3 Ways To Turn A New Home Into A Classic

Lila Daniels

Some people love the look of new homes--from flawless facades to ultra-modern appointments. Then, there are others who yearned for a 100-year-old Victorian or a classic New England Saltbox, but for reasons beyond their control wound up building new.

Whether you're crafting the perfect farmhouse kitchen or making a grand entrance in your foyer, flooring sets the tone for the home. Don't make the mistake of overlooking the impact of your choices. If you are among those trying to turn your new home into a timeless classic, here are a few places to start:

  1. Parquet floors add a touch of class and elegance, not to mention design interest, to your home. Parquet has been around since the 1600s and was first used in castles and palaces. Its use became widespread in the early 1900s when mass production made it available for average homes.
  2. Hardwood plank or strip floors come off the showroom floor gleaming. If you want the lived-in look, consider using for antique or reclaimed hardwood floorboards. If you must buy new, you can opt for soft woods like pine. They were traditionally used in colonial construction and will wear more quickly for a more antique feel. Painting your wood floors, white or a soft pastel tone, was very popular in centuries past and can give your new house the look of an old country home.
  3. Marble, slate, stone, and tile need to go in the budget if you are trying for a Victorian aesthetic. Natural stone tiles were commonly used flooring materials for the front entryway. Marble and ceramic tiles were reserved for use in fancier kitchens. Again, reclaimed materials are desirable from a cost, design, and ecological standpoint.

Design Resources

Turning your new home into a classic requires that you know a bit about the design styles and materials of the period you desire to emulate. For starters, there is an excellent blog, Old House Book List, featuring a collection of decorating books on 19th and 20th century houses. It is chock full of information, advice, and inspiration. It is also a terrifically fun read.

When decisions have been made and it's time to get down to shopping, BuildingGreen.com is a good place to start looking for reclaimed hardwood and parquet flooring. Heed their advice, and start looking for your reclaimed materials early in the building process. Availability and price can vary quite a bit, so be sure to shop around. Old House Web is a great resource and offers a directory for vintage tiles. You should also contact local antique and salvage companies and builders who specialize in historic restoration or recreation. They can be an excellent source for everything from period chandeliers to claw foot bath tubs.

About the Author

Lila Daniels is a freelance writer living in southern Vermont.

Search Improvement Project