Do it Yourself Tricks for Fixing Up an Old Home

We purchased our 106 year old home four years ago. It was owned by one family and was very well maintained. My other half (drywall man by trade) had grand ideas of coming in and gutting it and completely making it into a “NEW” home. I had other thoughts on the matter. Woodwork, transoms and and the whole enchilada (including the black marble fireplace). This was our home and going to be our life project.

We began in the living room by tearing down the wall paper that had long ago began to peel away (Wood lath and plaster). With his talents instead of doing the tedious job of tearing it all out he bought drywall mud and put a texture on the wall and we painted. This saved us a great expense in the end. All of the rooms have updated wiring except for two. In August two years ago, we had an unexpected fire in our eldest daughters room. No one was hurt and the structural damage was minimal but the smoke damage was horrendous. The clean up process began. We had intended in finishing a room at a time but this set back had changed our plans drastically.

The upper hall was salvageable but the four rooms upstairs was not. Now back to square one we began to scrap wallpaper. Eight layers later we began to uncover the plaster. The decision was made to do the same for three of the four rooms which were damaged. Texture with drywall mud and paint. The fourth room however was a bit of a problem. No outlets or updated wiring, this room had to be gutted and replaced with drywall. A closet built in as well. (Most old homes had little use for closets). The big problem with gutting these old houses is that it is very messy and time consuming. Ours had blown in insulation so that was something to be dealt with as well. Doing the job yourself is a hard task but the money that is saved is worth the effort.

We rented an industrial sander from a hardwood flooring company to take care of the hardwood floors. (The trick is to rent on Friday for two days, most places are closed on Sunday so you get one free day). The hallway and master bedroom had carpeting so that was left because it was in excellent shape. Our house had a regular kitchen and bathroom built on in the 60’s so it doesn’t really match the rest of the house. We painted and decorated in a modern way. We came to the compromise that the original part of the house would stay original and the new would stay new.

All in all if you purchase an old house if it can be “Fluffed” then do just that. There are tricks that you can accomplish with minimal effort or expense to maintain the “old charm”.