Thursday, January 10, 2008

How to Make a New House "Old"

They say "write what you know" so today I will stick with today.

We just built a home and very much enjoyed doing it. The only reason, aside from money, we didn't do it earlier was that we like old homes and neighborhoods so much and didn't want to move.

Here's how it played out:
Our building site is in the country. It seemed to cry out for something in the spirit of an old farm house with a front porch. Well, we didn't do that. We chose a practical modern plan from a magazine that had the space we needed. But we didn't want an attached garage, so we pulled it off the plan.

We added both a sun room and a three season porch that were not in the plan. As a real estate agent, I've shown a bunch of country homes in the last dozen years. A country scene I wanted to avoid sticks out in my mind. It's a front door without a sidewalk or steps. Lots of folks in the country simply don't use the formal front entry. It's wasted space.

We got rid of the formal entry and the front hall.

We used a steeper roof pitch and increased the overhang to make the house look older. We used painted siding and we put in lots of big windows. The contractor would have been happy to nail the siding on at this point, but he wasn't fast enough.

We asked him to put wide trim around the windows mimicking the dimensions of our old foursquare in town. Since we were into custom trim we added shingle siding in the gables and clapboard on the body of the house and accented them with a skirt board on the bottom and freeze boards where the siding meets the eaves.

Window trim on the inside is like the old stuff as well. Window sills are not standard so we had to copy them from our old house.

Pergo, the flooring material, is amazing stuff. It looks just like wood and wears like iron, that was our original choice.

We settled on quartersawn white oak floors instead. I saw them in a renovated home and liked them a lot. We also did a window seat with built-in bookcases out of quartersawn red oak.

You can see where this leads. An upgrade here, a slight change of plane there. Few of your ideas remain unchanged and changes increase your cost.

Kitchen cabinets - we know a guy who does beautiful work. We chose doors exactly like those in the pantry of our Saint Paul duplex and used a simple shaker crown mould. We used cherry wood harvested from our land.

At the last minute we changed the orientation of the house to face almost due south. The wide eaves shade windows from sun in the summer, but in the winter when the sun is lower, our windows completely heat the house on a sunny day. It was worth the extra push to make that happen.

We had to stick to a small size so our rooms aren't big and the only bedroom on the main floor is the master. There is no dining room, but we have a large eat-in kitchen - The dining room in our old house was used for everything except dining.

We are in now & we plan to be here forever.

1 comment:

Ginny said...

Sounds wonderful. I'd love to see some pictures...or even floorplans!