angela.
Angela’s Paint Palette
- Living Room — Behr “Uptown Girl” in flat
- Dining Room — Sherwin-Williams “Westinghouse White”
- Hallway and Foyer — Sherwin-Williams “Westinghouse White”
- Kitchen — Sherwin-Williams “Rosedust” and “Westinghouse White”
- Our Bedroom — Sherwin-Williams “Jovial” on walls, “Caribbean Coral” on ceiling
- Ramona’s Bedroom — Sherwin-Williams “Westinghouse White” and “Adrift”
- Guest Room — Sherwin-Williams “Adrift” on trim and doors
- 2nd Story Stairs — Behr “Peach Mimosa”
- Jeramy’s Office — Sherwin-Williams “Rookwood Green”
This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: An Already Gorgeous Victorian House Has Been Energized With Bold Color