Should I Repair or Remodel Elements of My Historic Home?

1920's Tudor Transformation

The Best Historic Home Designs Effortlessly Combine New and Old

Old houses are beloved for their unique character and charm. Their one-of-a-kind details transport us to days past and serve as historical records of how generations before us lived.

Today’s owners of historic homes sometimes consider themselves stewards or caretakers, responsible for preserving their property’s integrity and keeping the soul of their house alive. This can make remodeling a challenge. Most homeowners want to find a balance between classic architecture and modern functionality, leaving them wondering what they should save and what they should update. Removing design elements that are authentic to the period in which a property was built is like ripping out a page from a history book.

So, how do you know if you should repair or remodel certain features? Our historic home design experts weigh in.

First, Determine If Your Historic Home Has Any Remodeling Restrictions

Is your home historic, or is it just old? The National Register of Historic Places is the official list that recognizes properties worthy of preservation, including structures that are significant to “American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, or culture and possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.”

Because listings on the National Register are honorific, there are no regulations related to what an owner can do with a private property. However, certain changes and additions can cause a home to be removed from the list if it’s evaluated again in the future.

If your home is located within a historic district, it may be subject to more restrictions due to municipal zoning bylaws and other ordinances. While some districts come with only a few remodeling rules, others have more extensive parameters around historic home design, which can extend to your property’s exterior paint colors, use of authentic materials, and style of window treatments. This even applies to structures not federally registered as historic buildings.

As a good rule of thumb, check with your state’s historical society to see if any regulations apply to you and your property.

Consider Keeping These Historic Home Design Elements

When you’re ready to begin remodeling your historic home in Kansas City, start by establishing what you won’t be changing. Look around your house and take note of elements that speak to you. By consulting with historic home experts like Architectural Craftsmen, you can also get a better understanding of what characteristics are important to your property’s architectural style.

Here are some of the most common features we recommend preserving:

  • Woodwork: If you’re lucky enough to have original woodwork in your historic home, make it a priority to save it! Trim, paneling, spindle work, and other decorative flourishes are direct reflections of the time period your home was built in. While Victorian properties were chalked full of extravagant and ornate finishes, the Arts and Crafts movement brought about an appreciation for natural touches. Keep in mind that this older woodwork was hand-milled and crafted, and modern mass-produced pieces pale in comparison.

    You can also use woodwork as inspiration for parts of your home you’re choosing to renovate. Incorporating details from existing elements allows you to create a space that seamlessly blends new and old.

  • Floors: If your historic home’s hardwood floors look like they’ve seen better days, it doesn’t automatically mean they need to be replaced. Hardwood floors can often be refinished by a professional, so you’re able to continue enjoying the same surfaces that generations before have walked on.

    If you must select new flooring for any part of your project, think about how modern materials will work with what’s existing. That may involve using a similar border design or matching the species or color of the wood. You can also choose to go with a contrasting option, like tile or carpet, for a more defined separation between spaces.

  • Windows and Doors: If your windows and doors are in good shape, it’s well worth the effort to preserve them. Older windows are often constructed from high-quality, old-growth wood, making them more resistant to rot and weathering. Newer doors can stick out like a sore thumb with their faux accents and metal build, interrupting your historic home design.

    By simply updating weatherstripping and hardware, you can improve home efficiency and security without sacrificing these distinctive features that add to your property’s charm.

If any of your home’s key features are too far gone, don’t fret! Water damage, severe wear and tear, and other issues are inevitable when it comes to older properties. Architectural Craftsmen’s renovation specialists are pros at replicating unsalvageable elements, ensuring your home’s history remains intact.

What Can I Update in My Historic Home ?

Remodeling your property for the 21st century is all about injecting modern functionality into your space. Small, unusually-shaped rooms are all too common in historic home design and not practical for contemporary lifestyles. By opening up and reconfiguring your floor plan, you can achieve a layout that promotes natural flow throughout the house.

You may also consider ways to update historical elements for everyday use. For example, your kitchen cabinets can look period-appropriate, but include advanced storage solutions, like lazy susans and pull-out shelves for easy organization.

At Architectural Craftsmen, we deeply care about creating a historic home design that fully meets your needs. We spend time getting to know you, your property, and your renovation ideas, so the finished result perfectly fuses historic and livable style.

Transform Your Historic Home in Kansas City with Our Master Craftsmen

Ready to turn your old house into your dream home? Our team of historic home designers and builders have the knowledge, skills, and years of experience to make it a reality. We work closely with you to bring your vision to life, while honoring your historic home’s distinctive details. When you partner with us, you can look forward to a design that gives you the best of both worlds: equal parts classic and contemporary beauty.

To see examples of our work, check out our online portfolio. From Tudor to Craftsman renovations, and everything in between, our team’s commitment to quality craftsmanship is evident in every project we complete.

For more information about remodeling your historic home in Kansas City, call (913) 963-2246 or send us a message.