Adding sophistication to a first home can be tricky, especially if yours is a mid-century wonder or an even older home, like mine which is a Victorian semi! If you’re a fan of home improvement shows on TV, chances are you might fantasise about taking a sledgehammer to your walls to “open up the space.” Meanwhile, your budget-minded friends and family tell you to just paint everything beige and you’ll be all set. Well, somewhere between the paint can and the sledge is your perfect solution. Here’s how to pull off a major makeover for your first home…
Historic parts of a home exude charm and character, so they deserve to be restored to their former glory.
Rather than replacing flooring with cheap, nondescript vinyl or laminate, consider wood floor refinishing. The cost to refinish hardwood floors is usually £1.5-4 per square foot and the results can last 10-20 years before needing to be refinished again. As a Scandinavian, I prefer wooden floors to carpets, not only because of the look but because of the long lasting qualities.
Drafty windows. Windows that don’t open. Rotting window frames. We get it: old windows are difficult all the way around. But with a little elbow grease you can restore historic windows by replacing broken glass, re-glazing, repainting, restringing, and weatherstripping. In the end, you’ll have a completely resilient exterior that you can maintain yourself without having to replace the entire unit when something breaks.
Like a great watch or necklace finishes an outfit, trim pieces in a home can take its sophistication to the next level. If misguided DIY renovations have left your home stripped of its original accessories, consider adding some back in to give your home back its dignity.
Kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities need some bling. Shop at Anthropologie, Etsy, or Not On The High Street for great options on knobs and pulls at an affordable-ish price.
If hardware is the jewellery, skirting boards are the shoes. They cover the ugly gap between the floor and the wall, and they make a home feel finished. For an early 1900’s home, tall skirting boards with simple geometric lines would be the norm. Shop at the mouldings department of a home improvement store like Wickes for 6-7” primed skirting board.
You don’t necessarily need a pro carpenter and fancy miter cuts to get sophisticated window and door casings. All you need is straight-cut 1” stock lumber. Check out OldHouseOnline.com for an overview of how historical windows and doors were trimmed, then try it yourself with a saw and nail gun.
Restoring wood floors, original cladding and historic windows, along with upgrading hardware and mouldings, can make a huge difference no matter the size or age of your home. Armed with your tool set, trusted contractors, and lots of coffee, you can make your first home full of character.