10 Tips for Remodeling/Restoring Your Period Home
by Risa Davis and Yvonne Buchanan, Nouveau Realty Group

Have ever wondered, how a remodel will affect the resale value of a home with character? At Nouveau Realty Group, we are happy to help you with any questions you have about updating your period home. Following are 10 tips to get you started.

1. Period and Style: It is important to stay with the style of your home. While builders in the early 1900s often mixed attributes of two styles (for instance, Swiss Chalet and Craftsman or Craftsman and Oriental), mixing styles is best left to the experts. Updating by adding modern touches that in 10 years will be out of date is not recommended. Worse is removing original architectural elements that may never be able to be replaced.

2. Windows: There are many ways to deal with windows; there are folks that repair existing ones. For the energy conscious there are heavy drapes and double pained storm windows. If you want to replace the existing windows, we suggest staying with the original style (e.g., wood double paned). No vinyl, please!

3. Doors: Try to determine the type of door that was original to the home; hopefully most of them are still in place. Restore or replace doors with original wood style. (No hollow core doors.)

4. Flooring: Marmoleum, tile, marble, fir and oak (not Pergo or laminate) were the most highly used flooring in the northwest in the eara when vintage homes were built. If you are lucky enough to have them still intact. Many great companies can refinish as well as replace damaged pieces, often with no visible seams, so your floors look like new again.

5. Exterior Siding: Wood siding (usually cedar or cedar shingles), stucco and brick are the best choices. Don’t be drawn into the vinyl or metal siding dream, vinyl is plastic. What happens when you leave plastic out in the sun and weather? It becomes brittle and cracks. Not to mention the disposal nightmare. Natural material is the best option.

6. Moldings and Trim: Don’t skimp here, Look at the original molding if any are still in place. If it had an update in the 70s it may be all gone. Sometimes an out of the way closet has a lot of information in it. Several places in Portland can help you find reclaimed moldings or remanufactured to look like original. Never make the mistake of adding molding that does not suit the style of a home. We have seem gingerbread molding (more suitable to Victorians) in and on Craftsman type homes! Disastrous.

7. Lighting: Portland has a wealth of wonderful reproduction lighting manufacturers and stores. Big Box stores will generally will not have what you want! Big Box stores try to please the masses and carry what is in style at the time -- good for the short term but it will eventually date your project.

8. Bathrooms: Practicality is key here: bathrooms are all about cleanliness, function and convenience. It may be hard to put a period pedestal sink in a small bathroom when it means there will be no room for storage. However, there are ways to make modern cabinets look like they’ve been there all along. Many wonderful styles and finishes are available.

9. Kitchens: A key room in your home, it is worth your while to first start with a spatial planner / interior designer for the kitchen. He or she will help you with layout, beauty and style. We have found the cost is about the same to have a local cabinet maker fabricate and install the cabinets than ordering from a Big Box store. Custom cabinet makers can also compensate for the unique and odd angles in many older homes.

10. Paint: The paint on the interior and exterior of your home should be given careful consideration. Properly preparing surfaces by sanding, scraping and in some cases burning off old paint, will help you achieve the smooth look you are going for. Pay attention to special surfaces: orange peel and brocade have a completely different look than a flat surface. As always, go with what is right for the period.

Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and other paint stores, have period paint pallets such as “Arts and Craft” that you can select from. Avoid garish, trendy colors that do not fit with the period of your home. The Devine line (through Miller Paint) has pallets you can select from that flow well together from room to room. Try to avoid a patchwork look by painting every room a different hues and different tones.

A Word on Wallpaper: Wallpaper appeal is very subjective. If you’re preparing your home for sale, generally you will want to remove all wallpaper and go with painted surfaces.

For a Pre-sale or pre-buying consultation, please e-mail or call:

Risa Davis, 503.358.4311 or Yvonne Buchanan, 503.349.5565