The impression one gathers while sitting with Annette Nuding on her wraparound porch one recent morning is that she knows everyone and everyone knows her. This is the type of porch that creates a friendly environment where she waves to passers-by and they wave back.
Large and L-shaped, it’s furnished with white, all-weather wicker, floral cushions, an area rug, potted flowers, lamps and a red retro beverage cooler on wheels. The tinkling of the wind chimes is occasionally drowned out by the sounds of lawn and tree-trimming equipment being operated in this Village of Hamburg neighborhood.
But the noise doesn’t matter. Relaxing here is easy.
The porch is not original to the house, Nuding explained. It was added by the Biehler family in the early 1900s, as were the two enclosed sun porches. George J. Biehler, the second owner, opened the Palace Theatre in 1926. The house was built in 1886 by Phillip Hawkins, a farmer who owned a lot of property in the area, Nuding said.
The interior is a wallpaper-lover’s dream. The living room wallpaper is a period reproduction. According to the restoration website Oldhouseonline.com, wallpaper was an integral part of historic rooms – especially from the 1870s through the 1940s.
The dining room paper is not a reproduction.
“I just liked it,” said Nuding, who spent five months stripping the wallpaper that was in the house when they bought it.
“The majority of the walls were never finish coated. In fact our bedroom and our daughter’s bedroom had the original horsehair plaster in some sections under the wallpaper,” said Nuding, who retired after careers in the financial industry and as an administrative assistant.
“The walls, whether horsehair plaster or rough-coat troweled, were meant to be wallpapered,” added Ted Nuding.
The Nudings bought this late-Victorian era house for $72,000 in 1981. It had been on the market five years and needed quite a bit of work.
“My wife had already seen the house. She told me to just walk through and not say anything at first,” he said.
But he, too, saw the potential and liked how no one had ‘remuddled’ it. “It had all the old lighting fixtures,” he said.
“We replumbed, rewired and insulated. We had to do all the body work before we got to the fun stuff,” said Annette Nuding, who said they have invested about $75,000 into the house for two new boilers, two roofs, replumbing, insulation, driveway, initial exterior painting and more.
The house was barn red when they bought it. “The red looked pretty with snow but not the rest of the year,” she said.
It took 80 gallons of primer and paint to transform the house to the color it remains today – Gossamer gray – “an old Pratt & Lambert color,” she said. A woman Nuding didn’t know stopped by and was upset by the color change.
Apparently the woman wanted to keep the house red because when she gave people directions to her own home, she used the red house as a landmark.
The Nudings, who were on the Hamburg Garden Walk on July 8 and 9, also have gardens to maintain. One recent Friday, a lot of tree trimming was in the works, including on an old maple tree to allow for more natural light on a neighboring home. Other limb and debris removal had to be done after the tornado July 20. One limb fell and damaged a section of the Nudings’ roof.
“There were downed limbs and limbs still hanging,” said Rob Stauber of Stauber’s Big Tree Landscaping, who removed the limbs and was back doing additional tree and garden work earlier this month.
Through the years, the Nudings have hired other professionals to help with the restoration and upkeep of the home. Some, including a master plasterer they hired years ago, became like family.
In 1989, a carpenter built bookcases with leaded-glass doors on either side of the fireplace. The Nudings updated their kitchen in the late 1980s and recently added a quartz countertop and subway tile backsplash. A year ago they finished the attic. This year they repointed the front and side steps to the house. Nuding said she has changed the wallpaper twice since they moved into the house.
Maintenance is ongoing. “There will always be the gardening, painting and general upkeep. You either have to love old houses or hate them. There really is no in-between,” she said.
Nor is an old house a good fit for people who want to cut expenses but are not DIYers. “We farmed out things, but there are other things we learned to do ourselves,” she said.
The blue print: Inside Ted and Annette Nuding's 1886 home
Ted and Annette Nuding’s garden has been featured on five Hamburg Garden Walks and their late-19th century home is scheduled to be on a tour Sept. 23 of Village of Hamburg homes presented by Explore Buffalo and Imagine: Hamburg. The Nudings, who have lived in the house since 1981 and raised three children there, are the home’s sixth owners.
Here is a peek inside:
Layout: Two living rooms; first-floor bedroom with half bath; dining room; kitchen, and two enclosed sun porches. Second floor has four bedrooms and a full bath. There’s also a finished attic with storage room; library; sewing/craft room for Annette Nuding, and what she calls “a man cave” for her husband, Ted, an electrical engineer who collects antique radios.
Walls: Wallpaper, some of it period reproductions; sponge painting done by Annette Nuding in upstairs bath.
Furnishings: All-weather wicker furniture on the L-shaped porch; reproduction furniture; newly reupholstered wingback chairs; upholstered chaise; daybed on sun porch; hand-painted pieces.
Floors: Hardwood floors with area rugs; ceramic tile. Annette Nuding refinished the hardwood floors – as well as the banister.
Window treatments: Drapery panels, including lace ones of various designs, and valances. Most were purchased through mail-order.
Highlights: French casement windows; coffered ceiling, French doors, leaded-glass windows and original plate rail in dining room; leaded-glass doors on custom bookcases on either side of fireplace; back staircase leading to what originally functioned as servants’ quarters. There’s also a rental apartment in the carriage house in the back.