Vintage vs. Outdated: 5 Home Features to Keep and 5 to Replace

When it was brand new, your home was the bright and shiny epitome of contemporary design and state-of-the-art features! But now, 20, 40, or even 100 years after it was built, it could use a little help.

We know it’s tempting to take a sledgehammer to the walls and rip the whole structure to pieces, just like you see on TV. But there’s a better—and more economical!—way to refresh your home. Pulling out too many original home features can ruin your home’s charm. More importantly in the long run, it can also lessen its resale value with future buyers seeking those original features.

So, when should you update your home or leave the original features? Here are five home features to keep, as well as five you can replace today with our blessing.

5 Vintage Home Features You Should Keep

Some buyers are happy with ultra-modern minimalist spaces or whitewashed farmhouse trends. But many others will appreciate the authentic mid-century design elements of your home. Or the vintage Art Deco accents that are so expensive to replicate. If your home is lucky enough to have the features below, keep them! With a little restoration, love, and care, they can look brand new again and add great character to your home.

Hardwood Floors

Synthetic tiles have come a long way. But nothing can recreate the richness of original hardwood floors! Most home buyers right now want hardwood floors or something equivalent. And that timeless trend won’t be changing anytime soon. If you prefer a softer feel on your feet, consider investing in area rugs that can be easily moved or cleaned. Even if your hardwood floors have seen better days, they can still be salvaged. With a little elbow grease, sanding, and staining, you’ll be surprised by the beauty that can be found under your feet.

Original Tiles

Okay. So, we know bubblegum pink bathroom tiles aren’t for everyone. But if those tiles are original to a 1950s mill house, that’s a rare find that’s becoming rarer by the day! In fact, one designer has even started a “Save the Pink Bathrooms” movement. We digress, but the point is that some tiles have a lot of value, believe it or not. Whether on the floors or walls, well-maintained retro, vintage, or foreign-made tiles are often best left in place. Clean and restore them, and consider using them as the basis for that room’s design. They’re doing all the hard work for you.

Fireplaces and Mantels

Functionally, a fireplace’s first purpose is to generate heat for a home. But practically speaking, a fireplace and its mantel serve as the visual focus of a room. Have any workable fireplaces serviced before using them. But even if it’s just decorative at this stage in its life, your fireplace or wood stove is worth restoring to its original glory. The next homeowners will thank you. Apartment Therapy says, “The same materials that were being covered or converted just a few years ago are now sought after for preservation.”

Mouldings and Paneling

You may not care for your stained wood window mouldings. However, designers attest that “original details like crown moldings, wainscoting, beadboarding, and real wood paneling will never be out of vogue.” It’s easy for generations of paint or stain to make original details look gunky and outdated. Take the time to properly clean and restore the woodwork. If your aesthetic demands, paint them again if you must. However, it’s always best to leave quality woodwork in place if at all possible.

Protected Porches

In the mountains, having a rocking-chair front porch is a rite of passage. It’s expensive to add a porch, deck, or patio to a home, especially one that’s protected from the elements by an overhang. If you’re lucky enough to have a home with one already in place, do what you can to preserve it. The same goes for patios surrounded by breeze blocks. Though not a common home feature in the mountains, they’re among the features home buyers most want preserved.

Bottom Line: Restore Older Features Instead of Replacing Them

In adding to saving the features themselves, restoring instead of replacing is a great way to save money on your remodel. The list above just touches on a few of the many original features your home may have that are definitely worth keeping. But you may also want to preserve ceiling tiles or medallions, vintage stoves or appliances, original ceramic sinks and clawfoot tubs, and more. By bringing these features back to their original charm, you can enjoy them for years to come. After all, many of these features may be what attracted you to the home in the first place!

5 Outdated Home Features You Should Replace

As much as we love the features listed above, there are many others that are easy to toss. And the good news is, many of these are much easier to remove and replace than, say, the wall where a fireplace used to be. Check out the list below, and if these features no longer spark joy, go ahead and get rid of them today.

Old Carpeting

Like mattresses, carpeting has a lifespan. And like mattresses, most people tend to ignore that lifespan to their detriment. No matter how often you vacuum, old carpet can be a source of allergens and pests, like dust or mites. Not to mention, bad smells. So, go ahead and plan to pull up that old, dingy carpet as soon as you can. Replacing carpet is an easy project to tackle one room at a time. And who knows! Maybe you’ll luck out and find beautiful hardwood floors underneath.

Windows and Window Treatments

Nothing should get in the way of your long-range views of our gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains! And that includes your windows. The rule of thumb given by window professionals is that they should be replaced every 15–20 years. New windows may sound costly, but just think of all the money you can save on energy costs. Drafts around poorly sealed old windows or heat loss from single-pane glass can add up to big money over time! 

While you’re focusing on your views, don’t neglect the window treatments. Fresh, bright curtains are always an improvement over heavy, dark valances. And on-trend blinds or bamboo shades are well worth the investment. Even adjusting the height of your treatments can make a big difference to how big the room feels.

Paint and Wallpaper

The beauty of paint is that it’s an easy and relatively affordable renovation for any home. Replacing old, peeling wallpaper can get a little more complicated, but it’s also a chore you could tackle on your own. And sometimes even a fresh coat of your existing color can make a world of difference in how fresh your home looks and feels. If you’re staying on trend by adding a contemporary wallpaper, consider one that’s removable. That way, next time you feel like redecorating, you won’t have as much work. (Future buyers will thank you, too!)

Drawer Pulls and Door Handles

If you’re ready for a big change with minimal effort, this is the update for you. Combine this option with new paint, above, or other new fixtures, below, for maximum effect with minimal fuss. New cabinet hardware will make your kitchen and bathrooms look like new. And new door handles do a lot to tie all your other room elements together. Don’t forget to match the hinges!

Other Faucets, Fixtures, and Fittings

Aside from the hardware mentioned above, there are many other small elements in your rooms that can really help you upgrade your space. Update them one at a time as your budget permits. These features include:

  • Indoor and outdoor light fixtures.
  • Kitchen and bathroom faucets.
  • Shower heads.
  • Light switches and plates.
  • Outlets and outlet covers.
  • Wall brackets.
  • Register covers and vents.
  • Thermostats.

Caveat: Some of These May also be Worth Keeping

Of course, the list of replaceable home features above comes with a caveat. If you own an 1890s Victorian masterpiece with the original door knobs and transom windows, please keep them! Authentic 1960s light fixtures in amazing condition? Keep. Original 1990s wallpaper borders in the bathroom? You have our permission to replace. You get the idea. 

Last Step: Decorate to Complement Your Restored Home

If your home is more than a few decades old, chances are it’s had many owners with many different design tastes over the course of many design trends. One reason why it’s easier to consider starting from scratch is to eliminate the hodgepodge of different elements working against each other. But we implore you to resist the urge! 

Instead, try to take your home back to its roots. We’re not saying you need to turn your 1970s split-level ranch into a “Brady Bunch” replica. (But if that’s your thing, go for it!) However, use that vibe in conjunction with modern needs and sensibilities to develop a home that’s authentic to the house and true to you, too. A light touch is all that’s needed, perhaps by starting with the paint, updating the fixtures, and adding a few accessories. We love the modern Mod elements of the home pictured above! Most importantly, make sure to carry common elements throughout the home in order to streamline your design and make everything look cohesive.

Need More Help with Your Remodeling Decisions?

Every home is different. So, if you’re not sure if your countertops are original or if it would be better to replace a few broken bathroom tiles or all of them—ask! Local designers can offer additional insight into both the quality of your existing home features and the cost to restore or replace them. 

In addition, your Beverly-Hanks real estate expert remains a great source of information, even after you’ve long since settled into the home. Ask them about changing home buyer trends, which home updates generate the biggest return, and more. 

Contact your Beverly-Hanks REALTOR® today!

All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, it’s important to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about buying or selling homes in Western North Carolina. View all Beverly-Hanks real estate listings.


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