Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Maybe?

“In an age when everyone is striving for authenticity, is being real always the best way to go? Not necessarily when it comes to renovation.” -Abigail Rizor, Principal, Wolfe-Rizor Interiors

We often have the pleasure of working with clients to renovate historic homes in Florida communities like Winter Park and downtown Orlando. The architectural details in older homes can be divine focal elements, and it’s always fun to uncover things like pristine original hardwood floors, classical archways or beautifully carved mantels hidden under layers of 1980s ugly carpet and paneling. Direct, literal restorations of antique homes can seem like a good idea at first, but we often encourage clients to rethink the space. Our goal is to preserve what’s best while keeping the space open and inviting for modern living.

And this raises the question- what to keep and what to replace? Sometimes clients will have collected antique faucets, sinks, or door knobs and will want us to find ways to use these in the renovation. While this can work, it often becomes a money pit, requiring extensive retrofitting of the home’s infrastructure. Even something as seemingly simple as an antique door can require totally rebuilding the casing and surrounding area, disturbing existing finishes and causing more trouble than it’s worth.

We usually recommend that for things like plumbing and electrical, clients looking for an antique feel to match the age of their homes should seek reproductions rather than originals. There are many sources online for high quality fixtures that look original but work with today’s infrastructure. For things that you count on like lighting and water, it’s best not to jerry-rig something to make an old item work, when reproductions look just as good.

If you do want to incorporate items in the home to reflect the period when it was built, something like a door knocker or a mantle would be a better choice. Antique furniture and accessories, judiciously blended with new, can also bring the past to life in a renovated historic home. Seamlessly integrating the architectural details of an older home with modern conveniences is always a pleasure, and provides a much more comfortable and satisfying home environment for our clients.


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