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Why You Don’t Need a Professional Background in Restoration to Fix Up an Old House

By Elizabeth Finkelstein. I first fell in love with the wonderful Amy Heavilin of Vivacious Victorian years ago, when I began reading about her adventures restoring her incredible Victorian house with her husband. And guess what? She’s still married! Amy and her husband are an inspiration to all young couples out there who would love to restore an old house but don’t know where to begin. The best part? They are entirely self-taught. I couldn’t wait to sit down for an interview with Amy to find out how they do it. Listen to learn how fixing up an old house can actually improve your relationship, why you don’t need a professional background in restoration to fix up an old house, and what Amy & I both believe that HGTV might just be getting

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10 Reasons Why Fixing Up an Old House is the Most Romantic Thing Ever

by Amy Dorsch Heavilin of Vivacious Victorian One of my goals in life has been to take down the (as I call it) the HGTV myth : that restoring a house, or taking on a renovation, is an automatic death blow to any relationship. Of course, TV shows are meant for drama, and I’m sure a lot of people DO get into spats during the stress of a renovation. But everyone is different! And when people find out that we’re restoring a 4,700 square foot Victorian by ourselves, the first question is usually, “How haven’t you killed each other?” People are so fascinated that we can be involved in such a long-term project and still adore each other after 14 years of marriage – and multiple renovations. But it’s TRUE. In fact, I’ll argue that

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Restoring an Old House in 12 Simple Steps

by Amy Dorsch Heavilin of Vivacious Victorian My husband Doug and I are beginning year three of bringing our 1902 Queen Anne Victorian back to life. Twenty-two rooms, and we’re in the middle of restoring just room FIVE. To be fair, the exterior restoration was a beast, and it was completely done during the first two years. We are doing all of the interior work ourselves, because when it comes to restoration, you need really need two things : time, or money. Let’s face it – you need BOTH, but if you don’t have a lot of money, you can make up for it with your own time (and willpower). Restoring an old house is a process, which I understand is why a lot of people don’t do it themselves. But we LOVE the process,

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Fake It ‘Till You Make It! 9 Ways to Make Your House Look Older Than It Is

By Elizabeth Finkelstein. Photo by smilla4. When my husband and I set out to buy a house last year (after 10+ years of casually looking), we had just three parameters:   1. We wanted something old. 2. We wanted something old. 3. And finally, we wanted something old.   Fortunately, we live in a very old part of the country, in a town busting at the seams with historical architecture. But our first-time-homebuyer budget didn’t allow for much pickiness just 30 miles from New York City (a.k.a. the most expensive place in the world). And anyway, our definition of “old” was very specific, and not easy to come by. We wanted George-Washington-slept-here old. 1600s old. Gigantic-stone-fireplace old. Stop-dreaming-guys-it’ll-never-happen old.   Well, it didn’t actually happen. We found our dream home in the form of a 1947 cape in the cutest (in my biased

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My Positive Experience with Architectural Salvage

by Candice Whitlow The biggest thing I have learned when it comes to restoration is that learning never stops when it comes to restoration. As redundant as it sounds, it’s a very true statement. Every project can bring new insight, and last summer a project my family’s construction company started “schooled” me in something that used to make me cringe. I’m talking about the controversial topic of architectural

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How to Buy a House You Can’t Afford

by Amy Dorsch Heavilin (photo above: Amy’s very own fixer-upper!) Thinking of a buying a fixer-upper, but scared to death? Of course you are — we’ve all seen The Money Pit! To help clam your fears, we asked the lovely Amy of Vivacious Victorian to share with us all she’s learned about fixing up a beautiful Queen Anne home on a small

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RESTORING ANTIQUES

by Candice Whitlow It’s no secret that old houses (especially fixer uppers) become victims of trends over the years. These trends could be the shag carpet and paneling from the 1970’s, or the cheap, polished brass fixtures from the 1980’s and 1990’s. Fortunately, many people have woken up to the fact that trends don’t always compliment old houses, and the restoration movement is growing by the day. While the old house movement is something to be celebrated there is another trend that needs to be addressed—the “Shabby Chic”

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How to Choose Historic Paint Colors

by Candice Whitlow Taking on a fixer-upper is very exciting, but let’s face it, we all want to see instant results! Don’t we all wish we could live in the world of reality TV, where your renovation is completed by a large team in a half an hour? Unfortunately, that’s never the case (sigh)! However, there is one project that can be done in a day and totally changes the look and feel of your home. It’s time to grab a drop cloth, a roller and some brushes — we’re about to get

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