The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's A Train Wreck, It's Piling Up One By One (Part 1)

This post is in response to a question I received in a recent post's comment section. Here is the question:

"Anonymous said... I've read your posts from beginning to end during the last's kind of like watching a train wreck...You can't look away! But I've never seen an answer to this burning question: Did you always plan to sell the DQ? It seems the answer is YES. But then my question is, why are your color choices so personal?? I don't mean to be rude, but how many gigantic yellow houses do you see in Ark. with purple kitchens and orange bathrooms?? Just wondering..."

So, did we always plan to sell the Devil Queen? It wasn't our primary goal, but we always figured sooner or later we'd sell it and move.

Our decision to use "personal" color choices was influenced by our last home improvement catastrophe. Our first house was bought with the idea that we'd fix it up and sell it almost immediately. As such, we tried to make it as vanilla as possible. Lots of white walls, neutral colored carpets and flooring, and bland color and style choices in general.

As our luck usually runs, bad things happened. We finished the house and put up for sale. We sold it. Almost. The buyer died the week of the closing. So, we continued living there until we bought the Devil Queen and moved into her a couple years later. We rented the house and put it up for sale again. We sold it. Almost. Our buyer married a crack whore and moved to Conway to live closer to a rehab facility shortly there after.

But, I digress. What I'm trying to get at and failing to is that we ended up living in this first house a lot longer than we planned. With my luck, I'll end up retiring in the godforsaken turd of a house. White walls are okay for nine months to a year, but after that, it starts to grate on you. Frankly, we hated the vanilla.

So, when we started working on the Devil Queen, we decided that even though we might sell her one day that we'd do her up the way we wanted to since we could be living there for a quite a long time. Besides, a new paint job is pretty easy compared to installing new plumbing, reframing walls, etc. See the rest of this blog for details. Granted, we grossly underestimated most people's willingness to work on their own home, including a seemingly simple task like painting an interior wall. We also failed to realize until much later that quite a few people seem to suffer from a fatal lack of imagination. Confronted with a purple or red wall, they are total incapable of imagining it as being anything else.

I'll be the first to admit that not all of our experiments in interior painting have gone well, the Pee Wee's Playhouse Laundry Room is case and point. However, most people who actually come and see the house in person love the color schemes. The master bathroom & bedroom, the living room, and the kitchen are favorites. Most people are overwhelmed by the orange and blue bathroom, but I still like it anyhow.

As for the yellow exterior, I'm really not sure how much of a consideration that is. Granted, it's not really finished and the first two painters we hired ass-raped it. I would argue the Joseph's Coat of a roof and the Amazonian jungle that is our yard probably deter more people than the yellow. I would also argue that while yellow might not be a traditional or period appropriate color for a Victorian, it is not entirely unheard of even in Arkansas. An image search of Google Images yielded these two houses.

I've seen more both here in Arkansas and elsewhere in the US. We also reasoned that most people who would be in the market for an old Victorian house would probably be okay with a certain amount of flamboyance.
Anyhow, I somehow still have more to say about this, but that will have to wait until after the long weekend.

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Blogger Jason and Heather said...

You dont have to paint the walls white to sell a house. Neutral colors will will look much better than white and appeal to a much larger base of people than bright colors.

White walls are for apartments.

7:09 AM  
Blogger StuccoHouse said...

FWIW, yellow Victorians are common in MN. I personally love big, old yellow houses. I think they are cheery & it would make me *want* to buy the house. Must be a regional thing.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yellow is a beautiful color. I have three interior rooms, kitchen included, that are a beautiful shade of yellow.

I lived in a vanilla-walled ranch-style house in TX for 14 years. Two years before I moved, I painted the damned walls the colors I loved only to have a realtor tell me to vanilla it up to sell it. It never sold, I wish I had left those walls the beautiful colors they were.

After my big renovation in my Michigan house, every single wall has color. I'll have it no other way. I hate white/beige/tan walls. Flat-out hate them. I must have been insane to live with "off-white" for so long. I guess it comes from being an apartment-dweller for so many years before.

I love the colors you picked on your house. Color is the cheapest way to completely change the look and feel of a room or the exterior.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Jayne said...

My house is yellow, and it's a circa 1890 Folk Victorian! When I scraped paint, the bottom-most layer was goldenrod, so that's the color I went with. Corner pieces and frieze boards are dark green, trim is cream, and window sashes are black. Or they will be when I'm done...

8:38 AM  
Blogger Amalie said...

Haha! that second house is down the street from me! We actually were going to buy the house next door to it if our house fell through.

I think yellow exteriors are actually pretty popular in Arkansas. I find it to be a happy color.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

I love yellow houses!

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before we bought the house we're in, I was stoked to the max about buying a pretty yellow Cape Cod style home. It was totally gorgeous and it sold before we got to it. Trés sad.

-- Janine

PS. The bathroom, though, in orange and blue. Jesus, dude.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Green Fairy said...

I love yellow houses--we almost bought one ourselves, but went with a brick building. Instead, we've gone a little crazy with the yellow paint on the inside.

Our condo is like a big ol' box of crayons (see here, here, and here. We're currently renting it out, and whenever we showed it to potential tenants, many had an OMG or WTF expression. But we always manage to find someone who likes the colors.

9:18 PM  
Blogger John said...

Thank you for all the comments. Yellow is apparently a winner which is good to know. I'm sensing some ambivalence on some the interior colors though: "The bathroom, though, in orange and blue. Jesus, dude." Which, for whatever reason, cracks me up. But really, would the house really be the Devil Queen if you couldn't bask in the warm glow of hell-fire while taking a shit?

7:27 AM  
Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

I read somewhere that white and yellow were the colors that sell most easilly in a house (pretty sure they meant outside colors, but I don't remember).

I like the outside, but regarding the inside, maybe neutral and boring is better for when you are selling. I am always surprised when I watch shows like "Sell this House" or the "The Unsellables" that people will rule out a house based on something like the paint color (Newsflash: you can paint a whole room for $40 worth of paint) or the furniture (really? You know that the furniture isn't staying, right?). I guess you just can't underestimate the stupidity of the common man.

6:00 AM  
Blogger John said...


"I guess you just can't underestimate the stupidity of the common man."

I couldn't agree more.

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