Adding Historic Charm

I love old homes, y’all. I consider it a side effect of spending my teen years roaming downtown Wilmington. The Port City makes it easy to appreciate wrought iron fences, haint blue, and craftsmanship. Because of that, houses built after 1950 lack the historic charm that makes me weak in the knees.

When it was time for us to buy, my desire to live in an older home made house hunting a nightmare. I steered Brandon clear of the cookie-cutter neighborhoods we found. I ran away from mid-century moderns, pastel-colored tile, and shag carpeting.

Oddly enough, I ended up in the exact type of house I was running from. That happened for several reasons, but the main one was that I could imagine it as something different.

Our home had already been through some remodeling that pulled in federal-style elements. The den sports three brick walls, federal-inspired trim, and dentil molding. 

I wondered: how pretty would this room look with hardwoods, ceiling tiles, built-in bookcases surrounding the fireplace, and proper french doors? 

From there, I could envision brick flooring and dentil molding in other rooms to tie into the den. It was the first time I saw a house and thought: maybe I can add historic charm.

After we bought it, I started researching ways to add the charm I craved to our 1960s ranch-style home. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Choose a color palette from a historic paint collection. (I chose earthy tones from Sherwin Williams.)
  • Trade out carpeting for hardwood.
  • Replace the plastic light switch and outlet covers.
  • Add more brick detailing. (Think brick floors and backsplashes.)
  • Decorate with antiques.
  • Replace the metal heat registers with cast iron.
  • Upgrade interior doors.
  • Add built-in bookcases around the fireplace.
  • Switch out blinds for curtains.
  • Install decorative trim.

Over the last three years, we’ve slowly been chipping away at my list. The master bath was updated, the master bedroom received a fresh coat of paint, and, most recently, the den carpet was replaced. The floor isn’t 100 years old, but it is charming.

Has anyone else tried to add historic charm to a ranch-style home? I would love to hear what worked for you!

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