Older homes may look rundown, cold and unappealing, but digging and peeling off the layers built up over the years, dust and other natural factors will reveal a beautiful house that everyone will appreciate. All you need is to take some time to discuss with an experienced designer and builder what needs to be done to revive the charm and glamour of an older home.
When remodeling an older home, it is best to preserve some of its original elements, restoring while ensuring that the new will augment the old. Now, how does this translate into the home remodeling project? It is recommended to establish first what needs to be retained. The following should be largely kept untouched:
1. Floor plan
It is common in older houses for the flow between principal living spaces to be logical. For example, the traffic flow between the main entryway and the kitchen, parlor and secondary entryway is workable and practical. Later additions can sometimes change the pattern of use, which can make the layout confusing. This means that it’s best to largely retain the original floor plan, narrowing any changes to relocating or enlarging doorways, removing fur-downs, and other modifications that will help blend the old with the new. These changes could also involve restoring the elements that were taken out by previous remodeling projects done to the home.
Restore older stairways especially if they have original newel posts, rails and balusters. This will not only maintain the timeless appeal of an older house, but will also keep you from shelling out a large sum for finding a good company that can create an equally beautiful and sturdy staircase. If they’re made of hardwood and the panels, turnings, and other elements are no longer pristine, strip them. Stabilize them if needed, but make it a point not to destroy the original appearance. For missing or broken balusters, have replacements milled to conserve the charm of old staircases.
3. Plaster surfaces
Drywall lacks durability, character, soundproofing and strength, so save as much original plaster as possible. You can find shops that specialize in older construction materials or builders that understand techniques on how to work on older plastered walls and ceilings.
If your older home still has original moldings, cornices and paneling, save as much of the original woodwork as possible when you remodel an old house because you’ll lose it’s charm without these original elements. Should you plan on adding new elements, like doors, cabinets and windows, have your builder compliment the existing details.
Older hardware will likely have old, peeling paint on them. Be gentle in removing paint. Use a tri-sodium phosphate and water solution to avoid damaging the patina of such hardware. Be patient when removing layers of paint that have been there for years. Rub off any paint only when it softens from being submerged into the solution. Also, be flexible when it comes to replacements. Keep in mind that if you’re remodeling an old house while retaining it’s charm, finding exact matches of certain elements can be difficult, if not impossible.
When you remodel an old home, you’ll most likely need mortar repairs. If you do, the new mortar should match the existing in terms of consistency, depth, and color. Be sure not to grind out all of the joints, while limiting grinding to only the deteriorated joints or as needed for replacing bricks.
7. Slate roofing
First, find out what kind of slate roof is used. Keep in mind that you can’t use red slate to replace gray ones. Second, find out about your roof’s lifespan. If it has a life expectancy of 200 years and it’s still 75 years old, then all you need to perform is maintenance. Third, make it a point to inspect the roof regularly. To ensure you’ll be able to maintain it, find a good roofer in the area familiar with slate. Doing so will help you recoup your investment.
Also Read: Designing Your Home as a Couple
Wood windows should be saved if possible, rather than replaced with plastic/vinyl whose parts generally can’t be repaired. You should also keep in mind that each window is different. So you may want to restore the home’s front windows, add weather-stripping as well as exterior storm windows. As for rotting windows or if you want a more energy efficient window, replace them with new wood windows. Don’t forget to properly seal your wood windows to increase their longevity.
Floors usually tell the history of change in an older home. Remodeling was possibly done a few decades ago when the floors were made of machine-planed oak on the first level and wide, hand-planed pine boards on the second level. When adding new flooring to a remodeled space, make sure it will complement the older floor.
Just like old windows, saving the original doors will keep the charming appeal of the home. If you remove a door in one part, you might recycle it elsewhere. You can also look for similar door styles at salvage shops. You don’t need to replicate the original design exactly, just something similar so that it doesn’t look out of place.
When you remodel an old house, strive to make sure it doesn’t deviate substantially from its old form. This is why it is also important to work with a designer and builder who are experienced in such home improvement projects.