Whatever happened to homes with style and character? Ever stop and wonder why they stopped building houses with vintage home features? The old ways of home building have passed us by, which is a shame since they added such elegance. We need to bring them back in style! Here are the top vintage home features we’d like to see more of…
Vintage Home Features #1: Shutters
Shutters might be the single most practical house feature ever created in a vintage home, and yet we rarely see functioning shutters on newer homes. Interior shutters provide a zero energy solution for keeping your house cooler. You can easily close them to keep the sun out or open to allow more sun in on cooler days. They also provide a bit more privacy by closing them and are a better solution than window blinds.
Fancy Door Knobs & Their Hardware
Glass door knobs add an elegance to any home. You can usually find these at any antique store in large bins! The antique metal knobs and their hardware give a more rustic look.
They also make a great classic look as a tie back holder to your curtains and drapes. Now this makes a home look more like a vintage home!
These were more prevalent in homes when the devices were larger and you had no where to set your phone. A new wireless would look just fine sitting in it’s own space. There was also a spot for the phone book. Most had a shelf built under where the phone sat. Nowadays most homes don’t even have phone books.
You probably don’t have a butler, but I’m willing to bet you still like to entertain. Butler’s pantries historically sat between the kitchen and dining room and were used as a place to stage food during fancy gatherings.
If you’re lucky enough to entertain, these room additions make a great way to keep extra supplies at hand and out from where your guests can see. A vintage home almost always had one of these!
It can also be used to show off your vintage china and crystal wine glasses.
Transoms above doors (both interior and exterior) aren’t just beautiful; they’re also practical. When left open, they allow rising hot air to circulate, thus cooling the home efficiently and inexpensively.
They also will help a better constant temperature in the indoor pool or spa area!
If you have toddlers or maybe a dog, a dutch door is the thing to have! You can keep the top portion open to enjoy the fresh breeze while still containing the children and dog inside.
What’s more luxurious than sleeping with the windows open? Sleeping on the porch! Naturally, sleeping porches are most commonly found in old houses in the South, necessitated by hot and humid summers in the days before air conditioning.
A large porch swing can also double as a bed!
Windows With Divided Lights
Before we could pour glass into large sheets, we had to attach smaller panes together using wood or lead. It was a practical solution with a beautiful effect. From the fanlights above the doors on Federal-era homes to the rich, stained-glass windows on Gothic and Queen-Anne style houses to the lead glass windows on Tudor Revival homes. Windows can become such a work of art!
People used to show off their craftsmanship when building a home. Homes were purely built by hand…everything was man made with your own two hands! Nails were hand forged and the wood was all cut from local timbers.
Garages Behind The Houses
Nothing kills curb appeal more than a gigantic garage placed front and center. Most would rather have their guests see your wide front porch, or the gardens you’ve work hard on to make them pristine.
Decorative Floors & Ceilings
A floor isn’t just something you walk on, and a ceiling isn’t just a roof over your head. Way back when (especially during the Victorian era) they knew a thing or two about adding an extra splash up above and down below. Whether decorated with colorful tiles, wood laid in a herringbone pattern, or deep coffers, the floors and ceilings on many old houses make quite a statement.
Odd Shaped Rooms
Who says a room HAS to be square? The attic offers a great way to make a child his own room! The secret nooks and crannies add texture and depth for those with wild imaginations. A vintage home always had stash away spots and secret compartments!
I’ve never quite understood the American stigma against clotheslines; tourists in Europe always take pictures of clotheslines hanging between quaint, old-world streets. Personally, I love the smell of freshly hung sheets, and think clotheslines should be as popular as the conventional dryers we pay an arm and leg to supply every year with energy. Think of it as being eco-friendly! Some vintage homes today still make use of their clotheslines.
Woodworkers of yesteryear roll over in their graves every time an American buys a bookshelf from IKEA! Besides, that bookshelf is just never the correct height, is it? The built-ins in older homes were constructed right along with the house, so they blend in seamlessly with the structure itself. Built ins are more practical and last a lifetime where adding them in as a new piece’s can make the room look cheaper to some degree. Plus, they don’t always match the wood or decor.
Open floors plans are all well and good, but do you really want your dinner guests staring at your messy kitchen? I cringe every time a new homeowner destroys the individual cozy rooms. They are taking away the home’s character. Every room had an intended use or purpose. And it was practical not to waste energy heating or lighting a room not in use. A true vintage home was welcoming for family gatherings and less separation of the generations.
That said, there IS something nice about larger rooms, especially when entertaining a crowd. Presto! Pocket doors are an elegant way to create an open floor plan when you need it, and separate rooms when you don’t. Though I have found (I have pocket doors throughout my home) that there is a need to bat proof the house! Bats are easily allowed in when a pocket door opens especially a door nearest the chimney! Since the doors open into the wall, a lost juvenile bat can get lost and seek that opening!
Most all vintage homes had one of these! It is so enjoyable and relaxing to sit on a front porch and watch what all goes by! Whether it be in a rocking chair, porch swing or any old comfy chair…you can find peace with yourself sitting on a front porch. Take time to stop and smell the flowers while waving at passersby.