Sometimes the very things that make a house irresistible can also make it hard to live with. Consider the Queen Anne pictured here. In 2004, more than a century after it was built, its formal rooms and period details still beguiled, attracting the attention of a couple in search of a well-preserved Victorian. But when the operative word is formal and the time is now, there is bound to be a rub. After years of living with a dark kitchen, a tiny master bedroom, and no place for friends and family to gather spontaneously, the couple—parents of kids now ages 8 and 11, and frequent hosts of free-flowing, two-generation parties—longed to bring the house up-to-date.