Interior Design for an Old House that Creatively Blends Old and New

Interior Design of a Living Room in an Old Home by The Red Shutters

How to Design a Home True to the Period with a Fresh Twist

Have you ever looked at an old home and been in awe of its presence yet confused about how to keep its history while living in the present?

Old homes are full of wonderful architectural and period elements that tell an important story of the time of their origin. While these features add inviting charm and character, the balancing act is keeping the elements fresh while not living in the past. There is a way to beautifully blend the old with the new for an inviting, updated look. By strategically embracing the vintage aspects while simultaneously telling your story through stylish updates your old house becomes a wonderful reflection of both the past and a current, a comfortable home for you and your family. The changes made to the circa 1840 Hudson Valley home owned by The Red Shutters’ lead interior designer, Marina Case, provide some great ideas to help you transform your aged home into a space that reflects your taste and incorporates the modern features you desire.

In decorating her home, Marina chose to honor the history of The Manse in fresh, new ways. Her Warwick, New York home, which dates back to 1764 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is steeped in rich history. The building has served as a parsonage and a gathering center for the community, and even entertained such distinguished guests as Geronimo during our country’s attempt to quell the American Indian situation prior to World War I. The home’s current interior design pays homage to its history by underscoring the architectural highlights and traditional style while intertwining Marina’s decorating style with color and a crisp, contemporary feel. We’ve highlighted a few of the design ideas incorporated into Marina’s home below to give you ideas of how to transform your period house into a welcoming home that you and your family will love spending time in.

Interior Design Tips for Adding Your Personal Style to an Old Home

Preserve Aspects that Evoke a Specific Time Period

By taking great care to be sensitive to the bones and architecture, you can bring attention to features you would not typically find in homes built today and make your home stand out from the rest. Rather than stripping everything down to the basics and starting anew, embrace and cherish décor you are drawn to, making what’s old fresh and inviting. The Manse’s front hallway is a great example of this. Preserving the vintage wallpaper border and painted floor in the front hallway and highlighting them both with an on-trend dark paint color showcases unique period elements while giving the space a more contemporary vibe.

To successfully update features that harken back to another time, pepper the rooms with classic décor elements that are purely your style. Here, things like a black awning striped sofa with fun pillows and a collection of eclectic wall art and accessories curated over the years show the homeowners’ personal style.

Interior Design of a Front Entry in an Old Home by The Red Shutters

Add Personality through Paint Colors

The simplest way to bring new life to an old house is through paint. Just because you live in a century+ home doesn’t mean you need to live with dated paint colors tied to the period. Paint your home’s interior in current hues that reflect your personality. The Manse’s living room is the perfect example of blending the old with the new and having personality shine through. The wall color and fabrics evoke a relaxed, beachy feel. The pink shade, which makes the room bright and airy, pops against the dark floors and crisp, white trim – and beautifully showcases the original fireplace mantel.

Pops of color, such as bright green, blues and coral, were also used in other rooms of the house. Another modernizing interior design paint trick for an old home – using high gloss on the ceilings or crown molding as you can see in the photo of the living room. It instantly makes any space feel more contemporary.

Interior Design of a Living Room in an Old Home by The Red Shutters
Interior Design of a Circa 1840 Home by The Red Shutters

Freshen Things Up with Modern Fixtures

A great design technique to quickly make the interior of an old home feel more modern is mixing updated and older lighting fixtures to create a timeless, classic look. The Manse blends period fixtures with new ones that exude a feeling reminiscent of the home’s period. For example, modern lantern lights were installed in the master bedroom and dressing room, an updated chandelier added to the dining room, and a more contemporary chandelier in the front entry balances the vintage wallpaper and painted floor.

Interior Design of a Dining Room in an Old Home by The Red Shutters

Boost Natural Light with Mirrors

Often old homes tend to be a bit darker than their contemporary counterparts. Enhance the natural light by hanging mirrors throughout the rooms. Their ability to refract light really helps to brighten up each space.

Use of Mirror in Interior Design of an Old Home by The Red Shutters

Tell a Story through Textiles

The colors, patterns, and textures of fabrics can also breathe new life into a home. To enjoy living in your home without worrying about spills and fading, choose performance-based fabrics like Crypton or Sunbrella. The brightly colored toile, checks, and stripes in the master bedroom exude a contemporary nod to the home’s beginnings with a fresh twist. The fabric used for the living room furniture creates a more relaxed atmosphere, while the striped vintage sofa with plaid and leather pillows in the front entry has a more playful look.

Use of Textiles in Interior Design of an Old Home by The Red Shutters

Take Your Home into the 21st Century with Technology

Living in an historic or older home doesn’t mean you have to give up conveniences. Install Nest thermostats, cameras, door bells, and garage door openers to make life easier. While previous owners may have used the fireplaces as heat sources, enjoy a fire without any fuss or smoke by converting wood-burning fireplaces to gas systems complete with a remote. Incorporating technology will enable you to live more comfortably.

Click here for more information on this home, which is currently for sale.

There are so many ways you can breathe fresh life into an old home to truly make it yours. View my Portfolio to see more examples of my interior design projects and follow us on Instagram for more interior design inspiration.

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About Marina Case

Years of experience and understanding of the history of design provides Marina with the ability to read each client so she can create spaces that truly reflect who they are. Marina, who has been honored as one of the Top 50 New York Designers, as well as a Houzz Influencer, has her pulse on the interior design industry. She stays on top of the latest trends, participates in a leading collaborative national network of designers, and frequently shares her creative and professional ideas with trade professionals.