A lot of the old houses that we buy and renovate are so damaged that we have to put in a lot of new materials to make them livable and beautiful again. While some of our updates are on purpose, like adding modern appliances and touches to kitchens and bathrooms, Candis and I both really value the art of making these old homes look appropriate for their style and age. Sometimes that means making our new materials and details look older than they are.
Here are some of the best tricks and tips we’ve picked up to make a house look its age. These are also helpful if you want to make a newer property look a little older and classier, too.
Age the Floors
Imagine walking into a house that’s 50 or even 100 years old and seeing a brand new finished hardwood floor. It wouldn’t look right, would it? When we put in new wood flooring in an old house, we will usually do one of a few different things to make it look appropriately aged and in the style of the house. Some of these include:
• Staining the wood a darker color and going with a lower-gloss finish.
• Whitewashing the floor to give it an aged look before finishing it.
• Putting a coat of polyurethane over raw wood.
Restore the Front Door
Instead of replacing the front door with a modern one, I like to restore the existing door or salvage one that has a similar age and style. There’s no faking those old, sturdy doors, but you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get them. You can usually sand and refinish the front door on your home or find a salvaged door that will work if yours is too far gone.
Use Antique Hardware
Speaking of salvage, when you choose the hardware for the kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers, don’t go running straight to your building supply store. Instead, try shopping around for some antique hardware that will work with the era of the house. Even if you can’t find real antique hardware, stick to new hardware that looks older and sturdier than what you normally find.
Add Crown Molding
Chances are pretty good that if your house is a little older it’ll probably already have some crown molding in place. If it’s salvageable, don’t get rid of it. If not, replace it with crown molding that matches it as closely as possible. This will help you maintain the original style of the house and make it feel more like a restoration than a straight “rehab.”
Always Go with Divided Windows Over Single-Pane
If you’re replacing the windows, some restoration junkies will tell you that you have to go with old glass and that you have to search high and low for the perfect matched antique windows or at least the perfect replicas. Candis and I aren’t quite that picky, and it saves us a lot of time and stress.
We do stick to divided windows over larger, single-pane windows because they’re more in keeping with the eras of the homes we renovate. Then we paint the trim, and our windows look perfectly in place in our homes. I don’t recommend getting those pop-in fake dividers, though. Those only look decent from far away, and they won’t fool your buyers or anyone else who steps inside the house.
Making an old home look the right age can be a little bit tricky, but if you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting the right look and feel for your next renovation project. Good luck!