Living in a heritage home typically presents more challenges than living in one that is relatively new. Although all houses require maintenance, regardless of their age, there are special considerations when one owns an older home, especially a heritage home. One of these is how to keep the interior authentic, if not in actuality, at least in feeling. So where would you start?
I get many personal emails from readers asking questions relating to the topics on my blog and these provide ideas for future posts, like this one.
The question? Where is the best place to find information and pictures of the inside of a house?
Answer: I have to make an assumption here that the reader wants to know this in order to help her make good choices when working on the interior of her heritage home. If the information requested is based on the reader’s own home I would suggest the following:
1.Speak to neighbours to see if they knew any of the previous owners in case they might have photos of the home. When communities were smaller and people knew and socialized with each other more they took pictures of special gatherings in each other’s homes.
2.Track down relatives for the same reason. Invite them over to your house and let them reminisce about how things used to be. I was able to do this personally and I found out some very interesting things about our house.
3.Find out who might have lived in the house. If the house is historically significant, or if there was a well-known person who lived in it, it’s possible that the local archives might have pictures of the interior of the home. This is pretty rare so when it happens that you do find something like blueprints, photos or other ephemera, it feels like you’ve hit the jackpot. This is why I encourage people to take photographs of the interior of their house before and after they do renovation work and give the pictures to their local archives.
4.Belong to heritage groups or get to know owners of heritage homes that are similar to yours. Some homes may be in a more authentic state than yours and seeing them will provide you with a lot of details about your own home. Plus, it’s fun to meet kindred spirits.
5.Consult restoration books and guides. Most old-house magazines and design books feature incredible houses that are beyond the means of most people reading them. This is why I wrote a guide to restoring more modest homes. It’s called “Historical Homes of Alberta” because it satisfied the requirements of the historical association that gave me a grant to write the book, but it is very useful for homes in most regions. The guide covers the restoring and decorating of homes built between 1895 – 1939. ( see Historical Homes of Alberta for more information.)
6. Go online and read articles and blogs like this one. Online communities exist to deal with almost any topic. Be judicious and check out more than one site before you take someone’s advice as being true.
And, finally, I would add “Enjoy the process“. There’s no feeling quite like the satisfaction you get by preserving a piece of history that is, at the same time, your home.