Whether you’ve recently purchased it or lived there for years, an older home in an established area is chalk full of lifestyle benefits, from great schools to stunning streetscapes with mature trees. However, older homes often need a little bit of love when it comes to design.
Fear not, though, as refreshing the look can be easy. With a few simple upgrades, that ’50s bungalow or ’70s split-level can sparkle with style, making it feel brand new.
“The key to success is to use neutrals as the backdrop, along with timeless materials and finishes,” said Julia Lindsay, an interior designer with Crush Interior Design and Flooring.
Lindsay suggests hiring a designer and mapping out a plan. “Because often there can be a domino effect once you start a renovation, and with a comprehensive strategy you can work in phases so that it accommodates your budget,” she said.
“Every home is different and will speak to you, letting you know what it can and can’t do.” – Julia Lindsay, interior designer
Adding a mudroom, reconfiguring space and knocking down a wall or two to create an open concept, as well as bathroom and kitchen renovations provide some of the best bang for your buck and count as solid investments for resale.
Crush recently worked with clients in the northwest community of Varsity to renovate and refresh an untouched, 1970s, two-storey home by reconfiguring space and adding design elements.
The four-bedroom home was converted into three bedrooms, using the extra space to create a gorgeous spa-like master bedroom ensuite, walk-in closet and laundry room.
“Every home is different and will speak to you, letting you know what it can and can’t do,” said Lindsay.
Certainly, if you can afford it, a major renovation might be the best option, but if you are on a budget, a little paint and elbow grease can go a long way too. “In Calgary, people still like to keep the walls toned down, so neutrals are best,” said Lindsay.
She suggests using “safe” colours – ones that won’t change hue based on the light or exposure in the room – citing Benjamin Moore’s Collingwood or Balboa Mist as good choices. “They are very pretty neutrals that definitely won’t shift colour,” she said.
Another easy fix that adds considerable punch is to swap out the baseboards to a flat profile, six-inch look and then paint all the trim and railings with a fresh coat of white paint. Lindsay uses Oxford White by Benjamin Moore.
Add colour and texture with accessories like throw cushions and furnishings. A subtle hit of wallpaper can also elevate the look. “I wouldn’t do the whole home, but a powder room or a feature wall can really look great,” said Lindsay.