Interiorssneak peeks

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life

by Sofia Tuovinen

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

There are houses whose stories span not just over decades, but centuries. Their stories intertwine with those of their owners, and become meaningful pieces of history in their communities. Today we get to share one of these special historic houses, whose new owners have gone above and beyond to turn it back into its original purpose — a home, in the true sense of the word.

When Natasha and Jason Meininger moved to Hannibal, MO to start a family, they wanted to eventually find a great old home to do up. After their second son was born, the couple began looking for this type of house in earnest. An old house that had been converted into a bed and breakfast had been on and off the market for a decade. Although it wasn’t for sale at the time, Natasha didn’t hesitate — she tracked down its owners and, as it turned out, they were willing to sell. Natasha and Jason spent the following winter visiting the house numerous times, and couldn’t help but fall in love with the possibilities it offered. Comprising of 18 rooms all in need of some major TLC, this would be no small project. Natasha and Jason weren’t afraid of the challenge, and felt confident about bringing the 160-year-old house back to life. “The inspection took two days and read like a novel of maladies. We took it anyway,” Natasha says.

Natasha and Jason started work on the house while still living in their old home. During the first six weeks, every spare moment was spent pulling up 30-year-old carpet, removing painted-over wallpaper and preparing the rooms for various reparations. While the contractor worked on the three bedrooms that the family now use, Natasha, Jason and their two sons camped in what was once the servants’ quarters. Once the bedrooms were move-in ready, work started on some of the main rooms downstairs, followed by a kitchen conversion.

Natasha and Jason have worked hard to restore the beauty of their historic house, which was once stripped down to its bare bones. In the 1990s, the then owner of the house foreclosed, and all of the original contents were auctioned off. Over 20 light fixtures, a fireplace mantel and built-in bookcases from the library were among the pieces that were removed. Amazingly, some of the original light fixtures have made their way back to their rightful home. When Natasha and Jason bought the house, the father of one of their friends contacted them. He had purchased some lights in the auction two decades earlier, and wanted to return them! “Talk about kismet. He had stored them in his basement in shoe boxes all this time,” Natasha shares.

Today, Natasha, Jason and their three sons Oliver, Beckett and Jude reside in eight rooms in the main part of the house. With over half of the house yet to be touched, there’s a lot more work to be done to restore it completely, but the feeling of love and family is already there. Turning the house into a home that suits the family’s needs has been an exciting and rewarding project for Natasha, who works part-time as an interior stylist. She wanted to celebrate the grandeur of the house and still make it modern, comfortable and child-friendly. Natasha loves thrifted treasures, and several old pieces have found their way into the family’s home, where classic shapes are brightened up with color, pattern and various textures.

Four years in, Natasha and her family are enjoying every moment in their beloved home, and look forward to renovating more of it as time goes by. Future projects include the restoration of stained glass and various other windows, a rebuild of the historic two-story porches as well as the exterior, which is up next. The to-do list also includes tackling the servants’ quarters, laundry room and any of the eight bathrooms that need attention (two of which are original from the 1880s!). Most of all, Natasha and her family are thankful for being the stewards of this great home, and for being able to save it from an otherwise inevitable demise. “I love this house as if it were one of my children!” Natasha exclaims. 160 years ago, the house was built for entertaining friends and family. Natasha, Jason and their three sons have allowed the house to blossom in the way it was originally intended — once again, it’s full of love, life and laughter.  Sofia

Photography by Natasha Meininger

Image above: The colorful vintage kilim runner greets guests at the front door. “I want guests to instantly know when they walk in that this is the home of a modern family and is not a museum, [it’s] a place where they can feel welcome and have fun!” Natasha says. 

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

The staircase light fixture in the foyer is original to the house, and was returned after having been auctioned off in the 1990s.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

All pieces in the living room are either thrifted or vintage. With three active boys, Natasha has made sure that nothing is too precious. “I love all of my pieces […] and though I may sigh when something meets its end at the hands of a little boy, I would never shed a tear. After all, these are just ‘things’,” she explains.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

Finding curtains long enough for the 12-foot windows was the biggest challenge in the living room. Natasha finally had them custom-made from 30 feet of fabric.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

Natasha and Jason with their sons Beckett, Jude and Oliver.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

“Mark Twain dined in what is now my kitchen upon his 1902 visit to Hannibal,” Natasha shares. Despite its unique history, the dining room had been completely stripped down and had no redeeming qualities when Natasha and Jason bought the house. They decided to convert the space into a large kitchen where everyone could gather. Natasha designed the kitchen herself and a handy friend built the island.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

Up until the kitchen was completed in the second year, the butler’s pantry served as the family’s cooking facility — “a nine-by-nine room never intended to function for that purpose.” For her new kitchen, Natasha chose brass finishes in varying degrees of burnished. The wall color is “Rainwashed” by Sherwin Williams.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

Natasha and Jason splurged on Calacatta Oro countertops, which add a luxurious touch to the kitchen. “[The corbels] flanking the range hood are duplicates of the corbels at my parents’ house’s roofline,” Natasha shares.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

View into the dining room and foyer from the kitchen. The dining room chandelier is one of the first things that Natasha bought for the house. “I used antique gold Rub ‘n Buff on it and replaced the shades with cheap round ones. It works perfectly, so many people think it’s an antique!”

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

The library, which was stripped down of its built-in bookcases in the aforementioned auction, was turned into the dining room. For an old-time feel, some of the existing wainscoting was replicated and installed along all four walls. Natasha recently found the dining chairs on Craigslist and finished them in pink on pink for an eccentric look.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

Looking into the parlor from the foyer. “This room has double doors and not coincidentally this is also where the kids play and we can shut off the mess if need be!” Natasha says.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

“This room was meant to be the ladies’ parlor,” Natasha explains. The pendant light is another original light fixture that found its way back to its rightful home.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

Natasha and Jason plan to build a floor-to-ceiling bookcase in the parlor. For now, there’s a gallery wall with various portraits and landscapes.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

“I just redid this little room under our stairs’ landing for the One Room Challenge. I wanted it to be dramatic and fun. Bonus, it has hidden storage in the paneled wall,” Natasha shares.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

With four doors and an exterior wall of windows, the master bedroom has been one of the more challenging spaces to decorate. “There is almost no space for bedside tables, which we really need for functionality, so we opted for hanging lights on either side of the bed to maximize space,” Natasha explains.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

The master bedroom soaks in sunlight thanks to the large windows on either side of the fireplace.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

Natasha found the upholstered bed on Craigslist and made it her own with a slip cover in blue velvet. A colorful robe from Natasha’s collection of vintage clothing hangs on the door.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

Eight-year-old Oliver’s room is a happy space that feels calm and relaxing at the same time. Natasha decided to keep the painted floors and just gave them a fresh coat of white. “For now it makes the space feel clean and bright,” she adds.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

Oliver, who is autistic, uses the swing in his room for sensory input. Natasha updated the swing by dyeing it shibori-style. “It’s not exactly shibori but I love the way it turned out!” she says.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

The younger boys, Beckett and Jude, share a bedroom which is connected to what is now the master bedroom. “They are four and two and they like feeling so close to mom and dad,” Natasha explains.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

“I had been searching a long time for the perfect pair of twin beds and found these gems at The Salvation Army. The boys love them. Beckett, our four-year-old, is especially excited about the recent room redo! He goes to bed without a fight every night!” Natasha says.

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

“What I love most about our home is the sense of history and purpose that it gives our family.” — Natasha

A Historic Family Home Brought Back to Life | Design*Sponge

A floor plan of the renovated spaces in the family’s 6,100-square-foot house.

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  • What an amazing transformation of the once 1880’s home into a bounty of awe inspired colors and feels. Natasha has truly captured the feel of home, with her great attention to detail. Well done!!!

  • Natasha’s historic Hannibal home is one of my all-time favorites. The character, the vintage charm, the story of how it came to be … The more I learn, the more I fall in love. Absolutely breathtaking! Cannot wait to see what comes of the rest of those beautiful bones.

  • Beautifully done. I bet it was sure time consuming. Your husband and you did a wonderful job. Now just to sit back and sip a cup of tea and enjoy the elegant view you created .

    • We have been at it for four years now and have lifetime of work ahead of us but we do enjoy it! Thank you for the kind words!

  • Shame they don’t seem to want to read any of the books piled with spines hidden in the bookcase…there might be something interesting in there but you’d never know! The house itself is lovely and interestingly renovated.

    • Thank you! It is only a temporary storage method. We do have many books, many more than are pictured and I have read the vast majority. I am a great lover of literature! I just felt like switching it up a little. ☺️

  • I’d love to know where you purchased the round chandelier shades for the dining room!

  • I have long admired Natasha’s home and design aesthetic on social media. I’m beyond excited to see all of it on Design Sponge! She can find and mix thrifted treasures like no other and it all looks so chic in her historic home. Can’t wait to see what’s to come with the remainder of the restoration!

  • Very amazing. Congratulations in your steadfast determination and vision. Smiles and love, Dave D.

  • Hi, I’m an autistic reader who was upset by your use of “person with autism” a few weeks ago. Thank you for respecting autistic folks’ wishes and referring to us as “autisic people” and not “people with autism”. [To be clear, thank you for saying that their son IS autistic and not saying that he “has autism”.] Signed, an autistic devoted reader

    • Wow! I never would have known that was a concern! Thanks for informing – I’ll go do some research to learn more.

    • So interesting! Thanks for speaking up.

      As a person with type one diabetes I’ve long despised being called “a diabetic” and MUCH prefer to be considered/called a person “with diabetes”.

  • Yay, Natasha!!! This is so great, girl!!! Love it so much! This is such a brilliant house, full of love, warmth and a great sense of style! I always love seeing what you do!!!

    • Hi Ann

      Not necessarily :)

      “In all main varieties of English, the use of an as the article preceding historic (an historic) is an unnecessary affectation. The rule for the indefinite article is that we use a before words beginning with a consonant sound, and an before words beginning with a vowel sound. The h at the beginning of historic is a consonant sound, soft though it may be. As far as we know, there are no modern English dialects in which the h in historic is silent , so there’s no reason for anyone to use an instead of a before the word.”

      The same applies with the words historical, historian, and so on. They start with consonant sound, so their article is a.

      Source here


  • where did they find a container large enough for doing this?
    “…brining the 160-year-old house back to life”
    : )

  • lovely!

    question for the home owners or anyone with experience?

    how does one find contractors to work in remote smaller towns or rural locations?

    • First of all thank you! My best advice, if you are new to a small town, is to find the local coffee shop or hang out spot of men of a certain age and they will be able to tell point you in the right direction. Also, ask business owners, especially those that own historic buildings. I hope that was helpful!

  • What a beautiful home. I love the fireplaces with the thrifted furniture and art and fun new patterned rugs and curtains. Wondering how Natasha is liking the master bedroom rug. It is very beautiful. I’ve been eyeing a similar one and was wondering if it is heavy enough to be comfortable (and stay in place). Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful home with us.

    • Thank you so much! The rug in my master is actually four Nate Berkus for target rugs, sewn together! It’s reversible and we are definitely getting double use out of it. I like it but I think, for my bedroom, I would prefer something a little more plush. 😊

  • This home is perfectly splendid – my favorite home ever featured on Design Sponge. Thank you so much for sharing. I am dying to see more of the little powder room with the cobalt blue trim. xoxo

    • Thank you SO much! More pics of everything can be found on my blog and Instagram account which is linked in the story!! 😘😘

  • Gorgeous! every room is full of inspiration. Thank you for sharing your home! It is amazing what y’all have done is such a short period of time! I can’t wait to see what you continue to do to the rest of the house!

  • Natasha, congratulations on your beautiful home! I love the color in your entrance hall. Could you tell me what you used there? Gracias!