5 Design Ideas to Modernize Your Historical Home - Without Losing Its Charm

5 Design Ideas to Modernize Your Historical Home - Without Losing Its Charm

Older homes can be both a joy and a complication for the modern homeowner. The glimpse of century-old hardwood flooring underneath a patterned rug, or the magnificent tile work in the bathrooms, is a delightful sight. But older homes can be limited in terms of modern comforts and functionality. If you are wondering how to incorporate modern features into your home without sacrificing the charm that you love, we have a few tips to consider.

How Do You Modernize an Old House?

Modern additions to old houses take extra care. You don’t want to just start knocking down walls or gutting rooms without thoughtful consideration, or you may end up removing something you aren’t able to replicate or replace. With that in mind, there are several things you should plan to do.

1. Study the Structure

Finding out when the home was built isn’t necessarily everything you need to know about the home’s history. Vintage interior design is often a combination of styles, sometimes layered directly on top of one another. You might have a home built around the turn of the century, with a kitchen from the 1930s and lots of upgrades in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s a good idea to research which parts come from each time period and what is truly original to the home so that you can focus your planning.

Love the styles from a particular decade and want to make them a part of your home? Check out this Mid-Century Modern Remodel in Buckhead.

2. Upgrade Plumbing and Electric

Plumbing can last up to a century or more, but there could be problems hiding in the pipes. Old pipes often have lead solder, which can leach into your water. Similarly, old electric wiring could be a fire hazard. If you’re making other upgrades, plan to address these at the same time.

3. Consider Options for Heating and Cooling

Most older houses aren’t set up for central heating and air, so you will need to come up with a plan for them. Fortunately, there are several options for modern historic homes, such as a ductless heating and cooling system. You can always consider popular upgrades like radiant heating, but they often presume that you are willing to pull up the existing flooring.

4. Improve the Lighting

Old homes tend to be darker, but that doesn’t mean they have to be. If you have a few vintage light fixtures, you could augment them by adding additional fixtures. Adding more windows to let in the natural light could be another option to consider. If installing more windows isn’t possible, updating them and minimizing the window treatments can yield a charming outcome!

5. Open Rooms With Care

For many people, the biggest difference between historic and modern homes is the open space. A lot of homeowners solve this problem by opening up certain rooms. Just keep in mind that older homes don’t always accommodate an open space in the same way. For example, you may not be able to dramatically expand the size of the kitchen or bathrooms without an addition.

How Do You Keep Old House Charms?

Beyond the necessary upgrades, you probably have plenty of things about your older home that you absolutely love and want to keep. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice them if you have a good plan in advance.

Keep a Consistent Design Scheme

Historic home interior design requires a certain level of consistency. While you don’t need to follow a theme down to every last detail, the general aesthetic should flow naturally throughout the home. Remember that the walls, flooring, millwork, and fixtures set the stage, as well. It’s not enough to simply incorporate period décor here and there, particularly if you’re trying to follow a specific design scheme like mid-century modern.

Repair or Refinish When Possible

Features of old houses often last because they were built that way. If you have solid hardwood floors or kitchen tile in decent condition, it might be better to repair or refinish it than to replace it. Great renovations happen when you’re able to restore and preserve original features while adding new elements that organically complement the design.

Be Realistic About Your Ambitions

It’s important to be realistic about what you expect from the renovation, especially if you’re used to modern comforts. You may be tempted to build out a modern kitchen in your historical home, but often you compromise the charm by doing so. But balancing the older charm with modern conveniences can be done. Old houses can have their issues, but they also contain wonders. When you hire an expert in historic home renovations, you can rest assured that every detail will receive the right amount of care.

How Would You Modernize Your Home in 2021?

Modernizing your home for 2021 might involve less conflict than you expect. In addition to major structural updates or kitchen and bath renovations, there are many timeless design elements, like increased lighting and elements from nature that you could consider. You can easily swap out outdated window treatments for something airy and light, or incorporate additional lighting or houseplants into your design scheme. For walls, you could go trendy with patterned wallpaper, which is popular right now but also fits in with lots of vintage styles.

How Much Does It Cost to Modernize an Old House?

Modernizing an old house ranges in costs depending on the scope, but could run anywhere from $100,000 up to $1 million, depending on the extent of the project. Older homes with deferred maintenance or other signs of poor condition may require more work than those that have been meticulously kept and safely updated over the years. At Copper Sky Design + Remodel, we aim to provide our clients with a comfortable, modernized space that keeps the charm of old houses. Contact us today to talk about your project.


2024 Atlanta Remodeling Cost Guide (variant A)