An Era-Appropriate Home Remodel

Follow the lead of Blog Cabin’s design/build team and renovate with an eye to both your home’s era and your own lifestyle needs.

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When remodeling an older home like Blog Cabin 2012, you may be faced with a dilemma: historic restoration or renovation of some sort?

Restoration means that new fixtures and features are designed to match the era of the home, says Knickerbocker Group construction manager Marcus Golding. This authentic approach is generally reserved for museums, historically significant buildings and old homes where preservation of facades, foyers and living and dining rooms is essential.

Some homeowners don’t let period authenticity play into their remodeling choices at all. Perhaps the exterior facade is preserved, but interior options are selected based on personal preference. This is standard procedure when remodeling a tract house, a relatively new building or an old home with few significant design details.


Remodeling Tips from Design Pros

And then there’s a compromise, where one updates with both an appreciation for the home’s architecture and a focus on lifestyle. This option typically means opening up the floor plan, modernizing the kitchen and bathrooms and improving upon efficiency, all while working with era-appropriate products and materials. “Nowadays, you can get state-of-the-art plumbing fixtures, lighting, tiles, cabinetry, windows and hardware with traditional detailing that looks straight out of the 1880s,” says Knickerbocker Group architectural designer Kim Tuttle.

The original windows at Blog Cabin 2012, for example, have been replaced by energy efficient units in a traditional 19th-century 6-over-1 pattern. New siding, though fashioned from rot-resistant, eco-friendly fiber-cement composite, resembles authentic Victorian-era wood siding. And new hardwood flooring provides a tough-wearing surface but with a grain pattern that’s reminiscent of the home’s original, but by now shoddy, pine planks. “It’s not that we’re locked into period looks — the bathrooms are undeniably modern in styling — but we let the house’s original details guide us for a lot of the purely aesthetic decisions,” says Kim.

What’s the first step in a Blog Cabin-style remodel? Research, says construction manager Marcus Golding. You can learn a lot about local architectural history — or possibly even the layout of your home before subsequent remodels — by looking at similar homes in the neighborhood, or by contacting the local historical society. Next comes product selection. Start the search for vintage-style building materials, lighting and fixtures on a renovation website like Traditionalbuilding.com and through larger manufacturers like Kohler and Rejuvenation. Then look to smaller niche companies like Motawi Tileworks to fill specific design needs. “There’s nothing wrong with just choosing whatever products and materials you like,” says Marcus. “But when it’s time to sell your house someday, you just don’t know if a particular buyer will share your taste. Someone who’s attracted to an 1880s Maine farmhouse — or your 1920s Colonial or 1980s contemporary — probably also likes the styles, colors and details of that era.”

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