5 Ways to Modernize a Historic Home and Retain Character

5 Ways to Modernize a Historic Home and Retain Character

Historic homes are usually filled with old and obsolete appliances, furniture, and fittings that require remodeling or modernization over time. The problem, however, is that remodeling often strips the homes of their historic character and vintage charm. When modernizing a historic home, your focus should be on retaining that character. Here are some ways to renovate your home without losing its unique qualities.

List all the historic features you want to preserve before you map out your modernization plans. Some desirable features of historic homes include hardwood floors, plaster walls, spiral stairs, unique window settings, and structural architecture.

Consider Repairs, Not Replacement

Instead of replacing older features of your historic house, try to repair them. The more things you replace, the more history you erase from your home. For instance, instead of replacing an aging ceiling, have a professional paint or repair it. Don’t replace plaster walls with drywall. The same goes for windows. Do your windows have leaks, causing them to waste energy? Instead of replacing them with modern ones that lack character and charm, fix the seals to make them more energy-efficient.

Keep the Hardwood Floor

Because most historic homes have hardwood floors (and people love these hard surfaces), you’re already one step ahead. Leaving your hardwood floor intact not only preserves its character but might also boost the home’s resale potential. If the floor has endured several decades or more of use, however, it might look worn. Simply have it sanded down and refinished for a like-new look. The only time you should consider replacing your hardwood floor is if you start seeing the nailheads in it.

Install Updated Plumbing and Appliances

Some materials used for pipes several decades ago are now considered hazardous to our health. For this reason, you might have to update your entire plumbing system. Other plumbing issues you might encounter in historic homes include low water pressure, slow drainage, and discolored water.

You might also need to update your home’s wiring and have an HVAC professional install a modern heating and cooling system for energy efficiency. The major challenge with these repairs, however, is they require drilling into or breaking down walls. Remember, if your historic home’s walls are made of plaster, they’re going to be very difficult to repair. Breaking through walls might also strip your home of some historic features. You might be better off installing a ductless heating and cooling system that doesn’t require passing ducts through walls.

Outsource to an Expert

Many companies have experience modernizing historic homes without erasing their character. So if it fits in your budget, you might consider hiring a contractor to handle the renovation from the beginning. This way, you’re more likely to have positive results.

Before you tackle a historic home renovation project, make sure you’re not doing away with the very features that give it its charm. Keep these steps in mind throughout the process.


About the author
Mrs. Hatland is a 30-something married, mom of 7 and the face behind the popular online publication, Motherhood Defined. Known as the Iowa Mom blogger by her local peers and “The Fairy Blogmother” worldwide. She has professional experience in working closely with clients on brand ambassadorships, client outreach services, content creation and creative social media advertising exposure.
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