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After growing out of their starter home, interior design and DIY blogger Carli Alves and her husband decided to search for a “new” house to move into with their four children.

They discovered an 1878 Victorian in Cranston, Rhode Island, which had been abandoned for six years. Others probably would’ve kept looking, but they bought it.

“It was just a mess, but we saw the vision and knew the house had to be ours,” she says.

Alves has been meticulously flipping the property for the past two years, all while documenting her projects on a namesake blog, Made by Carli. She’s nearly done with the remodel, which was informed by the home’s historic charm. “Once I was in the house, I kind of let it speak to me. I was able to find unique ways to mix the old with the new—that’s now my favorite thing to do,” Alves says. “I love the juxtaposition of an historic ceiling medallion and a modern light fixture.”


the exterior before the renovation, with a damaged siding

Before Alves and her family discovered it, this Victorian home sat abandoned for six years.


exterior after the renovation, with white paint and landscaped greenery

Repaired siding, clean landscaping, and historic details make the home look welcoming from the street.

There were certain things about its past that Alves knew she had to keep, like its towering 10-foot ceilings, sturdy plaster molding, and original oak and heart pine flooring. But in the years since those details were crafted, piecemeal updates made throughout the 20th century were worked in, too—like wood paneling and Pepto pink bathroom tiles. They simply didn’t match the bones of the house and had to go. Thankfully, though, the previous owners did open up the ground floor for a modern layout, saving Alves the job. “That was pretty good that they did that work for us,” she adds.


the original staircase in the dark entryway

Peeling, half-removed wallpaper once covered the entryway. But that curved stairway was a natural focal point for improvements.


alves walking down the stairs.

Alves kept the balustrade in its natural wood state to honor its history, and installed PVC lattice strips by Royal Building Products on the back wall to keep with the classic look.

The front entrance features a sweeping, curved staircase that’s open to a bright and cozy living room. Insistent that a vintage home should have a fireplace, Alves got crafty and made it happen with an electric version. She used a peel-and-stick marble tile for the backsplash, found a mantel on Craigslist for free, and fashioned built-ins to flank each side. “It seems like it should’ve been there all along,” she says.

An arched doorway leads into the dining room, which is outfitted with a built-in butler pantry. Alves crafted bottom doors for it, and left the top shelves open to display trinkets. She also installed board and batten on the walls and painted it in Obsidian Glass by Sherwin Williams.


the original doorway lacked a window

The original entryway was dark, but at least the ground floor had an open floor plan.


The renovated entryway has a clear glass globe pedant light and a dark wood door

When she moved in, Alves found a beautiful antique door that previous owners must have purchased. Though it wasn’t original to the house, it fit perfectly with the Victorian aesthetic.

“I’ve always loved board and batten and I feel like it’s classic, especially when it’s done right,” she says. “I like the fact that I was able to raise it up a little higher than you typically see it, being that the ceilings are so high.”

In the nearby kitchen, Alves choose Ikea cabinets with Grimslöv doors. At first, Alves put in open shelving, but later desired a more substantial statement in the space. So she swapped in glass-front upper cabinets and finished them with matte black Lunata pulls and Rodino knobs from Signature Hardware.


the before dining room was empty with a single old chandelier

The butler pantry in the dining room was missing bottom doors, so Alves made them herself.


the post renovation dining room is bright with gray board and battan

The dining room is a prime example of Alves’s talent for mixing old with new, given the combination of a historic ceiling medallion and a modern Lampundit chandelier.

The primary bedroom posed the biggest challenge: water damage. Alves replaced the crumbling plaster with drywall, and planked the ceilings with shiplap. Once the space was fixed, she infused it with relaxing furnishings like an Edessa Tribal Medallion Rug, blush-colored throw pillows, and a tufted headboard.

Alves eliminated a skinny closet next to the primary bathroom to make it larger, which allowed her to add a statement-making sink with exposed gold pipes. All the hardware in the room is polished brass, which Alves thinks is especially luxurious when paired with marble. “I wanted it to look really classic, but with a little mix of modern,” she says. 

Alves’s hard work has turned a forgotten property into a bright and comfortable family home. It’s a testament to what she was able to see at the very beginning of this process, and how she was able to bring it all to life. “Once I picked up a saw, I just never stopped,” Alves says. “I’ve been learning and learning everyday. It’s awesome.”


the original bathroom had pink tiles

Pink tiles covered the primary bathroom as a throwback to the 1980s. Alves removed them, and installed PVC shiplap for its mold and water resistance.


the original bathroom had pink tiles

Alves knocked out the skinny closet in the primary bedroom so that the bathroom could be larger. “It’s made a world of difference,” she says. A stone trough console sink and an Engle faucet by Signature Hardware create the statement piece of the room.

B+A’s Before You Go…

Carli Alves gave us a moment of her time to share who she follows on Instagram for design inspiration and what she tells herself when a project isn’t going as planned. Read on to get to know her…

What’s something you love about living in Rhode Island?

One thing I love about living in Rhode Island is being in such close proximity to the ocean.

Who are your favorite designers to follow on Instagram for inspiration?

I love following Amber Interiors, The Grit & Polish, Sunny Circle Studio, their styles resonate with me the most.

What’s your mantra for completing a DIY project, especially when things aren’t going as planned?

I love this question! My mantra for pushing through is, “We live for the transformation! It’s all for the transformation!” This is especially true during paint projects—I dread painting.

If you could live in any fictional home, what would it be?

If I could live in any fictional home, it would be the home of Fred Waterford and Serena Joy in The Handmaid’s Tale. Although most of the rooms are dark and so very moody, I love their character and charm.

Where are your three favorite places to shop for home goods in your area?

HomeGoods, Target, and a local Salvation Army thrift store.

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