Caution Old Home Owners
Read this site before you do anything to your old house!
Welcome to the Old House Guy website! Our goal is to provide information every Old House owner should know to make the appearance of your house the best it can possibly be. You will learn how to achieve REAL curb appeal which is different from what most people understand and avoid and/or correct the numerous errors everyone makes to their homes. You are NOT alone!
By following the information in this site, your house will stand out from the others in a class unsurpassed. Whether you live in a small bungalow or Gothic mansion, your house will be able to equally make a strong impact on others.
Although there are many references to Historic Restoration, our goal is based on and emphasizes Aesthetics. However, in most cases both are accomplished by following timeless Architectural Principles.
What All Old House Owners Should Know
You visited this site probably because you have an old home. But, do you have a vintage home or a historic home? It's all the same really. It's just your interpretation based on how you see your house as it is today. Just because your home was built in the 1920's or 30's does not mean it's not to be thought of as historic or worth preserving. Actually, a building 50 years old is considered Historic by The U.S. Department of the Interior.
Old Houses from this period and earlier have a certain character and craftsmanship which make them stand out as unique, but only if they can display their architectural integrity. You don't need to be a history buff to follow the suggestions stated in this web site. All you need is the desire to make your home more beautiful, and that is what you will learn to do here.
As each day passes we lose more of our charming neighborhoods not by the wrecking ball but by innocent homeowners improperly restoring their own home or by just doing normal maintenance and up-keep. An overwhelming majority of houses I have seen have been victimized through what some call "upgrading".
The purpose of the website is to prevent the many injustices from occurring to old houses. Most homeowners are not knowledgeable in old house design or restoration or the harm they may cause to their home by becoming victims to manufacturers, contractors, and handymen - the professionals who they depend upon so very much. By informing you, the homeowner, many of these architectural crimes can be avoided.
There are certain features on any old house which need to be displayed correctly to give your home the appearance it was designed to have. Years ago, buildings were pedestrian friendly. Houses were viewed by foot or carriage passing at a slower speed. This slower speed gave the viewer more time to notice the beauty of a house and enabled it to be viewed in its own setting so that all its architectural details were able to work together to portray a certain feeling. Jonathan Hale, a preservation architect, explains this in his book, "The Old Way of Seeing".
Although that gingerbread fretwork on the gable of a house looks stunning, it's not that simple, there is a lot more to curb appeal and making a house look beautiful. There is an interplay of shapes and shadows that impress the viewer first - not the details - and these communicate directly with your eye and mind. These features, on buildings constructed years ago, will gently guide the eye to see particular parts in order to make associations that give the building vitality, harmony and interest. Don't believe it? Try looking at an old church without gazing up the steeple. (Gordon Bock - The Old House Journal)
Unfortunately, over the years most homes have already lost their appeal. Many homes have suffered from ill-conceived attempts to modernize their exteriors that destroyed much of their character. To remedy these mistakes, more and more remodeling followed which only separated the house that much further from its potential beauty. A more severe problem is that over time these architectural errors have become familiar and accepted. These errors are now part of standard design.
I will touch upon some key elements which have the greatest impact on the appearance of your home, and how you can recapture that lost character that once graced your neighborhood. Sections on Windows, Shutters, Siding, and Porches are key areas that must be understood. Each of these areas contributes to a bigger picture creating buildings that are often simple in details but where everything works together to make a beautiful whole.
But first, let's take a look at some misjudgments of what people think makes a house beautiful and why Aesthetics and age old architectural principles must be understood. Please first read the Aesthetics page before the others, so you will have a better understanding.