Buying an older home often presents a unique challenge for homeowners. Older homes have a lot of charm and curb appeal, but the décor and overall design often appear dated and even cumbersome to modern homebuyers. If you recently bought an older home and want to update it to fit in with the 21st century, the following tips will help you along the way.
Clean and scrub away the dirt and grime.
Older homes have a tendency to accumulate years’ and years’ worth of dirt and grime. For example, that outdated mustard-color kitchen or bathroom tile may actually be white underneath the stained surface. Use a heavy-duty cleaner and some elbow grease to restore floors to their original color and shine. For outdoor areas like the exterior of the home, driveway, and sidewalks, use a pressure washer to blast away decades-old stains and discolorations.
Apply a fresh coat of paint.
Nothing spruces up an older home on the inside and outside quite like a fresh coat of paint. After you’ve thoroughly cleaned the exterior of the home or the interior walls, consider rolling on a few coats of paint. Before you commit to a single brush stroke of paint, however, make sure you test it out with samples, as the color can appear quite different in sunlight or standard room lighting from the way it appeared at the hardware store.
Remove the wallpaper.
Although small amounts of wallpaper is making a comeback on accent walls, having your entire home covered in the stuff is outdated and drags down the appearance of any room. Many older homes have plenty of wallpaper from a bygone era, and you’ll be surprised how much more open and modern each room will look when the wallpaper comes down and a fresh coat of paint goes up.
Widen doorways and remove existing walls.
If you have the time, money, or do-it-yourself knowledge, consider widening doorways or even knocking out entire walls in your home to create a more modern and open floor plan. Older homes were often built with a design philosophy that created closed off rooms and long hallways, but such claustrophobic architecture can be negated with widened doorways and the connection of previously walled off rooms, like the kitchen and dining room.
Remove the carpet and show off the floor below.
Depending on the age of your home, the carpet may be covering a beautiful but neglected hardwood floor. Always check to verify what type of flooring is underneath your carpet before ripping it up, but if you know what lies below, don’t hesitate to expose the original flooring that has long been hidden from sight. The old wood may need some heavy duty cleaning to restore it to its original shine, but its natural beauty will give your home’s appearance a big boost without requiring you to spend money on new flooring.
Replace or weatherproof the windows.
Aging and outdated windows are a telltale sign that a house is over the hill. Not only are they often foggy and difficult to open and clean, but they’re also environmentally unfriendly, as they create drafts and force your air conditioning unit to work harder. Ideally, you should try to replace the windows throughout the home with more modern and energy-efficient windows, but if that’s not possible, purchase weatherproofing strips that help seal the windows and reduce any air leaks.
Spring for new kitchen appliances.
If your older home’s kitchen still has its original appliances, it may be worth replacing them. Not only are older appliances out of date from an appearance standpoint, but they also lack many of the conveniences and features of modern appliances, such as Energy Star certification, automatic icemakers, faster heating times, and more. Newer appliances are also likely covered under warranties and are less likely to break in the near future.
Patch up or fix any stains and holes.
The older the home is that you purchased, the more likely it is to have had leaks in the past. Leaks can damage the roof and ceiling of your home and cause unsightly and even unsafe water damage. Depending on the extent of the damage, consider patching up parts of the roof and ceiling that are discolored or even replace them entirely. However, before you decide to do any extensive renovations or repairs to the ceiling or roof, make sure there isn’t any asbestos in the materials. Many older homes built in the middle of the 20th century contain high amounts of asbestos that shouldn’t be removed or disturbed without the help of a qualified professional.
Display modern artwork and décor throughout your home.
Nothing says “outdated” quite like an older home that is decorated with old and uninspired artwork. One of the quickest and easiest ways to liven up and modernize an older home is to fill it with decorative pieces that reflect contemporary design philosophies and art movements. A few well-placed decorative items throughout the home will help draw attention away from any outdated elements of the home without requiring you to break the bank.
Embrace the things that make your older home unique.
While older homes often need a little time, money, and effort to look modern, they also have certain features that new homes just can’t match. Whether it’s a unique architectural design or a grand staircase and entryway, many older homes feature little flourishes that you just can’t find in new homes. It’s worth it to find exactly what makes your home stand out and give it the attention and creativity it deserves. Vintage design elements like oversized fireplaces, large wrap-around porches, and clawfoot bathtubs aren’t as common in new homes, but they can be showpieces in your home with enough patience, effort, and attention to detail.