If you want to maintain the character of your older home, but long for a few modern touches and conveniences, here are some changes that won’t break the bank. Making things more energy efficient, installing new appliances, repainting, and other thoughtful updates can go a long way to give your house a modern edge while staying true to its retro vibe.
Here are 7 ways to give your house a modern lift while celebrating its charm:
- New Appliances Historic homes can be extremely charming, but old, worn-out appliances are a whole other story. If your appliances are original to the home, even if they are still in working order, installing new ones can save you money (and headaches) in the long run. For example, trying to cook in the “retro” stove that’s just like your grandma’s even though you can’t even fit your new baking pan inside of it probably doesn’t result in a calm meal-prep experience. Plus, old appliances are notorious for their lack of energy efficiency. If you want to maintain the vintage feel of your appliances, there are several companies today that offer retro styles.
- New Light Fixtures This is an area where you can do as little or as much as you want, depending on how modern of a change you desire. You may absolutely adore some of the original fixtures in your home, and swapping the old glaring incandescent bulbs for soft LEDs could be the only thing you need to do. There may be some fixtures that you aren’t so attracted to or others that are broken; in these cases, you can replace the pieces with some excellent modern options that feature a vintage flair in their design.
- Convert Fuses to Breakers Okay, so this change might not sound as exciting, after all, you don’t actually see a big visual difference in your home, but in terms of long term cost savings it might make a big difference, and here’s why. Your homeowner’s insurance alone may very well charge you a higher premium if you still have your old fuse panel. It isn’t that fuses are unsafe, but more so because they were put in your home at a time when electricity demands weren’t as high as they are today, which means they might not adequately handle everything that you need them to.
Some people may try to use larger fuses then the wires can handle in order to keep the fuses from blowing, but this results in a fire hazard. The point is, in today’s world, a fuse panel can present several issues, and well, breakers are so much easier to reset when they trip. However, before you convert from fuses to breakers, you may want to check with your insurance company first. If there’s no price difference and your fuse panel is working for you, then keep it. It’s just something worth considering.
- Restore Old Windows Do you love the original, wood windows in your home? Original wood windows give a home its character and are often the “eyes” of a house. However, you probably aren’t as crazy about possibly drafty, non-efficient qualities that come along with older windows. You might think completely replacing your windows is the only answer, but then you would lose that classic quality of your home and feature mismatched architectural components. The wood in your original windows is often very dense and of exceptional quality. Newer materials sometimes just don’t hold up and can be bad for the environment to produce.
Don’t worry, there is a solution. There are insulating products, like the Window SLIP™, for example, that are slim panels designed to go over existing, old wood windows. They provide energy efficiency, sound reduction, and a host of other benefits, all without compromising the integrity of your vintage windows. Weatherstripping is included on operating windows to stop air from leaking in or out.
- Regrout Tile There is nothing charming about dingy, dirty grout, and it can make original tile look just plain old and outdated, instead of cool and retro. If your tile is in good shape and you want to keep it, then you need to definitely redo the grout and caulking. They not only probably need a redo to be as effective as possible, but fresh grout will make your tile surfaces look a whole lot better.
- New Plumbing Fixtures Similar to changing light fixtures, you also want to give your plumbing fixtures a once over—this goes for the big (tubs, toilets, sinks) as well as the small (faucets, knobs, showerheads) components. If your fixtures are in pristine condition and excellent working order and you think they're great, then, by all means, carry on; if fixtures are broken, inefficient, covered in gunk, not to your taste, well, you get the idea, then replace them. When it comes to your tubs, if they are in good condition and the size is adequate, an alternate option is to simply have them reglazed, which even provides you with the option to change the color. This technique can also be done on certain countertops and sinks depending on the material, just something to keep in mind.
- Replace Hardware on Cabinets, Doors, and Drawers You can still keep a vintage feel, but enjoy an easy update, with this quick DIY project. Swapping out knobs and pulls on your doors and drawers is like changing accessories on an outfit; it can give things a whole new look. Think of it as giving your house a mini-facelift.
With just a few simple changes, you can give your old house modern touches without sacrificing its classic sensibilities. How little or how much you do is of course, up to you, but these are sure to get you started in the right direction.