Home Design and Build

Planning Old Home Renovation in Chicago? What Should You Keep

Renovating an old house can be an exciting time, but it can also be incredibly stressful when figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of.

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Plenty of old homes have been around for years in Chicago and need refurbishing and remodeling. Whether you’re looking to make the interior or exterior more energy-efficient or want to replace the carpet with a polish hardwood floor. You’ll need to make some tough decisions along the way during old home renovation in Chicago. When you’re remodeling an old house, especially one with historical significance or one in your family for generations, you might not want to change it too much. This can be a tricky balance to strike, though, since many of the things you keep may seem outdate or impractical compare to what you would put in if you were building from scratch.

Old houses are often one of the most expensive homes to remodel, not just because they’re old. But also because there’s usually so much wrong with them on the inside. However, there are plenty of old home renovation projects that keep the house’s character without completely gutting it and starting over from scratch, which can save you some time and money when making changes to your home. In this article, we’ll give you suggestions on how to decide which features of your home are worth keeping. So that you can create a beautiful home that reflects your tastes and personality while still respecting the history of your old house.

So, before you start ripping up the worn-out carpet or chipping away at the old paint, take a moment to consider which pieces of your home you should keep. And which pieces you can replace with something new and improved.

The Floor Plan

In Chicago, most older houses were built so that the flow between the most important living spaces, such as the kitchen, the parlor, and the entrance hall, is logical and convenient. New additions in older homes sometimes confuse more than they clarify things. When possible, try to preserve the home’s original plan as best you can when planning a home renovation Chicago project. Sometimes that may even mean bringing back parts of the home that were altered by previous remodelers.

For instance, in the 1970s, nobody wanted a dining room, so the trend was to turn them into open-plan kitchens to create country kitchens or other multiple-use spaces in an open plan. It’s worth the initial trouble; today, the dining room is back. At first, a more traditional floor plan may not seem flexible enough to accommodate your planned renovations, and a wholesale reorganization may seem necessary. It’s worth another look.


Moldings were key design components even in modest dwellings until the years following World War II. Baseboards and casings surrounding windows and doors were typically broad stock, with applied moldings to provide shadow lines and a stronger, three-dimensional look. Cornices were particularly weighty and dramatic in the late nineteenth century. Save as much original woodwork as possible during your old home renovation. Especially any early paneling, built-in casework, spindle work, and other beautiful wood treatments.

Consider such timber pieces to be both worthy of preservation and a source of inspiration. Try to mimic existing aspects if your proposal includes new elements such as windows, doors, or cabinets. Using existing excellent work as a source for additional details will assist in giving the new area a sense of belonging to the rest of the home.


As the expense of great workmanship has risen. So it has the quality and character of the traditional staircase. Restore them if you have original balusters, rails, and newel posts on your stairway(s). If they’re made of hardwoods or are so heavily painted that the turnings, panels, or other features are no longer sharp, strip them. Find strategies to stabilize them that don’t distract from their attractiveness (if required). Badly worn treads can normally be replaced without too much effort. But make sure the features, such as the nosing returns (where the rounded edge extends around the open end of the tread), are restored as well.

You may get new balusters to replace broken or missing ones for a fairly low price if you hunt about. Staircases are important to home design features and are well worth the extra money to preserve and refurbish. Staircases are especially expensive, sometimes costing as much as $20,000. So if you’re planning an old home renovation in Chicago with a beautiful staircase, keep them.


Some old home doors are built with particular hinges or latches that are no longer available, making it difficult or impossible to modernize them. If you’re not looking to keep a vintage door, take it off its hinges and build a new frame around it. You can find replacement hardware at any home improvement store in Chicago. Replace your frame every few years if needed (and remember to update your threshold). It’s hard not to consider keeping a door that you love. But there are plenty of reasons why it might not be feasible.

Besides its weight and size, there could be construction issues, like how it would fit into your new space. Or if it wouldn’t work with your floor plan. Older doors may also have square footage than you need for any single room. So even if you like them, cutting one up and incorporating it elsewhere probably isn’t worth your time. Before deciding whether to keep a door, make sure you don’t have an emotional attachment or a good home renovation Chicago contractor to convince you otherwise.

Walls Are Great, If They Can Be Repurposed

Before gutting your old home and starting from scratch, consider what walls will be worth keeping. In most cases, you’ll want to keep anything that divides rooms or serves as structural support (think hallways, main rooms, and rooms containing load-bearing beams). Once you’ve removed everything else, try imagining how you might like your space arranged if it were brand new. What size room would you want? Which pieces of furniture will you want in each room? What kind of layout appeals to you? Can any walls be removed or moved around to better suit your needs? Getting those mental questions down on paper can help give your plan home remodel some direction.

Storage Space

Ask yourself if you want your new space to fit your current lifestyle. If you want to keep most of your furniture, don’t let space constraints hold you back from home remodeling. If you want a more open floor plan that invites people into all areas of your home and gets rid of any cramped feeling, then go for it! Whether you choose existing or new furniture pieces is up to you. But make sure everything fits into your room. If anything doesn’t fit now, try storage solutions like extra storage ottomans or built-in desks underneath elevated beds. These are just some ideas to get you start on your home renovation journey.

Plaster Surfaces

If you’re planning on turning your plaster surfaces into more modern materials, keep in mind that not all of them can be painted over. Plaster walls are typically created with lath (thin wood strips). And lath can damage by paint strippers, which means repairs will be necessary before attempting a new coat of paint. Other materials like wallpaper or paneling may also have a special finish requiring delicate sanding or painting prep work prior to applying color. If you’re unsure whether your old plaster walls are up for revamping. Consider having a professional home inspector come out and give their opinion.


New windows can be put on any wall, and you can add light by putting large pictures or mirrors on walls. If your old windows are still functional, clean them up, hang some new curtains, and have a brand-new look. While many people think their old windows are too small if they aren’t leaking, then leave them alone. And put an elegant window seat in front of them for additional seating space. If you’re lucky enough to find some big, beautiful antique windows at a flea market or garage sale. Keep those as centerpieces of your Chicago home renovation while replacing old windows with new ones.

Hidden Structural Issues Can Cause Big Problems Later On-Why Not Fix Them Now?

If you’re going through with an old home renovation in Chicago, consider taking care of hidden structural issues while you’re at it. You may want to start with a foundation or structural engineer. Because any work that does need to be done will cost more upfront than cosmetic fixes. Renovating an old home is exciting—and, if done right, can be extremely rewarding. Just remember, keeping your cool and working methodically will help you navigate unexpected issues as they arise. If something feels like a big risk or outside of your comfort zone. Talk it out with your old home renovation contractor first so you know what lies ahead and what you can expect down the road. Then move forward knowing that each decision has been carefully considered!

If you need professional help to manage and monitor your old home renovation Chicago project, contact Homednb! We make the home renovation process transparent and worry-free with reliable and trusted contractors in Chicago!