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Hello,

I have a simplified Queen Anne that was built in 1881.  It's not in bad shape at all but it has very little of the features that come to mind when thinking of a Queen Anne and I would like to restore some of those features back.

So, my question is what were some of the authentic features that you would see in an original Queen Anne?  Like, for the bathroom, are things like wainscoting and basketweave floor tile authentic or just modern interpretations of the way bathrooms used to look?  What about kitchens?  Were tin ceilings and beadboard on the walls standard features?

I don't know if I will be able to restore all of the features like some of the beautiful homes I've seen on here but I would like to incorporate some of the character back into the home! 

 

Thanks!

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You should post some pictures of the house, outside and in.  1881 is actually very early for most queen Anne houses.  Only the most elite houses in progressive areas would have even had bathrooms in that era. Thus, even houses of that era that have "original" bathrooms probably really have early remodel jobs.  Same with kitchens, which typically get periodic remodels.  That said, both rooms frequently have wainscoting, often but not always beaded.  That was really popular into the teens.  Very early bathrooms and kitchens had mostly free standing furniture, but in kitchens especially that is not very practical given modern quantities of dishes and gear, as well as built in needs for dishwashers and sinks.  Most early kitchens had wooden floors, but usually those got covered over quickly (linoleum) due to the low water tolerance of early shellacs and varnishes My 1895 house bathroom was probably a very early addition or possibly original and it never had tile (the floor had to be fully removed for pipe work 20 years ago, revealing it to have been wooden). 

Tin ceilings are frequently not original (but not always) and were early additions to hide damaged plaster, primarily in commercial buildings.  Some of the restoration books are quite critical of putting in tin ceilings for that reason.  My house had an early tin ceiling (the remains of one corner are mummified in the ceiling of a later corner cupboard), but it is long gone.  I have never, ever actually seen a modern install of a tin ceiling that looks as good as the early ones or in any way fooled me.  I know that they exist, but literally I have never seen one.  Very good reproductions exist, often made from original patterns and equipment.  However, people cheap out on the cornice work around the edges and corners, because it is tons of labor and more difficult.  Rather they use wooden moulding to bridge the edges and corners. Or worse, they use lay in tiles similar to modern commercial suspended ceilings.  Finding someone who has actually done several quality installs has got to be virtually impossible.  For that reason, I have decided to not redo that ceiling, even though I know that mine was original or early in my 1895 house.

If your house is a Queen Anne, it really only applies to its exterior features.  Inside, the details were up to the whim of the owner/builder.  What Phil says is correct...bathrooms probably weren't even inside in 1881 and kitchens, well, you wouldn't want to live in a house with a *period* 1881 kitchen.  In my opinion, unless you want to live in a house museum, plan your kitchen and bathrooms however you want, but choose a period and stick with it.  For instance, you might want to make your kitchen have a retro 1940s look, or your bathrooms a distinctly victorian 1890s look (when most people with money began installing indoor plumbing).

Tin ceilings in houses were quite uncommon (as compared to commercial and apartment use), but I'll admit, I installed a "new" old tin ceiling in my previous house's dining room.  I did it 100% spec, using new stampings of old patterns, and hand-nailing all my panels and cornice.  I can safely say, I will never do it again.  I sure hope the current owners of that house appreciate all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into that ceiling!

So, that said, would a tin ceiling be "original-ish?"  Probably not.  Would it be cool?  Oh yes.

Very good points about bathrooms not being installed and "period" kitchens!

I'm not looking to restore this house back to 1881 but I would like to put as much architecture back as I can. The house changed hands a few times in the beginning and then was owned by one woman for over fifty years. Her son moved her out of state with him and the house sat vacant for several years. Someone then bought it as an investment property and ended up selling it to the person I bought it from. I am the first owner in at least 65 years to use it as a single family home.

Now, I have to say that it was not until AFTER I got into the house that I realized that I don't have any real DIY skills so I've had to hire out everything but I try and research as much as I can in terms of materials and aesthetics.

When I bought the house, the previous owner had done quite a bit to make it livable after it sat vacant for so long. Fortunately, he was an old house lover so he didn't knock down a bunch of walls or anything like that. But he hadn't decided what he wanted to do with the kitchen so there was a small sink, a couple of metal cabinets flanking the window and the stove and fridge. So, the first thing I had done was the kitchen. But, I approached it with an HGT mindset instead of a This Old House mindset so it doesn't look age appropriate to me now. That's why I'm researching now for the eventual remodel! The two upstairs bathrooms both nod towards 'time gone by' but only in the furnishings. I haven't been able to find good pictures of period bathrooms or kitchens to see what architectural elements I can add back in.

I'm typing on my phone right now but I will post a couple of pictures when I get to my computer!

Our 1880 Queen Anne has two indoor outhouses (attached to and part of house). Both 2-seaters, one on first floor and one on second floor. The original house plans do indicate a bathroom off the master bedroom, and as far as I can tell there has always been one there, but the previous owners remodeled it several times over and I've no idea what it was originally. You might want to check these pictures of Victorian plumbing/bathrooms.

As for the outside - have you done any research to see if you could find some old pictures of your house? Local libraries - if you have a college or university in the area that might also be a good one to check). Are there any similar houses in the area that might still have some original features?

Ours is a stick style and I have photos posted on this site in an album, as do owners of similar period houses, so looking through the photos here should also be helpful.

Thank you for that link, Charles!  It was very helpful to see renderings of what the bathrooms of that era really looked like.  I am certainly not looking to recreate these rooms exactly but I would like to include authentic elements where I can. 

A lot of information and pictures can be obtained in books at your local library.  When my wife and I purchased a 1896 home in Newport, KY, she found one that not only had lots of pictures but also went into detail on how the Victorians lived.  That helped a lot in choosing appointments for different rooms that fit esthetically as well as historically.  For instance, it is not practical or reasonable to restore a kitchen or a bath to Victorian standards.  Lead pipe fixtures and plumbing went out a long time ago.  Recommend you choose cabinetry, sinks, tubs and lighting that is in the "style" of the Victorian period but still provides the convenience and practical application of modern life.  A porcelain double sink with period style fixtures surrounded by cabinetry and modern appliances is not unreasonable.  Neither are pedestal sinks, a modern water closet or even a bidet, framed mirrors and a shower out of the question.  After all, 21st century people don't expect to live in the 19th.  Another idea that may help you to know is that Victorians had a penchant for showing off their wealth.  As a result, they liked upholstered furniture and items of an oriental or exotic nature from far off places.  Walk into a Victorian home and there is stuff everywhere as if you walked into a curio shop.  They liked wallpaper in oriental designs as well animal representations, horns and anything that gave the impression that they were well traveled.  So, wall paper is your best shot at bringing that into your rooms.  Stenciling was also widely used on ceilings and around light fixtures that hung from ceilings.  You can really dress up a room with stencils in the corners and around a light fixture - DIY work.  Light fixtures can do a lot to set the tone in a given room.  Gaslight fixtures are very desirable for your vintage home.  Take a look at "Rejuvenation Hardware" out of Portland, OR, to get some ideas but keep in mind that they are all reproductions.  To get the real thing you'll need to contact someone who has authentic, brass lights.

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