6 Home Remodeling Tips for Preserving Historic Homes

David Hatef

If you own a historic home, then you probably have a passion for preserving it. There are plenty of homes for sale in Belle Meade, TN that are historic and can be remodeled. Finding a balance between preserving and remodeling is crucial if you want to retain its historical significance. Do too much remodeling and you’ll end up losing the historic elements of the house, but do too little and the house may end up in less-than-desirable condition. It’s possible to strike the perfect balance between these two so that you can have a historic home with a more modern structure. Here we will explore the top remodeling tips to help you preserve your historic home.

Assemble the right team

From contractors to inspectors, make sure you find the right team. Choose a contractor who has experience working with historic houses and understands how to keep its character. They will have a network of experienced subcontractors with whom to work as well as seasoned insights  to offer when deciding how to remodel the house. Make sure that whoever you bring on board understands your ultimate goal of restoring the property.

There are plenty of contractors out there who might not understand the difference between preservation and taking the house down to the studs. Talk with the team before getting started and make sure they agree with your plan to preserve the historic pieces of the house.

Start with the roof, windows, and masonry

Although it might be more fun to pick out countertops and cabinets, start by renovating the roof, windows, and masonry. These foundational pieces of the house are practical rather than aesthetic, and repairing them will ensure that your historic home is protected from damage as you work on the remodeling project. Renovating the roof and windows will make the home’s water and air tight, keeping everything else protected from the elements. Plus, you will be less likely to worry about water damage at a later point.

As for the masonry, check if any mortar is missing between bricks on the fireplace and chimney. Tap on the mortar and see if it crumbles at all. If so, you will need to have a professional repair the mortar to ensure the brick stays intact for years to come.

If you can’t save it, replicate it

While there is a lot that you may want to preserve in its original condition, there are some things that just don’t stand the test of time. For those pieces, consider replicating it so that the look and feel of the home remain the same while also getting a foundational upgrade. This is where an experienced contractor comes in handy. If your contractor already knows and trusts someone who can provide the replica, then you will save a lot of time and energy. For example, if there is water damage in the stunning original crown moldings, you may not be able to keep that original material. However, you can still preserve the house by working with a carpenter who can re-recreate the look and feel of those moldings.

Leave clues

If you do have to replicate or replace any historical pieces of the home, consider leaving a clue to remind yourself of it and to keep a bit of the history in the home. For example, if you choose to knock down a wall, you can leave some type of remnant like a doorway so that even though it’s gone, it can be easily recreated or reimagined. You may even want to save pieces of the old wallpaper that you can then frame and hang on the wall. This is a beautiful decoration that honors the history of the house. Get creative with what you save and make sure your contractor understands the items  you want to keep so they don’t accidentally throw it out.

Prepare for surprises

No matter how much time you spend inspecting the house, or how many inspectors you pay to review it,  it’s almost inevitable that surprises will arise. Make sure you are mentally and financially prepared for unexpected costs so that you aren’t too stressed when they inevitably occur. . Most historic houses have hidden structural damage.

However, you might uncover positive surprises as well. You never know what is behind the wallpaper or underneath the carpet (original hardwoods, perhaps?). Celebrate the wins and embrace the surprises. It’s part of what is so fun about preserving and remodeling a historic home.

Embrace the quirks

We have a different perspective for what makes a perfect home nowadays than they did years ago. Remember that the quirks of the house are what makes it special, and you should embrace them. Not all imperfections are bad, and you might want to use them to your advantage instead of trying to fix every little thing. As long as it isn’t a structural problem, consider keeping it instead of fixing it.

Many historic homes don’t have any built in storage or closets. Rather than stressing over how you will add wardrobes and dressers to put your clothes, consider getting creative with under the bed storage. Using your creativity and finding opportunities will make remodeling a historic home more beautiful and charming.

Are you looking for homes for sale in Belle Meade, TN?

Finding the right historic home can take a lot of time and patience. You will need to do home inspections to make sure you are getting the home that works with your budget and time. Having the right real estate agent on your side will help you find the home that fits your needs. If you are looking for Belle Meade homes for sale, reach out to David Hatef.


David is committed to the highest level of expertise, knowledge and service. Your real estate inquiries are important to us, so please expect a prompt reply.

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