Old World Options in a Modern Age: How to Update Your Home with its Architecture and History in Mind.

A Tudor style home with the traditional stonework and black framed windows.

Whew – It’s spring, and boy, are we happy winter has come and gone! Now that spring is upon us, our friends and neighbors are ready to get their construction and interior design projects underway.

In lieu of the typical “spring cleaning tips,” I’d like to share some designer insight on how to make tasteful updates to any historic home while keeping architectural motifs consistent with its era.

The trick to redesigning a historic home in a classic way that won’t date is by using finishes and fixtures that are made to represent that time period or by salvaging the real thing! It’s easier than you think. And truth be told, you’re still free to mix and match. Traditional motifs can be used with more modern touches, and it will give you a chance to add an element of interest that can bring your home’s design up to date. So, because our modern world provides contemporary design solutions regularly, I’m here to shed light on a few of your “Old World” options.

The Living room of a Mainline home Henck Design created in 2017.


Main Line Homes have History!

Many homes in Radnor Township are historic. They’ve got architectural details, lots of character, and a story to tell. Whether your home’s architecture is Georgian, Victorian or Tudor revival style, each home in our area has a certain personality and deserves to have that style represented in its interior.

As an interior designer, it’s critical for me to understand the history of a home, the architectural details, and the existing interior’s design so that my team and I can adequately highlight each important “architectural moment”. So take a look at the Pinterest page we have curated with various styles of homes on the Main Line.

A Georgian style home with traditional wood siding and shutters.

According to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, there are over 35 architectural styles represented in Pennsylvania alone. How can we honor that?

First, do a little bit of research on your home’s style. A few hours on the internet to research photos and referencing the location and year of your home should do it. Print a few photos and take notes before you start any major design work. Make sure any professional tradesman or designer you hire is aware of the home’s history, and if you’re interested in honoring your homes’ architecture, make sure he or she understands the style’s overarching themes.

The Formal Dining Room Henck Design designed, that displays the use of updated traditional lighting.


Integrate A Home’s Architecture with Interior Design

If your home is Arts and Crafts or Bungalow style, try to incorporate some stained or leaded glass in the kitchen and main entry area. For a colonial revival style, have a carpenter frame out any doorways with a pediment style opening. Look up a few millwork styles that were used in the appropriate decade. If you’re really interested, see if there’s an estate sale in your area. There will be plenty of architectural cues from seeing a property in its original state! There are many ways you and your designer can approach your home’s update while keeping its original charm, take a look at this design we did for a client in Newtown Square.

A traditional Arts and Crafts Bungalow with A-line roof and gable.


Updated Original Lighting

Lighting is a great way to reference a time period and architectural style of a home. Visit a local salvage yard or antique store and bring photos of old homes with the same motifs. A sales associate should be able to help you find a light fixture or two that looks like what would originally be found. If you source new lighting from a vendor, just select something that’s similar to what you see in the historic photos. It’s okay if the finish is different – it may create a historic feel with a slightly updated look. Do a little homework on what your options are, or hire a designer to do this for you, and it’ll go a long (long) way!

An example of Colonial lighting (left) and Georgian lighting (right)

Examples of Tudor style lighting (left) and Arts and Crafts style lighting (right)


Powder Rooms are the Perfect Place to add Character with Flair!

Another way to add interest and give your guests a WOW experience is the powder room. It’s the most frequently used room for guests in the home and a great place to add a pop of personality. Consider patterns like quatrefoils, floral patterns, and classic geometrics. It’s also a great space for those sconces and old mirror you picked up at the local salvage yard. The painter/wallpaper hanger you hire to finish your bathroom walls will likely be happy to refinish those old sconces to make them as good as new!

This is a perfect use of updated fixtures, art, mirror and wallpaper that Henck Design outfitted for a client, that works in any style home.


Using Classic Finishes

Incorporate custom and unpredictable fixtures that make the house feel different from the status quo. By combining bronze finishes and/or copper tones in your kitchen and bathrooms, you’ll visually add another layer of history for a timeless feel. Classic metal surfaces add character; some darker metals have beautiful patina as well that has charm and originality. These finishes can be used on vent hoods, farm-style sinks, and cabinetry hardware. It’s common knowledge that almost everyone in the U.S. with a recently updated kitchen has predominantly white or stainless steel finishes. Be bold, and stand out by using pieces that harmonize with the history of your home!

At Henck Design, we help our clients conceptualize and implement design style into their homes. Contact us for more information on how we can transform your home into an inspiring, unique space. And for more photos of Henck Design’s work and design tips, visit Henckdesign.com.

Share this Post