Brett Waterman Home Restoration • 1900 Victorian Cottage
The owners of this 1900 Victorian home wanted a kitchen that felt authentic to the period when the house was originally constructed.
Now We're Cooking with (Vintage) Gas
The homeowners of this historic landmark Victorian—built at the turn of the 20th century—started their remodeling dream with a specific goal: freestanding appliances and basins in the kitchen. They wanted it to feel like they were cooking in the original space.
Brett Waterman’s team accepted the challenge. They found and installed an early 20th century range that was refurbished and converted to use in a contemporary home. A freestanding sink from Vermont Soapstone—featuring custom metal legs from Palmer Industries—replaced the cabinet sinks that were added during an earlier remodel. Finally, they added panels to the refrigerator to mimic a Victorian icebox and installed authentic linoleum flooring with inlays. Extra details like replica pulls and grooved mahogany cabinets—using a groove pattern found elsewhere in the home—add further period-authentic ambience. Waterman said it’s not difficult to balance contemporary practicality with an authentic, period feeling:
"You can basically dress any modern functionality in period style."
Work on an Old House Is Never Done
The project expanded into the dining room and parlor, where major goals focused on restoring the woodwork. Lee Tosca, Waterman’s design and project manager, said the finishes were corroding and developing an orange peel texture. But stripping and refinishing the woodwork turned into a much larger project than the team expected. Tosca said she and Waterman were working late into the night over the Thanksgiving holidays to complete the task by themselves.
The refinishing work revealed a bonus, though. Waterman discovered the fireplace surround was constructed from white oak rather than the Douglas fir found elsewhere in the rooms. They were able to create a focal point with the surround by highlighting its contrasting color compared to the rest of the woodwork. Finally, a stair runner and several pieces of antique lighting capped off the restoration.
One panel was missing from the set of the Douglas fir bifold doors that separate the dining room and the parlor. A panel was removed and brought to a carpenter who fashioned a new one, and Waterman mixed a custom stain to match the tones between the original and new wood panels.
The bricks of the fireplace had been covered with a kind of ebony stain or wash, dulling their appearance. Waterman stripped the surface to expose the texture and color of the raw brick.
Victorian style is often ostentatious and complicated. The homeowner asked for a design that wasn’t overly feminine, so Waterman customized a pattern supplied by Royal Stencil.
Stripping all the woodwork in the dining room revealed the surround was built from white oak rather than the Douglas fir used everywhere else in the rooms. It was transformed into a focal point with a custom stain to enhance its golden tones and make the appliques—details lost in the dark stain—visible again.
Sun Room Before
Sun Room After
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