Our Design Edit

Renovating a Historic Home

Home Renovation, Kitchen

Oct 24, 2022

We recently went to the Sacramento Historic Home Tour and felt inspired to write blog about the renovation of historic homes – sometimes, this just translate into remodeling an older home. We’re very passionate about the preservation of architecturally important buildings. Some of our most rewarding projects revolve around the interior design of historic homes or businesses, such as offices, wineries, and boutique hotels. In this blog post, we’ll be focusing on homes in particular.

Historic homes are unique and special properties. However, renovating them can be daunting – there are many things to consider in order to maintain the character of the home while also bringing it into the 21st century. As interior designers, we understand these considerations and can guide you through the entire process.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the most important factors you need to keep in mind when renovating your historic home. We discuss the design challenges and some opportunities that can make your project a dream home; we won’t be discussing local building codes and city rules. For any question, please contact us here or email us directly. We’re always happy to hear about new projects and help you through your interior design journey. Happy reading! Hope you feel inspired.

Show Consistency and Restraint in All Interior Design Consideration

For all of our design projects, it is important to show consistency and restraint in all design considerations. In order to achieve a well curated home, you cannot allow yourself to get carried away by all things beautiful.This means choosing materials that will complement the existing features of the home. For example, instead of using modern 12×24 porcelain floor tile, opt for a more traditional floor tile pattern and compliment it with natural wood cabinetry. By respecting the history of the home, you can create a kitchen that is both stylish and functional.

Anchor “busier” design elements for balance. Opt for minimalistic open shelving to avoid overwhelming the space. Creamy white plaster walls are the perfect backdrop to display vintage dishes against. As is often the case, marble remains the classic focal point in this kitchen, along with the popular brass accents found on imported European ranges.

Colors and metal finishes can be customized on most of them to compliment your kitchen remodel.

Design by Nina Farmer Interiors

vintage + modern = exquisite

When it comes to dining room design, there are endless possibilities. But one option that we love for historic homes is the mix of modern lighting and vintage furniture. A “bubble” light fixture and antique chairs might sound like an unlikely pairing, but they can actually come together to create a stunning effect. The key is to find the right balance between old and new – too much of either one can make the room feel dated or overly trendy. But when done right, the mix of modern and vintage dining room furniture can create a truly unique and beautiful space.

Design by Lisa Staton

The Intense Drama of Wallpaper

Wow, this home’s entry really steals the show. The intense drama and rhythmic swirling of William Morris’s 1875 Acanthus wallpaper design is a league of its own. This company makes one of the most unique designs in the wallpaper industry and turns your home into a collectible property.For the less adventurous among us, there are plenty of other more subtle wallpaper options out there.In any entry or foyer, it’s essential to set the mood for your home. It’s one of the best places to show your personality and make yourself feel at home. If you like to keep your main entry more neutral and formal, use the mudroom or your garage entry to try something you’d otherwise shy away from. Have fun – it’s just interior design :)

Acanthus wallpaper by Morris and Co

Designed by Maireadturner

Strike The perfect balance to achieve a timeless interior

In kitchen design, achieving the perfect balance between timeless and modern can be a challenge. But it’s one that’s well worth the effort, as the results can be truly stunning. For a kitchen that effortlessly ties old and new together, consider incorporating unlacquered brass and marble. Unlacquered brass has a warm, antique appearance that’s perfect for a historic home. Depending on the application, it also has a modern edge that helps to keep the kitchen feeling fresh and up-to-date. The brass-cladded upper cabinets in this kitchen are a perfect example of that.Marble, on the other hand, is classic and chic. It can be the perfect material for kitchen countertops, backsplashes, and more. But it also has a timeless beauty that will never go out of style. By mixing and matching these two materials, you can create a kitchen that’s both stylish and inviting.

The modern white cabinets in combination with the dark time-worn cabinets is another important design characteristic in this kitchen remodel that strikes the balance between old and new.

Design by Hart & Toth

Architectural Detailing such as Stained Glass

Throughout our design process, we like to operate by the premise: Every detail is important. Overlook a detail and the story falls apart.As already discussed above, staying consistent is one of THE most important (and sometimes more difficult) tasks when remodeling a home – historic or not. We stay consistent in our design intent by repeating patterns and details; most importantly elements like molding and hardware. In older homes, we also talk about the importance of preserving architectural details , such as stained glass, lighting, or details like tiled thresholds and wood inlays.

Stained glass is often seen as a beautiful addition to any home, it can also be an important architectural element that helps to tell the story of a house. In many older homes, stained glass was used to add privacy and solar control, as well as to add beauty and detail. Today, stained glass is often used in remodels to help keep the character of a home alive.

fireplace design

A fireplace is often the focal point of a room, and for good reason. The warmth of a fire draws us in, making us feel cozy and comfortable. Even when no fire is burning, a room often has to be designed around the fireplace as it presents itself as an important architectural element in a home.However, not all fireplaces need to be overdone and ornate to be the center of attention. Sometimes, the simplest designs can make the biggest impact. Case in point: this fireplace in a remodeled Spanish Revival. The clean lines give the room a sense of structure and understated sophistication. And yet, despite its minimalist design, this fireplace still feels inviting and warm. It’s proof that sometimes less is more.

Consider directional lighting in the ceiling to highlight the significance of the fireplace; plus, it’s always good to have several layers of lighting in any room. Warm jewel tones, such as the burgundy linen sofa and ochre ottoman and pillows add an oomph of color that immediately catches the eye.

Design by Emma Milne Interiors

Classically Charming

If you’re planning a bathroom remodel, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind – a historic home or just an older home that requires an update.

First, consider the overall style of your home. You’ll want to choose bathroom fixtures and finishes that reflect that style.

Next, think about function. What do you need your bathroom to do for you? How can the function and feel be accomplished best? If you are remodeling your primary bathroom, be sure to ask a designer to provide you with different layout options. The best way to visualize your new bathroom is in form of 3D renderings, which is becoming somewhat of a standard in the interior design industry these days.

Finally, don’t forget about all the little details that will make the bathroom unique. Make sure you have a clear vision of how all the details come together; the primary bathroom is your biggest investment after the kitchen.

Design by Amber Interiors

Timeless | retro | art deco

We are seeing Art Deco going through somewhat of a revival in recent years; so, we thought it only fitting to include the style in this discussion about renovating historic homes.When most people think of art deco, they envision flashy buildings with bold geometric shapes. However, this unique style can also be used to create a stylish and functional bathroom. For instance, the complete renovation of this en-suite bathroom was completely transformed to create a sleek, contemporary shower room. The space needed a total refresh, and the owners wanted the new design to have a classic, masculine feel.

Bold brassware in an Antique Brushed Brass finish is paired with decorative hand-made terrazzo floor tiles, glossy white subway tiles and industrial style lights. You might notice that the fluted glass is carried throughout the bathroom: the shower glass, the sconces, and the cabinet glass. It’s those details that make a room truly special and memorable.The open space below the vanity makes the room feel more spacious while the built-in storage above the toilet provides for the necessary storage. The solution is both practical and stylish. Btw, we’re big fans of wall hung toilets for that very same reason; who doesn’t hate to clean around a floor mounted toilet ?!

Design by Drummond Bathrooms

a free standing island

Have you ever considered the idea of installing a kitchen island that doesn’t sit directly on the floor but instead has legs supporting it? We love this concept for small kitchens because a freestanding kitchen island looks less massive than a fully extended floor island.The legs make it look like a piece of furniture in its own right.

We even have sourced antique kitchen islands from Europe and had them refinished to coordinate with the rest of our kitchen cabinets. Top it off with beautiful natural stone that matches your perimeter countertops et voila, you have a cohesive newly designed kitchen infused with the flair of history. To provide electricity to the island, hide cables in concealed channels within the legs or create a supply chute in the middle for water supply and drainage. This allows you to have a sink AND an island on legs if that’s best for your workflow.

We’ll be talking more about kitchen islands in our next blog on recent kitchen trends. We will also have another segment on country kitchens that might be of interest to you.

Design by Bradley VanDerStraeten

Design by Anissa Zajac with House Seven Design

Vintage furniture

When it comes to furnishing a home, many people focus solely on finding pieces that are new and stylish. However, vintage furniture can also be a great way to add character to a space. Vintage furniture pieces often have a unique history and story attached to them, which can add depth and interest to a room. In addition, vintage furniture is often very well-made, with interesting details and craftsmanship that you don’t see in mass-produced items. Don’t worry about vintage furniture looking out of place in a modern home. An experienced interior designer can help you mix and match styles to create a cohesive and stylish space. Add character to your home by incorporating vintage furniture pieces into your design.

Upholstered in the Opio Alpaca Wool

boucle by Fadini Borghi / Pierre Frey

Antique Foot curated by Stravade

Curated Lighting Selection

When it comes to remodeling your home, one of the most important details is the lighting. But with so many options on the market, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s where a interior designer comes in to take the time to understand your vision for your home and then curate a selection of lighting fixtures that fit the overall design aesthetic.

Lighting design is a very important part of any home remodel. Whether you’re looking for vintage-inspired reproductions or contemporary pieces, working with a professional can help you create the perfect space.

Sconce sourced from Rewire Gallery LA


By embracing the quirks of a historic home, you can give it personality and character that will stand the test of time.

As any interior designer will tell you, one of the keys to creating a stylish and inviting home is to make use of every available space. That includes the quirky nooks and corners often found in older homes. While some homeowners may see these as a hindrance, an experienced interior designer knows how to utilize these spaces to create a unique and inviting atmosphere. For example, a kitchen design might incorporate a small alcove for a coffee station. A quirky nook like a flower sink can provide function and add spunk.

When remodeling an older home, be sure to utilize opportunities for quirky corners like this one. It’s key to maintaining the character and charm of the property. You may just end up with a truly unique and beautiful space.

Sacramento historic homes with functional interior design features

Design by Studio Shamshiri

The interior design of historic homes is our speciality and passion. I grew up in Germany and spent my childhood, teens, and twenties exploring architecture and design throughout Europe. I still go almost every summer to see family and gather new inspiration for our project. My travels instilled an interest for design and how people live.

Interior design is a constantly evolving field and it always will amaze me of how much of an impact we can make by designing a thoughtfully crafted home.

If you’re interested to get on our schedule, please schedule an introductory call here or complete our contact form. Let’s connect and get you a “new” home that inspires you.

Historic homes are unique and special properties. However, renovating them can be daunting – there are many things to consider in order to maintain the character of the home while also bringing it into the 21st century. As interior designers, we understand these considerations and can guide you through the entire process. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the most important factors you need to keep in mind when renovating your historic home – most of the same design tips apply to any older home remodel.