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Like brides, homeowners want something old, something new

It’s the curly hair-straight hair dilemma all over. You have one, and want the other. Those who live in new homes covet the character and charm of old ones. Those who live in old homes long for the modern amenities new ones offer.

Not everyone is in a position to buy or build a new old house. Here are ideas to help homeowners get the best of both in the home they have.

Make a new house feel old

Beef up the outside elevation: New homes often lack character because builders cut costs by not adding touches like brick or stone, real wood siding or trim, shutters or pediments over the front door. “Around back, where residents often spend a lot of time, builders often really skimp,” Albert said.

Shop salvage yards: “Architectural salvage items, with their worn patina, can confer time in a new space in a charming way,” said Amy Albert, editor of Custom Home magazine. She finds everything from funky medicine cabinets to old ceiling medallions there. Consider replacing your front door with a salvaged door. If you come across an old-fashioned Dutch door, use it to replace a standard interior door.

Add a porch: If the basic shape of the house permits, add a deep, well-detailed porch, with period light fixtures.

Build it in: Window seats, book cases, a dedicated place by the door to hang coats and stash boots, and other thoughtful built-ins can add old-fashioned warmth, as can moldings around doors, windows and ceilings.

Make an old home feel new

Update the flow: If a home’s floor plan is chopped up by lots of rooms, consider knocking down a wall to open up the space and improve sight lines, particularly in the kitchen, dining and family areas.

Let other design moves, such as a change in flooring or ceiling treatments (instead of walls) define the space and make sure it doesn’t feel bland, said Albert.

Tighten the envelope: Make an old home more energy efficient by adding double-pane windows and beefing up insulation.

Add light: Older homes are often dark, partly because their windows tend to be small. Lighten them up by adding larger windows and installing better built-in lighting, said Burbank.

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