Victorian with ‘good bones’ brought back to life

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


The second-floor master bedroom in the Victorian home for sale in Derry, Pa.

Some people are fortunate to make a living doing what they love. Take Amy Stoner. The Ligonier, Pa., resident was educated as a speech therapist but turned her love of homes into a business.

"I have always had a passion for real estate and interior design. I spent hours scouring books about house plans, and it’s my true love — interior design and architecture," she said. "Those high school tests said I should have been an architect."

One look at this home confirms that. "I like to find homes that are out of date and that have good bones and character. Victorian, arts and craft style homes. I like to bring them up to date, keeping the integrity and original design."

The five-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath home was the eyesore of the street. "I could see that it had good bones, a diamond in the rough on a street with beautifully kept Victorians." Now, after a year of restoration, it’s ready for a new owner.

"The home had old aluminum white siding, with soffit and fascia falling off, and the roof was leaking," she said. "We installed new vinyl siding, new shutters and a new roof."

Pink hydrangea was planted consistent with the era, and the aluminum awning received a new paint color to match the shutters.

The windows were reglazed and storms added. "The original wood windows, they have the lady glass."

Inside, the 7-by-12-foot foyer with wood paneled staircase and carved balustrades were all intact. "It winds up to the attic and is in really good shape. All of the baseboards were all here." A 6-by-6-foot reading nook with a window seat peeks onto the porch.

The typical Victorian layout stayed intact with a 14-by-14-foot living room with a tall, carved oak mantel as its focus point. The original facade was missing a few tiles and could not be matched. "I even checked salvage yards. I got a quartz smoky glass subway tile in Fiji green. We installed a new tiffany shade to keep with the period."

The dining room and kitchen area were reconfigured, moving doorways and walls.

"The kitchen was this tiny, tiny little room. I made that the first-floor laundry." She moved the door entry 3 feet to the right to enclose the 7-by-6-foot galley space. Original kitchen cabinets were painted green and a tin tile backsplash with butcher block counters were installed.

This allowed for the previous casual eating area to become a 12-by-11-foot kitchen and the 13-by-15-foot formal dining room to remain as the primary eating space.

The dining room stained glass window is a custom-made piece created by Glenn Greene’s Stained Glass Studio in Regent Square. "The transom had a crack in it. We worked on some designs and I wanted to pull the colors of the house into the glass, the middle has a diamond crystal, when the sun shines in, it shines a prism around the room. It makes the room."

An iron-arm chandelier and gold paint complete the look.

The kitchen is a wonderful mix of new and old, thanks to farmhouse-style cabinets in white from the Ikea Akurum line.

"I love Ikea. The cabinets are slow-close with rubbed brass pulls and the farmhouse porcelain sink is from Ikea."

Butcher block countertops connect back to the laundry-room look and appliances in stainless steel add a crispness. "The dishwasher is hidden behind a panel."

The kitchen floor is a wide-plank floating floor, the only one in the home that could not be saved as it was buried under layers of vinyl and glue. The rest of the home has the original hardwoods.

A new 4-by-6-foot powder room was carved out of the new configuration and features Victorian-style hot and cold knobs with an updated vanity.

The second floor has four bedrooms. The master is 12 by 13 feet and features white walls and a new Edison light fixture with an oil-rubbed bronze chain from Smith & Hawken.

The second and third bedrooms are 12 by 12 feet and 10 by 13 feet. One is painted yellow and staged as a little girls room with an open arm chandelier; the other is staged as a rustic boys room. Two of the bedrooms have walk-in closets. The fourth bedroom is 8 by 9 feet and was used as an office.

The bathroom restoration features white wainscoting and hexagon tile in black and white, a farmhouse Ikea Hemnes vanity and wall mirror. A built-in linen nook got a remodel and an additional linen closet adds more storage. The cast iron tub remained with a makeover.

The final bedroom is 12 by 15 feet and on the third floor, there’s a movie room. It comfortably fits a sectional sofa and has track lighting. "I left the other half of the third floor unfinished. If the new owner wants to make a suite, the bathroom plumbing is below that space and could be easily extended."

No homes have sold on the street in the past three years, according to

The entire home was replumbed with Pex plumbing. "It is the new standard because everyone is stealing copper." she said. There is gas heat and no central air.

She is happy to let this one go and move on to the next. Each home takes around a year.

"I found my niche over here, it is a small town in need of revitalization. This is a nice home most people can afford."