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What to Know if You Want to Renovate Your Historical Home

What to Know if You Want to Renovate Your Historical Home


Modernizing your historic home may sound daunting, but it is certainly an extremely rewarding task that can end with beautiful results. If you’re thinking about renovating your historic home and making it a modern day perfection like this, there are a few things to consider first.

Decide if You are Restoring or Rehabilitating

You generally have two options when remolding a historic home­– restoration or rehabilitation.


  1. Restore – If you’re restoring your home, you’re going to attempt to use as many of the original materials as possible to bring the home back to its original state. Of course, if your home is decades old, it may be a challenge to find the materials used when the house was first built. Because of this, you’ll probably end up throwing in a few modern touches here and there.


  1. Rehabilitate – If you’re looking to blend historical and modern appeal, this is the route you want to go. Home rehabilitation means upgrading a historical home with modern appliances, furniture, and designs, while also keeping historical touches wherever you can.



Whether you’re rehabilitating your home or renovating it, you’ll need to start out with a budget in mind. When renovating, you’ll likely discover problems with the home that you originally didn’t anticipate. This can include everything from foundation problems to termites or asbestos.

Be Inspired by the Times

If you want to maintain the charm from when your home was originally built, research the definitive styles of the decade it was built in. For instance, the 1930s was a period when geometric patterns and arched doorways were all the rave. By the 1950s and ‘60s, U-shaped kitchens and vaulted ceilings were popular design choices. These are styling features you may choose to incorporate or feature in your home updates.

If you don’t like the stylings of when your home was originally built, you can look for design inspiration from other time periods. You can stick with your favorite time period and come up with ways to blend it with modern design. Sometimes it’s fun to mix and match the styles of different decades to make your home stand out. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

You might consider hiring an architect who has a history of renovating historic houses and can give you some helpful tips and ideas.

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Consider Keeping the Windows

If you’re thinking of getting new windows for your home as a way to update it, you may want to reconsider. Instead of getting entirely new windows installed, think about having the ones you have refurbished. You can do this on your own, or you can hire someone to restore them for you. Many state historic commissions may have recommendations on professional teams that do this, so that’s a great starting point.


Aside from saving money, keeping the original windows helps your home keep its exterior appeal. Plus, doing a window update instead of replacement is actually a more environmentally-conscious choice, as it keeps old windows out of the landfill.


Acknowledge Building Codes

Some historical homes come with building codes that have to be met. They’re sometimes pricey, and other times they might put a damper on your renovation plans if you can’t remove or add a specific item due to restrictions. Have an inspection done right away so you know what you can and cannot change.


Roofs, paint, patios, and pools are all subject to building codes in some areas, so it’s essential to know your limits before you make a mistake and have to pay hefty fines.


Whether you want to bring out your home’s original charm or draw attention to a few small things, make sure to have a plan and budget set in place beforehand. Renovating a historic house takes time and work, so be prepared for that commitment. But it will all be worth it in the end, when you’re enjoying your modernized historic home.


Author bio:


Sarah Pike is a long-time apartment dweller and recent first-time home buyer. When she’s not writing or obsessively organizing her new home, she’s probably binge-watching RomComs on Netflix or reading home décor blogs. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.


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