Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

1893 Victorian: Come Inside!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Now that you've seen the outside, let's come in out of the cold, get some hot chocolate, and I'll give you the nickel tour.  Can I take your coat?

There are two front doors on the house - the formal entrance right as you come up the porch stairs and then the other entrance all the way at the end of the porch and around the side of the house.  We'll  use that one for now.

As we step through the door, we're in one of the parlors and can look into the formal dining room.

The dining room is right through those pocket doors. Yep, they work!
Like many Victorians, this house has two parlors.  In the South, these would have been designated as "mens" and "ladies" parlors for receiving guests.  But, in Kansas City, they were usually "formal" versus "informal".  If you were a guest unknown to the family, you would have been received in the formal entrance and parlor and the rest of the house would have been closed off to your view with the pocket doors. These also served to keep the heat from the fireplace in the room so that it was nice and cozy.  The modern version of this room would be the living room.

If you were a friend of the family, you would have entered the room we're standing in now:  the informal parlor.  You can think of this as a Victorian version of the family room.

This room needed some serious help when we bought the house.  Like the rest of the house, it looked like a 1980's pink and green nightmare.  The wallpaper that had been up for 25+ years was peeling and it was in desperate need of a paint job.  The light was original, but it didn't work and needed to be rewired.  We ended up replacing it with something more modern.

OOPS!  Caught our real estate agent's back side in this picture!
 That door to the right goes into a hallway where there's a closet (you can see the door) and then, just to the right of that, is the entrance to the downstairs bathroom that is tucked under the stairs.  This house didn't have indoor plumbing when it was built.
Looking back at the front door that we just came in. Nice shades, huh?
If we turn to our right, we'll see the formal parlor.  Let's head on in and take a closer look.  Notice the beautiful hardwood floors...we didn't have to do any work to these.  They need to be cleaned, but they are gorgeous!

I really like this light fixture better.  More bling!
As the formal parlor, this one boasts one of the three fireplaces in the house.

Who left that camera bag there?
We were really lucky that the original tile is all in great shape, as is the fireplace cover.  All we had to do was clean up the mantel and paint the cover.

We weren't so lucky with the walls.

I'm sorry, but that wallpaper is hideous with a capital H.  And it stank to high heaven because the previous owner was a smoker.  I couldn't wait to rip it down.
That stained glass window in the formal entrance is eye-catching.  We'll get a closer look at it in a later post.
The window on the right is HUGE - close to 5 feet wide and it's the original wavy lead glass.  It's a double-sash but the top sash is only about 1 foot tall.  I didn't do this, but I think it would be cool to etch the address onto that top window is some Victorian font.

Once we had all that nasty old wallpaper and border stripped off, we primed and painted the walls in both parlors with two coats of Behr Ultra paint in a nice neutral cream color.  I think it really sets off the color of the wood, don't you?

Looking back into the informal parlor. The stairs are behind us.
From here, we could keep going the way we were going and be in the formal hallway where the staircase is to go upstairs.  But let's finish the downstairs first by heading back the way we came.  Next stop will be the dining room and I  hope you'll stop back by to see it!

What do you think so far?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, DFW! We fixed this house, but we didn't make her LIVE again. I can just see the Victorian wallpaper and furnishings in here - it's a cool house now, but it could be a REALLY COOL HOME. Know what I mean?

  2. Beautiful! Its kind of my dream to live in an old and big Victorian house, but something a lot like this!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Yolanda. I've never lived in anything but old Victorians (except the house I grew up in). It must be in my blood. And I have a tenet that I live by: if you can dream it, you can do it. You'll have that big ol' Victorian some day!

  3. Oh.My.Gosh. We're finally IN!!! Yeeha! It's as gorgeous as I thought it would be! I can't wait to see the rest.

    1. It's all for you, Mary Ann. If you want to see the real thing in person, you're welcome to come on over. It's only ours for the next 30 days, though!

  4. Can't wait to see the rest and the house is just beautiful... I can't get over it!

  5. My mom and I were discussing wallpaper and paint the other day. It is the reverse of what it was then in terms of price. Paint was expensive and paper was cheap. Now obviously the wallpaper wasn't that old, but in Victorian times it was a sign of wealth to have painted walls versus wallpaper. My mom recalled that her grandparents had wallpaper - no small wonder, they were farmers!

    I still prefer paint over wallpaper. If you really want a design you can applique or paint! Love the pictures, please post more! I've seen the afters, but I love the before pics. You are teasing everyone by only showing them TWO rooms!

    1. I usually hate wallpaper, but I'm in love with Anaglypta and Lincrusta (embossed English wallpaper and borders). I should post some pics of our house on here, I suppose. J. and I wallpapered our ceilings with Anaglypta covered in embossed oak leaves and it looks awesome. The nice thing about those papers are that they're paintable so you can change the color if you want. I tell you what...if you want to test your marriage, try papering the ceiling with your hubby!

    2. Oh, and I'm not teasing on purpose. That was such a long post that I didn't want everyone to get bored. Today? The dining room, kitchen and rest of the downstairs.


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