If there’s one thing we’ve learned from aimlessly browsing real-estate listings (our guilty pleasure), it’s that some properties are definitely more attention grabbing than others. And this week we stumbled upon one at Realtor.com that has our inner decorator very excited: a historic house in Omaha, Nebraska, with a $385,000 price tag. The 1889 Victorian (at 3524 Hawthorne Avenue) was the website’s most popular listing this week, and we have a hunch most of those visits came from aspiring renovators.
When we spotted the eight-bedroom retreat, we started to bookmark all the incredible original features we wouldn’t touch, like the gaslight fixtures, the ornate staircase, the pocket doors, and the intricately carved banisters. Then came the fun part: dreaming up the changes. The house has undergone some recent updates, including a fresh coat of exterior paint and a new roof, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Seriously considering making this Omaha home your next big DIY? Drawing on lessons we’ve learned from designers in the past, we’ve put together your punch list:
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Distress the Walls
The most beautiful things aren’t always the fanciest, according to Bodega Ltd. founders Liz Gardner and Josef Harris, who peeled back layers of vintage wallpaper in their Minneapolis bedroom to unearth the honeyed patina of the original plaster beneath. We don’t know exactly what lies behind the wall coverings in this Nebraska fixer-upper, but we can tell you that stripping back the paper would result in an edgy, modern look.
You don’t always have to restore an old home to its exact former glory. Designer Jessica Helgerson (who has renovated more than 100 historic homes) recommends including some references to the original bones. In this case, we’d stay true to the curved niches throughout with cylindrical furniture and lots of arched accessories.
You might not be able to save every last floor plank or tile, but you can be mindful of the upgrades you make. When Apartment34 founder Erin Hiemstra wasn’t able to keep the floors in her San Francisco home (they were rotted in spots), she replaced the bad ones with all-new wide-plank oak boards and created a custom stain for continuity. The takeaway: Let the past inspire the present.