Decorating a Historic Home

Finding the perfect home décor for a historic home can feel challenging. There are really two ways to approach this design dilemma; focus on the history of the home or leave the history at the front door.

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Historic Reflection

The first option is to embrace the history of the home and create a stunning décor that reflects the rich history of the home and the aesthetics of the original time period, while retaining modern design elements and functionality. This doesn’t mean the home needs to be filled entirely with expensive antiques that are truly authentic to the period of the house. Rather, this is incorporating the history and the design into the overall feeling of the interior décor, using a mixture of antiques and modern options or focusing exclusively on modern choices that simply resemble the aesthetic style native to the time period of the home.

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Finding antiques that are true to the original design of the home can be difficult, especially if the home was built hundreds of years in the past. Even if you want furniture from a specific time period, it may be cost prohibitive to find individual pieces that go well with each other and the home. Homes that were built around the founding of the nation in the 1700s have a unique style. Chippendale style furniture was popular during this period and brands like Maitland Smith furniture continue to offer new pieces in the same style.

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Another great way to build upon the history of the home is to uncover the original brick or stone walls in some areas and make them a focal point. This can also be used with other architectural features such as the wooden beams in the roof or the solid wood floors buried beneath layers of more modern carpet. Uncovering these aspects and making them part of the interior design strategy can yield dramatic results.

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Unfortunately, past renovations may have completely destroyed some of the original work. In those cases, it may be possible to find modern alternatives. Many people have become enamored with the exposed stone and brick within a home but have no way to access these walls without diminishing the weather tightness of the room. Many modern companies make stone and brick veneers which can easily be affixed to contemporary walls to generate the same look.


Not everyone who chooses a historic home necessarily wants to be surrounded by items that make them feel as though they have stepped into a piece of the past or a movie set. Many people purchase a historic home simply because the location of the home is desirable in some way. In these instances, it makes more sense to cultivate a modern décor that does not permanently damage any of the original features which may be attractive to new owners in the future.

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There are several ways to accomplish this. Many people start with painting the walls and installing new flooring. These are valid options and they can create a more modern atmosphere but there are many little details which are often overlooked that can have an even greater impact. For example, the light fixtures, windows, and even doors all sit in the background of home design, but have a huge impact on how a room comes together.

If someone wants to cultivate a contemporary home décor but the windows and doors are from the 18th century and the electrical outlets and switches are from a renovation in the early 20th century, that is going to be difficult to accomplish. By taking the time to address these background elements it is far easier to ensure the décor is cohesive throughout the room and home.

There is no one right way to decorate a historic home, or any other home for that matter. It all comes down to what makes the homeowner happy. When coming home at the end of a long day, it is important that people are greeted by a home that makes them feel like the best version of themselves. Whether that means an environment filled with historic artifacts or one that is overflowing with cutting edge technology and modern design should be determined by personal aesthetic taste rather than any specific style guide.