When Derek and Katrina Demulling considered relocating their family of three from the Boston area to someplace more affordable, they made a wish list of 12 things. Numbered items included close proximity to quality schools, a vibrant arts and music community, great restaurants, and no colder than Boston. On paper, Providence fit the bill, so the Demullings made a few trips to get acquainted with the contender city. Says Katrina, “Providence delivered everything we wanted and then some.”
Next, the couple found a realtor, Nelson Taylor, who took them on a tour de force of more than 20 multi-family properties on the East and West sides. “We told Nelson that we didn’t want a project... only to find ourselves falling in love with this never-ending project,” Katrina says of the College Hill Folk Victorian three-family they now call home.
“When we first bought it, I called it our Nightmare House, as it had so many problems,” says Katrina, who also jokes, “broken windows and peeling paint are features, right?” Today she refers to the home as Brown and Hidden Gem, explaining that “from the outside it doesn’t look like much, but inside it’s full of delightful surprises and details. Also – we’re at the corner of Brown and Hidden Street and can’t help ourselves with coming up with a bad punny name.”
Since taking ownership, Derek and Katrina have embarked on all kinds of DIY projects to help restore the house to its former glory, starting with removing metal cage bars from the windows. Katrina explains that even with the house being a century old, most of the original wood trim and details are intact. “Granted, they’re covered in about 15 layers of paint, but they’re there,” she says. “The original wooden shingles are still hiding their fun patterns underneath the bland shingles added in the 1950s.”
With the heavy lifting mostly behind them, the couple is now enjoying the decorating process. “We both spent a lot of time thinking about how you flow through a space, and where we wanted eyes to either be drawn to or away from,” says Katrina. “The original owners modernized and adapted – swapping out the original gas lamps for electricity – for instance. It was clear its decor also needed to have nods to its history, but with more modern twists and creature comforts. Our color choices are a nod to the darker, richer walls often found in Victorian homes. The goal is to amuse and delight.”
Editor’s Note: Keep up with Katrina on Instagram at @brownandhiddengem