Why Everyone Loves the Idea of a New Old Home
Whether you realize it or not, you prefer a home to a house. The word home connotes warmth, charm, character, and history. House, on the other hand, is the less personal synonym to describe a residence and a nicer way of describing a McMansion. When you picture your dream home you picture driving up to your…symmetrical and stately Georgian? An eclectic Tudor topped with a swooping, Hansel and Gretel roofline? An endlessly rambling farmhouse surrounded by an x-rail fence? Or a humble bungalow with a giant front porch? Whichever type of home you envision, one thing is clear: Each one has its own, distinctive features that differentiate it from every other house on the street. That makes it your home.
With details like wavy, double hung windows, richly textured plaster walls, wide plank floors typically come poor insulation, drafty rooms, high utility bills and myriads of other unglamorous realities. Dreaming of buying that 1920s fixer upper that’s a steal of a deal? Buyer beware: a lot of times these fixer uppers are less fixer upper and more reconstruction projects. If you plan to tackle one of these, do your diligence and opt in for all the additional inspections to know if you can afford your dreams. The costliest renovations are usually structural, foundational, or electrical. These are all issues that must be addressed before you can redo the kitchen and bathrooms. In short, they’ll eat up your budget without making a dent on the cosmetic fixes.
Luckily, lots of architects and builders have adopted the New Old Home concept pioneered by Virginia-based architect Russell Versaci. They are marrying the character, charm, and proportions of older homes with today’s construction technology. These homes are not built-in-a-day McMansions instead they are thoughtful abodes with lasting visual and structural appeal. The idea has actually flourished in the last fifteen years as people are opting to live in more urban neighborhoods that are walkable and accessible than the sprawling suburbs with sprawling houses that dominated the 1990s. Here’s a round up of some of my favorite new old homes. Would you guess that these are new?
P. Allen Smith built a new home with an old soul in 150 days for $150,000. Steal his notes here.
This home, once destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, was designed to look like a 1930s New Orleans home. It’s newness is totally disguised with the tall windows, matching operable shutters, front porch and the curlicue millwork.
Using local stone on the façade mixed with shingles imitates a home that has been added onto over time. The dark metal roof also helps tone down the house’s newness.
Fish Camp Kitchen
Even a new kitchen can look old. Boat loads of warm copper with utilitarian open steel shelving in lieu of traditional cabinetry remind of an old-time concept of efficiency that today’s roomy kitchens have forgotten. Luckily, Architect Wayne Good remembered it when he built his own new Maryland kitchen.
The Dog Trot
Texas architects, Lake Flato, made a great Southern home style even better. They took the dogtrot renown for being a self-cooling home in the heat of our summers and built this one using only pre-fab materials on this Texas lakeside.
English Country House
Small paned windows and a detailed lime wash keeps anyone from betting that this is a new house designed by Peter Block.