Older Homes: Restoring, Remodeling and Home Staging by Sunflower Creations

20 Dec

IMG_9387(1940’s Germantown home staging by Sunflower Creations)

Although we spend a lot of our time on new construction projects, we always get a special thrill out of working with older homes.  For better, or for worse, old homes are chock-full of reminders of the past.  Sure, you’re going to encounter some lumps and bumps and imperfections–  This is the character, the charm, the “cozy” factor!

blog2(Logan Square Home Staging by Sunflower Creations)

If you are an old home-lover, you may fall into the category of Preservationist.  Or, if you are like me, you may appreciate the old bones and cosmetic details, but opt for the conveniences of modern living.  So, I thought we’d talk a little bit about both options, provide some resources, and share some pics of our older home stagings.  Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your opinions and experiences!

The Basics of Old Home Buying

It really goes with out saying that in any home purchase, you should always bring in a licensed and qualified home inspector.  But in older homes, you will want to pay special attention to the functionality of the existing mechanisms.  One hundred years ago, people did not consume like we do today, so be realistic about the capabilities of the plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling systems.  Whether you seek to preserve or remodel, keep in mind that these basic functions of the home can dictate lifestyle, and be costly changes.  (Ex:  Will you be happy to turn off the air conditioner while you blow your hair dry?)  Pay close attention to the condition of windows, flooring, foundation, chimney, framing, and roof.  Also, be wary of grading/drainage issues that may result in pooling water damage, and could contribute to mold growth, and check for asbestos, which was commonly used in insulation before 1960.blog1(Broomall Home Staging by Sunflower Creations)

So, after reading all of those troubling possibilities listed above, why on earth would anyone want to preserve an old home?  Because we love projects!  If you think working around the house sounds like a fun way to spend your weekends, keep reading…  If you think learning history in a hands-on way sounds interesting, scroll on.  And, if you would rather post Facebook photos of your new circuit breakers than your cat, hang with us!

Restoration Resources

So, if you are a preservationist, you are looking to celebrate the history of your home.  Design-wise, you will probably opt for more “period” specific furniture, accessories, and window treatments.

A major cosmetic detail in proper preservation is paint color, both interior and exterior.  Sherwin-Williams has this invaluable section on their website that actually categorizes your home by period/style, and then provides paint color combination suggestions for walls, trim, and accents.

blog5(Suburban Home Staging in Rydal by Sunflower Creations)

A general theme that we hear in older home staging projects is that, charming as they may be, many old wood floors suffer from the “patchwork” phenomenon from many years of different owners and quick-fix repairs.  In some cases, a very simple cosmetic option is a nice big area rug.

IMG_9378(1940’s Germantown Home Staging by Sunflower Creations)

But, in terms of flooring restoration, there are many opinions out there about the best course of action.  OldHouseOnline is a great starting point for your venture because it discusses various types of wood flooring and various types of equipment you will need.    But, if you make the decision to take on the project, consult professionals.  You do want to be sure that the sander you use is appropriate for the type of wood.  Also, tongue and groove flooring restoration can differ from face-nailed flooring.  And, getting the finish right will highly impact your end result.  (BTW, OldHouseOnline also has an awesome section on a vast number of different “restoration how-to’s”.  Definitely worth bookmarking if you are into this…)

blog11(Rittenhouse Square Condominium Staging by Sunflower Creations)

On a final restoration note, I wanted to mention woodwork.  This is a project that I have taken on in the past, and I will be the first to tell you that it is a biggie.  The end result will be worth it every time you look at it, but it is methodical, labor intensive, messy and detail-oriented.  Since many homes built before 1960 may contain lead paint, you will want to seal off the room, wear a dust mask and gloves at all times, and keep away kids and pets.  First step is to treat a small, descrete area of the woodwork with denatured alcohol to determine whether the existing surface material is water or oil-based.  The process will vary a little in terms of materials, depending on what type of surface covering you are stripping.  And, again, you will definitely want to ask questions at the hardware store.  But, basically, from here you will strip the old paint with a chemical agent, scrape the remaining residue, clean up the debris, stain your raw woodwork, and seal to protect.  Simple, right?!  For more details, check out This Old House.

Going for the Update

On the other hand, if you decide to go for the modern spin on your older home, you have infinite possibilities…

One major difference between older and newer homes is the tendancy toward open floor plans.  In older homes, rooms were small, often for the sake of heating each space with its own fireplace.  It is very possible to knock out walls and create open spaces in an older home, but be sure that you know which ones are supporting the structure of the house (and stay away from those!).

Here’s a few cosmetic ways to open up space:

Utilize the color wheel- Paint ceilings white, and choose cool, light colors for accent walls.  (And, while we are on the topic, be sure to use a flat or eggshell paint finish.  A less shiny finish will hide more of the unevenness in older walls.)  Lighter color flooring materials will brighten the room, also making it feel larger.

Play visual mind tricks-  Hang long accent panel curtains as high as possible above windows.  The long vertical lines will make the ceilings seem higher, and the rooms more spacious.  And, if you are installing directional flooring, you can create the feeling of more space by the direction that you lay your new floor.

IMG_9373(1940’s Germantown Home Staging by Sunflower Creations)

Now, if you love your older home, you obviously have some affection for things antique and vintage.  But, if you are like me, you might want to get eclectic with some modern surprises.

blog3(Fishtown Home Staging by Sunflower Creations)

Consider updating with contemporary light fixtures.  Switch out kitchen/bathroom drawer pulls with something artsy or something clean-lined.  A glass/ceramic tile or hammered tin backsplash is an excellent little addition that is not terribly expensive or invasive.

blog4(Mount Airy Home Staging by Sunflower Creations)

Here’s some other simple and complex renovation ideas to think about:



Well, that does it for today–  Thanks so much for looking!

…Whether ultra-modern new construction, a charming rehab, or a traditional redesign–We understand the subtle differences.

Our “look” helps homes sell quickly and our process keeps clients coming back time and again.

If you need help with home staging or interior design services, please contact us:

Ali Kutner, Home Staging Coordinator



or visit us at Sunflower Creations Home

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