Modernising vintage homes

Refurbishing a home need not be about everything that looks new and current.

Modernising vintage homes

It doesn’t matter that your house is 20-years-old or 120-years-old — modernising a vintage home can be a daunting task. Depending on the extent of modernisation, it can be a simple or a highly complex feat. You can choose to make cosmetic changes, else you may want to make entire structural enhancements. The latter type of modernising will involve more
investment in time and money, since this is nothing less than a full-blown home renovation project.

Bengaluru, with the most populous urban agglomeration, is both rich in ancient history and modern architecture. In the midst of this urban jungle, if you’re lucky enough to own or inherit a cottage with some back-in-time character or old-world charm, consider these tips for addressing the issues that need a touch-up while bringing out the best of your home’s past, present and future:

A recce of your current conditions
Take a cursory glance at your home’s current state of affairs and jot down the areas that need modernising. Most times than not, existing conditions of furniture and appliances make us believe that a complete overhaul is the mandate. Also, notice your wall’s conditions and decide whether just a re-touch of paint can be the answer. Whatever you do, make sure to always steer clear of distractions from personal belongings; instead, focus only on renovating your house.

Lighting up to times
Typically, lighting fixtures are meant to adapt to specific time periods. When you bring these elements up to times with modern ceiling, sconces, and bathroom fixtures, it can make a major difference to your space. You can either remove or reduce the lighting in your home or completely shift to natural lighting. Skylights can be used to lighten up dark corners.

Let materials do all the talking
Floorboards, wallpapers, kitchen or bath counters and wash basins can be given a rejig since they are the first to catch eyes on. You need to select patterns and colours that are in sync with the rest of your home. Sometimes, an old brick wall can be used as an accent in your room, simply by restoring its original glory.

Landscaped garden
“If you and your family enjoy the outdoors and entertaining, this is the first place to begin with. Pebbled pathways and stone slabs in the garden leading to your cottage will give it a fairy tale look. Create a small lawn area with hammocks for that afternoon siesta or just to spend time in the outdoors under the trees with a good book. A landscaped garden with niches for lanterns or hanging lamps at night will give it a cosy warm look. If your home is attractive from the outside, the anticipation to see what’s inside will be all the more,” suggests Madhu Sarangi of Homefuly, Bengaluru.

Paint to hide imperfections
Often, some of the first features that make you fall in love with an older home are beautiful mouldings, trim and door details built during a different era, when finishing touches carried a certain polish and personality. A simple coat of paint, then, is your first step to preserving and highlighting these details. You can paint the walls and ceilings in different shades of one colour such as grey. With this palette in place, a bold shade like dark grey on the doors makes them architectural standouts.

Use window shades
Window shades, as opposed to hanging drapes, are an excellent way to leave the vintage look untouched. They also add a slight modern touch that keeps the look up-to-date without removing the integrity of the original space.

Wall drapes to conceal windows
Older homes often have quirky windows in unusual places, but a full wall of drapery can be the perfect way to subtly clean up the look of the room without completely erasing the windows and blocking all the light.

Mix traditional & modern periods
Include some items that feel like they fit the period of the home as well as some modern pieces which will help tie the vintage air of a home to everyday life. It also helps make modern essentials like a TV, computer and plush sofa feel more at home if some of the other accessories are more modern as well.

Pieces weathered outdoors
Another approach is to use pieces and accents that feel inspired by the garden, such as wood with a shiny surface, wicker baskets, and even vintage house numbers. The soft, rustic vibe naturally suits a well-worn home.

Break room layouts
“Old homes often have some unusual room layouts, and can have long, narrow spaces that seem hard to work with. Break a rectangle into multiple square zones for better functionality, using area rugs to define zones visually and open-sided furniture like benches to bridge multiple adjoining seating areas,” adds Parul Amla of Antrik Design Studio, New Delhi.

Rustic interior design furniture normally consists of wood, reclaimed lumber and stone. However, bamboo, rattan, sisal, nubby cotton, wool, paper, glass, clay and various types of metal can also be incorporated to embellish the look. Heirlooms, flea market finds, DIY projects, folk art, and collections, found items and vintage pieces coexist well in rustic decor,
providing contrasting textures, patterns and colours. Metal-worked furniture is another great option to use with this concept. Retain some vintage loose furniture and give it a new look by painting and polishing to match the new furniture. Clever storage solutions snuck into small spaces around the home will help you maximise your spaces.

Knick-knacks from another era
Make clever use of brass, copper, stone and other items such as water pots, from the time gone by. Group them for an artistic look or use them as planters.

Structural changes
The rustic look features wooden beams and columns as well as hardwood or stone flooring. If you don’t have these elements in your home, it is possible to put up faux beams or columns to achieve the look.

Peace nook
Lastly, a quiet nook for peace-making is a must in a vintage home with its natural sounds, smells and looks to communicate with oneself at the beginning of a busy day or at the end of a stressful week. The smells of incense sticks, potpourri flowers, a serene Buddha face and wind chimes – can be created where one thinks of evolving body, mind and soul.

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