Rejuvenating a Period Home
An older home built in any well-defined style — from Victorian to Craftsman to Mid-Century Modern — offers the owner many opportunities to make the residence shine again. Using original stylistic elements can provide authenticity to the project. Here are a few tips for approaching the makeover — whether a room or a whole house — and keeping it focused.
Research — Ideas and details for period homes are best found in books or magazines about a particular style (American Bungalow, New Old House and Modernism are a few periodicals that come to mind). Local historic home tours present another great well of ideas. Online sources may be helpful, but are time consuming when searching for accurate details that will work in a specific project.
Design — Design as much as possible to stay on track and on budget. Historical colors are available from major paint suppliers. But what’s most important to getting a sparkling result is the “jewelry” of the house: period-style decorative lighting, hardware, moldings, doors and especially period-correct furniture and rugs.
Plans — The bigger the project, the more you’ll need accurate plans. If there are change orders during construction, get them in writing. Ask for material samples, especially if you are not familiar with them.
Structure — If you need to move interior walls or add to the house, you should engage an engineer to ensure the structure is sound.
Construction and budget — Hire licensed and insured contractors and workers only. Insist on a written contract and a detailed estimate of the cost and time line. Have an additional 10 to 20 percent over the cost in reserve funds for uncertainties. You never know what you will find when working on an older house, especially with electrical issues.
Richard Gatling, ASID
Kate Franklin, ASID
Gatling Design, Inc.
3258-1/2 Rosecrans St.
San Diego, CA 92110