There is something so intriguing and comforting about historic homes. These buildings seem to encapsulate a warm sense of coziness, as if you can feel the love that was felt in the house and intricate relationships experienced from generations past. The architecture of each building has created a stamp in time of the culture and handiwork of previous periods, and the idea that the antique features and delicate construction has stood the test of time adds to the buildings’ quiet regality. Many renters covet the venerated, mysterious allure that older homes offer, however after decades of surviving the elements and experiencing wear and tear from its owners, many vintage houses need refurbishment to make them livable again in our modern society. If you are a real estate development company who specializes in renting out historic houses, it is almost certain that you will need to refurbish these outdated houses at least somewhat. At Gainesville, Florida real estate development and property management firm Trimark Properties, we have renovated dozens of antiquated houses near UF to appeal to the University of Florida student renter market. We have found that the key to updating these houses is to keep the same antique features but revamp them with present-day materials to give renters the comfortable, historic charisma of the older house, but with new design attributes and appliances that reflect our twenty-first century era.
Below are 4 tips for real estate developers on how to renovate historic homes while still keeping their vintage charm:
1.) Keep existing unique features that make the home special, but give them a revamp
Many developers make the mistake of completely eliminating what makes a historic home special. In order to keep the original lure of the house, use the previous design as inspiration for the new one. For example, at one of Trimark’s newly-renovated historic 404 House in Gainesville, features that were originally in the plantation-style house, such as hardwood floors and fireplaces, were renovated with new materials, giving an updated, cleaner look to the same special antique characteristics. Beautiful white French doors were added around the home, a design attribute that screams vintage, but completed with fresh, up-to-date wood. On the exterior of the house, the brick entryway and iron guardrails were redone, giving the home a vintage, plantation-style aesthetic without compromising the integrity of the original architecture. The house’s spacious porch was kept intact, while the railing was recreated, creating the perfect blend of old and new.
2.) Don’t be discouraged if you have to completely renovate a room
It is important to differentiate between what needs a little ‘sprucing up’ and what needs to be completely rebuilt. High-usage areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, will almost certainly have to be redone to attract renters. Renters want the feeling and visual appeal of a historic house, but with luxury comforts and contemporary features that they are used to having in modern homes. At the 404 House, for example, while the rest of the house was slightly updated, keeping its vintage features intact, the kitchen was totally refurbished with granite countertops, sleek black appliances, maple cabinetry and tile floors, acting as a burst of contemporary style in the otherwise historically-designed house.
3.) Before you renovate, be positive there are no dangerous lingering environmental hazards
With the charm of older houses comes a potential load of not-so-charming features: mold, asbestos, wood rot, and pests, among other horrors. Make sure the house has been thoroughly inspected for these potential liabilities before continuing with renovations. If you are able to catch this blunder before investing in the property, it might be a good idea to rethink the purchase, weighing the pros and cons of the cost of renovations versus not continuing with the investment.
4.) Don’t forget about landscaping!
An often overlooked aspect of renovating historic housing is the landscaping surrounding the exterior. A well-kempt, professionally landscaped yard will add to the appeal of the house, and when done right can even complement the historic features of the house. For example, in the 404 House, a beautiful arrangement of trees with pink flowers and shrubbery surrounds the large porch and brick staircase entryway, and with the building’s large wrap-around porch, transports viewers to a quiet, lush estate from the early 1900s.
Do you have any tips on how to renovate historic homes?