Making the Most of Your Historic Home

Most of us would agree that historic homes are fascinating. It’s remarkable, isn’t it, the way that doorways were shorter, hallways narrower, and rooms themselves were all around smaller “back then.” It’s one thing to walk through a historical home and imagine life living there; it’s quite another thing altogether to actually be living in one. If this idea appeals to you, or if you’re already enjoying the quirks of a historic home lifestyle, you might find the following article interesting.

Home and garden tourcolor historic designView in gallery

Turquoise walls historic living roomView in gallery

WHAT IS A HISTORIC HOME?

A historic home (also known as a period house) can be one of several different things, including being simply a stately home, the birthplace of a famous person, or a house with an interesting history or architecture. Taking this a step further, the historic society requires that, to be officially “historical,” a house must have sufficient age, a relatively high degree of physical integrity, and historical significance. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be loosening up the definition a bit by going with a stately home with historically significant architectural details.

HISTORIC HOME BENEFITS:

Pure Historical Aesthetics.

Pure historic AestheticsView in gallery

It’s hard, if not downright impossible, to argue the aesthetic draw of a historical home. This is probably the most gratifying benefit of living in one. They are detailed, unique, and – bonus! – have withstood the test of time.

Healthy Doses of Character & Charm.

Character Charm dining roomView in gallery

This is a priceless advantage of choosing a historic home to live in; you’re granted immediate charm and appeal simply because the home is from a distinctly separate era. It’s hard to replicate this, which is what makes historic homes so desirable.

Unique & Detailed Architecture.

Living room in historic osbourne apartment houseView in gallery

Although historic houses have similarities in architecture, including columns, porches, trimmings, etc., they were built long before the days of mass production in construction. You’ve got yourself an original one-of-a-kind home, both inside and out.

Protected by Historical Societies.

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While some might view this as a disadvantage to living in a historical home, we see it as an advantage simply because historical homes are often located in clusters in a neighborhood. This caveat protects you and your neighbors from someone’s moving in and changing everything historic about their home, thereby decreasing the value of your own.

HISTORIC HOME DISADVANTAGES:

Sub-Optimal Insulation.

Sub Optimal InsulationView in gallery

This will come as no surprise, of course, but your historical home isn’t likely going to be the most efficient one in the area. This results in drafts and raised heating/cooling costs.

Requires Permission for Remodeling.

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You might think that, since it’s your home and all, you have the right and ability to change it however you want. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your stance), your historic home has certain unalienable rights that aim to retain as much of the integrity of its time as possible. Exterior renovations in particular will require special permits and permissions, if they’re allowed at all. Add-ons are rarely permitted at all.

Costly to Remodel.

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Exterior items such as windows, shutters, and doors can only be replaced with similar items (again, to preserve the historical look and feel of the home), which will be much more expensive than, say, similar pieces at your local big box store. Interior remodeling is a little more flexible, but most people who are drawn to historic homes in the first place want to maintain as much of the original look and feel as possible while updating, which can also add up.

HISTORIC HOME STYLING TIPS:

Choose Rich Colors.

Rich colors for historic houseView in gallery

Historical homes were anything but drab in the color department. Rich tones reflected a vibrant outlook and lifestyle. Choose rich, saturated colors that set off the house’s architecture and fit your style.

Emphasize Architectural Details.

Emphasize Architectural DetailsView in gallery

Historic houses are known for their gorgeous mouldings and trims and details that many homes today simply lack. Find ways to highlight these features in your home, whether with strategic lighting, paint, or furniture layout.

Decorate with the Past in Mind.

Decorating with past in mindView in gallery

While you don’t need to turn your home into a showpiece of a given era, it helps to keep the feeling of the past alive and well in your historical home décor. Chippy, vintage pieces, wood items, or framed small silhouettes, for example, will evoke a sense of age with dignity and personality.