Friday, January 11, 2013

Best of The Web!

For quite a while, now, I've wanted to post a list of my favourite house-related blogs and inspiration sites from around the web.

Many of these blogs deserve the shout-outs (and more viewers/readers) for the amazing jobs they've done in their homes, and I'm proud to promote each and every one of them.

Old Town Home

By far, this is my favourite old house blog. I've come to love Alex and Wendy, and their wonderful old house. They have done an amazing job of every DIY project they've tackled, and I'm constantly impressed with their work. They both have a very good eye for style, and I really like the way they decorate and style their home. It's a very clean, modern, and stylish decor, and I love that they incorporate antiques along with modern pieces. I always look forward to any of their posts.

Old House Dreams

This isn't really a blog, but it's one of my primary sources of inspiration. This site is basically just a list of historic homes for sale. The photos are simply the listing photos, and are sometimes not the best quality, but some of the homes listed are simply breathtaking. Sometimes they are total gut-jobs, and sometimes they have been pristinely restored, but it's a great place to see original details in old homes such as original light fixtures, plumbing, built-in cabinets, pantries, and other fun things. It's also interesting to see how some of the nicer homes are decorated. I can't imagine all the work that goes into the frequent posts made on this site. I tip my hat to the owner (a young lady as I recall).

227 North Street

This is a breathtaking restoration effort. It's clear that the current owners have spared no expense in this renovation. Marble tiles, wainscotting, restored gas light fixtures, a complete custom kitchen, etc. They've gone through a LOT of efforts to restore the home, including stripping and refinishing two staircases, all the original doors, mouldings, floors, etc. An amazing blog.

1893 Victorian Farmhouse

Mrs. D. is the sweet old lady who is the owner and restorer (along with her husband Jon) of this wonderful Victorian farm house. Though the house-related posts lately have been less frequent (but progress is still being made!), this blog is definitely near the top of my list. Some of the finished rooms are simply amazing. From the colour choices, to the custom draperies, there is a lot here to like. The showstopper for me, is the bathroom. Simply amazing. Mrs. D. is not afraid to think outside the box when it comes to decorating her house, and she brings a lot of beautiful and unique details to the mix (like the bird hooks, and fun vintage items). She's also a very skilled crafter. She does an amazing job of restoring antique lamp shades, reupholstering chairs, and she loves to sew custom purses and tote bags for friends. Additionally, she's an amazing painter. Definitely check out her blog.

Brick City Love

A "new to me" blog that I just recently discovered, is quickly becoming a new favourite. This row house is owned by a young couple, and the renos seem to be primarily driven by Carrie, who boasts a fearless DIY attitude. The bathroom renovation alone is enough to make you weep (in a good way)! The historic details in this home are breathtaking. I am in love with the mouldings. Carrie's style in some cases, is a bit too adventurous for me (like the orange radiator in the master bedroom), but everything is extremely well done, and tasteful, and worth checking out. After I found this blog, I literally spent the next few days going through the entire thing. Words can't accurately describe how horribly the place was painted before renovations began (seriously, red and navy blue everywhere), so you'll have to have a look at those photos to truly appreciate how far this place has come.


This is a blog documenting the restoration of a beautifully detailed 1864 house in Birmingham UK. The owners are making every effort to keep all the historic aesthetics and details in the home, which involves a lot of time consuming and tricky repairs to old crumbly plaster mouldings, neglected fireplaces, and missing trim. I absolutely love this home's facade.

Laurelhurst 1912 Craftsman

Another wonderful house. These "crazy" owners have gone through insane amounts of work to painstakingly strip every inch of millwork in their house, and their efforts have paid off. There are a ton of wonderful and custom details. If you love Craftsman details, this is the blog for you!

1915 Craftsman Bungalow

Oddly, this blog seems to have disappeared from the web. Fortunately, their Flickr account is still active. I adore their beadboard kitchen, and all the "old timey" accessories. A beautiful house.

A Country Farmhouse

I have mixed feelings about this blog, but I can't deny that the house is absolutely gorgeous. The house has been featured in several publications and my only issue is that I'm not a big fan of all the stark white. Otherwise, the place is absolutely spotless and GORGEOUS! The grounds around the house are also very picturesque, with mountain views, and fresh flowers all around. All the photos are amazing.

Brooklyn Limestone

My favourite feature in this house are the original floors, and the very ornate mouldings. The current owner also happens to have great decorating style, and she has some of the most fun and unique holiday decorations I've seen anywhere on the web.

Our Old Rowhouse

Another fantastic couple, fixing up a much neglected (yet beautiful) house.

L. Norris Hall House

The owners of this wonderful house have a real talent for reusing/recycling salvaged materials in their renovations. The kitchen in particular is a wonderful mix of new and old materials that has a great original feel to it. A ton of work has been done on this house, both on the interior, and the exterior.


Those are my top 12, but there are many more awesome blogs. Sadly, several of the ones I follow are seldom updated. Here are a few more good ones you can check out.

1900 Farmhouse (jaw-dropping kitchen remodel)

Bennington Colonial (wonderful stained glass and millwork)

Big Old Houses
(wonderful tours of huge historic homes)

Paul Cutting (preservation carpenter specializing in early log homes)

Portland FourSquare (another beautiful Foursquare)

First Home Dreams (a fellow Ontarian, who has a lovely brick Victorian)

Eclectically Vintage
(wonderful and unique decorating ideas)

1918 Eaton's Eager (one of the first old house blogs I followed)

The Dusty Victorian (another great old Victorian house)

1912 Bungalow (wonderful historic renovation with a clean, modern style)

1914 Foursquare (famous on the web for her "criminal restoration" story. A truly wonderful house, and owner)

Kansas Bungalow (a wonderful house with original unpainted trim)

Old House (a very extensive Victorian restoration - scroll back to around May 2010 for some pretty awesome photos)

Also, just a quick FYI, I spent about 5 hours putting this post together (writing, going through the blogs for photos, editing, adding links, making the banners etc. If you made the list, show some love, and leave a comment, and if so inclined, pass along my blog).


  1. JC
    Thank you so much for the shout out...
    I am afraid I have fallen into the seldom post category, damn winter... damn rain
    I will start writing again now!

    Mark and Phillip

    1. It's perfectly understandable to take a break. You guys have done a freakin' TON of work on that house! I adore your kitchen, and I have a "thing" for antique lighting, so you guys have bonus points. I can't wait to see new posts whenever you start work on the house again.

  2. Thanks for sharing my blog. I've enjoyed watching all the work you've done late. I'm so jealous of your woodworking skills. =)

    1. Thanks Sharon, and you're more than welcome for the shout-out. As for woodworking, it takes practice, and I've been at it for around 15 years or more. ;)

  3. Hi JC. This is your mother, Mrs. D. (I'm not really JC's mother, but I like to greet him like that when I leave comments on his web site).

    JC--I adore your wonderful stories and stunning photos--as you spend precious hours doing what your heart loves best . . . restoring your four square. Your home is more than it's clean and polished results--it is a billboard of your pride and skill. It's awesome.

    Many of the homes and folks you listed I follow, and all of you inspire me and Jon to do more, and do it better. Thank goodness for everyone who shares their journeys through blog.

    Bless you JC for including us in your Top 12. I am so grateful--it made me cry. It makes me proud and justifies all the holidays, weekends, and vacations we spent on ladders saving our abandoned old Victorian farmhouse. It's been a great ride!

    Mrs. D

    1. Thanks for your comments, Mrs. D. I was happy to hear that you were so grateful to be on the list, but it should come as no surprise, with all the hard work that you and Jon have done over the years. It was hard to pick just 4 photos for a banner. It's just too bad that my blog doesn't currently reach a wider audience. I would guess that I have about 40 or 50 followers, since my official count is 29, but many are not listed through Blogger. I'm sure it will grow over time.

      Likewise, a lot of other people's beautiful homes also give me motivation and inspiration to work on my own house.

  4. Thanks for posting this list of blogs. You have helped me find some great new blogs to visit. You are doing a great job on your home...I love watching the progress!!

    1. Hi, I'm glad I was able to showcase some fun new blogs. Some of these have a large audience, but others have very few (like my blog).

  5. Cool, I can always use more house blogs to follow. I decided to start reading Brick City Love first (from start to finish). I'm sure as time goes on, they get better - but I have been cringing non-stop when I see their floor refinishing posts. It's almost a crime against humanity to STAIN antique heart pine (unless you're just trying to match one batch of heartpine to another) Gah.

    1. I am not against staining the floors (if it's a light gold), but I definitely don't like the colour they picked. If I had one complaint so far, in their house reno, it would be the floors. Don't get me wrong, they're way better than they were, but I didn't like how they turned out after the sanding (because of all the different coloured paint colours in the cracks), and I think it would have been better to repaint the floors instead, or just clear coat them. I also couldn't believe that she didn't say anything about that awful patch job in that one room. I don't understand why the refinishers didn't stain that portion of the floor darker to match. Of course the new wood won't absorb the stain the same way (and I'm sure the floor guys knew this), but it can certainly be stained to match (I do stain colour matches all the time). There's no excuse for that.

    2. Yeah... There's a reason I'm spending days on my knees with scraper tools cleaning out each and every gap between my floorboards. Not only is there lots of sand/hair/crud but in the one bedroom, someone tried filling some (but not all??) of the gaps with what appears to be drywall mud. It all has to come out before I can finish the floors, no exceptions. I'll let a lot of things slide and call it "character", but that just won't stand.

      Oh well. To give them credit, they appear to have twice (or more) the square footage I have, so it's a lot larger of a project than mine. When one is on a budget and have time constraints, one has to make certain sacrifices.

    3. I was lucky that the main floor hardwood only has old dirt in the cracks (no paint), and upstairs, several places had some crumbly filler added, but I just vacuumed everything that was loose, and left the rest in place. I was lazy, and it wasn't loose enough to be worth the time or effort to remove. After it was repainted it turned out fine. Also, the filler was only in certain gaps.

  6. Hey, thank you very much for including my lowly blog in your list. I always enjoy what you have to share and am impressed by the effort that you put in your home. If only the rest of us had POs that put a tenth of that effort into maintenance...well...I guess we would be out of a job then. (Never mind.) Now if only I could find vintage lighting in my area at the price you pay... (hrmph)

    1. For the most part, all the house fixtures were beat-up eBay purchases. Most were under 100$ (plus shipping, refurbishing, and rewiring). Many needed new shades which had to be found/bought separately (keep in mind that anything over 3 matching shades is hard to find), but few fixtures cost over 100-120$ total.

      The only lighting I've found locally are a few floor lamps, and old glass shades (w/o the fixtures to go with them).

      You'd be very surprised what you can find on eBay if you're patient, and go through a lot of listings. The dining room fixture (the nicest and the one that was complete with original shades) was only 99$ + shipping. Several antique lighting places on the web would sell the same fixture for over 400$ (generally around 100$/socket on the fixture).

      If I recall correctly,your home falls in around the same period also, so the "pan" fixtures are actually not too difficult to find. The next best place is Etsy (mainly a craft and vintage items site, but they have used antiques also).

  7. Thanks for the "shout out" JC! I was surprised to see me listed on here since my updates aren't all that informative (although I'm hoping that changes).

    I'm going to have to poke through the list as I see some that are new to me!

  8. Thank you for posting your favorite blogs. I have been reading your posts for a few days. I started with your first post and continued to here. While I was reading I was wondering what you had been reading while working on your home. It would be helpful if you put permanent links on your website to these blogs. Also maybe some links to your favorite past post from your blog, even some of your readers favorites. I found may post very informative and interesting.

    1. Hi Lorin. I'm glad you're enjoying the house blog. I'm not actually sure how customizable the Blogger layout is as far as adding links. I know that for another one of my blogs, I wasn't able to make the title image into a link (which is normally something that's pretty easy to do).

      I do have a more recent "Best of the Web" post, as well as a "recap" post of the restorations so far (organized per room), but I don't know how to bookmark them or make them easily accessible. Those two posts are here: