Three Ways To Put A New Twist On An Old Home

By Kate Pearce

Keep Historic Charm with Modern Materials

With so many gorgeous older homes in the Northeast, it’s important to find innovative ways to preserve a building’s historic roots while also making it a comfortable space for today. A major challenge in any renovation can be figuring out which areas of the home to update vs. preserve. As the owner of a 1910 house, I’m able to maintain its historic charm while also incorporating modern materials. If your home’s exterior is a little run down and you’re searching for ways to boost curb appeal: Keep the original configuration of windows and dormers to maintain the timeless appeal but try upgrading the siding and trim for a refreshed look. For example, I’m working with James Hardie on a complete exterior transformation. While I’m keeping the classic board and batten siding on our garage, I’m upgrading the main home’s exterior with Hardie plank, trim and panel products. I’ve been super impressed by the endless design options, including variety of colors.

Incorporate Bursts of Color

In the early 20th century, the paint color palette was not nearly as vast as the options we have now and generally centered around deep earth tones like clay, sage and off-whites. I like to incorporate pops of color in our home, particularly with neutral interior walls, to give it a fun, modern twist. I take weekly trips to the thrift store or estate sales and rotate the items on display, and with black-and-white walls, the neutral colors never fight with the design pieces. Bringing this same methodology to the exterior of our home, I chose the beautiful Arctic White ColorPlus Technology finish for the Hardie siding and used flowers to brighten up the look. The landscapes of Long Island are constantly changing throughout the year, from the evergreens and white snowfalls of winter to the pink peonies of spring and red poppies of summer. The flowers and trees of our yard play the same role as the art and decor hosted on the interior. And unlike our original cedar plank exterior that’s more work to maintain, I know that our fiber cement siding will provide lasting beauty for decades to come.

Durability is Key

Older houses with older electrical wiring are more vulnerable to fires, so when you’re remodeling your home it’s crucial to pick materials that are more fire resistant and can offer better protection in case of an emergency. After local friends of ours lost their incredible mid-19th-century home to a fire last year, we have been especially concerned about the fire risks that come with an older home. We knew that our old cedar siding was incredibly flammable and have found peace of mind in knowing our fiber cement siding is non-combustible. Another perk of the durability of fiber cement products is that we will no longer be woken up at the crack of dawn by our neighborhood woodpecker.

Kate Pearce of Kate Pearce Vintage is a Long Island-based home-styling guru, known for her eclectic and vintage-obsessed interior design skills (

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