Home & Garden

‘Part of SLO history.’ How this couple made remodeled Victorian house feel like home

The Stanton House in San Luis Obispo is one of five homes on the Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo Homes of Distinction Tour.
The Stanton House in San Luis Obispo is one of five homes on the Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo Homes of Distinction Tour.

Duke and Ellen Williams were preparing to move from the Bay Area into a newly purchased, single-family home in San Luis Obispo when they stumbled upon a Queen Anne Victorian for sale across town.

“We’ve always loved Victorians, so we fell in love with it immediately,” Duke Williams said. “We were getting ready to retire and thought fixing it up would be a good pastime.”

The home, known as the Stanton House, was built between 1902 and 1905. It was in good shape due to extensive renovations in 2010.

Still, the couple wanted to make a few adjustments to bring it in line with their lifestyle and aesthetics.

They sold their San Luis Obispo house and moved into the Stanton House in June 2014, staying in place during the renovation which started in September 2017 and ended July 2018.

They took their time with the project, studying period architecture, handpicking materials carefully, and working closely with lead architect Robert Richmond of RRM Design Group of San Luis Obispo and Robertson Builders of Arroyo Grande. Duke William did some of the carpentry work himself.

Stanton House kitchen
The renovated kitchen of the Stanton House in San Luis Obispo features custom handmade cabinets, leatherized quartzite countertops, rustic light fixtures and a vintage-style range. Dave Garth

At the time of the remodel, the house was well-maintained with many original features, including coved ceilings, Douglas fir flooring, curved hand-rolled glass windows and several antique gas light fixtures. Other elements added by previous owners are equally distinctive.

The home’s two fireplaces are clad in fire-glazed brick reclaimed from the Ramona Hotel in San Luis Obispo, which burned down in 1905.

The entryway chandelier was made by the same artisan who created lighting for the Titanic. It originally hung in the Russian Tea Room in New York City.

Four large gas streetlights that frame the front and side porch steps are vintage pieces acquired from the city of Pasadena.

Other features weren’t quite in line with the historic character of the house.

Stanton House
Built between 1902 and 1905, the Stanton House in San LUis Obispo has many original features including coved ceilings and Douglas fir flooring. Dave Garth

The kitchen, which was remodeled in 2010, was “very nice, just not to our taste and a little contemporary,” Williams said. The renovation revamped it in a farmhouse style with custom handmade cabinets by San Luis Kitchen Co. in San Luis Obispo, leathered quartzite countertops, rustic light fixtures and a vintage-style range.

Adjacent to the kitchen is a new sunroom addition with a full wet bar, walk-in pantry and space for casual dining.

A new interior staircase leads to the basement, which the couple renovated to use as a mud room and laundry room.

All in all, the remodel added about 600 square feet of space to the original 3,100-square-foot home.

Stanton House kitchen
The renovated kitchen of the Stanton House in San Luis Obispo features custom handmade cabinets, leatherized quartzite countertops, rustic light fixtures and a vintage-style range. Dave Garth

The couple used repurposed materials to help new features blend in. Redwood decking and fir floor joists from an old, demolished service porch became shelving.

The laundry room features a rustic wall made from beadboard reused from the kitchen, while the stairway walls are lined with Douglas fir flooring salvaged from a previous renovation of the house.

The kitchen bar countertop was made from wood reclaimed from the original Union Hardware store in downtown San Luis Obispo.

The team took “great pains to match the exterior style” of the house, Williams said. They replicated the rooflines and trim when building the addition.

When Williams was unable to find authentic fish-scale shingles, he bought standard shingles and cut each one with a jigsaw into half circles – all 1,000-plus of them.

Duke and Ellen Williams previously lived in a Spanish-style home and owned mostly farmhouse-style furniture and antiques that fit well in their new home.

The antique shop and consignment store enthusiasts have been adding to their collection and have also replaced some of the more contemporary light fixtures with vintage and antique ones.

Living in the midst of a major renovation had its challenges. Duke Williams recalled a particularly nerve-wracking period when builders had to replace a load bearing wall in order to build the sunroom. Thankfully, the house survived and is “sturdier and stronger now,” he said.

Since the remodel was completed last year, the Williamses have settled into their new home – as well as into a special role in their new community.

“Every day, someone will walk by and tell us something they know or remember about the house,” Duke Williams said. “We feel like the house is a part of SLO history and we’re excited to be part of that.”

Ditmore home exterior
Built in 1901, the Ditmore home in San Luis Obispo still has many of its original features, including a cast iron coal burning stove and hand-carved woodwork. Dave Garth

Rotary Homes of Distinction Tour

The Williams residence is one of five San Luis Obispo homes featured on the 2019 Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo Homes of Distinction Tour. The self-guided tour takes place Sept.15 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person in advance and $30 on the day of the tour.

Refreshments will be served at La Lomita Ranch, courtesy of Madonna Inn. Proceeds benefit Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo charities.

For more information, including tickets, home address and a map, call 805-235-5296, email chenda@slobg.org or visit slorotary.org. Tickets are also available at the San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, and South County chambers of commerce, as well as at any of the homes on the day of the tour.

Seither home living room
The Seither home in San Luis Obispo emphasizes geometric forms, simple materials and repetition for a sense of order and serenity. Dave Garth

Other homes on the tour

Gazin home: This restored 1890s house has a 256-square-foot “tiny home” behind it that utilizes space-saving techniques such as built-in furniture and a 60-square-foot loft.

Ditmore home: This 1901 Queen Anne Victorian still has many of its original features, including a cast iron coal-burning stove and hand-carved woodwork.

The Seither home: Situated on four acres overlooking the Irish Hills Natural Reserve, this modern, minimalist home emphasizes geometric forms, simple materials and repetition for a sense of order and serenity.

La Lomita Ranch: Built in the 1970s, this former Arabian horse breeding facility is now an event venue and bed and breakfast. The main house is early California Spanish in design, and the show barn has been transformed into seven guest suites.

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