The Victorian House’s Floor Plan: Entryway, Double Parlor, and Dining Room

Photos are coming tomorrow, as promised! I wanted to put a partial floor plan up first though so that the rooms will make more sense.

I’m not going to post a full floor plan of the new house, because that kind of thing makes me a little nervous when it comes to the bedrooms and such. I think it’s helpful here though, to at least understand how the parlors (fancy!) align with everything else. It’s a pretty standard Victorian, which means it can seem like a jumble of rooms if you’re not familiar with them.

Victorian House First Floor Layout

That’s to scale. The doors will all be open most of the time, save for the front door and the one to the closet under the stairs (accessible from the dining room). The rest of the main floor also includes the kitchen, a bathroom (with a shower, no tub), my office, and access to the basement and backyard off of a back stairway.

That’s a little incomprehensible to me, by the way. Who has a second stairway in their house!? The Huxtables, that’s who. You should have heard me and my mom on the phone, when I initially told her about this house. We were giddy over those stairs.

37 Responses to “The Victorian House’s Floor Plan: Entryway, Double Parlor, and Dining Room”

  1. liz August 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    i grew up in a big old house with back stairs. they made running through the house a lot of fun!

  2. Allison August 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Historically the back stairs were for the servants. Given the era of the house, it’s not surprising it has such a feature. I bet the kids will love roaring around the staircase loop!

    • Making it Lovely August 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      Yes, they would have been servants’ stairs. There are a bunch of loops in the floor plan that the kids are crazy about! They think the house has secret passages. ;)

  3. Lucy August 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Oh, I could keel over hearing about your second staircase! That is such a big deal in a home to me. I loooove stair cases and get completely crazy over the idea of a second one!

    I’m perfectly content with the home I have, but one day I do hope to have a 2 story old home with all of the architectural goodies that old homes come with.

  4. Pamela August 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    I must be clueless. Why would showing a more comprehensive floorplan make you nervous? Are you afraid that you won’t be able to make it to scale, or get the angles correct? Are you afraid that someone will study the bedroom floorplan, figure out which room is a child’s bedroom, and then come by your house and kidnap the child, like Elizabeth Smart?

    I ask because, if the backstairs were indeed for servants, I would be interested in knowing how the servants’ quarters relate to the rest of the house. Do you have just scads of extra rooms? Are those rooms adding to your livability, or just for storage?

    • Making it Lovely August 25, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      It feels unsafe, posting the exact location of all entrances and exits, as well as where each of our bedrooms are. I know that it is somewhat standard practice for bloggers to share the full plans for each floor, but I never did it for the first home and I won’t be doing it for this one either. Burglary would be more likely than kidnapping, but I guard against both as much as one can.

      There is one room on the second floor that is a little strange, and one extra room in the finished attic that will probably be setup as a guest room. Beyond that, each room has a specific function for us, and the unfinished basement will provide extra storage. I’ll explain everything in more detail as I begin sharing photos this week.

    • lsaspacey August 26, 2013 at 1:06 am #

      Pamela,

      The back stairs in older homes had a practical purpose, maids would use them to complete their messier chores. They would carry laundry, coal, firewood, and cleaning supplies on the back stairs to avoid going through the main rooms and up the public/family stairs.

  5. kristin August 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    We live in an old Victorian/Federal house in Milwaukee. We have a back stairway, a dumb waiter, and last Fall we discovered an old fireplace/chimney behind a wall in our upstairs that we think was for heating the servants quarters way back when. So much history and crazy in old homes!

    • Making it Lovely August 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

      What an excellent discovery! I love old houses.

  6. Laurie at Laurie Jones Home August 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    This is so exciting and seems like a home that so many great memories are going to be made for you and your family! Congrats on your beautiful new (to you) home!!!

  7. Nichole K August 25, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    A second staircase is awesome, but the Harry Potter fan in me is excited about the cupboard under the stairs!! Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures here :)

  8. Rachel August 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    We have an 1890 Victorian with an almost identical first floor plan. I was super confused by the second parlor at first, but now I really like having two differentiated spaces.

    Have fun decorating!!

    • Making it Lovely August 25, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

      It’s antiquated, and everyone wants the family room separated way off from the living room these days. This is the first time I’m living in a house with more than one living space though, so I’m pretty excited about the double parlor!

  9. stidmama August 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey! I understand about your caution with giving away too much, I was particularly nervouse when our kids (now adults) were little. It has been a long time since I lived in a city, but I would highly recommend getting a security system that tells you when doors and windows are opened, and that can automatically call the police and fire departments in an emergency. There are several available, both professionally installed and monitored and do-it-yourself. They aren’t that obtrusive, and there is greater peace of mind.

    We had a house fire in March, and are rebuilding, which has its own share of issues for planning and decorating. I love old victorian houses, but I have mobility issues so staircases aren’t always useful to me. Our new house will be only one story as a result, but I am so excited to know that you are going to be loving an old house with all the nooks and crannies that make it fun! I look forward to seeing what you do with it.

    Curious what program you use to draw the floor plan? As I am planning our spaces, I am looking for something that will help me know where things go without doing all my drafting by hand or writing all over the existing blueprints.

    • Making it Lovely August 25, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

      Yes, our security system is good for a little extra peace of mind. And I’m sorry to hear about your house fire. As you plan for your new home, you can try SketchUp. There’s a free version, and it’s what I used to make my layout (then I made it look a little different in Illustrator).

  10. Carol Leffingwell August 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    I applaud you for not sharing your entire floor plan. You have always been very open with so many aspects of your life it makes sense to hold a little back. Congratulations on your family’s new home.
    We lived in a fabulous old home in Saint Paul that had two staircases, one very grand front stairway with no less than three landings and a more plebeian back stairs. One of the previous owners of that home was very proud of the fact that she never used the “servant’s stairs. Perhaps it is a sign of the change in how we use our homes or maybe I’m less a snoot, but I loved those back stairs.

    • Making it Lovely August 25, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

      Oh, we fully intend to use our servant’s stairs! I can see how it might be a point of pride, but not for us. We’re in awe that we even get to live there — we don’t feel ‘above’ certain parts of the house.

  11. Rachel August 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Oh and as a random side note – we just took all the doors in the first floor down and it made an unbelievable difference in the openness.

  12. Gretchen August 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    The vast majority of the houses we looked at when we were buying were colonial revivals built in the late 70′s to mid 80′s. That’s pretty much what was built around here then. Most of them have a back staircase off the kitchen, even though they clearly never served any getting to the servant’s quarters purpose. I think they mostly served to make people feel like they were buying a super fancy house ;). Ours is one the few we saw that DOESN’T have one, and I’m kind of bummed out about it. Mostly because of the loss of kids running in circles possibilities, I think….although that would probably get old fast, come to think of it :) Anyway–can’t wait to see pictures!

    • Making it Lovely August 26, 2013 at 12:02 am #

      Ha! Yeah, it may get old quick, but the kids will have a blast. There are a lot of loops for them to explore throughout the house.

  13. Jill August 25, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Your new house looks very nice. I am looking forward to seeing the photos tomorrow.

    I am glad you are being cautious with the floor plans. The photo of the house and mention neighborhood are enough to easily identify the location. That information and photos of your children make me uneasy. A couple of years ago I was able to pinpoint an exact window in a house in England, based simply on a photograph of a cat sitting on the windowsill and the city name. It was fun and challenging but it did make me wonder what professionals can do.

    Jill

  14. Nicole L August 25, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    You need a butler! I’d be giddy over backstairs too – and is that curved door between the stairs and porch?! Very much looking forward to photos tomorrow!

  15. Autumn August 25, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    I love victorian houses. I’m so glad you found one that you get to live in!

  16. Jessica August 25, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    I think it’s better to leave bedroom details hazy, too. Makes me crazy when bloggers with young children post the specifics. It’s just not safe. A determined person can always get the info they want, but why offer it up for them?

    • Making it Lovely August 25, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

      Exactly. If someone is determined, I’m sure they can glean enough information to piece together a floor plan on their own, but the details may be hazy/incorrect.

  17. Stephanie August 25, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Several years ago I lived on the 3rd floor of an old victorian in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, NYC (side bar: if you’ve never been, I definitely recommend going in the spring time! It’s gorgeous and such a unique part of NY). Anyway, we had a back stair case that went down to the basement where there was an old coal room, and the set up of our space suggested it was an old servant’s quarters. I always thought that was so fascinating! Your new home sounds awesome, congrats!!

  18. Megan @ Pink O'Clock August 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    My aunt and uncle lived in a house that had a second set of stairs–when they bought it, it was divided up so renters could live on the top and bottom floors–and they always felt like this awesome secret, especially when I got to sleep over as a kid.

    • Making it Lovely August 25, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

      Our house has been divided up into three rental units — one on each floor.

  19. MelD August 26, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    I know just how you feel – it seems we should somehow have aspired to back stairs LOL!!!

  20. Heidi S. August 26, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    So exciting to see! Our 1888 Victorian is a little smaller than yours (no double parlor) but we have a back staircase. Ours are super steep, so we had to have them gated off for years and had our kid convinced that they were just for the cats. Now that they are a little older they LOVE going down them (as do the cats).

  21. Laurie August 26, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Living in this house would make me want to read all Victorian literature. Dark gothic novels and novels that examine the class systems (that’s where those back stairs come in). Imagine having a parlor! Were bluestockings Victorian? Because if they were, I’d totally run with that theme.

    I’m having an aweful lot of fun in someone else’s house…

  22. thelady August 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    As a child we used to visit a family that lived in a large Victorian home in Buffalo, NY. That was the only home I’ve ever been in that had 2 stair cases. The plain one was behind a door in the kitchen and the fancy stair case into one of the parlors. Great place to play tag or hide n seek.

  23. Nora N August 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    We have a 1910 farmhouse, and looking at your floor plan makes me realize that the 2 random extra rooms by our front door were more than likely parlors as well! Our layout is about the same as your (except the placement of the stairs), where the entryway/stairway is in yours, ours is just a room. A walk-through parlor would’ve been a lot more convenient like yours..You can see in our home that somewhere along the way someone switched the location of the front door, and closed off the walls connecting the parlors.
    Anywho! Loving the new home can’t wait to see how your modern furniture will blend in with this lovely Victorian =)

  24. Joni August 28, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    Wow. WOW. I’m so excited to see how you turn this beautiful house into your home.

  25. Xarcady September 2, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    About that coat closet in the dining room. It might be a coat closet, although it is odd that it does not open to the front hall.

    But it might also be a dining room closet. Many older homes had a closet in the dining room where the carefully ironed damask linen tablecloths could be hung from rods, instead of folded in drawers getting wrinkled.

    As a child, I lived in one such home with a dining room closet. There were what looked like narrow towel rods on the ceiling of the closet. My mother nearly swooned when she saw them, and immediately hung up her two good linen, used only on holidays, tablecloths.

    Might be worth checking to see if there are old screw holes on the walls or ceilings.

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