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So you have an old house – now what?

Old houses that need work challenge the new owner(s) with what path to take – pay homage to the past or go modern to keep current with the times? I’m going to highlight one particular house as an example. This isn’t the end all to be all, but it will show you in a quick snap shot what can be done. You can love it or hate it, but the point is there’s more than one way to make an old house function for modern times.

The project image from Dwell Magazine below highlights a house in London that balances new and old with an added addition to the house. The house was given the Don’t Move Improve Award by New London Architecture for its efforts in striking a balance between paying homage to the old, but improving with a modern flair.


What is really cool about the image above is the formation of the lighter brick against the old existing brick. They took off the back addition and replaced it with the new addition of light brick, new glass, and steel members. The demarcation line of existing brick to light brick shows the ghost image of what was once there. It tells a story all in one image without needing words to tell it-the jigsaw puzzle of new and old coming together.


The modern look and feel of the interior space has a neutral minimalist palette to showcase the old exposed brick inside. This gives more prominence to the old character of the house.

The copper fixtures and the subway tile used in the bathroom pays respect to what would have been used long ago but are relevant to today as well in their modern simplicity.

The image of the back dining area simply shows modern space with a backdrop of old London houses in the background. A contrast to be clear, but somehow an interesting balance has been achieved with this new addition and its surrounding area.

Thought provoking ideas can be investigated for the reuse and repurposing of these old structures. Manchester RVA has a lot in common with old London. And regardless of which side of the pond you call home, there’s a lot to learn from this one project and many more historic renovations just like it.


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