There’s something fascinating about historic homes. Their detailed architecture and unique charm. The way they can make you feel like you’ve traveled to a different time period the second you step through the door.
Living in a historic home is an enchanting experience, but it can also be challenging to make the space feel uniquely yours while preserving its vintage appeal. In this article, we’ll explore how to design a historic home to preserve the house’s history while creating a personalized, modern space you can envision a future in.
Although every historic home has its own characteristics and features, there are a few general factors to consider when designing your space:
Respect the architecture: Preserve and restore distinctive features, like structure, layout, moldings, fireplaces, and window frames, to maintain the historical integrity of your home. These features contribute significantly to a space’s historical character and should be protected as much as possible.
Identify timeless features: Look for historical features to update and restore, like original hardwood floors, built-in woodwork, and millwork. Restoring these features and blending them with modern design elements creates a contemporary vibe while preserving historical charm.
Add modern elements and conveniences: Infuse modern elements into the space by adding contemporary conveniences. For example, modernize your kitchen with clean lines, contemporary color palettes, and energy-efficient windows. The key is to subtly integrate these features, so the house feels updated but still showcases its historical style.
Blend old and new furnishings: An eclectic mix of antique and modern pieces creates a dynamic, visually appealing space that balances the old with the new. However, don’t overdo it. If your house has a lot of historical details, select simple, clean-lined modern furnishings that aren’t too frumpy, dark, or heavy.
Use color and lighting: Update a historic home with neutral color palettes and bright lighting for a fresh look. These’ll highlight the architectural details and brighten the space, so it feels more welcoming and inviting.
The key to designing a historic space is to approach it with the intent of respecting its past. This involves a balance of preserving distinctive, historical features and infusing modern elements that align with contemporary living standards. This is exactly what we did with the Hazelton residence in Pasadena’s Historic District.
For example, we updated the kitchen by adding clean lines and installing shaker cabinets in sage and cream white. We extended the counter space and storage while maintaining the room’s original footprint. An off-white was chosen for the walls, and vintage lighting and globe pendants with a natural patina finish were installed to add character.
To revamp the living room, we designed a custom tile fireplace front and mantel to serve as the space’s focal point. New flooring was also added but in the style and color of the original flooring to preserve the home’s historical charm. In the house’s main bathroom, we created a spa-like atmosphere, but added a traditional vanity cabinet and stained glass window for an eccentric blend of old and new features.
When we approach each project, we strive to create a one-of-a-kind design reflective of the home, region, and our client’s vision for the space’s personality and functionality. No two historical homes are the same, which is why delving deep into a house’s history is essential to making informed design decisions in the present.
Here are a few factors to consider when preparing to design a historic home:
Research the house’s history: Before making any design decisions, familiarize yourself with the building’s historical context. Some questions to explore include: What time period is the house from? What are the defining characteristics of its architectural style? What original features remain?
Focus on preserving and restoring: You want to preserve as much of the original structure as possible. Restoration work can infuse new life into original elements, like hardwood floors, moldings, or stained glass windows and reinstate them to their former glory.
Modernize thoughtfully: While preservation is key, the home must be livable for its modern inhabitants. The kitchen, bathroom, and other living spaces should be updated to include modern amenities. You can also add features such as smart home technology, insulation, or air conditioning for a full 21st century touch-up.
Respect the original aesthetic: While altering a historic home is inevitable, you should strive to respect the home’s original aesthetic. You don’t have to copy the historical style exactly, but interpret it in a way that feels appropriate and harmonious.
Understand the home’s context: Refer to the home’s neighborhood, city, or region for design influence. For example, using locally sourced materials or regional design motifs can maintain the home’s sense of place.
Develop practical solutions: Designing historic homes often comes with unique challenges you may not encounter with modern homes, like working with outdated infrastructure or preservation laws. This makes research even more important to ensure all issues are identified and resolved to ensure the design process runs smoothly.
We’d love to chat. Avec Interiors provides a range of options, delivering customized designs tailored to suit your needs.
Whether you’re looking to transform a single room or your entire home, Avec carefully plans, researches, and streamlines the vast array of interior choices.
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