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Texas Bungalow Renovation — Farmhouse Before and After

Nov 10, 2023

Softer souls might have deemed this home a “tear-down,” but it found just the right search-and-rescue team.

Nostalgia can be a powerful thing. For Texas couple Melissa and Roy Duckworth and their builder son Clay (Duckworth Custom Homes), the pull of the past was so strong that they spent the better part of three years restoring a rundown turn-of-the-last-century bungalow that many others would have torn down. “I just love old houses,” Melissa says. “I have great memories of my grandparents’ and great-uncle’s old board-and-batten homes in East Texas. They were plain but full of treasures that somehow fit together.”

So when Clay happened upon a two-room Folk Victorian in Austin that had been salvaged by a demolition subcontractor, the tiny home’s character (original decorative moldings, shiplap walls, and old-growth pine floors, for starters) overshadowed the fact that the early-1900s house had seen much better days. Convinced of its potential, the Duckworths bought the hall-and-parlor-style structure, had it moved to their ranch in Burnet, and began the painstaking process of transforming it into a cozy 635-square-foot guesthouse for friends and extended family. “We paid a lot of attention to detail,” says Clay. “We tried to make it feel like when you step into this place, you’re stepping back in time.”

See how they achieved the amazing transformation...

This two-room Folk Victorian had been salvaged by a demolition subcontractor before the Duckworths bought it.

Perched on 400 acres in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, the house was built in the Folk Victorian style, which the Duckworths honored in both the restoration and the design of the addition. Though the original window frames were still in place, the window sashes had been removed, so builder Clay Duckworth had old-style sashes Fabricated to mimic what would have been there originally. To re-create the front porch, Clay and architect Norma Yancey studied old photos of similar homes.Get the Look: Exterior Paint Color: Chelsea Gray by Benjamin MooreTrim Paint Color: Swiss Coffee by Benjamin MooreFront Door Paint Color: Clinton Brown by Benjamin Moore

Throughout the restoration, the Duckworths were determined to keep the updates period-authentic, including the small scale-appropriate rear addition designed by Austin-based architect Norma Yancey of Sidetracked Studio. “We committed to working with as many original materials as possible,” Norma says, “and where we did add or build something, we found reclaimed or carefully salvaged materials.”

The front porch, which was reconstructed using recycled lumber, features a “haint blue” ceiling—a nod to the Southern tradition of painting porch ceilings blue to ward off spirits and repel insects.Get the Look: Ceiling Paint Color: Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore

RELATED: 80+ Decorating Ideas for Your Front Porch

For the whole-house palette, homeowner Melissa Duckworth looked to Benjamin Moore’s Historical Collection for colors that were just right for her early 1900s farmhouse. In the galley kitchen, which was previously the home’s hallway, she chose a timeless cornflower blue to pair with the reproduction wallpaper (“Larkspur 1872” designed by William Morris) and antique mint-colored—and mint condition!—enamel gas range she found on eBay. Get the Look:Trim Paint Color: Jamestown Blue by Benjamin Moore

RELATED: The Best Interior and Exterior Paint Colors

Clay went so far as to track down 100-year-old plumbing fixtures, like the kitchen's farmhouse sink which was found on eBay. A little soapstone slab resting on antique brackets provides the only counterspace in the tiny room. The glass-front cabinet above, which holds antique crystal from Melissa’s grandmother and some family Spode china, came out of a similarly aged house.

Get the Look:Trim Paint Color: Jamestown Blue by Benjamin Moore

Even the home’s wallpaper stays true to its era. In the living room, a reproduction of William Morris’s “Wild Tulip” design provides a period-accurate backdrop for a cozy seating area and an antique potbellied stove. The stove was a wedding present from Melissa’s great-uncle to her mother, and it has been in her family ever since. “It looks great with the stovepipe my son had made,” she says. Melissa found the antique chandelier on eBay and had it restored by Brady’s of Austin.Get the Look:Trim Paint Color: Jamestown Blue by Benjamin Moore

While in bad shape, the original blue painted doors and moldings screamed charm potential.

Many of the home’s Victorian-era moldings were still intact when the Duckworths purchased the house. Clay duplicated them for the home’s addition, including in this hallway.

Because the original section of the house had been built out of this popular wood material of the time, Clay sought out similar-looking pine for the floors and shiplap walls in the bedroom of the addition. He left the walls raw and simply added an oil finish to the floors. “We wanted to preserve that old patina,” he says. Also of a certain age: the Bakelite and walnut twin beds that belonged to Roy’s grandfather and date back to the 1930s. The sconces were another one of Melissa’s eBay finds. “They had never been used or even taken out of the box,” she says.Get the Look:Trim Paint Color: Lehigh Green by Benjamin Moore

The bedroom’s walnut and Bakelite dresser and mirror were accompanying pieces to the twin beds from Roy’s grandfather, which the Duckworths had restored.

Get the Look:Trim Paint Color: Lehigh Green by Benjamin Moore

The Duckworths’ passion for historic preservation extended to the added-on bathroom, where they installed a 1920s pedestal sink, vintage toilet, and cast-iron clawfoot tub. Even the antique stop valves and supply lines, which had to be taken apart and replated, turned into a restoration project. “It would have been a lot easier to just run to the supply house and get a modern valve, but it just doesn’t have the same look,” says Clay. Rewired Victorian gaslights provide the primary lighting in the room, and an old radio cabinet that belonged to Melissa’s grandparents now holds towels.Get the Look: Wall Paint Color: Winter Orchard by Benjamin Moore

It took a lot of vision to see beyond this crumbling exterior.

To maximize views and encourage time outdoors (without having to dealing with all those Texas bugs!), half of the new addition is a screened-in porch rather than additional indoor living space.

The newly added screened-in porch had an exposed rafter ceiling where any wiring would be visible, so the Duckworths took the opportunity to introduce reproduction old-school knob-and-tube wiring with a cloth covering. “It has a period-appropriate look that metallic conduit would not have,” Clay says. He also took the time to source square-head nails and vintage two-by-four framing salvaged from other old homes. But the charm-filled guest house isn't just a celebration of bygone days. It’s part of the Duckworth family's future. “I hope that our plays stays in the family for generations to come,” says Melissa. “This little house has many stories, and my hope is that more are made.”

Do you dream of giving up the big house and settling in to a *too cute for words* tiny home? These three homes will inspire you to take the leap and provide a whole lot of tips to make it happen.*Tour this dreamy Tennessee retreat that proves tree houses aren't just for kids.*Seasoned with coastal character, this 1,000-square-foot historic home packs ample seaside charm into its tiny (sandy) footprint.

*Peek inside this 312-square-foot home in the woods—built on stilts!

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