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Tips to Modernize an Older Home

September 21, 2021

It’s easy to fall in love with old houses. They are rich with charm and character. From crown molding and beadboard to hardwood floors and clawfoot tubs, there is something amazing about living in a home with such rich history. 

However, there are a few things about older homes that aren’t so charming—blue bathtubs, shag carpet, and popcorn ceiling, to name a few. It leaves many homeowners wondering: 

How do you modernize an old house?

There are several ways you can achieve a newer look for your abode. Small details can do wonders. MYMOVE recommends changing hardware in the kitchen and bathroom, replacing outdated light fixtures, and switching window treatments (1). We agree! These minor changes can work to create an open, brighter feel to your space.

Depending on your budget and desired end look, you may also opt for a complete remodel of your old home. The most popular rooms for intensive remodel are the kitchens and bathrooms. Expanding the kitchen or simply reorganizing the layout can make a huge difference (2). In the bathroom, changing the tile and replacing fixtures can help modernize it. Don’t forget about the exterior—consider a fresh coat of paint and new outdoor lighting.  

You can remodel for modernized energy efficiency, as well. Update appliances, add modern (and energy-saving) conveniences like a dishwasher, ensure your windows are dual-pane, and switch out your fuses for breakers (3). Practical, modern amenities like central air conditioning may be in order, too!

Once you know what you’d like to see in your old house, you might be ready to ask another common question: 

Should you remodel the inside or the outside of a home first? 

There are two schools of thought here. Some say you should start with the interior because you see it more often than the exterior. If the layout doesn’t suit you or you hate the color of your living room walls, it’s going to bother you more than what you don’t like about your home’s exterior. 

Most professionals, however, will recommend addressing the outside first. There are a few reasons for this: 

  1. Structure. 

A 2018 Remodelista article emphasizes the importance of having a strong foundation and solid exterior (4). It’s no secret that old houses bring unexpected issues. Finding out there is a leak in your roof after you paint interior walls may mean you have to do the same work twice! Get your roof, windows, siding, and foundation in order before focusing on the interior details.

  1. Curb appeal.

If you plan to sell your home in the future, make curb appeal a priority. Not only will a beautiful exterior and attractive landscaping help your home attract buyers, but they can also capture the attention of passersby early on in the game. Architect Sarah Susanka agrees that first impressions are vital when it comes to designing a home (5).

  1. Cohesion

The inside and outside of your home should complement each other. Sometimes, it’s easier to imagine the colors, fixtures, and layout you’d like for the interior of your home once you’re happy with the exterior.

Whether you choose to renovate the interior or exterior first, you’ve still got a long way to go before beginning your project.  

What comes first in a home renovation?

Don't know where to start in a renovation? The first step in any home renovation is planning (6). 

Decide which features you love about your home and which features you want to get rid of. Do you want to accentuate your home’s age or erase it? Create a priority list. From there, determine the projects you feel comfortable doing yourself and the projects that will require a contractor

An interior designer may be able to help with this part.

Next comes the all-important step of budgeting. How much are you willing to invest in your old home renovation? Where will you allot the most money? The least? And don’t forget to include a buffer amount for unexpected expenses (7). 

Especially when it comes to older homes, contractors will always do their best to give a solid estimate, but they don’t know what they can’t see. Mold? Asbestos? Unsafe wiring? Some things we can’t know until we open up a wall or pull up old flooring.

Next, you should decide on a timeline. You’ve likely been asked about a three-year, five-year, or ten-year plan during a job interview or review. The premise is not only “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s also “How will you get there?” 

You must design the same type of plan for your house. Without small, reachable goals, “someday” often becomes “never.” 

Beyond these first steps to modernizing an old home, the rest is up to you. We’ve explained why beginning with the exterior might be the right move for you. There are instances, however, when it’s not. Maybe you’re happy with the exterior. Maybe something indoors is taking priority.

Realty Times puts it beautifully when they say, “The choices are personal, so you have to approach it personally (8).” If you have your vision, goals, timeline, and budget, you’re ready to start!

Choose a Calgary Home Contractor with Experience

It always helps to pick a contractor who has experience working on older homes. At Reborn Renovations, we know the differences between old home construction and new home construction. We can seamlessly meld historical aesthetics with modern convenience. 

We are able to recognize some common pitfalls, simply because we see old homes every day. We’re familiar with potential problems, such as harmful building materials that may be present and common areas of deterioration. 

Reborn Renovations is also an excellent choice for your older home remodel because we provide one-stop shopping. One call connects you with builders, designers, showrooms, contractors, sub-contractors, and even a restoration team.

Whether you want your old home to look brand new, or you want the old character with the comfort of new, Reborn Renovations has the crew and knowledge to make your home dreams reality. 

Get in touch with us today to discuss your project!


  1. https://www.mymove.com/home-renovation/guides/ways-to-update-your-home-without-major-renovations/
  2. https://www.thisoldhouse.com/cabinets/21018036/21-ways-to-save-on-your-house-remodel
  3. https://www.oldhouseonline.com/repairs-and-how-to/8-ways-modernize-house/
  4. https://www.remodelista.com/posts/9-basic-remodeling-mistakes-to-avoid-from-matriarchy-build/
  5. https://www.marvin.com/blog/remodeling-your-home-start-from-the-outside
  6. https://www.prolinerangehoods.com/blog/whole-home-remodel-where-to-start/
  7. https://www.houselogic.com/remodel/remodeling-tips-advice/home-renovations-on-a-budget/
  8. https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/27583-20140216-when-its-time-to-renovate-what-comes-first 
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