Re-modelling an older home is something we do. Following are some tips that we think should probably be on your preservation list.
1) The Floor Plan. In older houses, the design plan is usually not complicated and fairly straight forward. The interrelationship between the front entrance, the living room, the kitchen, and the secondary entrance typically is practical and quite workable. In some homes, later additions complicated things that were sometimes best left simple for these older homes. If possible, always try to retain the original floor plan, at-least for the main portion of the homeIf it means restoring parts of the home that were removed by previous contractors, so be it. There is beauty in simplicity, in these older homes. For example, in the early seventies, no one wanted a dining room and more open plan style kitchen and dining areas were created. Today the dining room is back. If you think the older floor plan may not be that "doable" look again, it just may be.
2) Staircases. As the cost of quality craftsmanship has soared, the quality and character of the typical staircase has lowered. We pride ourselves in utilizing our crafts people to build beautiful stairways, retaining the older rustic elements whilst integrating more modern, sturdy materials for an interesting eclectic look like in our Madrona Drive project. If your stairway has original balusters, rails, and posts, restoring them is fun. Strip them down if they’re of hardwoods or coated with paint if the crispness of the details are lost. Find ways to stabilize them that do not take away from the original aesthetic and function. Badly worn treads are fairly straight forward to replace, but be sure the details are restored, too, such as the nosing returns. If you need to replace old balusters with new ones, they can be milled fairly inexpensively. We look at staircases as key design elements in a house, not just functional pieces. It is well worth extra dollars to restore or invest some money into a new one that still retains the rusticity of the rest of the home
3) Woodwork. After world war 11, moldings remained important as design elements even in the most basic of homes. Baseboards and casings were wide stock, with moldings to add shadow lines, giving a three dimensional effect. Heavy dramatic cornices abounded. These features are lovely and we try to retain as much of this tpe of original woodwork as possible, including early paneling, built-in casework, spindles. and other decorative architectural wood pieces. These elements are worthy of restoration, and as a source of inspiration. If your design plan involves new elements such as windows, doors, or cabinets, we often try to replicate existing details for design continuity.
4) Plaster Surfaces. The walls of modern houses are clad with drywall, not plaster. Save original plaster where possible as drywall lacks the strength, durability, soundproofing, and character of traditional plaster. There are various techniques that have been developed to preserve old plaster walls and ceilings. We have specialty trades people that can take care of these
5) Floors. One can read the history of a house in its floors. If you see a mixture of wide, hand planed boards upstairs and machine planed oak strip flooring downstairs, you know the house has been remodeled in the last few decades. As you can tell from this article, design continuity and integrity are important when remodeling older homes or newer. Floors need to be uniform and consistent, wherever possible. You need to keep that vintage style through attention to detail, materials and trained trades and craftspeople. Also consider how the new surfaces will suit surviving older flooring. You could always consider finding salvaged materials that will make the transition from the old to the new more flawless. You could also resurface much of the old flooring to match the new. You can be inspired by the original flooring and not feel you need to copy its every detail – you can change up the species and color of woods, play around with various border designs as well as have the wood run on diagonals if you wish. That is the fun of resurfacing entire floors. As long as the new suits the old. We have Designers for that
6) Windows. IF your home is over a hundred years old , its best to conserve the old windows instead of replacing them. A century old house is a rare find in BC, but if you are lucky enough to find one, well you have a gem. One would just need to add new weatherstripping which is quite inexpensive. Old glazing compound can be repaired and even rotting part of the window can be replaced or the wood stabilized with epoxy. On newer houses, we can source good copies of the original windows. Whether you choose to replace or restore, again try to retain the original elements.
7) Doors. Save the doors, if you can, as with windows. Doors can be recycled elsewhere in the house. Sometimes you can find similar style doors at housing salvage/auctions – they don’t have to be identical, as long as they resemble the originals. Exterior doors get the same conservation. It might seem right to replace a weathered paneled front door to conserve energy and tighten up the house, but a replacement front door today is often made of steel with fake graining stamped into the metal. This would be a bad first impression on a restored older home. Restore or replace the front door and make sure it is similar to the original
Hardware. Do no skimp out on decent hardware by replacing vintage hardware with inexpensive, more modern looking hardware. These look cheap and plating may scrape off. Hardware is often over looked, as a source of style and clues as to how the house has changed over the years.. Derive inspiration from a simple latch on a bathroom cupboard that can become the theme for your new kitchen. Respect the history and character of your older home and it will pay off in beauty and investment.
Other Original "hidden" elements. Check the skeleton of your house by looking in the cellar or attic. You can see the "bones" of your home and maybe elements that you find beautiful that original builders never intended to be seen such as solid old beams. These can become a central design feature and inspiration for you
Most of all have fun and call us at (250) 508 - 6601 for a free consultation on your older home!