Do you have to renovate to honor your homes architecture. Short answer, no. You bought it and you can do whatever you want. Now… if you’re asking me what I would do, the answer changes. I personally think it’s okay to decorate in any style you like, but when it comes to renovation it is important to honor the style of your homes original architecture when making those decisions.
Again it’s your home, you do you!! For me, when dealing with a home that possesses its own very distinct character, you should find ways to make it feel like you, while embracing what it truly is. Maybe you live in 1850s brownstone but you’re a minimalist with a heart for modern design. Search for inspiration of minimalist design/renovation ideas in that sort of architecture. This day in age there are an abundance of resources and tips for how to make a space YOU without destroying what the home truly is meant to be.
Admittedly I did not do a good job of this with our prior home towards the end. I kept the era of the home very much in mind until it came to the primary bath makeover and Finnegan’s bedroom makeover we completed in toward the end of 2021. The bathroom looked to belong in a traditional home not a 70s modern, the bedroom looked to belong in a cottage, again not a 70s modern. In my defense the bathroom was supposed to be “temporary” and I hadn’t planned to move… but still. While I LOVE that bathroom remodel, and the cottage vibe of Finns room it wasn’t right for that homes architecture. My designs elements could lean traditional but my renovation choices should have leaned minimal and clean.
Examples of the spaces I added to our 70s modern that did not honor the original architecture of the home:
Honoring the homes original architecture has been a unique challenge in our current home because it is super important to me to get it right. However our home is a Vernacular style home. Don’t know what that means? Neither did we! But after doing some research it simply means our home doesn’t belong to one distinct category of architecture. The home was built to embody the many popular styles of architecture being built in the area in which we live. It has Victorian elements, Tudor elements, American Foursquare elements… it has an identity crisis quite frankly. On top of that it has been renovated during different eras such as the, 1980’s… 1990’s and those changes have hidden what was once here originally; so we are having to peel back layers and rediscover the home.
Styles of home our home architecture pulls inspiration from:
It is a challenge but also opens up a lot of doors for us design wise. We aren’t married to one architectural style, because our home isn’t one style. The trick however, is how to make the home flow, feel like it belongs all together and allow the charm, one would expect to find in a 113 year home, a chance to shine through in an authentic feeling way. The goal is timeless charm… a tall order. We are up for the challenge.
Anyway. As I said before it is your home, do you! If you are interested in preserving the architectural integrity take your time. Work towards making thoughtful decisions. Familiarize yourself with popular materials and colors used in the homes original era. Don’t succumb to trends when making high dollar decisions. You don’t need to recreate a version of what the home would have been 50, 60, 200 years ago. The idea is more so to have people come in and know of course the home has been updated, but also have elements that make them wonder… was this always here? Or marvel at how well preserved something has been. Maybe something was recently added but looks like it could be original (like our pocket doors). I promise you can make any architectural style feel like you while allowing it to also feel like itself. It takes more time and more patience; but in my opinion, so worth it.
Below are some beautiful examples of homes that have a clear and distinct design personality, while the bones of the structure remain true to the period. Image the rooms empty and try to just look at the architecture; you can see how thoughtfully restored these spaces were.