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10 Ways to Make an Old Home Feel New

In my ideal world, I would have a picture perfect new home with all of the old home charm. Apparently, a knock down is not in our budget, nor are the high quality building materials that I would want to use! The solution? Finding ways to make an old home feel new, without losing character.

easy updates for an old home

One of the most important elements in our search was neighborhood. I passed up my picture perfect Colonial loaded with details for an enchanting neighborhood. So far, I don’t regret it! Okay, I’m still mourning the loss of 2 levels of hardwoods, the floor plan, and butler’s pantry I’ve dreamed of my entire life,  but neighbors welcoming us with friendly smiles, cake bites and fireworks on the driving range have compensated for it!

how to update an old home on any budget

This home showed signs of heavy wear and needed a little refresh. Come inside to see easy ways we updated our home.

A few of my favorite ways to give new life to an old home:

Clean or Replace Carpets

Make the space feel fresh with new carpet or by having it thoroughly cleaned.

easy updates for an old home

Make it Cohesive

A lot can be lost through the years – an update here and there can leave the home in a state of mis-matched chaos. Determine whether you want room by room finishes to be the same throughout the house. It will feel polished, thus giving it new life.

tips to update an old home and make it feel new

Update Outlets, Light Switches and Plates
This has made a significant difference in all 4 of our older homes. Sometimes they yellow, have been painted over, or are various shapes and styles from “updates” through the years. You can easily update your home by making all of the light switches and plates cohesive. We completed our entire house for under $100 and 1 minor shock. Note: if you’re not experienced in doing this, hire a licensed electrician or find a great online video source and watch a few tutorials. It’s relatively simple, yet tedious work. Also consider replacing yellowed alarms, thermostats and most importantly, smoke detectors.

Give an old home new life with these simple tips


Beautiful details that add character to your home


Repair Walls
When we purchased our home, it was apparent that years of poor quality DIY patching had taken place. We had our painter fix the blemishes and fill all 240 nail holes. Yes, 240. Now when the light shines on them, it looks like new drywall!

how to update an old house

Add Light
See my post about 7 ways to add light to your home – there are several tips and tricks to add light to your home beyond new fixtures that can help breathe new life.

how to update an old house


If I would have mentioned this first, you would have moved onto another blog, but it’s true. A current and cohesive paint palette brings the home into the present.

how to update an old house

Remove Dated Fixtures
Replace dated and builder’s grade light fixtures and hardware for a quick fix to make your home feel like new.

easy updates for an old home

New Doors
If you really want to go all out, replace your doors with shaker or 6 panel doors. A front door can add a lot of curb appeal.

use a warm paint color to make your home feel cozy

Refinish Hardwoods

Choose an appropriate stain & give your hardwoods new life! I remember being astonished at how inexpensive it was to do the living room in our previous home.

Make an old home feel new with these easy ideas

Do you prefer an older home or a new home?

Tips to make an old home feel new

Ballard Designs

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46 comments on “10 Ways to Make an Old Home Feel New”

  1. I couldn’t agree more with all these suggestions. We just bought an older home and the first thing we did was replace the light switches, outlets, and the covers. It is such an inexpensive fix, but looks so much better! Painting was next along with repairing the 240 nail holes! Wow, that is a lot of holes. We haven’t refinished the hardwoods yet. We need to! These pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Shambray! You were on top of it! The little things can add up to big change. I hope you enjoy the process! Best wishes for your home!

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  4. Hi Julie!
    I love your style and am wanting to try that paint color in your opening picture of the living room. Do you have the color of that paint?
    Thanks Gayle

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  6. Beautiful ideas, and practical too! And I love your honesty. I prefer an older home–in fact, it’s my dream to restore my Great-grandpa’s 105-year old home in the future. Take care and thank you for the continuing inspiration!

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  8. Where did you get the area rug in the first pic? It’s gorgeous.

  9. I had no idea that something as small as replacing your doors could add more curb appeal to your home. I really like the suggestion, though, because it is something simple. I like your suggestion to get 6 panel doors because I definitely think that these add a lot of positive aesthetics to any home. Thanks for your suggestions!

  10. I am one of those crazy people who prefer older homes, mainly older than 1950 and wouldn’t change a thing. It’s getting harder to find original old homes but there are a few out there. I love the old kitchens baths with their gorgeous tiles that they don’t make anymore. When I get my home I will actually be installing a vintage stove and replacing any sinks with period correct ones. No granite for me!

    • I absolutely adore older homes, but sometimes it’s the updates made along the way that make them feel less charming – this post is about restoring a home to it’s original integrity or bringing that 70’s cheap up-to-date. No granite for me either!

  11. I love this! And I’m realizing that I did the majority of those things and it really does make a stark, new house feel like a home.

  12. Thanks for the commentary about a home possessing a cohesive motif. I can totally see what you mean when you say that over time new items get purchased and a room theme gets thrown off kilter. That is great advice to go through a room every so often and analyze what really needs to be changed and what is okay to stay the same.

  13. I love older homes. They usually have more character and nice shady mature trees. It’s all in the details for me, arched doorways, crown moulding, hardwood flooring and a dining room. A lot of newer homes seems to fall short on the creative end as it usually ends up being a whole neighborhood of the same looking houses.

    • I completely agree, Erika – it’s not about the character of an older home but rather restoring what had been adapted in the years since that makes a home feel bleh {particularly 60’s – 80’s homes}. I wouldn’t trade character and trees for anything!

  14. Hello! I love the chandelier in the first picture! I would love to know where you purchased it. 🙂

  15. I’ve also painted many pieces of furniture over the years, even before chalk paint became so popular. I love the look of white (and sometimes gray) furniture, and I think it lightens a room and makes your decor more versatile.

  16. I needed these 10 tips surely. I bough my home 5 years ago and last redecorated it 1 year ago, so it’s just the perfect time to make my old home feel new. Thanks for a nice allocation.

  17. I love the Candle Chandelier in the top photo. Can you tell me where you purchased?

  18. What color of stain is the wood floors? Thanks!

  19. I love the two white chairs in the first picture. Did you create these or did your purchase them? If so, where from? I am looking for two white chairs similar to these to go along with my large white linen sofa.

  20. Thanks for the article, as a 19 year old buying my very first house soon, i find this very welcoming 🙂

  21. I absolutely love all of your tips. New flooring, carpeting, and new fixtures makes a world of difference for very little. Often times, you can find great prices on flooring and it spruces up a home in an instant. It is definitely a great idea to look around your house and find little and inexpensive projects that will make a home stand out. Thanks for sharing!

  22. How did you mount the wood shelves into the tiled wall? So beautiful!

  23. Hi! I LOVE the coffee table in this picture! Do you mind sharing where you purchased it?

  24. Did you also replace the vent covers? My are dated with both color and style.

  25. Great tips! My husband and I just purchased our first home and it was built back in 1915 with few updates but tons of potential. I noticed you have similar woodwork. Did you paint yours? I am on the fence about painting ours. I hate to take away from the original woodwork, but I do prefer white woodwork.

  26. Julie,

    I love that fixture with the glass globe and it is not linked to the shopping site. Do you remember where you purchased it?
    Thanks -Neely

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