Remodeling Your Maryland or Washington DC Home While Keeping Its Charm

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A major challenge when it comes to remodeling any home is figuring out how to maintain its original character while still making the necessary changes. This can be especially difficult with older homes which often have a lot of charm and history.

Fortunately, there are ways to remodel your home while still keeping its original charm intact. Here’s a rundown of some helpful pointers:

A Little Bit of Research Goes a Long Way

Do a little bit of research beforehand. This means learning about the history of your home and understanding what features are most important to maintain.

Identify Your Home’s Architectural Style

Researching your home’s style can give you a lot of clues about which features to keep and which to update.

If your home is a classic Colonial, for example, you might want to keep traditional features like symmetrical windows and a simple roofline. 

On the other hand, if it’s a Victorian-era home, you might want to keep some of its more ornate details such as bay windows and decorative trim.

Go Back to the Time Your Home Was Built

You can glean some valuable insights by researching the era in which your home was built. What were popular design trends during that time? What materials were used?

If your home was built in the 1970s, you might want to consider keeping some of its more “retro” features such as large windows and exposed beams. 

However, if your home was built in the 1800s, you might want to focus on preserving its more traditional features such as fireplaces and hardwood floors.

Simple Touch-Ups Can Do Wonders

In some cases, all a home needs is some tasteful updating rather than a complete overhaul.

You might be thinking of replacing those old hardwood floors, but have you considered simply refinishing them? While you’re at it, make sure those flooring transitions and thresholds are in good shape.

If you want your home’s charm to shine through, then let it. Showcase original features like fireplaces, built-ins, and moldings by giving them a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint.

Similarly, older homes often have beautiful woodwork that can be brought back to life with a little elbow grease.

Note Building Differences and Keep Structural Changes to a Minimum

Older homes are structurally different to their more modern contemporaries in a number of ways:

  • Smaller rooms
  • Lower ceilings
  • Shorter doorways and windows
  • Closed and irregular floor plans

Making significant changes to these parts of the home can not only alter its character beyond recognition, but it can also be unsafe. Interior walls are especially important to leave intact, as many of them may be load-bearing.

You’ll Still Need to Adhere to Current Building Codes

Your older home may have some bygone features like dumbwaiters and coal chutes that you’d love to keep. Unfortunately, they may not meet current building codes.

You might find a contractor that can modify these features and make them code compliant. Otherwise, you’ll need to get a variance from your local planning commission. In most cases, this is only granted if the feature in question is grandfathered in or if it’s considered “historic.”

In addition, homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint, which can be a serious health hazard. Paints like these that are in good condition may not need updating. But you’ll need to replace distressed ones with modern alternatives.

Peruse Antique Shops and Thrift Stores for Furniture and Decorations

One of the best ways to add charm to your home is to fill it with antique furniture and decorations.

You can find some great bargains at thrift stores, yard sales, and even online. Just make sure you take the time to clean and polish your finds before bringing them into your home.

Quirks, Imperfections, and Eccentricities Can Be Charming

Like people, homes have personalities. And often it’s the quirks, imperfections, and eccentricities that make them so charming. So if your home has a crooked floorboard, you might choose to embrace it.

The same goes for any unusual features your home might have. For example, if you have an old pocket door that doesn’t quite fit in its frame anymore, you may want to keep it. Refinish it and hang it as is. It’ll add character to your home while also being a conversation starter for guests.

In fact, many of these imperfections can be used to your advantage when it comes to design. For instance, you can use an oddly shaped room as an opportunity to create a cozy reading nook or use an exposed brick wall as the perfect backdrop for a gallery of family photos.

The key is to embrace these quirks and let them add personality to your home. Just make sure it’s safe to do so, of course.

Get Help From Someone Who Understands

Some projects are just too big to tackle on your own. In these cases, it’s best to consult with a professional like Winthorpe Design & Build.

We’ll help you come up with a plan that won’t compromise the character or integrity of your home while ensuring the work is done safely and to code.

Older homes are full of character and charm. But they often need a little bit of love to bring them into the 21st century. Get in touch with us through our new process. And with a little bit of effort, you can have the best of both worlds–an updated home that still retains its original charm.

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