Ben and Erin Napier have made careers out of finding the beauty in older homes and transforming them into modern creations full of old-school charm. It is, after all, what they do on each and every episode of Home Town. We took a closer look at the work of this wife-and-husband team and have put together these tips on renovating an older home to make it fully functional, but without compromising any of that gorgeous original charm.
Published July 19, 2019, Updated October 22, 2020
Keep Original Brickwork
This veranda boasts old-school charm thanks to the updated, painted bricks on these pillars. The colour ties into the rest of the house and feels fresh and new, but a closer look and the textured finish adds tons of extra appeal and design.
Add a Touch of Wood
Who said ceilings had to be painted anyhow? Exposing or adding sleek boards automatically gives a room a warm and rustic vibe. And in the right space, it can also highlight some of the home’s original character and charm. To keep the look unexpected and open, the ceiling is balanced with pretty white tiling below.
Go for a Retro Colour
This forest green may not be a modern or even a contemporary colour choice, but it certainly is a classic country one. The rich tone plays beautifully off the natural woods in this kitchen and really highlights the gorgeous cabinetry above.
Keep Some Original Backsplash
An entire kitchen of this retro backsplash? No thanks. But an artful addition to create a gorgeous feature wall? We’re into that. Here the mix of old and new really features the home’s personality.
Opt for Exposed Beams
In that same kitchen, the home’s structural beauty is showcased by the updated and exposed the beams overhead. The rich look feels purposeful and polished, but also adds to the overall room’s inherent history.
Keep Original Trim
They just don’t make intricate trim with those pretty details the way they used to, which is why it’s entirely worth saving if that’s an option. Even if it’s an open-concept look you crave, keeping some of the trim from the frames intact can go a long way in helping to define and personalize an older space, as showcased in this particular look.
Keep an Older Door Frame
If an open-concept look isn’t your style, highlight a room’s original beauty with pre-existing door frames if they’re sturdy and solid. Same goes for any intricate details or panelling on the walls.
Keep Those Window Frames
Speaking of study originals, original window frames are just as worthy of keeping in a new reno as pre-existing door frames. The beauty of this home’s windows is highlighted by going for a darker stain that continues on the trim throughout.
Keep an Unexpected Finish
This room feels unique and whimsical thanks to the siding featured on the indoor walls. It’s a look that you don’t often come across, but it’s striking enough to update and keep if you want the room to retain some of its original charm. In this particular case, the siding helps set the tone for a games room that feels outdoorsy, yet cozy.
Keep an Original Fireplace
We love the look of this vintage fireplace in an updated space. The pretty white bricks automatically draw the eye, while a screen adds instant contrast and definition. As for the fireplace itself? It may not work, but that’s where candles come in handy.
Build out an Existing Fireplace
In this instance, an entire brick wall of the original fireplace wasn’t in line with the room’s overall reno. However, the update was still able to showcase the piece’s charm by keeping those bricks on the interior. Meanwhile, a small wood-burning stove insert makes the finished look functional and fun.
Frame out a Fireplace
Another great option when it comes to keeping an original fireplace’s charm is to simply frame it out with a new mantel and trim. In this instance the soft colours play beautifully off the bricks and create a cozy and comfortable nook.
Restructure Those Stairs
Original stairs are another beautiful feature in an older home that, when finished correctly, can add depth and old-school charm to any open-concept space. The dark stain of these particular risers and footers pops against the creamy whites of the trim and walls, really helping to create definition and rich design.
When in Doubt, Add Antique Furniture
If all else fails and you’re unable to keep part of an original structure that you really loved, a great way to add some of that charm back in is to select vintage furniture that speaks to the era your home was created. It’s a tried and true trick and a surefire way to creating a lasting and impressive look.