Older homes have a charm and character that’s hard to find in brand-new construction. If you’ve bought one, you may want something different than today’s modern decor. Fortunately, you can freshen an older home’s look while remaining true to its original style. Check out these tips for decorating an older home.
Begin at the beginning
Before decorating an older home, research the interior design styles of the period in which the house was built. Take note of such features as materials used, furnishings style, lighting choices, paint colors, floor styles, and the like.
Walls, windows and floors
- Check paint companies’ collections of historic colors for walls, ceilings and trim in older homes.
- If your older home has stained wood trim that’s in good condition, don’t paint it. However, if the woodwork is no longer in good shape, consider painting the walls a light color and the trim a coordinating darker shade. Or paint the walls, trim and ceiling the same color. If you go this route, use a glossier finish on the woodwork.
- Draperies are a more traditional choice for windows than blinds and shades when decorating an older home. They can also help you conceal quirky or oddly placed windows.
- If you opt to go with window shades, choose those that mount on the inside of the window. Outside mount shades will conceal beautiful window trim.
- Where older floors need refinishing, avoid today’s dark and gray stains.
Older Home Furnishings
- Vintage and antique furniture are great choices when decorating older homes. You can find them at auctions, antique shops and on eBay. But even when you want a traditional look, mix in some modern pieces. This will keep your decor from seeming too heavy and will also help your furniture harmonize with modern necessities like televisions and computers.
- Some older homes have long, narrow rooms. Make these rooms cozier and conversation easier by setting up zones with furniture.
- Avoid filling the ceilings of older homes with can lights. Try to find older light fixtures. If you can’t, choose new fixtures in the appropriate style for your older home’s time period.
- Older homes look best with more lamps and fewer ceiling lights.
Kitchens and baths
- Tongue-and-groove paneling or subway tile are good choices for kitchen backsplashes or bathroom walls when decorating an older home.
- You can make kitchen and bathroom cabinetry look older by attaching feet to lower cabinets and using corbels beneath upper cabinets.
- Choose natural stones such as marble or soapstone for counters instead of man-made materials.
- When choosing hardware for kitchens and baths in older homes, look for fixtures appropriate for the house’s age. And choose metals such as unlacquered brass that will develop a patina over time.
- Pedestal sinks and claw-foot tubs can add vintage charms to older bathrooms.
- Consider mosaic tiles for bathroom floors.