By Candis Meredith
Every renovation project that Andy and I take on is different. They come from different eras. They’re different sizes. They’re even sometimes in different parts of the country with different climates and different expectations from buyers. You might think, with all of those differences, that there wouldn’t be any constants from one job to the next, but you’d be wrong. No matter where we’re renovating or what kind of house we’re working on, there are a few design rules that I always live by and that I think can help any home renovator. Check these out and see how they can help you with your next renovation property.
Finish the Basement for More Living Space
While most modern homes have at least semi-finished basements, a lot of older homes have basements that are basically just a little bit of extra space carved out under the house. These were originally cellars for dry storage, so their designers weren’t really worried about finishing them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn them into something more.
I’m a big fan of sealing and finishing basements to give old houses more living space or storage space. If the basement is tall enough, you can add a rec room, and if there are enough windows it could even be an attractive guest bedroom or mother-in-law suite. If not, I love creating cool wine cellars or pantries in these spaces.
Do What You Can to Make It More Eco-Friendly
Next, think of your buyers’ energy bills. A lot of restoration purists will tell you that it’s a sin to replace old windows with new ones, but I disagree. You’re not restoring the house to be a museum – you’re restoring it so that people can comfortably live in it. Add insulation wherever you can, including new windows, caulking, and insulated doors. You can also insulate the attic in most old homes for better energy efficiency. When your buyers find out that they can live in a gorgeous old home without spending an arm and a leg on utilities every month, they’re going to be very interested.
Update the Kitchen and Bathrooms
Along the same lines, you’re not going to be restoring the kitchen with a wood-burning stove and an old ice box, so don’t skimp on the updates here. Design a modern kitchen with all of the amenities that homebuyers look for. Make it as spacious as possible, and add as much counter space as you can. You can stick to classic aesthetics with the cabinetry, but go with something nice and updated like marble or quartz for the countertops.
Focus on Preservation and Restoration in Other Rooms
While you want to update the kitchen and bathrooms to make them more comfortable, people who buy old homes love their classic look and feel. You can increase that appeal by focusing on preservation and restoration throughout the rest of the house. If you have a gorgeous old staircase leading to the second story, don’t try to modernize it. Instead of the latest light fixtures, go with sconces and chandeliers that have designs inspired by the era when the home was built.
You should specifically focus on this in the front foyer, since it’s the first thing that people will see when they come inside. You don’t want them to see a gorgeous old home and then walk into a totally modern front room. It will feel all wrong, and they won’t be as likely to fall in love with the house.
I use these four design rules for all of our renovations, and I think they can help you too. Try them out and see how they work for you!