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How to Bring out Beautiful Details in your Older Home

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Whether you are considering buying an older home to renovate, or your existing home needs revamping, remodeling can have pros and cons. Older homes tend to have more charm and personality than modern homes and good craftsmanship are the pros of most older homes. When it comes to remodeling the cons can be numerous – from outdated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to structural challenges as well. If you are thinking of remodeling an older home, here are tips to consider, before you start. The rewards can be great, but if you don’t know what you’re doing they could be costly and frustrating. Here are tips for remodeling an older home.

  • Know your home: Whether you are hiring a professional to remodel your older home, or you’re considering doing it yourself (DIY), know your home. This basically means, do as much research about the age of your home, what it is made of, what type of systems it has, and if possible, what the previous home owners renovated, if any before you took ownership. If you’ve lived in the home for generations, than many of these questions you can answer without a lot of research.
  • Know your budget of time and money: A renovation project should always estimate taking a longer time and costing more money than you anticipate. This doesn’t mean don’t renovate! It only is a factor to think about when budgeting how much time and money you have to dedicate to your renovation. New discoveries come about when walls, ceilings, and floors get knocked down or dug into. The best plan is to ask a general contractor to come and give you an estimate on what the process in involved and what their professional opinion is for how much money and time to allocate.
  • Be realistic with your renovation plans: When renovating older homes consider the condition of what is existing and what you’re trying to improve. If you are trying to add a wing on to the house and totally change the entire house, your efforts may be too vast for your family lifestyle and budget. Once again, ask a contractor about how realistic your ambition is. The charm of older homes is keeping the bones, but updating the function and finishes to appeal to you and your family.
  • Embrace the process: Renovation of your older home can be rewarding, especially once it’s done! Look through magazines and renovation magazines and websites to get inspiration. Many older homes have incredible attention to details, but they may lack the visual appeal in their current state. Consider updating interior finishes like flooring, paint colors, wall paint, and plumbing fixtures. If you do spring for a total renovation, be prepared for the work and patience involved. Either way, you will love your home after the renovation, and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Consider the above steps when considering renovating your home. The pros and cons will be different for every lifestyle and every home.  Take the time before you take a demolition hammer to your walls to consider all the factors. Older homes usually have a timeless story to tell and restoring, or adding your own renovation amenities could make the story that much better to tell. Remember, your home should reflect you and your family, a renovation of your home should do the same.

Freshome readers how many of you live in older homes? Have you renovated them? We’d like to know what you learned from the process.

2 comments

  • Nancy Goffman May 13, 2011 at 17:44 PM Login to Reply →

    I’m a southern gal, living in Tennessee. My husband and I bought an older home five years ago — we renovated it but kept much of it as well, because like you said, older homes have charm and personality! Even before we renovated the home we felt like it had a story behind it. We wanted to work our way into that story, not destroy what had been before us.

    First we had to figure out what we wanted to do. We knew we didn’t want to completely modernize it — just make it comfortable. Update it, make sure all our wiring and plumbing was new. I think older homes tend to feel darker and more closed in. We wanted to open it up and make everything feel light and happy, while still preserving the architectural personality of the house. Obviously we couldn’t just go out to the major furniture stores to do that. A lot of their selection was just way more minimalistic than we wanted. So we started looking into places that did custom work or offered vintage pieces. We found lookintheattic and company online. They didn’t have the big furniture pieces we needed, but they offered thousands of combinations on custom finishings for our cabinet door knobs and our bathroom accents. They helped us keep our home’s vintage feel by completing the edges and filling in those little details that really count. I learned that renovating an old house is way more work than you realize going into it…even if you tell yourself you know it will be a lot of work! A lot of room for surprises…costly surprises. However, for my family at least, it has been worth the work and sweat. Feeling like everything is finally complete is a great accomplishment.

  • RoniqueGibson May 13, 2011 at 18:25 PM Login to Reply →

    Nancy, thanks for sharing your home experience with us! I totally agree about keeping the charm of the home. I personally have lived in 3 homes in the last 10 years, and 2 of them were brand new. Our most recent home is from 1987 and it is the cutest and most personable home, it feels like it wants to tell us a story in every room :) We have taken out some brass fixtures, and circa 1987 awful looking wood paneling, but we have kept many amenities that are timeless. Kudos to you all for taking on the challenge of owning an older home. :)