Old homes can be gorgeous. They can be storied, they can be detailed, they can bring features that a lot of us covet but simply don’t find in newer builds. They can also be entirely unsuited for modern living. Whether the home is thirty years old or a hundred years old, it’s not going to be built with all the convenience and comfort of a 21st century home. So, it’s time to take a look at how you bring that home into the present with you, without destroying what makes it work.
Give it a wash
If it’s a home that hasn’t had an owner in a while or simply didn’t get all that much care from those who lived in it past, then the exterior is likely to look battered and old. But much of what seems ingrained on the surface might not be that difficult to get rid of, after all. A power washer can clear a lot of dirt, dust, grime, and even moss from the exterior of the home. Paint can help you gloss over much of it. For damage that’s a little tougher to get rid of, you may want to even consider some cladding for the walls.
Cover up those blemishes
There are other blemishes that are much harder to cover up, as well. In older homes, there may be rather large interruptions to the exterior aesthetic, such as huge air conditioning vents, utility closets and so on. When you can’t get rid of them or update them, you may instead think of crafting the environment to better hide them. Landscaping teams like USA Lawns Inc. can help you hedge off the problem areas or raise the ground to better cover them. Many older homes get these upgrades piecemeal over time without the owners thinking about it can disrupt the entire look of the home. Even when you’re forced to live with them, you don’t have to be forced to look at them too.
Patch it up
There’s a very good chance that the home is going to have more air leaks and gaps that the average home, as well. When it comes to winter, you’re going to feel it right down to your bones. Take a closer look at the source of any air leaks. You can caulk those that grow around the doors or the windows, but your best bet is to look up. Teams like Wildwood Roofing & Construction may be a necessary ally if your home’s roof hasn’t been updated in some time. Most older roofs may be out of date by the time you move in, which means tiles can crack, come apart, and fall out entirely more easily, exposing the interior of the home to the elements. Not only is that uncomfortable in the cold, but it also creates a serious risk of damp and mold spreading throughout the house.
Make it energy friendly
Once the outside is all patched up, you should think about patching the inside, too. There’s no denying that older homes are much less likely to have proper insulation. You may be able to get some state assistance for paying for the insulation that your home lacks, as well. There are other changes you can make to ensure that the home is easier to heat, easier to cool, and more energy efficient, too. Take a closer look at the water heater, too, and have someone come out to service it.
Focus on the key rooms
Let’s talk about the practicalities of living in an older home, now, too. How do you actually use the space? We have come a long way in bathroom and kitchen renovations, so those may be the first places to think of changing. A full remodel might be necessary. For the kitchen, updating the layout and using more of the vertical space can make it a lot more convenient to work from one end of the room to the other. In the bathroom, consider switching out the tub for a walk-in shower to open up a lot more space. You should take a closer look at whether the bathroom is leak-proof, too.
Work with the older features
If you intentionally bought an older home, there’s a good chance you did it because you love some of the more historical features that you would probably not find anywhere else. You don’t have to get rid of these features to make the room more modern, you might very well be able to work with them. For instance, even if it’s no longer functional, a fireplace can make a great focal point for any living room. Use the shelves to house some treasured ornaments, use the wall above as a place to feature a mirror or a piece of art. You can even use old, non-functional fireplace hearths as a place to hold a houseplant to brighten it up. Call a little more attention to the older features of the home that you love most.
But not all of them
That said, there are plenty of older features in the home that are an eyesore that you shouldn’t be concerned about covering up or replacing entirely. If there’s awkward ceiling trim, painting the whole ceiling one block color can make it blend in a little more easily. There is also the popcorn ceiling look that was ubiquitous for a couple decades that people almost unilaterally hate, now. Teams like Armstrong Ceilings can help you replace them or simply cover them up with much sleeker wooden paneling that is nowhere near as busy and may also fit in perfectly with the hardwood floors that many older homes contain.
Update without replacing
Some features might be beautiful, but they’re no longer practical to use, so many people think of replacing them anyway. The windows of the older home are often a victim of this. The truth is that it may not be entirely necessary to replace them. In fact, you can make a lot of improvements and updates to older windows that can bring them up-to-par with their modern equivalents. Window inserts can make them not more energy efficient and better at keeping the cold out. They are also a lot cheaper than brand new windows. There’s also the fact that older wood windows actually tend to be a lot stronger and more durable than new wood windows, so if you’re hoping to update but to keep that wooden aesthetic, you might actually be worsening the effectiveness of your windows.
Open it up
Space is a concern for a lot of new homeowners in older homes. Historic home design wasn’t quite as open and included a lot of awkward, smaller spaces that we no longer use quite as easily. If you feel like your rooms are undersized and not utilizing the actual floor space that the home has to offer, why not consider knocking in a wall and connecting two or more of the rooms? Of course, this takes a lot of consideration and you should get an expert out to help figure out if it’s even safe to do so. Load bearing walls, in particular, require some care so figure out which of them are the most structural important ones. Once you have that figured out, however, it can make the home much more convenient and friendly to larger families with lots of foot traffic.
Incorporate strange spaces
There are some awkward spaces that might not necessarily be suitable for opening up by knocking down a wall, too. Some older homes have little wood storage alcoves and several of them have space under the stairs that goes unused. You can open these up, too, but by incorporating bespoke storage furniture such as built-in shelves and cabinetry, instead. Have new storage spaces designed to the very specifications of the space you’re trying to fill up. It’s a lot more effective than trying to fit in store-bought options, instead.
Get more space out of it
Older homes may also have much larger spaces that weren’t previously incorporated as part of the home. Both attics and basements tend to be larger in old homes. If you want to increase living space, add a utility room, or simply improve the value of the house, then making better use of these may be the way to do it. Finishing an attic or a basement takes time and investment. Especially in the basement, where you have to consider extra factors such as damp and airflow. However, once converted, they can add a lot of versatility and value to the home, so consider making a project of it.
How much you change, adapt, or preserve the older faults and features of the home depends entirely on preference. If you don’t have a taste for the oddities of the past, you can dramatically change it all. But hopefully, the tips above show a few of the ways those who love those characteristics a way to keep them without having to live in the past, too.