Dear James: I just bought a beautiful older home, but it is badly in need of redecorating and perhaps even moving some interior walls. My budget is not tight. What are the proper steps to modernize it? â€” Brooke A.
Dear Brooke: Many older homes have truly beautiful architecture and charm, but the interiors may not meet the needs of modern families. Typically, all of the rooms are separated by small doors which creates somewhat of a closed-in feeling. Windows were also generally smaller than today’s standards because high-efficiency glass was not available then.
Mostly likely, you will want to move some walls and open up the kitchen and dining areas. You may even decide to create a great room and extend the ceiling height of the foyer all the way up to the second floor ceiling. Installing new and larger windows is also a common improvement.
Moving walls can present problems in older homes because some of these walls my be load bearing. This means they support a second floor or the roof structure. Removing a bearing wall, without adding additional support is asking for trouble for certain. The ceilings may not crash to the floor, but there will much instability, cracking and noises.
What you want to do is more of a renovation than just a redecorating job. To do it properly, you should assemble a team of an architect, interior designer, an experienced remodeling contractor, and, of course, yourself. Remember you have the final say, so don’t be pushed into accepting designs you really don’t like.
The first step is to review as many design and decorating books as you can to get an idea of how you want your finished home to look. A picture truly is worth a thousand words when describing your ideas to your design team. Several good books to review are “The New Decorating Book” by Better Homes and Gardens and “Home by Design” by Sarah Susanka.
The architect is the first person to consult. He/she will be able to study your home and determine what can and cannot be done from a structural standpoint. Determining which are bearing walls and how to provide alternate support if they are removed is the architect’s expertise in additional to alternative design ideas.
When this phase is complete, call in an interior designer. Today, may people like to call themselves interior designers, but select one accredited by the American Society of Interior Designer, www.asid.org, (202) 546-3480. Many of these have college degrees in interior design and take into account lighting, ventilation and other needs.
The certified interior designer, the architect and yourself should meet and discuss the tentative interior plans. There will be much give and take at this stage to provide a workable plan. When you review the proposed changes, you may realize your budget is not as unlimited as you first thought and you will tone down the scope of the project.
When you have your final set of plans, consult the architect and interior designer for the names of several remodeling contractor with whom they are familiar. This will be your best source because the contractor may already have experience doing many of the proposed changes. Also, a contractor who is familiar with the other team members will feel more comfortable giving additional design input as the project progresses.
Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.