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Restoring a Heritage Home

Restoring a heritage home – old, yes, but not forgotten

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Restoring a heritage home – old, yes, but not forgotten

Transforming a heritage home into a real estate jewel through a renovation or restoration is a labour of love – it requires a commitment to architectural character and a willingness to meet the challenge of unexpected surprises along the way. If your client has hired you to preserve the look, but update certain areas, the following are five broad categories that you’ll want to investigate.

HISTORY

Age, general architectural style and condition

Learn as much as you can about the history of the building. The historical society can be a good resource. Also, check archives for any old permits, drawings, photos, or newspaper articles about former owners. Learning about the lives of the people who built and lived in the house can help with restoration decisions. Many styles of architecture have played a role in our history, from Queen Anne, Victorian to Colonial Revival. Occasionally, you might also find a true Arts and Crafts style home too. It’s worth documenting the details of the home and checking books at your local library (or on the Internet) to determine its exact style. By learning the age of the home, who its former occupants were and its architectural style, you’ll be able to more easily piece together the “historic” puzzle for your client.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Structure, electrical, plumbing, heating-cooling and drainage

As far as condition goes, it’s worth investing in the services of a home inspector who is knowledgeable about historic architecture. He or she will be able to create a report that identifies potential problem areas and suggest viable, cost-effective solutions.

Problems with infrastructure can range from knob and tube wiring to clay pipes in plumbing. Foundations can be problematic as well, as old concrete can settle and crack, causing the building to shift; a pencil or a marble placed on the floor may well provide you with a heads-up. Any horizontal cracks in the concrete indicate severe settling and could mean costly repairs. If you suspect any underlying issues with the structure, it’s best to have it inspected by a structural engineer.

Envelope, roof, insulation, walls, windows and doors

Before changing any of the elements that make up the envelope of the building, ensure that replacements or repairs will maintain the architectural character.

Windows and doors on old homes can be problematic due to rotten wood and energy inefficiency. Luckily, most historical boards recognize this and let owners replace them with more modern choices as long as the general character is the same. However, if you are fortunate enough to have windows with stained or art glass, consider hiring an expert to restore them.

Many older homes were originally insulated with horsehair or newspaper. Newer homes, but older than 1990 may also have vermiculite insulation which likely contains asbestos. In most cases, an investment is needed to remove the old insulation and properly insulate the walls, the attic and the roof. Energy rebates may be available for this.

Interior furniture, fixtures, materials and decorative trim

The interior design of a heritage property can be very detailed, and it’s important to decide which characteristics contribute to the value of the home. Ceiling details and interior trim — such as door stiles and rails, wainscoting and any decorative motifs — can be extremely valuable and worth preserving or restoring to its original state. Wallpaper patterns can be replicated and heritage paint colours are available.

Door and window hardware is often bronze, copper or crystal. Sometimes missing fixtures or ornate lighting can be found in architectural salvage stores.

The fireplace was the focus of many older homes. Oftentimes, mantel and hearth details were spectacular and included carved wood or marble. Make sure the home inspector is a bit of a detective as well and removes bits of paint in inconspicuous areas to see if you own a hidden treasure.

Landscaping, hardscape, plantings and style

The landscaping of a historic property can’t be overlooked. Many of our forebears brought their gardening skills with them from England, Italy and France, where gardens were outdoor living spaces. While it may be difficult to determine from an initial observation of what a garden may have once looked like, old photos can provide valuable clues.

Scent gardens, formal seating areas tucked into the shrubbery, and decorative ironwork gateways that framed views of other landscape elements. Gardens can give a heritage property context and take a historic home from stunning to truly spectacular.

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes.

She is an expert in the field of design and construction and is a columnist for several HOMES Publishing Group publications.


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Shape your space at the Toronto Fall Home Show

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Shape your space at the Toronto Fall Home Show

Get the inspiration and tips you need to organize your space at Toronto’s 29th annual largest Fall Home Show at the Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place (100 Princes’ Boulevard, Toronto) beginning Friday, September 15 and running until Sunday, September 17.

Discover ideas and answers to overcome household challenges and find innovative products for your next project — whether big or small — plus shop great deals from over 300 retailers. Everything you need to shape your space is waiting for you at the Toronto Fall Home Show featuring industry pros and experts including Sharon Grech, Carson Arthur, Leigh Ann Allaire Perrault, Jo Alcorn, Yvonne Tremblay and many more.

“Become inspired and informed with helpful advice at the Toronto Fall Home Show,” says Denise Hayward, show manager. “Organizing your space, whether it is big or small, a house or a condo, is everyone’s goal. Visitors come to the Toronto Fall Home Show to get ideas and tips for tackling their reno challenge, discovering small space inspiration and choosing the right technology for their home.”

GET ADVICE FROM THE PROS

From home interiors, renovation advice, DIY, small spaces for the home, local experts and celebrities offer insight on all your home projects and challenges. Some of this year’s line-up on the main stage includes:

Carson Arthur: International landscape designer and outdoor expert, featured on Cityline, Critical Listing, Home to Win, presented by Gladiator Garageworks will reveal the 10 biggest landscaping mistakes we make in our homes and how to correct them.

Sharon Grech: Benjamin Moore paint expert will show key looks in home interiors and share her tips to help you navigate through common colour myths to choose the perfect paint colour.

Kate Davidson and Linda Mazur: The designer offer tips on creating the perfect bathroom.

Yvonne Tremblay: Food and Nutrition Specialist from Foodland provides fall recipes using in-season, local Ontario grown and raised ingredients.

Jo Alcorn: Host of HGTV’s Home To Win will show you how to make every inch count in your small space with clever solutions.

Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault: Cityline design and DIY expert gives advice on upcycling without spending a dime.

UPCYCLE CHALLENGE

Inspired by the latest fashion trends, celebrity and DIY experts are taking part in the Sixth Annual Upcycle Challenge with the them: Ultimate Runway to Room. Participants will choose a piece from any of the 10 Habitat for Humanity GTA ReStores and — taking their inspirations from the runway — will use their DIY skills to create an upcycled one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

“The Ultimate Upcycle Challenge: Runway to Room is the perfect way the experts show how easy it is to be creative with upcycling a piece of furniture to give it new life,” says Hayward. “Limited only by their imaginations, they will translate a look from the runway into the perfect accent piece for the home.”

Confirmed participants include: Allaire Perrault, Alcorn, Michelle Mawby, Anne Renshaw, Evelyn Eshun, Nicholas Rosaci, Erica Gelman, Janice Fedak, Lindsey Gerish, David White, Debra Norton, Fiona Debell, Cristina Barbosa and Anna Rocoski. An online voting contest will run from September 8 to 16 to determine the winning project. You can make an offer and can walk away with your favourite piece with all entries on display and for sale at the Toronto Fall Home Show from September 15 to 17, with proceeds going to support Habitat for Humanity GTA.

DIY CENTRE

Do you have a to-do list, but are not sure how to get those projects accomplished? Learn the hands-on skills you need to complete DIY projects alongside experts. From storage and organization to home maintenance, you’ll have the opportunity to get your hands dirty and try something new!

STORAGE + ORGANIZATION

Nowhere to put your designer coffee mugs? Shoes strewn all about? Based on consumer feedback and suggestions, the Toronto Fall Home Show is going to build and solve three of the most common household issues as it relates to storage and organization.

FALL FAVOURITE FINDS

You’ll find plenty of innovative products and great decor solutions to inspire a wide array of projects for your home. Find the latest ideas, trending and new products with Tina’s Favourite Fall Finds. Show manager, Toronto Home Shows, Holmes has selected a few of her favorites. Look for them at the show!

DESTINATION RENOVATION

Wondering where to start on a home renovation? Visit RenoMark’s Destination Renovation to get all the tools you need. Complimentary one-on-one advice from expert RenoMark renovators will offer advice on how to select a renovator, insight on what the best renovation would be to deliver maximum ROI, and tips on how to ensure the project gets finished smoothly.

DESIGN INTERVENTION SPONSORED BY RENO & DECOR MAGAZINE

Interior designer Terry Edward Briceland brings decor inspiration and trends to life through vivid displays. Interior designers and decorators will be on hand offering tailored advice through complimentary, one-on-one consults. These consultations provide the opportunity to share design woes — including pictures, samples and floorplans — to get tailored advice on how to restyle your space. Book your free 15-minute consultation with Terry Edward Briceland (booth designer), Elaine Bergen, Glen Peloso, Jamie Alexander, Evelyn Eshun, Paul Semkuley, Kate Davidson, Linda Mazur, Yvonne Whelan, Erica Gelman, Janice Fedak, Karolina Adamska, Rosalia Fazzari, Kristiina Roosimaa or Catherine-Lucie Horber and have your design questions answered on the spot. Check www.renoanddecor.com for updated appearance schedules.

ASK A LANDSCAPE DESIGNER

Craving the perfect outdoor space? Want to build a pool, deck or patio? Before you start, ask the experts. If you’ve ever had a burning question about your landscape construction project, they will have the answers. Get all your landscape questions answered with Ask the Certified Landscape Designer presented by Natural Landscape Group and Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine.

HOME + STYLE STUDIO TOUR AND SALE

Shop, save and walk away with great buys on a huge selection of quality furniture and home furnishings from Stanley Furniture while you shop in support of Canadian HIV/ AIDS.

TORONTO FALL HOME SHOW
Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place
100 Princes’ Boulevard, Tloronto
September 15 to 17

www.fallhomeshow.com

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