OHJ December 2020


Editor's note: It’s all about unmuddling.
In this end-of-year issue, we publish stories juried by editors, then picked for publication according to the volume of engagement, on Facebook and Instagram, over the course of the year. See which bathroom and kitchen from our archives were best loved: People like cozy, nostalgic cottage kitchens, apparently, and they voted for an ethereal California bathroom with antiques and Deco allusions. Up front in the issue, we’ve included practical, beautiful, unique, and fun things that might make a nice gift for friends—or for your own house.

Our design article chronicles, in a series of pithy takeaways, one interior designer’s project “unmuddling” (or de-remodeling) an awkward part of the house. It’s her own home, and she had plenty of time to plan exactly what she wanted for her family. A boot room! A pantry with hidden laundry! A European range! So pretty, so user-friendly.

The restore feature is a shout-out to those buying their first old house, or at least the first fixer-upper. We culled advice from editors and contributors, who can tell you when to walk away, what work costs the most, and what tools you have to have if you expect to do even some of the rehab work. A basics article on fixing old doors follows—that’s something every old-house owner faces.

The inspirational house tours, perhaps surprisingly, both cover houses of the Victorian era. But the homes are quite different. One is an approachable, 1880s Queen Anne house in New Jersey, thoroughly restored over 22 years by DIY owners. It, too, is a saga of unmuddling to restore the house to its better days. The other is, well, a mansion, built in 1896—a bit of St. Louis history in brick and terra cotta. Inside find ladies’ and gents’ parlors, a solarium, and the medieval Banquet Hall. The period decorating, which includes evocative murals and stenciling, is all by the owner. Preserving this house was a labor of love.

Enjoy your house this winter, remember what you love about it, plan a garden project. There’s nowhere to go but home.


~ Patricia Poore, Editorial Director of Old House Journal

Look below to see stories from this issue.

Products of the Week

Victorian polychrome paint scheme

Preservation Products

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