When you’re looking for a house, or even making decisions about the one you already own, there’s a lot to be said for leaving things be. Sure, there are some horrific things that history gave us that should be forgotten forever, but there are also historical features that are not only charming and quirky, but sought-after by buyers. These days, getting a house ready for sale doesn’t mean having to get rid of everything that makes that house interesting.
It’s not unusual to need to do some kind of updates to a home. No matter how cool the mid-century modern bathroom is in your MCM ranch, or how original the kitchen in your Victorian, sometimes change is inevitable. For example, you might need to make these spaces more accessible, or update the plumbing or electrical, requiring extensive changes.
But you can still update and preserve a home at the same time by making careful choices that make sense with the home’s history. Choosing replacement materials that are close to what would be accurate for that bathroom that needs a walk-in shower, or refitting a new kitchen with extensive nods to its period, are common ways to handle these situations. It can help complete the illusion by repurposing as many of the original elements as possible, which also keeps more trash out of the landfill. One notable exception to the rule is if your materials are considered hazardous, like flooring made with asbestos (consult with a remediator on how to legally and safely remove it in your state).
Yes! Although HGTV would have you believe that the entire world wants homes that are black, white, and gray, the truth is a lot different than that. After touring homes that have been completely “grayed out,” having that cool retro bathroom or deeply detailed wooden trim is actually a point in your favor with many buyers. Your house can stand apart from the crowd, simply by being itself. There’s no amount of sterilization that can make an old house a new one, but you can sterilize the heart and history out of a home very quickly and easily by trying to turn your home into something that it isn’t.
Buyers do pick up on that in homes that have been way overdone. They never quite feel right. When people walk into a house expecting to see wooden floors or chrome plating because it reminds them so much of their grandmother’s house, and what they get is a generic house that looks like 10 others that are currently under construction, it’s a big letdown.
Not only does preserving as many of the cool features of your home as possible keep more construction waste out of landfills and help your home stand out from the crowd, it also keeps more money in your pocket. Things like Formica counters and tile floors never really go out of style, nor do good quality lighting, brick, hardwood flooring, wooden doors, or hundreds of other sturdy materials that you find in older homes.
Everyone who tours your home will have something to say about every material in it, no matter what you choose, so you might as well do yourself a favor and keep all the things that make your house your home. It’ll save you money and draw in new buyers who are looking for something beyond the boring gray of today’s real estate market.
When it comes to a historical rehabilitation, there are plenty of people who can be called in to help get the ball rolling. From general contractors who help preserve historic homes, to electricians who specifically focus on older structures, and even window installers who can upgrade the efficiency of your home without changing the look of it, there’s an army of people to consult.
And, lucky for you, you can find them all in the HomeKeepr community! When you ask for recommendations, make sure you specify that you’d like an older home specialist who can help bring back your home’s period shine without sacrificing too much of it to the aesthetic of the hour.