Keeping your old house rustic, without the rust

Old houses definitely have a strange sort of charm, but how do you keep your home looking authentic without looking, well, old. Here are a few simple ways to update and maintain your home without completely doing away with the original design.

Keep some key features

A lot of old features will fare well over the years, so if you can, leave them as they are. Old stone and brick work looks great and should stay standing, but may start to leak over time, so if you need to weather-proof your walls, don’t plaster over them, I consider this high treason when it comes to face brick. Look for a weatherproofing paints or varnishes are usually clear so won’t hide the beautiful masonry underneath.


Unfortunately wood is one of those things that doesn’t hold up so well. Hard woods like oak will hold up better, but pine will be susceptible to termites, ants, and rot. Keeping it varnished, weatherproofed and polished is the best way to make it last. If you can, replace old wood with better timbers and try to match the color to the rest of the house.


Windows are a tough one, wooden frames can rot or break quite easily, and glass is always in danger of a stray football or storm-blown tree branch. Steel frames can look great if they’re done right and will last a long time. Whether you’re looking to match your existing windows, or freshening up the house with a whole new set, look at getting some good quality casement windows.


Old light fixtures are beautiful. The fittings are usually brass or similar, which can tarnish, but a quick polish will have it looking brand new again. You can buy a market brand or make your own brass polish.

The lights themselves are probably older bulbs, which really bump your electric bill. Consider replacing old bulbs with energy savers or LEDs, it will save you a lot long term and won’t change the look too much.

The Roof

An old roof is going to leak after a while. Thatch can be replaced periodically and has great aesthetic value. If your roof is asbestos, you may need to replace it – it could become a serious health hazard, which is why it’s not used in residential buildings anymore. Depending on the age of your home, there’s a chance the insulation could be recycled asbestos, so best get it checked.

Roof tiles, being constantly exposed to sun, wind, and rain, will take a beating after a few decades. An up market tile place can probably match your existing tiles, so you only need to replace what’s damaged rather than redoing the whole roof. Otherwise, tar based waterproof paint matched to the tiles will keep out any leaks.

Whether it’s an old family house, or you bought it in your lifetime, find out some of its history. Find out a little more about the people who may have lived, died and been born in your home, you’ll probably love it even more.

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