Hidden Gems to Keep in Your Historic Home Remodel

Beth Orr Schroeder
Updated November 4, 2016
Remodeling an older home? You may find some treasures worth preserving. (Photo by Frank Espich)

Vintage is in. From fashion to housewares, what once was old is new again—and it’s all the rage in the home building and remodeling industry, too.

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While a new-build home has shiny appeal, remodeling an older home offers the benefits of authentic, built-in charm and character.  

And it’s that character that today’s homeowners are seeking. Many new-model home builders are installing fixtures and surfaces that replicate an older-home feel (think subway tile, marble surfaces, Shaker-style cabinetry). As a designer at Dover Home Remodelers in North Olmsted, Ohio, I work with customers to uncover and restore that original, unique appeal in their older homes. 

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, there were no model homes, no floorplans to choose from. While some homes on the block might be similar in style, each was built to its own unique specifications.

Homes with history

I recently worked with homeowners who had beautiful brick on their basement walls. After some research, they learned that their home was once a secret meeting place for masons. Members entered the home through a back door that led down to the basement where private meetings were held. It’s that type of home history and lure that makes older homes all the more appealing — and well worth the remodel.

Preserve your history

While your older home may not have a storied history, it likely has many elements that are worth highlighting or incorporating into a remodel. In our home, there is an old milk chute that we left in place when adding on our sunroom — it is a unique piece of our home’s past that we wanted to preserve.

If you decide to renovate an older home, you may uncover some of these desirable items that can be renovated or repurposed, earning you an even greatern investment return.

  • Hardwood floors. Many older homes already have original floors that simply need to be sanded and finished.

  • Beautiful woodwork. Most older homes have large-profile trim, transom windows, pocket doors and even leaded glass.

  • Built-in cabinetry. Homeowners today are seeking attractive storage solutions—and many older homes offer fabulous butler’s pantries, linen and cedar closets, corner cabinets, window seats, built-ins and more.

  • Vintage fixtures. From cast-iron tubs and subway tile, to chandeliers and glass doorknobs, old is in.

  • Reclaimed wood. Incorporating unique elements into new design is the stuff of HGTV-worthy remodels — and older homes are chock full of those unique finds.

What’s more, old homes often have good bones. Many have strong foundations, are built solid with brick or stone and are framed by mature landscaping for shade and privacy. The majority of the established neighborhoods where we work to remodel older homes also have that desirable, eclectic feel that you don’t often find in today’s newer suburbs.

To renovate or build new? While it ultimately boils down to a matter of personal taste and preference, it is important to factor in all of the built-in benefits that you get from an old-home remodel.

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As of November 4, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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