Have fun with color on the porch, Kelly says. Bring the inside to the outdoors. “It’s a fun place to be a little more whimsical.”
Fresh Perspective for a Victorian Farmhouse
Residents of snowy regions around the world have been California dreaming for a while now. “Home in Pasadena, home where grass is greener,” goes a 1920s song about the Los Angeles suburb. But even earlier still, back in the 19th century, Pasadena was renowned for its generous sunshine, lofty palms and perennial roses. And no one might know this better than designer, author, blogger and podcaster, Kelly Wilkniss, owner of her very own piece of Pasadena history.
Bringing new life to the house, Kelly has also started growing a garden in the front yard. “I want the outside of the home to be an introduction to what awaits inside.”
This Old House
Kelly and her family reside in a Victorian house built in 1886, the fortunate result of a particularly harsh Midwest winter, she says, recounting excitedly everything she knows about her home. The house was one of the original dwellings built for the Indiana Colony, a group of Indiana residents who fled to the verdant, rolling hills of Pasadena. In this case, the grass was actually greener, or at least Pasadena has its beautiful roses.
Found in the entryway, this gorgeous chair is paired with an urn full of reeds to add height.
Kelly’s Victorian staircase also features a unique statue that lights up. “In the 19th century, this meant the house was fully paid off,” she reveals.
But it took a while for this Victorian to bloom. First it was moved from the corner near the Rose Bowl to its current location, a move Kelly confirms a prior owner had made. Later, another owner, the man Kelly purchased the house from, had left the property and back barn full of rubbish. “Oh, you wouldn’t believe what was out there—random things, Trader Joe’s receipts, about 27 phone books and several cars.” It took Kelly nearly a year and a half to install all the electrical updates and fully renovate the property.
Marigold yellow pillows are paired with the slate gray sofa, as Kelly embraces several hues in her autumn décor. “Most people aren’t drawn to just one thing. It’s all about finding the right balance.”
“I didn’t want to commit to wallpapering the whole room, so I slipped some toile wallpaper into these frames.” The tall frames help guide the eye up the corner of the room.
Despite these challenges, though, Kelly knew the house was special. “There was just something about the house,” Kelly says. “It’s not like I wanted a Victorian. I just came across it and thought the porch was gorgeous.”
Kelly unearthed these chairs from the property’s barn and had them cleaned up and reupholstered. A garland and papier-mâché cherub adorn the mirror. utumn Flowers
The prior owner had painted the inside of the home in garish dark greens and oranges. “Instead, I really wanted a new palette that was neutral.” That way, Kelly says, she could add “pop color” to enliven the house. “It’s great to bring in natural elements, and nothing does more for a room than bringing in fresh flowers.” A favorite of her “nods to the season,” sunflowers, Kelly says, with their happy golden hues, are a great fall flower. “When I decorate for the fall, I like to be subtle and not go overboard with too much color.”
The formal dining room is fashioned with an antique oak dining set to contrast against the white surroundings.
On the opposite side of the dining room sits a settee topped with comfy yellow pillows. The vintage mirrors on the wall are actually a collection of vanity trays.
“I’m not afraid to bring the inside to the outside either,” Kelly explains. She has several pieces of indoor furniture she uses on her porch. “Adding a rug anchored the furniture, and adding draperies delineated the space and gave some privacy,” she says. “Then I added some tall plants to bring height and combine the indoors with the outdoors.”
Staying true to the house’s history, Kelly used brass faucets. “Respecting the age of the house was important throughout the entire process.”
The stove is original to the home, but needed to be fixed and thoroughly cleaned before it was safe to use. Above the stove sit odds and ends Kelly has collected over the years, such as an old coffee tin and a set of vintage Sears cookbooks. Unique Juxtaposition
Kelly calls her style “farmhouse glam.” “What makes any décor interesting is when you have different looks combined in an interesting way.” Before Kelly’s keen eye for décor reinvigorated the Victorian, the house had been “very dark and full of doilies—Victorian to the extreme,” Kelly laughs. “I certainly didn’t want to live in a museum.”
The bathtub is original to the house, but Kelly updated the space, hanging a trio of light pendants she made from sconces. Each is hung at a different height to create interest and variety.
All the same, Kelly insists she wanted to stay true to the home’s roots. Many of the house’s characteristic features come from the original: unique light fixtures, an above-ground tub and old wood painted in fresh new shades. “When Victorians used wood that wasn’t that great, such as in the staircase, they meant for it to be painted,” Kelly says. So she made sure to paint the staircase—but with a style all her own.
Kelly Wilkniss blogs at My Soulful Home, hosts a podcast and sells vintage and vintage-inspired home decor through her shop, Bespoke Decor.
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