When renovating an older home, there are typically two approaches: the preservationist’s method, which focuses on a historically accurate restoration, and the more popular choice of seamlessly blending the old with the new. While older homes often come with issues like layers of old paint, uneven floors, inadequate lighting, and outdated layouts, they also possess charming elements worth preserving, such as custom crown molding, fireplace surrounds, and pocket doors—a testament to the craftsmanship of a bygone era.
To embark on a successful renovation project that retains the home’s charm while accommodating 21st-century living, here are four essential rules to follow:
Rule #1: Differentiate Assets from Liabilities
Every old home, regardless of its condition, possesses redeeming qualities. It could be a set of vintage windows with quaint, watery glass or soaring ceilings throughout the house. A key aspect of a successful renovation is determining which features you genuinely appreciate and being willing to let go of the rest.
While deciding which structural elements to preserve ultimately rests with the homeowner, it’s not uncommon for assistance to be needed when it comes to parting with certain elements. For example, some homeowners may want to reveal and restore their original floors. Fortunately, they may discover wide planks or intricate mosaic tile floors that warrant restoration. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the outcome. When original floors have suffered irreparable damage, replacement is the only option. Letting go of such cherished features can be challenging for homeowners who hadn’t anticipated the need for new flooring. Understanding the assets and liabilities of a house can help homeowners make these decisions with clarity and confidence.
Rule #2: Modernize the Kitchen and Bathrooms
While it may be tempting to preserve much of the home’s original features, there are two areas where it is crucial to prioritize modernization: the kitchen and the bathrooms. These spaces require updates for comfort and practicality, as it is rare to find an old kitchen or bathroom designed to accommodate 21st-century living. Lifestyles and appliances have evolved significantly over the past few decades, making even a 25-year-old house feel outdated in these areas. Investing in modernizing the kitchen and bathrooms ensures they meet the needs of contemporary living.
Rule #3: Pay Homage to the Original Design
In renovation projects that involve a complete overhaul of an old home, paying homage to the original builder’s concepts is beneficial. Even if the house is gutted, there are ways to incorporate elements that recall its past. Ultimately, this approach results in a cohesive and integrated home inside and out.
For instance, consider the elegance of old pocket doors, which contribute to a unifying stretch of fine wood grain along the wall. Even if the new design necessitates their removal, you can recreate that historical, woodsy vibe with a set of sleek, book-matched cabinets in the living room or kitchen. The symmetrical, frameless front of these cabinets mirrors the expanse of the old pocket doors. Skilled carpenters can accomplish remarkable feats in blending new construction with the replacement or replication of favorite features, seamlessly bridging the past and present.
Rule #4: Embrace Quirkiness in Design
Unless you reside in a registered historic landmark, your old house should not confine you to living in a museum. Don’t be afraid to inject personality and playfulness into the design. Balancing the grand scales and formal details of the past with quirky, unique pieces that reflect your true style will infuse the final result with character and liveliness.
At Jedan Brothers Contracting, we specialize in home renovations that seamlessly blend the unique features of your home’s past with today’s modern necessities. Contact us at 604-968-3076 for a complimentary estimate for your next home project. Let us help you enhance the charm and functionality of your beloved older home.