how-to-update-an-old-home

10 Foolproof Ways to Update an Old Home

Old houses are full of character and history. But eventually, certain no-longer-charming elements simply need modernization. (Does anyone really love popcorn ceilings anymore?) There are endless ways to update an old home, but in this post, we’ll focus on 10. 

How to Update an Old Home

Some old homes might need a complete overhaul, but many can be modernized with just a few updates. You may be able to pick and choose from this list to achieve a perfect blend of old and new for a timeless look that lasts for years to come. 

1. Renovate a Single Space

If your budget is tight, you might have to narrow your focus down to a single space. The kitchen or bathrooms get the most use and often look the most dated. A kitchen renovation or bathroom remodel can freshen up your home, even if you can’t touch the other areas yet.  See also: 10 Signs It’s Time to Renovate Your Kitchen

2. Renovate for Energy Efficiency

Older homes were not built with energy efficiency in mind. Update your appliances to newer Energy Star models. Replace your windows with double- or triple-pane versions. And consider adding a few energy efficient modern conveniences like a dishwasher or central air conditioning. 

3. Renovate the Exterior

It’s tempting to focus only on the interior of your home when you decide to update it, but there are important reasons to consider renovating the exterior, too.  Depending on when your home was built and what the building codes were then, there may be some structural issues that need to be addressed. 
  • Is your foundation still strong? 
  • Is your exterior solid? 
  • Is it time to repair the roof? 
Imagine how frustrating it would be to renovate your home’s interior only to experience a major leak or other structural issue that forces you to do it all over again! If you plan to sell your house eventually, renovating the exterior will significantly improve its curb appeal and likely attract more buyers. Their first impression will affect the amount they’re willing to offer for your old home.

4. Streamline the Interior Design

Your home has probably lived through at least one or two renovations. The older your home gets, the more updating it has experienced. If patchwork renovations have created a disjointed look throughout your home, it’s time to streamline.  Whatever you choose to update, update it throughout the entire house. If you remove the shag carpet in your bedroom, remove the shag carpet in the rest of the house. If you replace the baseboards and trim in one room, replace it all.  One way to start streamlining is by updating your window treatments. Replace old blinds and dark, heavy valances with modern wood blinds or roman shades. 

5. Open the Layout

Old homes are typically compartmentalized. The open concept floor plan so popular in today’s houses is still a relatively new thing. Revamp the layout of your main living space to open it up and breathe new life into your home. Older kitchens and bathrooms feel cramped. Consider rearranging those rooms to create more space. 

6. Replace Minor Fixtures & Faucets

Light switches and plates, outlets and outlet covers, cabinet hardware, door handles, and register covers can really date your home. Updating these minor details can be an inexpensive way to make a big difference in your home’s appearance.  Light fixtures are another easy feature to update. Check out How to Choose the Best Lighting for Your Kitchen. Don’t forget the exterior lights, too.  Have you ever updated your thermostat? A new programmable thermostat will look modern and save you money on your utility bills! The faucets in your bathroom look old in style, but they’ve probably gotten kinda gross over the years, too. You don’t need a plumber to replace your faucets, so it’s an easy way to massively improve the style of your bathroom. 

7. Paint

If you can only choose one thing to do to update your old house, paint is probably the top option. It’s the best value because it doesn’t cost as much as some other major upgrades, yet it has a dramatic effect on the look of your home.  You can use paint on more than just walls. Consider refinishing these other elements for an updated look:
  • Doors
  • Baseboards and trim
  • Built-in shelving and furniture
  • Tile
  • Floors
  • Fireplace
  • Light fixtures
  • Door hardware

8. Update the Doors

Old homes usually have dark, hollow, flat wood doors. Modern houses typically use white, paneled doors. Updating your interior doors and door knobs can drastically change the look and feel of your old home. 

9. Change the Baseboards & Trim

Houses built in the last couple of decades typically have tall, white baseboards and trim to match. The added height creates a stylish appeal, and an advantage of the painted finish is that you can change the colour with a fresh coat of paint.  Older houses commonly have thin, wooden baseboards and trim. The look might work for some design styles, but not many. Replace them for an instant update.  Another option is to add crown moulding, window trim, or wainscoting to add personality. These are more traditional details, but for a home with little character, this update can add some charm and a sense of quality craftsmanship. 

10. Replace the Carpet

How old is your carpet? If it’s older than 10-15 years, it’s high time to replace it. New carpet is an option, but we recommend hardwood or luxury vinyl instead.  If you discover hardwood flooring underneath your carpet, don’t cover it back up! Refinish it, and it’ll look like new! Hardwood flooring is in style, easier to clean and maintain than carpet, lasts long, and is better for the environment and the health of your family. 

Update Your Old Home with a Calgary Renovations Expert

If it’s time to update your old home in Calgary, you need a renovations expert. Riverstone Kitchens & Renovations has over 3 decades of experience, so we understand old home construction. We also have in-house designers with the creativity and expertise to transform your old house into a modern home.  Whether you want to do a complete home renovation, or focus on a single space like a new kitchen or a bathroom remodel, our design and construction professionals can help you! Contact us for a free consultation today.
Picture of Jana Carlson

Jana Carlson

SEO Content Writer & Strategist | I help small businesses attract more customers with a no-nonsense content strategy

Share this post

Stay Updated

Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter for design & renovation tips, promos, and more!