By Candis Meredith
Sometimes I think my job would be a lot easier if I could just restore houses to the way they looked and functioned when they were first built. Obviously, that’s not possible because no one wants to go to the outhouse when they need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, and most people prefer efficient central heating and air to woodstoves during the winter and opening the windows when it’s 90 degrees outside.
I don’t want you to think I’m complaining, though. I don’t blame our buyers for wanting modern amenities because I want them, too! But figuring out how to make just the right updates can be a real challenge when I’m designing one of our renovations. Here are a few tips I’ve come up with and used for a lot of our renovation projects.
Go with Matched, Muted Colors for Appliances
The refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, and microwave aren’t going to match the style of the house because these modern appliances were all invented after most of the houses we restore were built. Instead of trying to find appliances that somehow look like they were made for a Victorian or other historical house, I’ve found that it’s best to go with muted colors and finishes.
Typically, it’s safe to go with stainless steel in either a bare finish or a matte black finish, but you can also go with other matte colors, too. Glossy black works for some kitchens, but the key is to find something that doesn’t draw too much attention to itself. And, of course, make sure that your appliances match. That will help tie them together so they don’t look out of place.
Choose Antique-Looking Hardware
You may not be able to save the original hardware (handles, knobs, hinges, etc.) on the cabinets and drawers in your kitchen, but you can replace them with new hardware that looks period appropriate. This little detail can go a long way toward making any renovated kitchen look like it fits right in with an old house, especially if you choose matching sink fixtures.
Don’t Install Fluorescent Ceiling Lights
Lighting is important in the kitchen and living room, but that doesn’t mean you have to install bright white fluorescent ceiling lights. Instead, choose ceiling and wall fixtures that work with the style of the house. You can get ones that look antique, or you can add a bit of contemporary flair with a more modern ceiling lamp. For added light in the kitchen, go with under-cabinet lights. They’re unobtrusive, and they shed light where your buyers will need it when they’re cooking.
Add Historically Inspired Details
Claw-foot tubs are never out of style, and neither are clean, white tile patterns. These are just a couple of the historically inspired, timeless details I love putting in our houses. When I’m making updates, I look for appliances, cabinets, fixtures, and other pieces that are designed based on the period when my house was built, and I go from there. Not every piece will work with my renovation, but this gives me a really great place to start looking.
Mixing old and new features in our renovations can be a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun. I love mixing and matching to see what works and what doesn’t before I commit to a design. The result is a beautifully renovated property that still feels like an old house but has all of the comforts and luxuries of a brand new home.