My Old House is Just Not Me
August 20, 2008 § 25 Comments
Many of you have a modern aesthetic. You like clean lines, unfussy details, neutral colors, and minimal furnishings. You probably should have moved to a downtown loft space, but you are now part of suburbia. You write in that you’ve decorated the inside of your new home to reflect your taste, but the outside is a disaster.
If you are stuck in an exterior from another era when brick facades were popular and split levels were all the rage, or if some weird architectural detail haunts your house, the easiest and cheapest solution is to paint. For example, if you now own a split level with one-half brick and the other half siding, it’s okay to paint the house all one neutral color to modernize the appearance from the street and actually make the house look bigger since it’s no longer broken up visually.
NOTE: If you own a home that is either listed on your town’s historic register or is in an area of period homes, then do not alter the exterior except to maintain its historic value. Chances are that if you live on the main street in your town and have purchased an older home, the town’s historic commission has already contacted you — they will tell you exactly what you can and more importantly cannot do to your home. Before you renovate the exterior, be careful of “upgrading” to cheaper materials, styleless features, and “modernizations” that will come back to haunt you when you try to sell.
Changing a color palette, however, may be a relatively safe way to modernize without destroying the home’s history. If you live in a colonial but have modern tendencies, you can reflect your modern taste in your house color palette. Choosing three or even four colors off the same paint chip for your siding and trims or painting your house and trim all one color reserving a vibrant shocker for the front door can give even a “boring” (to some) old colonial a modern personality.