Buying an old house can be a fantastic investment. Typically, you get a lot more space for your dollars than you would with a new build, plus you have all of that wonderful vintage charm that comes with an older property.
On the downside, though, older properties usually need some TLC to make them shine again. Dull and dated décor, broken fixtures and fittings, and defunct appliances can make modernizing a house feel overwhelming.
There are, however, plenty of easy fixes that can help bring your old home into the 21st century while still retaining its original charm. Here are our top tips for modernizing an old house.
Start With the Walls
It’s amazing what a lick of paint can do to transform a property. Older homes often feature dirty and scuffed walls or ancient ripped wallpaper that’s peeling around the edges. The good news is that repainting or surfacing the walls won’t affect the home’s original charm. It’s an effective and inexpensive way to breathe new life into the rooms.
Strip that wallpaper, fix and fill in any holes and dents, sand them smooth and paint them with a new color. Alternatively, update the space with a modern wallpaper design.
Refresh the Flooring
Older homes often have beautiful hardwood floors, but these become dull, dirty and scuffed. Or they may be hidden under old, tatty carpets. Hardwood floors are among the best original features of older homes. Luckily, they can easily be sanded and buffed to look like new again. A coat of varnish or protector will keep them looking stunning and restore them to their original glory.
If you don’t have hardwood flooring, maybe you have carpet that can be professionally cleaned and restored. Tiles can be deep cleaned and buffed.
Update the Light Fittings, Outlets, and Switches
Outdated electrical outlets look old-fashioned and tend to yellow with age. Swapping these out for new ones is a subtle update that can make a big difference.
Replacing the light fittings with modern designs is another way to inexpensively transform a room. With all the options available on the market, you will no doubt be able to find a modern version of a light fitting that will match the original design of your home.
Replace the Hardware
If you have built-in cabinets and cupboards, swapping out the original hardware, such as doorknobs and pulls, will update the look without having to replace the entire unit.
Doors and facades can be stripped back to their original wood or painted for a fresh modern look while keeping the original design.
Have a Plumbing Makeover
Depending on the condition of your bathroom and kitchen fixtures and plumbing, this could be a quick fix or a large project. Old shower units, sinks, and tubs may be cracked, leaky and stained, or simply outdated (are avocado-colored bathroom suites back in fashion yet?).
You may just want to update the dull, stained faucets to shiny chrome or swap out the limescale riddled shower head to a decadent rainforest unit.
Or, you can choose to replace everything entirely. It all depends on its current condition and how much you enjoy the original design.
Restore Windows and Doors
Often, older homes have windows and doors made from aged wood, which is exceptionally durable and high quality. Because of this, it’s not usually necessary to replace them, but they will probably need a bit of TLC. This could mean treating the wood, repainting doors, and restoring seals and any glass panes to reduce drafts. Sometimes you can upgrade to double glazing using the original window frames.
Jet Wash the Exterior
Increase the curb appeal of your older home by refreshing the exterior. Wood and masonry get stained with age. Any surrounding paths or driveways can also accumulate dirt over the years.
Giving the exterior a good going over with a jet wash (or power wash) can be very satisfying as well as revealing a sparkly clean home. The color difference can be significant, making the property look new again.
Update Systems and Appliances
Old appliances can look retro and cool, but they tend to be inefficient and may not be fit for purpose. New appliances, such as stoves, can be modern and efficient but available in retro or old-fashioned designs. That means you can choose updated appliances that nonetheless fit in with the character of your old home.
Similarly, outdated heating and cooling systems can cost you a ton of money due to their inefficiency. This is an area that’s often worth updating.
Scrub the Grout
You may find you have some beautiful original tiling on the floors or walls of your old home. While the tiles may be in great condition, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to say the same for the grouting. As we all know, grout is easily stained and can make even a modern bathroom look terrible.
Invest in a good grout cleaner and scrub your grout until it’s white again. If the grout is a lost cause, carefully remove it and re-grout entirely.
Where to Start?
When it comes to modernizing your old home it can be overwhelming to understand where is best to start. Ultimately, you should start updating anything in the home that presents a hazard or danger. Faulty wiring or temperamental light fittings for example. Then tackle anything that is energy inefficient. Address jobs such as fixing window drafts and leaky faucets asap.
Once you’ve made the home safe, you can then start on the more fun stuff like choosing what color to paint the walls, restoring the woodwork, and modernizing your fixtures and fittings. It’s going to take you plenty of time, care and patience but eventually your home will be a modern, safe and efficient space while retaining its original charm and features.