Palmer House

Renovating and Restoring Our 1880 Folk Victorian

Thanks for joining me! Welcome to Palmer House!

First, some introductions. My name is Stephanie Palmer and I live in Palmer House with my husband of five happy years, Chris. I am 30 years old and Chris is 29 (I’m such a cradle robber!). I work full-time as a NICU nurse at the major medical center in the capital region of upstate New York and Chris is an automotive mechanic in the tri-city area. We love what we do, but we love coming home even more! We purchased Palmer House two years ago. At the time, I wanted a “new build, move in ready house” with all the bells and whistles. Chris was slightly more practical and wanted a house with good bones. However we both knew we didn’t want an old house, and we made that very clear to our realtor.

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I should have known better!

On top of being an NICU nurse, an avid kayaker, camper, gardener and a generally-anything-outdoors-er, I am a huge history buff. Give me something from Colonial America to WWII and I will eat it up! How did I not realize that the right house would need to be at least a hundred years old??

Palmer House was snuck into a pile of about twelve houses by our realtor on a day where we were going to do nothing but house hunt. Of course, I flipped through all the print outs of the listings before we started and purposely put Palmer House down as the last house to visit that day. There was no way I was going to want to live in a 138-year-old house. It was probably falling down rotten, with drafty old windows, a leaky roof, no air conditioning…ugh. What was she thinking?

loved the house the moment we stepped foot in it! The floors in the formal living room and dining room were obviously original, or pretty darn close to it! The kitchen was more modern but still had a warm, inviting appeal about it. The family room was open to the kitchen, but was nicely separated by two steps, making it feel like a separate space. There was a full downstairs bathroom and a beautiful screened in back porch and fenced in back yard that was large, but not too large.

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This is the picture of the formal living room from the previous owners. LOOK AT THOSE FLOORS! (All the photos of the house in this posting are from the listing and are what the house looked like when we bought it).

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Those floors continue into the dining room. I just about fell over when I saw that built-in hutch!

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This is the “working” area of the kitchen, and you can see our full second bathroom peaking its head around the corner!

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Our family room is right off the kitchen, making it a great place for holiday gatherings when I need to shoo people out of my way!

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The screened in back porch is the only place we eat from May-September!

Upstairs it was obvious that the floors were also original maple. They were exposed in two out of the four bedrooms. There was a complete cedar closet in the hallway that made me swoon and a stunning upstairs bathroom with walls covered in converted wood flooring that was painted to make the room feel old and quaint. The bathroom and back bedroom, we would later find out, was an addition made to the house (we think in the 50’s?). The “Red Bedroom”, as we now call it, was one of the rooms with the exposed maple floors. They were painted a barn-red with floral yellow wallpaper on the walls. Not what I would have picked, but I didn’t care. I loved it. The Master Bedroom was carpeted recently and was just the right size, and the “Blue Room” was the current owners sewing room. It was small, with the exposed wood floors and a small closet.

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One of the quirks I positively love about Palmer House is that the staircase is tucked off to the left of the house on an exterior wall…odd place for stairs don’t you think? Stay tuned…

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There were only two pictures of the upstairs in the listing of Palmer House, which immediately made me suspicious. This is the “Red Bedroom”, aptly named for the barn-red painted maple floors.

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This was the picture of the Master Bedroom from the listing. Those walls are lavender. We loved the new carpet…we hated the lavender. It was one of the things that was going to have to go!

Now, you have to understand, the house that Chris and I saw before this was a flip house that was just completed, with bones from the 1980’s. And I wanted that house. I needed that house. That house had everything I had pictured my house having. Vaulted ceilings in the living room which was open concept to the kitchen, new bathrooms and bedrooms, a finished basement, air conditioning, shiny tile, granite countertops, oh my! And I worked every angle I could to get Chris to like it. I even got my built-in contractor (aka, dad) to come over and walk through it with us! Between the two of us, Chris is all practicality and I am (mostly) emotion…at least when it comes to buying houses. All he saw was a shower pan not set in concrete so it would end up leaking, a paint job that wasn’t done perfectly, not enough bedrooms, and a kitchen and living room that were…ok. I was stumped. And I couldn’t sell it to him, no matter what angle I played or how hard I tried.

He didn’t love it. And that’s ok. Because Palmer House was up next. I remember clear as day being upstairs with him and our realtor. I looked back at him in the hallway and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I love this house. I want this house.” We put an offer in at the Homefront Café around the corner and submitted it that afternoon. I wrote a heartfelt letter to the owners telling them just how much we loved their house and how much respect we had for the history of it. They had put a lot of work into it…all the “big” stuff was done. A new roof in the last five years, new windows, central air and ductless air/heating units in three of the four bedrooms, a new kitchen…all while preserving and respecting the character, warmth and history of the house.

Well it turned out that that letter sealed the deal, and our offer was accepted that evening. We found out later that the house had been on the market for several months and we were the only ones to put an offer in. Every other couple was looking for what I thought I wanted…new, modern, move-in ready. But I see the potential in this old girl. I see the love and respect those before us have had for her, and we are going to try to continue that in our adventures renovating and restoring her. I hope you’ll join us! It promises to be something exciting!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

One thought on “The Journey Begins

  1. Allison says:

    Hi, I found your blog through Vivacious Victorian and have really enjoyed reading all your posts! I look forward to reading more.

    Like

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