Home Makeover Tour: Shingle-Style Victorian House

An 1885 waterfront Victorian in Massachusetts gets a thoughtful renovation by working within the existing house footprint.

Preserving Victorian Cottage Style

This Shingle-style Victorian in Hingham, Massachusetts, was built in 1885 as a summer cabin. With only one previous owner since 1929, the house looks much as it did when it was built in 1885.

The homeowners did everything possible to preserve the simple beauty of the turn-of-the-century cottage. They wanted nothing formal or fussy, preferring only fresh, functional, and comfortable.

BEFORE: Neglected Treasure

The homeowners fell in love with the character and charm of an 1885 house. When this neglected 4,000-square-foot home went on the market in 2002, they jumped at the chance to buy it.

AFTER: Revived Victorian Grandeur

The homeowners replanted the gardens in Victorian style with hydrangeas, English ivy, and Sea Foam roses. The new stone wall with steps was built to match the existing seawall.

Welcoming Front Porch

The homeowners had always been taken by the magic of the front porch and made very few changes. Pots of flowers against the crisp painted stairs add a welcoming touch.

Inviting Foyer

The foyer's pine staircase had been painted gray. The homeowners' father took on the months-long challenge of hand-scraping the three-story staircase, then staining the handrails and painting the rest white.

Living Room

The original brick masonry on the living room's fireplace was painted black, and a new mantle was added. All three of the home's wood-burning fireplaces were retrofitted for natural gas.

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Family Room

The blue family room has vintage personality thanks to a new fireplace, built-in hutches, and windows above. The painting portrays the homeowners' children. The beaded-board wainscoting and china hutch are original.

Fireplace Mantel and Trimwork

Decorative millwork and built-ins including new, era-friendly baseboards; window and door casings; crown molding; fireplace mantels; and built-in cabinets and bookshelves were added throughout the home.

BEFORE: Dining Room

The trimmed opening at severe angles needed a softer design. And clutter in front of the window wasted a beautiful harborfront view.

AFTER: Dining Room

The updated dining room includes a softer, curved arch by the windows, plus symmetrical built-ins that appear original to the house.

The original wood floors had been protected for decades, first by paint, and then by carpet. The homeowners were thrilled at their perfect condition.

Outdoor-Inspired Color Scheme

The kitchen and family room are connected by the landing of the original servants' stairway.

The interior color scheme--blues, greens, and yellows--was inspired by the home's harborfront setting. Water inspired the blues and greens, and the yellow pays homage to the eel grass in front of the house.

BEFORE: Kitchen

The kitchen was in desperate need of updating. Walls, windows, cabinets, surfaces, work zone--the homeowners wanted a complete overhaul.

AFTER: Kitchen

The modest-size kitchen sits in the footprint of the original space, but gets its vintage style from all-new elements.

The island looks like a piece of moveable furniture; that's possible because it doesn't house a sink with plumbing pipes that need to be hidden. Open space between the gracefully turned island legs makes the room feel bigger and lighter. Two matching chandeliers hang above the island.

Kitchen Details

Custom-built cabinets outfitted with reproduction brass hardware stretch all the way to the extra-tall ceiling, providing a touch of grandeur and ample storage space.

A flat paneling detail is used to create vintage-style backsplashes in the new kitchen. They're cost-effective, and the glossy oil paint makes them easy to clean.

Grayish-green marble countertops echo one of the ocean's many colors.


The cheery yellow sunroom is the only main-level addition to the house and sits opposite the kitchen, allowing natural light to spill across the open area.

The three walls of transom-top windows create a delightful cross breeze in the summer.

Sunroom Ceiling and Floor

The homeowners stained the sunroom's wood ceiling to give it a nautical feel.

During the renovation, new electrical wiring and radiant-heat floors were installed in the sunroom.


New built-in bookcases add purpose and vintage flair to the second-floor landing, which showcases a cantilevered staircase.

BEFORE: Master Bedroom

A dark bedroom with a sloped wall begged for updating.

AFTER: Master Bedroom

The updated bedroom is light and airy, thanks to new windows, white paint, and cottage-inspired furnishings.

The sloped wall made it impossible to fit the homeowners' four-poster bed against the wall. The solution: Build a headboard that provides storage and pushes the wall out to meet the bed.

Master Bathroom

The master bathroom is one of the few rooms that needed new flooring; new gray-blue marble tiles anchor the all-white room. Charming sconces, glass-front cabinet doors, and vintage-style pedestal sinks complete the cottage-style look.

Potting Room

Below the sunroom sits a below-grade potting room with walk-out access. New plumbing, electrical, and radiant-heat floors were added.

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