How You Can Strike a Balance Between Historical and Modern Features in Your Home

Clay Banks

In cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, where century-old homes are common, homeowners often face the challenge of preserving historical integrity while incorporating modern updates. Balancing your home’s history with your desire for modern comforts requires careful consideration. Below, we offer some steps homeowners hoping to upgrade their home can take.

1. Research Your Residence

Understanding your home’s historical background and unique features is key to maintaining its character. Conduct thorough research on your property to identify its architectural style and determine which materials may be original versus newer additions. Also, consulting with an expert can be an important first step.

2. Determine Necessary Permissions

Someone who owns a historic homes may have to navigate unique regulations due to the property’s significant historical value. It may be prohibited to alter or modify embedded features integral to the home’s structural integrity without permission from relevant authorities. Check with the town or city office to determine if renovation permits are required.

3. Clearly Identify Desired Changes

While preserving historical integrity is important, some modifications may be necessary for modern comfort and safety. For instance, ensuring proper weatherproofing in regions such as the Northeast can help ensure year-round livability. Other examples may include updating the home’s plumbing or electrical wiring. Compile a comprehensive list of necessary changes based on your home’s shortcomings and lifestyle preferences. 

4. Plan Around Beloved Features

Design your renovation around the features you love most about your property, such as a stunning staircase or an original fireplace. By planning around these cherished elements, you can ensure that your renovation enhances rather than detracts from the aspects of your residence that you value most.

5. Focus on Interior Renovations

Historical homes are highly coveted for their inherent curb appeal. A picturesque New York townhouse from the 1800s is naturally captivating, and tampering with its exterior is ill-advised. When renovating a historic home, prioritize interior updates over exterior alterations. Preservationists and historical societies typically discourage changes to the exterior, making it a risky endeavor. 

Brooklyn, NY | Ashe Walker