When you purchase an older home, it’s probable that a few updates are in order. But how do you modernize without totally wiping out all of the home’s unique charm? Those quirky characteristics are likely part of what initially drew you in—and it IS possible to upgrade the space while retaining the home’s original allure.

First things first: Figure out what you can keep. You may have fallen in love with the built-in bookshelves, or have a soft spot for the pink tile in the powder room. Start by making a list of features you’d love to preserve, and compare it to a list of updates that would make the style and function of the home more aligned with your current lifestyle.

For updates that pack a big punch without any major remodeling, consider these tasks:

1. Fresh Paint

Few things restore the feel of a home like a fresh coat of paint. Brighten up dim corners with a crisp white paint, or embrace moody hues in your living spaces—your home will feel much cleaner and newer with a paint color that you picked yourself. 

painting interior wall white

2. Refinish Floors

Lots of times, old homes boast wide-planked, real wood floors or fun, retro tiles that are hard to come by in new builds. Depending on the condition of your floors, refinishing them is typically less expensive than replacing them. Plus, it helps to maintain the home’s charm.

refinishing wooden floors

3. Update Bathroom Fixtures + Mirrors

Bathrooms should feel like a fresh, serene sanctuary for personal care and hygiene—and that’s a tough order in an outdated bathroom. For some older homes, the reality is that a new shower or tub may be necessary. But for many others, a few simple swaps can elevate the space without a complete remodel. 

Try changing out fixtures, as well as hardware like cabinet pulls and door handles. It’s a relatively small project that can make a huge difference. (Check out Champagne Bronze for a modern gold look we love!) Updating the vanity mirrors can also change the aesthetic of the entire bathroom. If the original sheet mirror is still in decent shape, using Add A Frame® is a cost effective way to bring it back to life. You can go from builder-grade to completely customized in just a few clicks. Or, opt for a fully Custom Framed Mirror. All you need to do is select your style and enter your specific dimensions.

updated bathroom and vanity

4. Consider New Doors

Doors are the first line of defense against weather, debris, animals, and unwanted intruders. As such, they put up with a lot of wear and tear—and so they have a shelf life, so to speak. Even interior doors can show their age over time. Since the entryway to a room can really set the tone, it’s worth considering new doors to make the space feel fresher without changing the footprint or character.

front door on old home

If you’re concerned about erasing your home’s personality, take it slow! See how you live and operate in the space and update it little by little. Don’t be afraid to mesh vintage with modern—this approach can add so much depth and interest to a home. Restore what you can, replace what you must, and have fun making this place your own.