RESTORATION TO ADORE
Find out how to balance historic charm and fresh style in your next restoration project.
Andy and Candis Meredith’s new book offers expert tips on balancing fresh style and historic charm in your next renovation project.
For historic home lovers, “new” does not necessarily equal “improved.” Whether you’re house hunting for a fixer-upper, or fixing up your homey house, you need to decide when to renovate and where to restore. Old Home Love, by Andy and Candis Meredith of the title HGTV series, offers instruction for molding the rich history of your cottage into a timeless treasure for today.
SAVE OR SCRAP?
When it comes to resurrecting or razing an old house, the Merediths err on the side of restoration. “In our opinion,” they say, “there is almost always a way to save it.” But that doesn’t mean stressing out about getting everything just right. “When we restore a home,” they say, “we don’t make it perfect.” Instead, they do what they can to keep the structure and historicity intact: “Most materials cannot be replicated exactly,” they say, “but we can come
CLASSIC CABINETS. This gorgeous white kitchen features the house’s original cabinetry. “We restored the cabinets with a lot of sanding, puttying, and painting,” the Merediths write. Behind the counter, a stone backdrop enhances the room’s historical texture, as does the central wooden island. Above, the glistening chandelier adds personality and glamour.
close.” Often it is possible to match the style of the home, even without using the same materials. Try floor-to-ceiling cabinets and outdoor trim along the frontal architecture. Rather than allowing the details to stump you, look for the potential in a project. “Long story short,” the Merediths say, “if you have the right mind-set, it’s almost never too far gone.”
POLISHED AND PRACTICAL
Not only do the Merediths bring a passion for old homes to the job, but they’re also great at what they do and offer a number of tips for successful renovation, understanding the need to introduce modern conveniences into older homes. This is a necessary decision, not only in the interest of comfort, but also for safety. “We always replace electrical [wiring] in old homes,” they say. “Nothing can burn down a house faster than bad electrical [wiring].” Kitchens and bathrooms are also important areas for renovation.
“Truly historical kitchens,” the Merediths admit, “are not all that practical for how we live today.” For this reason, the Merediths aren’t afraid to update cooking spaces with dishwashers and present-day stoves. “We don’t try to hide the fact that we have modern appliances and fixtures,” the Merediths write. “When we can afford it, we make panels to cover them, but when we can’t, we don’t stress too much over it.”
Like kitchens, bathrooms benefit from up-to-date renovations. The Merediths recommend “new claw-foot tubs and beadboards” as “a perfect mix of the two periods, bringing both comfort and style to a new old space.”
Andy and Candis offer tips for choosing how to style your old cottage.
Add color to your hardwood floors with eye-catching coverings. “Classic furniture and antique rugs help draw attention to the original details of a historical home,” the Merediths explain. Match your ornamentation to your architecture.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
When you do need to modernize portions of your house, keep the updated elements understated. You want your house to be a comfortable place to live, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice rich historicity on the altar of convenience. MY FAVORITE ANTIQUES. The cream-colored siding with framed herbal sketches serves as a crisp backdrop to the buffet used on the set of the movie, The Sound of Music, which finds its home in this quaint kitchen. Even so, choosing antiques does not have to be extravagant. The four iron chairs, which are antiques, came from a yard sale.
PERSONALIZE WITH PRIDE
“Old homes are not meant to be museums,” the Merediths say. “They are places for children and adults alike to let their imaginations grow.” Rather than welcoming only antiques into your home, give it room to breathe in the present. “Find what speaks to you,” they say, “and don’t be afraid the house won’t accept and love it.”
BACK TO BASICS
“Embracing and accentuating the natural and underlying building materials is part of our renovation style,” the Merediths write. That means exposing stately ceiling beams and stripping down to original surrounds. “We love being able to see the rough edges in a home,” the Merediths say, “along with the polished.”
SIMPLIFIED STYLES. For new furniture that looks old, like the gray-blue cabinetry in this 1920s home, choose basic styles that evoke a simpler time. Dress up your walls with antique plates, and experiment with old-fashioned light fixtures. Antique rugs are also a fantastic decorating choice, as they color the room, while introducing a traditional element.
|ABOVE| INTERSECTION OF TIMES. These rooms are an effortless blend of past and present, combining the historical elements of the original home with some pops of modern vibrancy. In the eating nook, the elegance of the painting and chandelier is refreshed with French bistro chairs topped with modern furs. In the above right photo, the piano and hall rack underscore the preserved molding and stained glass, while modern wallpaper adds a youthful energy.
“Things can get worse before
they get better. Instead of looking at the cracked plaster and dirty walls, we see what’s underneath and what
it can become.”
|TOP LEFT| BRICKATECTURE. “Sometimes it’s hard to know when it’s okay to paint brick,” the Merediths say. “Our general rule is if it was built before 1950, we don’t.” From the rooftop weather vane to the porch steps, this house is a historical gem of the past, as well as a stately, modern prize.
|TOP RIGHT| ACCURATE ARCHWAY. Restoring original architecture can be challenging, but this grand porch reflects the beauty of keeping to the house’s original pattern. It helps that the same family has owned this turn-of-the-century gem since it was built. The well-preserved porch welcomes guests through an intriguing archway, with a somewhat enclosed seating area. The majestic stone exterior makes the house stand out, even centuries after it was built.
Old Home Love by Andy and Candis Meredith, published by Gibbs Smith,
|LEFT| NOOKS & CRANNIES. Although this bathroom welcomes modern day plumbing, the simple sink harks back to washbasins of old. Without attracting undue attention to itself, it serves its purpose. When introducing modern features, seek out subtle utilitarian pieces, and let the house’s architecture do the talking.
|BOTTOM LEFT| BLACK IS BACK. Black, which some may consider a modern color, is actually a historically accurate color choice for an old home. “Black was a common house color in the 1800s,” the Merediths say. Today, it remains a sleek choice, particularly offset with the clean white trim framing the windows and door.