These home improvement tips are going to take your old home into the new decade. Get simple, actionable DIY house projects that will make buying an old house (or even a slightly dated one) so much more fun! 

A bathroom with a greige vanity and cream walls
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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. In fact, we’ve found that *replacing* the character that’s been lost over previous decades is what makes an old home feel charming, historic and new.

There’s probably some debate about what’s considered an old home. Personally, if it’s over 20-30 years old, I think it can be called an older house.

If it’s at least 50 years old I think you can even call it vintage!

A spa bath with a white vanity and gold fixtures

Old Home? New Tricks!

In each of the homes we’ve lived in, we’ve worked on DIY improvements as well as taken on larger construction projects with the help of contractors. We’ve learned so much along the way!

We’ve taken on countless adventures, including renovating our modern lake house, fully remodeling our kitchen, a new spa bathroom, and more.

A light blue dutch door in a white home

Regardless of your home’s age, many of these ideas can be implemented for updates. Often I hear from readers who live in a home that’s only 10-20 years old. Guess what? Even those homes might need updating, and they will all show some wear and tear! 

Whether you’re buying a home that’s 100 years old or only a decade old, there are inexpensive DIY home projects you can take on to make improvements. 

Our St. Louis tudor home showed signs of heavy wear and needed a little refresh. Our lake cottage is certainly not considered old, but there were still many improvements to be made.

Come inside to see the easy ways we updated our homes. In fact, you can see our entire before and after of our St. Louis home here, and our modern lake house renovations here – don’t miss the full tours.

A beautiful white house with a welcoming front porch and charming flower pots.

10 Ways to Make an Older Home Feel New

Buying an old house is not for the faint of heart. But if your home is just dated cosmetically, there are so many actionable ideas that can make a big impact… with very little cost or time! 

Read on for some of my favorite home improvement tips to make your old home feel new.

Clean or Replace Carpets

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

Wall to Wall Carpet Guide

Carpet is a big decision for your home, but that doesn’t mean it has to cause a headache. Get my best tips and tricks to select, purchase and install wall to wall carpet, without the stress. Read More

 

 

Create a Cohesive Style and Color Palette

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 how to make room by room finishes connect throughout the house to feel cohesive. It will feel polished, thus giving it new life. 

This can be best accompolished by connecting your flooring choices and paint palettes throughout the home.

Paint Palette

Create a cohesive paint palette for your home that flows from one room to another. Get the best cream paint… Read More

 

 

Update Outlets, Light Switches and Plates

This has made a significant difference in all four 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 one minor shock. Find our switch plate covers here!

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.

Add Light

There are several tips and tricks to add light to your home beyond new fixtures that can help breathe new life. This often means removing old window treatments and bringing daylight into your home however you can.

8 Ways to Add Light to a Room

There are seven easy-to-implement secrets to add light to a dark room. Get the inexpensive tips and tricks to make your home feel instantly brighter! Read More

 

 

Update Light Fixtures

Replace dated and builder’s grade light fixtures and hardware for a quick fix to make your home feel like new. Find all my favorite Brass Light Fixtures here!

Flush Mount Lanterns

If you are looking for an elegant way to light up a space with lower ceilings, flush mount lanterns could be just what you need!Timeless, classic and beautiful brass lanterns age gracefully and add character to any space. These lanterns make beautiful entryway or hall lights. Read More

 

 

Remove (or Update) Wallpaper

While wallpaper can be absolutely stunning when used in the right way, it can also immediately date a room. Learn how to work with what you’ve got in this guide!

Or, add new wallpaper! Our guides to the best Amazon Wallpaper and Serena and Lily Wallpaper are full of inspiration.

How to Decorate with Dated Wallpaper

Get ideas to updated dated wallpaper that you’re not ready to remove! You can give old wallpaper a fresh new modern look with just a few tricks and techniques. Read More

 

 

Update Exterior Paint

If I would have mentioned this first, you would have moved onto another site, but it’s true.

Paint is also incredibly important for your exterior. Improving your curb appeal is so valuable when it comes to feeling proud of your home, regardless of its age or condition.

White Exterior Paint Colors

If you’re researching white exterior paint colors, you already know how complex the decision can be. We’re here to make life a little easier, with a simple guide to the 12 best white paint colors for the exterior of your home!  Read More

 

 

Update Garage Doors

Even if you can’t replace your garage doors with new, you can paint them or add charming hardware to get the look for less!

Carriage Garage Doors

Your garage door is the entrance to your garage that’s meant to accommodate vehicles, no matter the style. Carriage garage doors simply have a little more detailing and charm, reminiscent of historic homes. Read More

 

 

Update Doors

Learn how to paint doors here for a quick update. If you really want to go all out, replace your doors with shaker or 6 panel doors. A new Dutch Door can add a lot of curb appeal. 

While older homes are full of charm, it’s often the most disappointing updates of decades gone by that need to be replaced! We have found that previous decades can strip an old house of its original character. 

Shaker Doors

Shaker doors are a truly classic style, emphasizing craftsmanship and simplicity… making them a timeless choice for your home.  Read More

 

 

Add or Refinish Wood Floors

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

This is one of those perfect real estate returns, as well! Hardwood floors are timeless and always a great investment because it’s what home buyers are looking for.

White Oak Floors

White oak floors are a stylish and timeless flooring option that can be customized to suit your design needs. Learn the differences between red and white oak, sand and stain flooring versus engineered hardwood, and more!  Read More

 

 

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More Tips

  • 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!
  • Learn How to Clean Grout here.
  • Have old tile you can’t afford to replace? Learn How to Paint Ceramic Tile here.

Do you have any tips to make an old home feel new? I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment and if you have any questions feel free to ask! 

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55 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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!

    1. 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!