remodeling old homes in San Diego

5 Golden Rules for Remodeling Old Homes

If you’re lucky enough to come across a 100-year-old home that doesn’t have rotted framing or dangerous wiring, well, that’s a home worth holding on to.

But how do you start with a remodel?

Design Studio West has done home design and remodeling in San Diego since 1982, and we have plenty of experience remodeling older homes.

Read on for 5 general golden rules for remodeling old homes: what you can expect and how to end up with results that reflect the original home’s integrity. Because that’s the whole point, right?

1. Plan Ahead

One of the biggest mistakes people make with remodels? Changing their mind after work’s already begun. If your plan is hard to relay or you’re not sure what call to make, it’s extremely helpful to have an experienced design and remodeling team you can consult. Together, you can come up with a solid plan to make your home look exactly how you want it to look.

2. Be Willing to Choose Performance Over Looks

Those tall single-paned windows in the living room are absolutely gorgeous, but they’re drafty. The bathroom toilet errs on the side of flooding, but it’s just so quaint.

Here’s the thing: even if these things are incredibly beautiful and may even hold some historical significance, you’ll still have to live with paper-thin windows and a leaky toilet every day. Be willing to sacrifice some of the architectural (or plumbing) details to create a home that’s beautiful and functional. You’ll thank yourself when you see your energy and water bills.

3. Retain the Qualities of the Original Materials

At the end of your full home remodel, you still want your old home to retain its charm. This is the tricky part—retaining the integrity of the original materials as much as possible, while ensuring the new materials are high-quality and fit your lifestyle.

For instance, while remodeling a 100-year-old home in La Jolla, we used classic cherry cabinets and a leathered granite (non-shiny to create a more time-worn look) in the kitchen. The hardware on the cabinets is minimal, and all of the clean lines work together to create a timeless look, blending well with the modern stainless steel Wolf range.

Pro-tip: If your master bedroom doesn’t match the theme (perhaps it was added on later), replicate other features like trim and tile work from the rest of the house.

4. Be Flexible (and Patient!)

This is probably the hardest part. When you’re working on an older home, particularly those with some structural damage or bigger repairs, it just takes more time. But what would you prefer—a finely aged vintage or a twist-off from the case in the grocery store?

A lot of the timeline for a remodel has to do with the size of a space. However, for an older home, the timeline is typically longer than when you’re remodeling a home built in the ‘80s. You’re just more likely you are to encounter unexpected challenges (Plumbing! Electric!) you didn’t foresee. Be patient, and the home of your dreams will be sure to emerge when it’s ready.

5. Work with Experienced Designers and Remodelers

This is probably the most important part. If you’re not in good communication with your Remodeler, and they’re not in touch with the Design person, you’re more likely to deal with issues of miscommunication—and more of those dreaded delays. On top of that, if you’re going with the lowest bid for a contractor, you run the risk of ending up with subpar work and could destroy the integrity of your old home.

Choose to work with a design firm that has plenty of experience, and an Integrated Design Specialist and Remodeling Expert both working together to create your ideal home. At Design Studio West, we’re fully equipped with both, making for a smooth remodeling process.

If you’re ready to move forward with a full home remodel, you’ve come to the right place. Our San Diego-based team is ready to tackle your project this year and make your dream home a reality. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation!

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