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Design

The 4 Reasons Why Our Historical Architect/Build Team Says We Can Let Go Of Our Original Window Frames Despite Public Protest…

I love a good ‘Save the Moulding’ protest and subsequent rowdy debate, despite its seemingly benign subject. Maybe it’s refreshing that after the drama of 2020 this is our collective beef? But like all of life, there aren’t two clear opposing sides here, it’s not that clear-cut. Here’s what I know: Y’all really want me to keep the original window and door casings/trim. I hear you. If only it were that easy.

This post is dedicated to all of you who are renovating and wondering what elements you should/could try really hard to keep, and what original elements are ok to forego in the name of safety, modernity, cost-effectiveness, and well, common sense all while keeping the future of the planet top of mind. As a recap… most of the window and door casing and mouldings are original, with a heavy 1905-1920s craftsman vibe. I really want to keep as much original architectural elements as possible so I planned on just painting them to lighten them up. But if I asked myself the honest question, which I did: Is this the trim work I would put in now? The answer is: Probably not. Please let this be clear – I LIKE the window and door casings, stylistically they are GREAT and if you have them know that I think they are beautiful and appropriate for the style and era. Also to be the most clear, we are keeping the windows. I love those diamonds so much and they can be removed without getting damaged (or very little).

What’s my problem? They are just a bit fancier and heavier than I would choose for the vibe of the house that we want (casual, paired back, humble, shaker). Yes, I am kinda trying to fit a simpler style into an older home which is a challenge, but one that I think if well executed will have a more interesting result that is better for our family. We are removing almost all of the windows on the first floor because we are opening the living room up to the backyard (those are the only original windows on that floor) and the 60s addition obviously doesn’t have original windows. So it’s really just the upstairs bedrooms/bath and the landing that are in question.

So when we were up there last week I asked Arciform (Anne – lead design and Adam – GC) to break it down for me – WHAT SHOULD WE DO? In case you didn’t read my love letter to them – see here – Arciform specializes in restoring historic homes – it’s quite literally why people (like me) hire them. I joke that they are here to protect me from myself, or to more bluntly state “to help me not ruin this house”. It’s like having a bodyguard for the integrity of a home. I don’t think they would call themselves any sort of ‘preservationists’ because while they specialize in historic homes, they design and build for the family/client to actually use the house the best way in their current season of life. They renovate to work well for now, with a huge understanding of and respect for the past. So I asked them bluntly after our last blog post about it, opinions flying, confusion afloat ‘should we keep these window and door frames??’ They clearly and firmly rattled off these reasons to, well, NOT KEEP THEM.

1. They Will Get Badly Damaged When We Remove Them For Wall Demo

We have to demo out all of the plaster for all new electrical and insulation. It’s not in good shape and it’s going to be down to the studs. That means we need to take the window and door casing out which will damage them unless the demo team is painstakingly careful (more time = more money). They will likely have to be repaired because it’s old wood in order to reinstall them (again – cash, money).

2. They Will Need To Be Carefully Labeled And Stored (Because They Aren’t All The Same)

This isn’t a real reason to not do it, but it does sound like a chore and there will likely be a lot of troubleshooting. Old homes mean that each one is slightly different, not just the tops and sills but the sides, etc. Reassembling them is a puzzle, unless documented very carefully. Also, that will take time.

3. The New Drywall Isn’t The Same Depth As The Plaster – Weirdness Will Happen

The original lath and plaster are less deep than the new drywall. So when it gets installed we’ll have to troubleshoot it to make it work. Maybe we’ll have to add wood behind the frames and they won’t look seamless. Again, all doable, but every bit of troubleshooting takes rounds of decisions, which will take time and money to make sure that it looks good. My eyes started glazing over at this point…

4. The Window Frames Are Chipped And Painted With Lead Paint 🙁

DEAL SEALED. Not everything original is good, and we are talking vintage lead paint. The window frames aren’t in great shape and are chipped all over – they need a total body job. Plus once we got the lead report I was like, done. It was however explained to me that lead can actually be ok if it’s sealed and not touched. But… people touch windows a lot and air comes in through them – they are kinda more ‘active’ than say a baseboard or door casing that no one really touches. They have so many layers that they can’t really be stripped safely so we’d be painting over chips and while I like a little jank in an old house, I don’t want this house to be this janky. There’s keeping soul, and then there’s keeping wear and tear that could be updated in a more beautiful way (or in a way that lets other things shine, like the actual windows themselves).

So in conclusion it will be much, much, much more expensive to demo out carefully, store carefully, restore carefully, reapply carefully, and even then they may just look old and janky. At a certain point it stops making sense, especially when I’d rather have a simpler profile to help pair the house back in decorative detail. Don’t worry – we aren’t entering ‘new build’ world, the quality and details of the finishes will make the house sing even if the decorative nature is stripped back a bit.

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Fariha
2 months ago

It sounds like renovating this house is a bit like parenting; everyone will have a different opinion and there’s no one ‘right’ answer but the fact that you’re approaching it mindfully and putting in the effort to consider your decisions means your baby (house) will turn out happy and well adjusted 🙂

Hayley
2 months ago

I understand why you don’t want to keep them – the cost and the lead. But I would definitely reproduce the original profile and make the new ones look exactly the same as the old.

It maintains the architectural integrity of the space, and honestly, I think you’re overthinking how decorative they are. They really don’t scream fussy or ornate to me (but I’m British so I guess were used to details like this). To me they look plain and farmhousey, which is what this house is.

A more modern profile will look out of place, I think, and honestly window casings contribute so little to the overall look of a room that I don’t think they will sway it fancy. That has a lot more to do with decor, I think.

But, it’s your house!

Jenn B
2 months ago
Reply to  Hayley

Exactly this. I get not keeping the original ones, but I honestly think the windows will look fussy without a simple substantial trim to keep them grounded. I would prefer to try and save the original ones since this is supposed to be a build focused on sustainable building, and replace what’s needed, but I just don’t see why you would keep the window but not the style of trim that speaks to it.

Ally
2 months ago

Yep, after 100 years of paint jobs, some lead, you’re wise to cut your losses and start fresh. My home is almost 100 years old and it’s super annoying how easily vintage trim is dinged, revealing a history of design trends in the old paint that shows through. I curse the 1960s owners who thought avocado green trim would be the bomb…we get frequent peeks of that. It makes me worried about all the people today using the moody wall colors and matching trim. Future homeowners will be cringing one day! My trim vote, Emily, is go new, go big and go white!

Erilyn4
2 months ago
Reply to  Ally

Ooh, I am right there with you, but “peeping through” colors are either puke brown or Robin’s egg blue depending on which floor we’re on. Ugh.

Roberta
2 months ago
Reply to  Erilyn4

I live in Florida in an older home, so my peekage is brilliant turquoise and sunshine yellow! I’ve heard from neighbors that the entire house used to be painted shiny turquoise (trim, walls, ceilings, everything). One said it “felt like an aquarium” inside. What were people thinking?

ottan
2 months ago

These discussions are so interesting, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness with which you are approaching the renovation. I’m sure it will be beautiful when you are done.

At the same time, with each new post I wonder why you bought a historic house. Is it just the land and the location? Though charming, you think the house is dark, don’t like the trim, want to completely reconfigure the first floor layout, find the architectural details too fussy for your design style. It seems like it’s been hard to mold the house into something you want.

I agree with Hayley that I would reproduce the casing profile as is. It is straight lined, and the proportions reflect the period. I wouldn’t use this as an excuse to put in what you would choose if you were starting from scratch. You’re not.

Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  ottan

Well the land and location are key. And it IS dark. She doesn’t need any excuses to reconfigure and remove what she dislikes. It’s her house. The previous owners decided to add an addition. That wasn’t preservation. The owners before that no doubt added their own touches. I mean: Why put in modern plumbing? Why not just use the 100 year old outhouse and “reflect the period”?

The idea that this is some “historic” home that must be preserved for all eternity is silly. It’s just an old house. And she should do what she wants to it.

Lane
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, I so agree. Everyone should make their home their own. I know Emily will do this house justice because she already updated 3 different houses and she never went against their style. She also works with experts so I just know that between their expertise and esthetic preferences they know what they are doing. If budget was not an issue, I’d definitively add a wall of sliding doors, a few sky windows. It is possible to make it fit modern needs and esthetic without destroying the character. A house is supposed to serve thw familt that lives there, and not the other way.

Andrea
2 months ago
Reply to  ottan

Emily sees the potential for this house/mini-farm…leave it to her and Arciform. It will be free of lead paint, yet have all of the lovely, interesting details. Creativity and knowledge in action.

ottan
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrea

I wasn’t actually suggesting that she keep the casing – I understand that the logistics of that don’t make it worth it. I was focusing on her comment that she “wouldn’t pick this trim,” and I think it makes sense to replicate the style.

I live in an old house, and the things I hate most are the “fashionable improvements” previous owners made. Like why would you put an Art Deco yellow bathtub in a colonial-era house? I’m not mad my house has a bathroom though. These changes were clearly trendy and don’t harmonize well with the original details. Making updates to the bones of the house often doesn’t age well. I think it works better to update the design with lighting, furnishings, etc.

Zoe
2 months ago
Reply to  ottan

I’m in the same boat… 110 year old house and the parts I hate are the “improvements” made 1960s plus. Every ounce of original 1910 I love.

Kaye
2 months ago
Reply to  ottan

I think an art deco yellow bathtub sounds amazing.

ottan
2 months ago
Reply to  Kaye

I think it could be very cool in a different house! Fwiw, it’s 1960s deco not 1930s deco.

Anna
2 months ago

I understand the old home community and the concern about people who come in and strip an old home of its details, especially when they replace it with cheap and inappropriate materials. Emily and her architects will certainly not be using subpar materials or clashing designs. I doubt anyone would move in after all of her hard work and say…but…the windows!

understandable for sure. especially the lead paint part. no thank you!

Sarah
2 months ago

Your house of course but for people that truly love old houses, there are things the eyes fall on instantly that say Old house, old soul. Just as I’m sure that people that love MCM pickup on. That era is lost on me. Seems a bit disingenuous to state the time and expense of labeling and reinstalling the old trim when most people restoring old homes recreate to preserve features. The bottom line is that the trim doesn’t fit your aesthetic. And that is of course a valid argument but it’s not the one you’re trying to make.

Jenn
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Agreed! Just say you don’t like them/want them. I’ve demo’d plenty in my two 116-yo homes. The hardwood is tough and can withstand a lot. And lead paint is common enough that pros know exactly how to deal with it.

But as others commented, I’m not sure why the old farmhouse if you just want to strip it of that original character.

Sarah
2 months ago
Reply to  Jenn

Yep. Think of yourself as a caretaker to make it ready for the next 100 years. What looks right now is temporary and in the end, meaningless. Get rid of the lead, the asbestos linoleum. Keep what you can, recreate the rest.

Lane
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

I don’t agree with that, because current esthetic and proportions may be better in general. Take MCM. It is much better interpretted today than how it was done originally. Most materials are better, colors are fresher, size and furniture proportions are also better. Even when arranging and styling old pieces with other old pieces it looks nicer than what average person had it in their home. They had trends too and an average home wasn’t anything like a top 5% of homes. I wouldn’t blame anyone who wanted to completely change the look of their macmension in 100 years.

Robyn
2 months ago
Reply to  Lane

I completely disagree about your assessment of MCM being better now. What we have now is simply more “normal” to the masses because they’re more used to the MCM interpretation of today. Most people who love and cherish MCM homes that haven’t had their interiors stripped out (like me) understand how unique and interesting those older homes are and keep them intact. And they’re more charming for it.

Lane
2 months ago
Reply to  Robyn

Lol, so you agree with yellow couches, green carpets and walls, brown carpets, orange wood kitchens, avocado trim, orange tables and chairs. That’s a house I moved into into in 2000. Everything was original includin g drafty windows, old bathtubs, big awnings that took away half the natural light and smelly curtain pannels. . I think we are able to make much more sophisticated colors and textures these days. Couches are a bit higher too. Drapes are more breathable, and windows are energy efficient no matter the weather or light conditions. If you like old then treat yourself to that look. I honestly don’t like it

Melody Christensen
2 months ago
Reply to  Lane

Then maybe you should stick to new builds, and leave the old homes for people that truly appreciate them.

Lori
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Or just encapsulate the lead with a layer of lead free paint. It’s not a big deal if you’re already painting the windows.

Chelsea Moran
2 months ago

I can understand the lead paint and plaster issues if someone has a small budget. However, in my mind the whole point of buying a older home is the woodwork and craftsmanship. You say you love this home because it’s old, but if you are removing all the woodwork and updating everything it would appear that the only thing staying original will be a few windows. What was the point of buying an older home? That said it is your home and your money so obviously it really doesn’t matter what my opinion is.

2 months ago
Reply to  Chelsea Moran

I don’t understand the point of buying an old home if you’re going to rip out plaster and replace it with drywall. An old house isn’t meant to be a new house. No, the walls aren’t insulated like a modern house. But, unlike the walls of a modern house wrapped in Tyvek, plaster walls can breathe. They can handle a little moisture (not too much, obviously) and dry out on their own. And they’re made of natural materials, not plastic. Most people, including contractors, patch or replace plaster with drywall. But I’ve taught myself to repair my own plaster using historic materials. To me, it’s worth the effort. But I’m an old house person through and through.

2 months ago
Reply to  Jenny

About lead paint: As long as the lead paint is covered up with fresh new paint and your children or pets aren’t chewing on the windowsills or trim, it’s fine. Flaking lead paint is a problem. Dust from sanding lead paint is a problem. But lead paint that is painted over is fine. Doors can be stripped by dipping instead of by hand (because hand scraping is time consuming and costly). Everything else can be painted over.

LouAnn
2 months ago
Reply to  Jenny

If I’m reading this correctly, the point is that the house needs complete electrical rewiring — hence the need to rip out the plaster.

Michelle C.
2 months ago
Reply to  LouAnn

Rewiring does not necessitate ripping out every single wall or even a majority of the plaster if you work with the right electrician. Not to mention the environmental impacts of gypsum mining associated with drywall production…

Lane
2 months ago
Reply to  Jenny

Jenny it’s more expensive to heat a home like that, it’s not eco friendly, it’s drafty. I hear what you are saying. I have plaster walls too. However, I’d prefer a better insulated house in general. It takes experts to actually do that well in an older home to prevent mold. But it is necessary to update elecyrical and other things in order to make the home safe for the family too.

Renee
2 months ago
Reply to  Chelsea Moran

I agree. I’m having a hard time understanding the point of buying an older home if you’re not restoring the original charm? As someone who restored and renovated a 1910 home, I know the work involved when dealing with plaster and lead paint–and I understand that not everything can be saved, but I definitely believe that saving the old growth wood, avoiding drywall as much as possible and keeping as much as possible out of the landfills is incredibly important. So why not just buy some land and build the house you want if you don’t want to bother with any of that? Hoping that I’m wrong and you’ll do right by this home.

Rachelle
2 months ago

You had me at lead paint. Your family’s health is not worth it. And sealing is a sub-par solution. Thank you for taking lead paint seriously.

Molly
2 months ago
Reply to  Rachelle

You would be hard pressed to find a house without lead paint here in New England, and all along the east coast. It definitely is not cause to rip out old trim. Unless you let your toddlers chew on the windowsills, a stray chip of lead paint isn’t going to be detrimental to your family’s health. Agree with all the others that are saying, rip it out and replace it if you want (I know it will look amazing in the end), but these are pretty fleabag excuses for doing so.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Molly

Lead paint can be removed safely and cost effectively via acid bath stripping.
The bath is used repeatedly, so it’s not that terrible and it’s disposed of carefully.
It’s only costly to strip these things if it’s all done by hand.
Maybe the issue is trying to get perfection in the new walls?
“Perfection is boring, let’s get weird.”

Rachelle
2 months ago
Reply to  Molly

Most people don’t take lead seriously, when in reality even a small amount can be devastating, especially in small bodies. It’s not just about paint chips or chewing on windowsills. Friction causes lead to dust. Time causes lead to dust. The old adage, ‘just don’t let them eat paint chips’ is far from the only way children are lead poisoned and leads to people not taking it seriously. It is serious.

Zoe
2 months ago
Reply to  Rachelle

Of course it’s serious but the risk of lead poisoning of any kind from trim is slim to none. There are no points of friction …

Laura
2 months ago
Reply to  Rachelle

We are doing lead paint abatement as part of our home renovation (Washington, DC) as we have a baby. PSA: If you are touching anything in your house with lead paint, get an EPA certified lead paint contractor to do the work. In our house, we removed some lead-paint containing door casings that were in awful shape, sanded chipped/peeling parts of window trim and encapsulated the rest. We also had door friction points addressed. Make sure you have the dust in your house tested when all the work is done to make sure it is safe, especially if you have kids or are planning to get pregnant.

CB
2 months ago

I agree with the comment that notes that these aren’t ornate or fussy. In fact, this profile is similar to what we’ve put in for several restrained contemporary renovations. BUT, as someone who just spent MONTHS trying to get old plaster, new plaster and new sheetrock to be flush after removing some bad 1960s wood paneling… Yes… This is going to be way more trouble than it is worth!

Sarah
2 months ago

Please, please, please in this time of heightened trim-related tensions, take a moment to double check your homonyms. I imagine you’ll be “pairing” (paring) back a lot of the things people love about this house.

Shayna
2 months ago

It’s sad you had to defend yourself! Good writing fodder but I think everyone would have found the same thing. Only we all would have been cheap, done it ourselves, tried to save it, gotten unknown lead poisoning, and then decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and didn’t look good. You went through it all before hand-in your MIND. Good for you. It really isn’t that gorgeous to begin with anyway.

Caitlin
2 months ago
Reply to  Shayna

Well said!

alexa
2 months ago
Reply to  Shayna

It’s not “sad” and I don’t think she’s defending herself as no one really attacked her. People questioned the choice, and she offered additional explanation (voluntarily!) for why she is making that choice. When you have a blog, and open that blog to comments, people are going to have dissenting opinions. Now, there have been commentors who have taken that too far and engaged in personal attacks. Emily’s spoken about that before and now (I think) uses a software to filter out any hateful comments. Emily can (and will) do whatever she thinks is appropriate for HER home and family. I think 99% of commentors know and support this, even if they would make a different choice for THEIR home and family. But engaging in a respectful dialog with people who disagree with you is never sad!

Also, no one gets lead poison from handling lead paint. It’s not wrong to get rid of a substance or material you’re uncomfortable having in your home, but there is no need to get so hyperbolic about it.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  alexa

Alexa, well explained.

LouAnn
2 months ago

It’s your home. You should do what you like, and what’s best for you and your family. And don’t worry about what the easily outraged online peanut gallery is lecturing you about this week.

The fact is, as you note, old isn’t always better. It doesn’t always have to be preserved. There are a lot of old things — like racism, sexism, and lead paint mouldings — that need to be tossed out. Ideally you would use the best of the old home and the best of modern tech to create a great home.

S
2 months ago

Given your commitment to sustainability, consider donating/reselling the trims (you can often do this with the buyer in charge of removal) — the work might not be worth it for you, but if they can have new life with someone else or go to a local restoration business or a reclamation yard that’s so much better than wasting them! Someone else can love their quirks and labor even if you don’t

Evelin
2 months ago
Reply to  S

Mmmmh, is there a market, even for free, for lead paint trims? And thinking of amateurs removing it and spread lead paint chips around…

Molly
2 months ago
Reply to  Evelin

Lead paint chips are not dangerous unless you eat them. Lead dust, yes. And yes, there is a market for beautiful salvaged historic hardwood trim.

alexa
2 months ago
Reply to  Molly

Yes there is a big market/ need for historic trim, for the folks who have chosen to maintain it in there homes. Also, lumber prices are skyrocketing right now, so salvaging usable materials can also help a family in need who cannot afford to buy new. I have this exact trim in my home. Where I’ve needed to temporarily pull it down to make repairs, I have found it to be relatively easy to remove without noticeable damage. The reason being that it’s thick, solid wood. If totally original, there should be no wood glue or other adhesives holding it in place either (only a few nails). Emily’s site conditions may be different (making removal more arduous) but it if can be saved, it would be a net positive.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  alexa

🌏

Susan
2 months ago
Reply to  Evelin

Yes there is a market for it and plenty of people know how to deal with lead. It’s old growth wood which doesn’t exist any more, and newer lumber just doesn’t match the quality because it’s grown differently. Even the same species of wood doesn’t create the same kind of moldings.

The choice to removes makes sense but for the LOVE of PETE Emily, offer it for free to an architectural salvage place or a Habitat for Humanity Restore. 🙂

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Evelin

Yes. There IS market for these. People who are reinstating things once removed, to restore the original charm to a home.
That’s the whole reason historical salvage yards are a growing concern.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  S

Yesss!!!
Please make sure they go to an historical salvage yard and NIT the dump. Please.🌏

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

If it’s “tossed” as a commenter said, then that equates to wicked wastefulness. 🌏

Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  S

She didn’t say she was going to throw the old mouldings into a dump. “Tossed” out of the home doesn’t mean tossed into a dump. You and others here rushed to that conclusion in your eagerness to preach and lecture everyone else.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Are you angry at people whose opinions are different to yours, or are you just angry?
Enough.
Peace. 🤝

Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

I just find your holier-than-thou-I-am-right comments to be irritating. Peace.

2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, you are not alone.

Christina
2 months ago

This is not a kind or productive way of speaking to or about someone. Sheesh.

Elaine
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Wow, Lee, reading your comments towards Rusty today it’d be easy enough for anyone to think that you’re a bit of a bully. If that’s not your intention then you probably need to tone it down a bit.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Bully. 💥

Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

As if your smug comments lecturing Emily about the “right” way to deal with freaking window trim and even the right words to use isn’t bullying? Shaming her for window trim? Lol. Look in the mirror for the bully.

Sonja
2 months ago
Reply to  S

The Rebuilding Center on N Mississippi in Portland would be the place to take it.

kw
2 months ago
Reply to  Sonja

I bet they won’t take it. They turned down a whole carload of painted old growth fir trim I brought in about eighteen months ago (may be different for unpainted or stained trim). Said there wasn’t a market for it. True story.

Cathy
2 months ago
Reply to  kw

Also, they have had to protect their employees from lead. Several years ago, they tested for lead and at least several employees had high lead levels.

Vicki Williams
2 months ago

Thanks for detailing all the reasons, that was great. Totally great decision. This reno is going to be so fun…for us. You too I hope and an incredibility amount of (satisfying) work.

LT
2 months ago

Great post. Just so you know it’s pare* and pared* back!

Bethany
2 months ago

Emily, I’d love to hear about why you’re renovating this house, rather than doing a new build. It seems like you love the (beautiful!) land and location, but not the house. Just curious if you considered a new build, given the challenges in trying to renovate.

Lane
2 months ago
Reply to  Bethany

It is sometimes easier to start with what is. It can be as expensive, but it also puts limits on the project like the size or the footprint. It can be inspiring to work with and update the current layout. Fewer decisions in comparison with a new built.

Bethany
2 months ago
Reply to  Lane

Hi Lane, I hear you! Personally I would keep the house and make updates as well. But it just seems like there’s not much being kept from the original here, and it might be causing more problems…

Lane
2 months ago
Reply to  Bethany

Bethany, I love more a well updated old house as compared to a new built. I find ot a bit less expensive as compared to the quality new built. Brick is expensive, fireplaces are expensive too, so are wood floors. To build a 2000 sq ft home with architectural details and quality that I love would cost me over $600k. It’s too much for my budget. A developer might sell a bigger house at $600k, but windows and doors and finishes would be lower quality. We found a nice home to renovate. It has a lot of charm, architectural details too, without the price tag of a new built.

Jane
2 months ago
Reply to  Bethany

I second this – would love to hear why they didn’t do a new build. It seems like they really love the mountain house and I think a lot of that is the space and modernity of it, things that might be hard to translate into the farmhouse.

Elise
2 months ago

I totally agree with the call on the window trim. My in laws moved an 1850s house in pieces and reconstructed it entirely, piece by piece, in the 90s. They had to use a very complicated system to rematch the trim pieces throughout the house (soooo much Victorian trim!) but despite their best efforts there were some missing pieces in the end and it isn’t perfect everywhere. Also their biggest regret was not replacing the original windows entirely. The trim/casings are wonky and require storm windows and are the #1 driver of inefficiency in the house today. You are smart to design the house for the next 100 years. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that all regions need to plan for more extremes in weather ! Can’t wait to see how you finish this!

Sarah
2 months ago

I completely understand your concern about the lead paint — I spent a year stripping all of the doors, door frames, window frames and fireplaces (faux-finished in lead paint to look like marble!) when we moved with young children into our 150-year old house. I would have replaced all the trim in a heartbeat if we had the budget. But for anyone in a similar position and with a smaller budget, please know that lead paint does not have to be a deal-breaker. It can be easily stripped (even multiple layers) down to bare wood using safe, environmentally-friendly chemical strippers (I used Smart Strip). I sleep much better at night now that all the “active” lead has been removed from our house, and all the trim looks great with a fresh coat of paint and no chipping!

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Sounds like you did the stripping by hand and yourself?
There are other ways to do this.

Sarah
2 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

True… I researched acid stripping, but believe it or not, doing it myself onsite seemed like the “easier” option than removing all the trim (and releasing lead chips/dust everywhere), driving it all 100 miles away to the nearest acid stripping provider, and then reinstalling it all — and much cheaper! Using the safe chemical stripper was not a big deal — almost non-existent fumes, low mess, took 2-3 days to strip each piece. Definitely doable for the dedicated DIY-er :-). I do want to stress that there are safe and unsafe ways to chemically strip lead paint. Any stripper that contains methylene chloride will release toxic fumes.

But Rusty, I appreciate that you are spreading the word on the ways to remove lead paint and preserve old woodwork!

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Sarah, I’m impressed! That’s a whole lotta hard DIY work and diligence!
Good on you!🤗

Emilie
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

I did the same in our house; Smart Strip is a miracle worker! It did a good enough job that I was able to return the wood to its original natural finish. (And I agree, doing the stripping with the trim in place seemed like the much easier option to me.)

Rusty
2 months ago

Wow! I read through all the comments first.🧐 As someone who restored a nearly 100 year old house, project managing by myself, I must note: There’s a distinct difference between RESTORING & RENOVATING. I restored. You’re renovating. I restored, because I engage with this “Old Lady” house as a CUSTODIAN. It’s a thing in this neighborhood, to refer to the homes by the original owner’s names, e.g. “Pendall’s house, Johnson’s house (or) Abraham’s house”. My house is the latter. Some houses are on their 6th owners, but are still referred to that way! Amazingly quirky local tradition! There were only two previous owners of my house.😊 I understand the whole lead paint and walls lining up thing. My walls are double brick external and single brick internal, so no replacement was required. You said in a previous post, that you’re using recycled wood for the floors and other things. Can you pay it forward, by a) donating the old trims to an historical salvage yard; AND b) reproducing the trim or similar in recycled timber? Just wondering. If you choose to donate to salvage and your people remove them instead of the salvage yard (they usually remove them themselves), make… Read more »

Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

You must have very long arms to keep patting yourself on the back.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, that comment is purely caustic.
Perhaps you could remove the lead paint?

We are invited to comment and nothing I said was rude nor caustic.

sarah
2 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

Exactly right. Renovation vs restoration. There is a difference.

Caitlin
2 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

Rusty, your comments are always so inspiring to me. I’m at a place where I’m trying to be better environmentally, and your comments always inspire me to adjust my thought process regarding sustainability. I love you pointing out renovation v restoration.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Caitlin

Caitlin, thank you.
I’m getting smashed by “Lee”, but this section is the comments section, so, hey!
Walking my talk and dwelling in the reality that our planet is in crisis is more important than internet bullies.
Hugx, Rusty xx

Harry Babin
2 months ago

Lead is a deal breaker like asbestos. Not worth the health risks. The sheet rock issue is not worth dealing with. Good call.

2 months ago

I would never keep it with lead paint. Good choice. However, I think everyone is having a hard time invisioning what you want the trim to look like. I don’t see the current trim as too heavy. Instead, it feels appropriate. Show us what you are thinking. I hoping myself that you are not doing the same window trim as the mountain house. It’s not my thing. It feels 80s contemporary to me. Doesn’t feel homey.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Jalene

Jalene, I’d never thought of it that way before, but it is reminiscent of 80s!

Nina
2 months ago

I have definitely seen registered historic properties pretty much rot away because their original features had to be kept and no one turned up to the challenge… It’s lovely when people want to put in the time and effort to preserve as much as possible, but a big renovation to modernize most of the house while keeping some hints to its original style is equally valuable to me. There is only so much restoration you can do to bring something up to modern standards, sometimes you just need to start over!

2 months ago

I think to each his own on this one. We are also renovating an old house with this same trim (@myoldhousereno), and we’ve decided to either keep it (pending lead testing) or recreate it, but that’s also because we still have original, beautiful oak trim downstairs that we are restoring, so it makes it cohesive. If you have an addition and you don’t have original throughout, that makes it a tougher decision, I think.

My question, though, is what will you replace it with that will be cohesive with the diamond windows (which are so cute btw!) that look so old?

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Anne

Anne, maybe see if there’s a restoration place around that does acid bath/washes to remove layers of paint.

Holly Mortimer
2 months ago

SMDH. I never comment. But. Some of these comments are just too much. One, the impact of the lead will not only be felt by the eventual residents of the house…an actual human being will do the work of removing, storing, and refinishing that wood and it will be dangerous to them. So dangerous in fact that they will be complying with very strict federal guidelines and be subject to very real fines if they deviate from thsoe guidelines. It’s not just a personal opinion about lead, it’s an actual law that governs contractors. Two, you old house people crack me up. There’s appreciation, and then there’s fetishization. So many historic homes in our country have ties to some pretty despicable labor practices….at the end of the spectrum is the White House, built by slaves. If a house has a soul, it can evolve. If it can live, it needs to breathe and change.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Holly Mortimer

Hi Holly, paint doesn’t only have to be removed by hand, or breathed in by anyone not trained in the safe work practises.

There are people who do this as their successful, core business.
Gone are the days where people were paid peanuts to do this stuff labouriously by hand, on the cheap, without appropriate PPE or training. Times and practises have moved on since then.

I’m not into fetishization at all. My vibe is about not changing something that holds true to the original, simply because it has lead paint.

Holly
2 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

Thanks for the explanation….currently renovating a home from 1863 for a client and fully familiar with how the process works.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Holly

That wasn’t evident in your statement “…an actual human being will do the work of removing, storing, and refinishing that wood and it will be dangerous to them”.

Not telling anyone “how to suck eggs”. Just sayin’. ☺

Kay
2 months ago
Reply to  Holly Mortimer

Wow…fetishization? That’s a bit of an over-exaggeration, I’d say. Emily bought a 110 year old home…of course the trim and mouldings have a heavy craftsman vibe, they are original and true to the architectural style and era. Many people, would want to preserve and highlight those small details while still updating the home and giving it a fresh take on life. Sure, Emily can strip this old craftsman down and turn her into a “shaker” farmhouse, I just think many people are wondering “why would you want to?”

Caity
2 months ago
Reply to  Kay

Yes, to me this is really sad. I just cannot agree with replacing the trim with something too different. I get it if she replaces the trim with the exact same but new (although as many others have posted, it seems like she could get it safely stripped in an acid bath), but replacing it with “shaker style” when the house is a craftsman…I just don’t get it. I mean, to each their own and all, but I think this is just a fundamental divide. I think that maybe for those of us who grew up in older homes or are from a place where there are a lot of character homes it is really sad to see people removing and changing the original character of a home. Maybe because Emily did not grow up with this she just doesn’t have the same attachment to these older period elements? This reminds me of when she wanted to plaster over her built-in bookshelves in her LA Tudor home…I do think Emily is a genius but I am just not sure older styles (like her Tudor home), are fully in her wheelhouse, or just what she vibes with. Which is fine, but… Read more »

Lane
2 months ago
Reply to  Kay

Kay, not true that many people would do this. She actually bought this home. The other interested buyer was a developer who wanted to level the house and slice up the land to build more houses on it. There weren’t any others bidding to get this property and to actually preserve it as is.

Kay
2 months ago
Reply to  Lane

I think you misunderstood my comment, Lane. I was simply expressing that keeping and embracing the original trim, in my opinion, does not amount to fetishization. I said many people “would want to preserve” it…not “did want” to preserve it. I wasn’t referring to the bid history on the house.

Kris
2 months ago

We are in a 1918 farmhouse in the Garden Home neighborhood of southwest Portland. Our house is the second oldest on our block; it was built for the then newly married child of the orchard owners, whose original house still sits next door. We bought it last summer. An architect bought it in around 1990, when the house was 70+ years old, and renovated it. He replaced all the windows with high quality glass, and replaced every bit of trim around windows, doors, closets with surrounds he made himself. He reconfigured the layout of the ground level, dug out the basement to make it not only usable but also functional, added a magnificent bay window to the dining room, extended the rear of the house, and added a well proportioned room that we use as the sitting room. He tripled the usable space on the upper level. He saved what was worth saving and created a new, insulated, appropriate house that is much better built than the original. During the smoky September of last fall’s wildfires, we had an insulated, well built, smoke-free interior. During last weekend’s Arctic freeze, the entire house stayed cozy and snug, without condensation building up… Read more »

Kaitlin
2 months ago

It’s crazy to me that this decision has people questioning the entire decision to renovate instead of building new. I am an old house lover. I live in a 300 year old New England colonial. The reasons to make an old house work for you *even if you update and change things* are not quantifiable. Looking out a window people have looked out for 100+ years is special even if the window trim has been updated. My house doesn’t look like it did in 1720 – thank goodness! But I am reminded of the past owners all the time in big and small ways. The cost to recreate a house with similar materials today would be outrageous. And the feel of an antique home cannot be recreated. I’m sure there will be many, many details that remain in Emily’s home that are a throwback to it’s history. But old homes want to be lived in. They want their owners to be happy. They don’t expect people today to make decisions based on what would have been done during a certain period just for the sake of it. The house was built to suit its owners and should be updated to… Read more »

Anonymous
2 months ago
Reply to  Kaitlin

I agree. But I think the reason there is so much debate here is because— if you remove the walls, plaster, trim, hardwood floors (or paint/carpet over them), most windows, the built-ins, etc— then you’re basically stripping it down to the studs(and getting rid of the things that are expensive to rebuild). If you’re changing that much, why not build new? And building new is often actually cheaper (in those situations) and you aren’t working around the crap you don’t like. So people are wondering, why didn’t Emily want to build new? I’m sure location has a lot to do with it, which is understandable. Also, when we redid our electric, we didn’t have to remove the plaster. Maybe it’s just different here… there were sections where a square was taken out, it was “fed” through areas and then the walls patched back up. I don’t have a problem with updating old homes, especially electric plumbing etc. but if you have to remove EVERYTHING, then why buy an old home? Plenty of peeps would buy that place and wouldn’t “need” to replace so much But yeah- it’s her house, she should do what she wants. And I’m sure they will… Read more »

Nora
2 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Yes, agree with this.

Betsy
2 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I’m pretty sure she isn’t removing “EVERYTHING”, or the house would be bulldozed. I think everyone is glossing over the fact that all of the plaster walls have to be removed in order to update electrical and plumbing. Plaster walls are no joke. I have a love/hate relationship with mine. When redoing my only bathroom, they unfortunately had to take the room down to the studs on 3/4 of the walls. Having drywall makes hanging stuff a million times easier for instance. But I do miss the sort of not quite smooth walls from the original plaster. I replaced all of my windows. I didn’t have to worry about the trim they said. And it worked out fine on all of my windows but the big bay window in front. The trim was ruined trying to get the old, beautiful, very leaky window out. Cracked all the moldings, my plaster wall, and some of the siding on the outside. The top and sides can hopefully be filled in the painter is 99% sure. But the bottom sill, not fixable. So I now have to try and find the same sill at a local architectural salvage store. Fingers crossed. But if… Read more »

Betsy
2 months ago
Reply to  Kaitlin

Bravo! Very well said!

Mitch
2 months ago

“But like all of life, there aren’t two clear opposing sides here, it’s not that clear-cut.”

If only everyone truly embraced this reality.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Mitch

Oh, Mitch, that’s it!
It’s about honouring the Old Girl, while finding the middle road.
Essentially, we’re all here because we love houses!

Laura
2 months ago

I guess the difference for me is that I buy a house for what it is. I can’t imagine the expense and effort to totally change the entire floor plan and every architectural feature and say, I love this house. Don’t get me wrong, the brown and orange tile in my bathroom, gone. The weird 70’s door in my kitchen, removed. But the things that makes my house a craftsman (in SW Portland) have stayed because I respect the architectural intent and integrity. What I replaced, I did with that look and feel in mind. I have the exact same window and door trim as this farm house. The ones damaged over the years were easy to replace because they are not that uncommon here. They don’t look out of place because they match the overall aesthetic of the home’s details. I would come clean and say this house is being converted from farm house to a more contemporary design and walk us through that. Then remove the farm house details and have at it, showing us via blog what would make a contemporary vibe. Of course, do what you want, but we were invited to comment and so I… Read more »

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Laura

Laura, I think you stated the gist of it:
“come clean and say this house is being converted from farm house to a more contemporary design and walk us through that.”
= less confusion.

Professor
2 months ago
Reply to  Laura

I completely agree with Laura. Old craftsman houses are not for everyone. And Emily has her own style which we love. So you do you Emily. But Arciform is not exactly what we would call “restorers” in the midwest. I went through their portfolio. They take old houses and modernize them, mainly by sticking period appliances, full stop. So I think we could all move past this controversy if Emily would just say that you are renovating the house and making it your own.. Which is what we are all here for. Please just don’t try to keep asserting that you are working with some kind of historical restorer – Arciform is anything but that. And if you don’t believe me, Emily, please look up actual restored houses in the midwest, around Chicago – you will know what is true and what is fake. Arciform does lovely work and I am positive your house will be a feast for the eyes.. but this is not restoration, I humbly suggest.

Elizabeth
2 months ago
Reply to  Professor

Well spoken. Not to be insulting, but real for everyone.
We all love watching and results will be stunning if more real talk instead of trying to appease everyone and just say what is best for you and your family. No need to pander to everyone – you will never please all the people all of the time.

Lisa
2 months ago

We have a 1913 Craftsman and it’s under the Mills Act (historic) and so the windows are original. I do not love them. They rattle. They are so hard to open. They are not energy efficient. When the glass breaks we have to find someone to replace the historic glass. We also have plaster walls and had a leak last year; I can’t imagine taking ALL of that plaster down as you mentioned and having to worry about the windows.

Some things are just practical. Replace the windows. 😂

Lisa
2 months ago
Reply to  Lisa

Should add, however, I can see the argument about historic homes about acting as custodians. It’s always a personal choice. I love most of the historic elements even if not practical, but have updated bathrooms and kitchen.

Emma
2 months ago
Reply to  Lisa

Yeah, I too have “vintage” windows and they suck. There is a reason windows are built differently today. Mine are rotting and the glass is cracking – I can feel the breeze coming through the windows even when I close and tape them shut (and yes I’ve added weather seals etc). Another tenant in my building had a window completely shatter when she tried to open it and she ended up with lacerations on her arms. Sadly I’m renting so I can’t do anything about it, but there are just some things that need to be functional and safe even if they aren’t 100% “authentic.” Old windows are hard to salvage unless you literally don’t touch them, especially in this damp climate. I’m surprised Emily is even keeping the windows, much less the trim. As an architect I care about the style and period finishes but at the end of the day my responsibility is for health, safety and functionality as well as aesthetics. I also agree that there is a lot of obsession with older properties which sometimes makes me a bit sad, because architecture has come a long way in terms of technical and functional knowledge and sometimes… Read more »

Roberta Davis
2 months ago

I’m buying your reasons for tearing it out and replacing it. You have hired professionals who know what they are doing to advise you. Onward!

Ashley
2 months ago

Your reasons to remove the windows are ridiculously shortsighted. All of the issues are take place during renovation, which is a mere blip in the lifetime of the home.

You’re sacrificing history and character while filling our landfills because you hired a team that isn’t well versed in how to problem solve. And too lazy to label pieces of wood???

These “issues” are worked around and solved by thousands of people that appreciate architecture on the daily. You’re not the first people to renovate an old house and it’s a shame you’re promoting that future old house restorers follow your lazy approach.

This is truly shameful. Make your own decisions all you want, but don’t preach to the world that these are reasonable justifications.

Elisabeth
2 months ago
Reply to  Ashley

What’s shameful is prioritizing buildings over the humans inside. What’s lazy is assuming you know what’s best for another family because you read about them on the Internet. All this concern for a house’s character and lot much concern for your own….

Sarah
2 months ago
Reply to  Elisabeth

Lol. Ok. No one is saying don’t touch the knob and tube. But when you write posts about RESTORING a house and working with RESTORATION experts you’ve set the expectation for the choices you make. Instead she’s renovating. So Renovate away and make the choices that are right for you.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Y e s s s .

Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

What’s amusing is that you are obsessing about which word she should use. As if she’s not RESTORING AND RENOVATING. It’s not that difficult to understand unless you in a rush to lecture/preach/judge — as is so often the case in these comments.

Kara
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, I totally sympathize with how these comments are driving you up a wall haha! That being said, I’m someone who personally values accuracy in language, and when you’re dealing with a scenario where there is a clear definition of what home restoration is, these types of comments could all be avoided by a simple switch in language used. Sure, Emily could indicate times where she is using a specific restoration technique, such as with the windows. But she’s renovating and modernizing an old home, so call a spade a spade! Frankly I’m much more interested in her doing that. There are tons of other places on the internet to watch people do home restoration, and that’s not why I read this blog. So no judgment here whatsoever.

Emma
2 months ago
Reply to  Ashley

As an architect, I can confirm that the process is often a lot more complicated than people realize, and far more complicated than can be summarized in a blog post. There are also actual humans who have to work inside the home during demolition and renovation, and their health and safety is also of utmost importance. Construction is not simply a “blip” for the humans involved in this process – it can be a multiyear effort with hundreds of people involved. It’s not just “labeling pieces of wood” – it sounds like the trim straight up doesn’t work with the updated wall assembly. As an architect I love period finishes and the character of older homes, but it’s honestly ridiculous to shame someone and call them lazy over WINDOW TRIM. I am continually astounded by clients who assume they know more because of their personal renovations and google searches, as opposed to licensed, regulated professionals who have done this hundreds or thousands of times.

Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Emma

The internet has created millions of smug know-it-all “experts.” 😉

Kay
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Apparently, yourself included! Not sure if you’re just having a bad day, but your responses have been dripping with smugness. Why insult someone for sharing their personal opinions and experience? Emily knew this was a highly debatable topic, she made that known from the beginning of the post…and the project. Calling people out for contributing to the debate is as “know it all” as it comes.

Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Kay

That’s not what “smug” means. It means “having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements.”

I’m not bragging about how my way of restoring — excuse me, renovating — old houses is the best way, the preferred way, the “sustainable” way. I’m not questioning why someone bought an old house if they didn’t redo it in the way I think is best. But I see lots of other folks doing that.

You can accuse me of being cranky. That would be accurate.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Maybe Google the meaning of RESPECTFUL DEBATE…

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Kay

Here, here, Kay. xx

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

It has also created bullies who hide behind their keyboards,
💥

Brit
2 months ago

If you weren’t moving them, paint would be the better option. Lead paint really isn’t a big deal as long as it’s not inhaled or ingested. Since you are moving them, replacement seems like a better option. But while I’m not a wood purist, the thought of removing or painting over all of that trim, five-panel doors, quality cabinetry, etc. absolutely kills the idea of retaining a century-old farmhouse. You’re already removing classic flooring, which I’ll grant is necessary for cohesiveness. And likely painting that living room ceiling, which is regrettably necessary for light. I would make the 60’s addition match the rest, ideally. Wood tones are essential in any home (in my opinion), and getting rid of or covering old ones only to introduce new ones is a tragedy (…in renovation terms). Would you consider resizing some of the trim you feel is too heavy? Keep it the same but take off an inch or two? If not, I’m sure your final product will be gorgeous, but please offer those elements up for salvage. There are likely a lot of craftsman owners in your region that could use it to retain character in their renovations.

Kate
2 months ago

I’m with you. If you have to disturb lead paint then they need to just go. If we were talking 100 year old wood that had a gorgeous patina that would be one thing but these just aren’t that special.

Tamsen
2 months ago

Just another reason to replace, I’m in SW Portland and many in the area have been without power for 4-5 days. We put new windows on our 70s house last year and even with the better insulated ones our home is currently 47 degrees. For general home comfort I’m a vote for replace!

Amanda McCullough
2 months ago

Wow. Still a divisive subject. I would like to see what kind of window trim you are leaning towards…. I am here to observe and be inspired – not to judge or educate you! Lots of love

Sheila
2 months ago

Totally agree. I’d love to see a rendering of the existing trim vs the style you’ll be replacing with. I’d find that picture worth a thousand words!

Sandberg
2 months ago

Ditto for me. I can’t wait to watch this unfold! Exciting!

Kara
2 months ago

I echo the requests to see what style of frame you want to replace it with because these frames look incredibly simple–not “fancy” at all–to me. Oooo maybe a whole education post on framing styles as part of it?

I think it’s absolutely fine to renovate a home for the next 100 years and wish all renos were approached that way. (Even better if approached with sustainable practices in mind.) It seems to me that people are getting tripped up by you using the word “restoration” instead, and based on what I know of what restoring a home means, their confusion makes sense. So perhaps a simple language shift here could go a long way in explaining your decisions. I.e. just stop calling this a restoration!

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Kara

Yesss!!! 🤗
It’s that one little word that makes all the difference.

Brit
2 months ago

Have you had those diamond windows tested for R-value? There’s character in them, but if you’re in a region that gets winters and they’re either single-paned or too old, you may want to have a plan for replacements. You could get drafts, insects, and end up with higher heating bills. People like to think of windows as permanent fixtures, but they can have a lifespan similar to a home appliance (10-30 years). Wood rots, and sealants degrade. And no, I don’t sell windows, I just have an entire house full of windows whose condition wasn’t readily apparent when we bought our house, and we can’t easily afford to replace.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Brit

Retro-fitting doubke glazing with the original windows is a ‘thing’. It gives the best of both worlds.

ottan
2 months ago
Reply to  Brit

Older windows were actually built with longer lifespans than modern windows (old growth wood etc), so they are more sustainable than new ones that have the 10-30 year lifespan you mention.

However, you need storms to make them energy efficient. Historical single paned windows + storms have comparable R values to new double paned windows.

In my experience, most window contractors want to push you to replace though, which makes me crazy. The Old House Journal has some great articles on the topic if you want some guidance for dealing with your older windows.

LBee
2 months ago
Reply to  ottan

I have 33 original single pane windows in my house, and I will agree that yes, with storm windows, they are quite energy efficient.

Don’t believe the window salespeople! Old windows are absolutely worth keeping (even if the trim is not!).

Carrie
2 months ago
Reply to  ottan

And many times if you compared the cost of replacement to the small $ amount of energy savings you get from those replacements, you will never make up the cost over your lifetime.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  ottan

🌏

Josh
2 months ago

Thanks for sharing this Emily. I am sure we will all love your new home once you have “Emily-ified” it. While there are some historical details that need to stay, window trims are very different from house to house. It feels like you are defending yourself against your followers that can be very abrasive than truly going for what you really want. They are not living with chipped woodwork with lead paint in your home. If they choose to do so in their homes, that’s their choice. You are going to live with your decisions and YOU need to be happy. We will adapt and many of us have followed you for over a decade. Obviously, most of us are not going anywhere. In short, “You do you.” You’ve got this and I cannot wait to see how this new home turns out!

kk
2 months ago

As someone who is sensitive to detail and likes that period of home, diamond pane windows with
” simple” shaker trim would look and feel ‘ off ‘to me and would subtly bug me every time I walked into the room. If you like it , you like it, and you do you, but there is no evading the fact that it changes the proportions of the room and to some people it will always look like a stylistic mishmash. My 2 cents.

laura
2 months ago

Ahh trim-gate. I’ve been thinking about this so much I actually had a dream about it.

I agree with the readers who are saying that a lot of the frustration from the pro-trim side comes from the idea of restoration versus renovation. You are not restoring your farmhouse, you are renovating it, which is pretty much what you said you’d do! Personally, removing the trim makes me cringe – but I don’t have to live there.

Luckily there are lots of other home-bloggers out there who can feed the appetites of the purists among us.

Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  laura

“TRIM GATE”!
That’s about the size of it!
😹😹😹

Lucy
2 months ago
Reply to  laura

I agree, I think plaster walls give old houses a lot of their charm (in addition to moldings, of course), but once you’re stripping everything down to studs it’s just a different kind of project. I like old houses, but I think it’s fine if this particular one is not lovingly restored. For what it’s worth, you can update the electrical without removing the plaster, although it sounds like tradespeople on the west aren’t willing to do as much patching. Insulation is another story.

Brigitte
2 months ago

Just wanted to share this house tour. Saw it recently and its living room reminded me of your living room. Good luck with your new home 🙂

https://www.cocokelley.com/2019/09/house-tour-historic-craftsman-mingles-with-modern-sophistication/

Anonymous
2 months ago
Reply to  Brigitte

I love this tour SO much. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

Brigitte
2 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Here’s the designer’s website:

https://marthamulholland.com/images/album-1/interiors

It has a few more detailed pictures from this house and her other projects. Even more eye candy😍

Erin
2 months ago
Reply to  Brigitte

Wow this is GORGEOUS. I love how they stained the wood detailing dark and really went for it with moody paint colors, wallpaper, and upholstery. I think it’s a great example of modernizing/elevating a home while completely respecting its original style and character.

Brigitte
2 months ago
Reply to  Erin

That’s what I thought☺

Caitlin
2 months ago

Wow these comments are craaaaazy to read! Do you Emily, it’s your house! It’s nice that you’re keeping and restoring as much as makes sense for you, and have professionals to help you with those decisions. Random people on the internet freaking out because you’re not planning to recreate EXACT REPLICAS OF THE WINDOW CASINGS (??), or scolding you for buying this house at all if you planned to change things, is nuts to me. If it makes you feel better, I (and I’m sure most of your audience) am just excited to sit back and enjoy watching your journey. I know this place will be beautiful and full of soul when it’s done, with some awesome content along the way. xx

Molly
2 months ago
Reply to  Caitlin

Ditto this! I’m even guilty of being one of the previous commenters, but I’ve calmed down now after eating 6 mini snickers and 2 cups of coffee and I AM HERE FOR THIS, whatever *this* turns out to be! I’m excited for the #journey because I know it’s going to be beautiful Emily!

Katie
2 months ago
Reply to  Caitlin

Um, aren’t these “random people on the internet” essentially how Emily makes a living? Just sayin’

Also, a good controversy that generates lots of comments probably translates to more $$. So no need to be so dismissive….as long as everyone is respectful with their opinions.

Caitlin
2 months ago
Reply to  Katie

Unfortunately I don’t think some people are being very respectful with their opinions! I am totally fine with offering suggestions and having a different opinion but some people are taking this WAY too seriously.

Mindy
2 months ago

Its your home at the end of the day, you do you! The purpose of a home is to feel safe and comfortable and known. Mouldings are great, but so is not having lead paint brain damage.

Elaine
2 months ago

So you bought a craftsman but you prefer shaker?! Well they’re not massively worlds apart, even if shaker is the more functional to craftsman’s slightly more decorative flourishes. Here’s my thinking – the window surrounds are part of the *current* character of your house, and they can readily be restored by a company that specialises in historic restoration. So in that sense I’m not totally convinced that restoration, numbering windows, or even finances for that matter, are the real issues. And I don’t think that’s a problem either, even if I love the windows! It seems to me that the window surrounds just aren’t your thing, aesthetically, and the driving factor is as much aesthetics as anything else. This project doesn’t seem like a restoration in the truest sense of the word either, it seems more like a modernisation or upgrade or something similar. And throughout history buildings have always evolved, been modified or added to, just take a gander at any French chateau or European palace…each wing can be from a different century, with a different style and yet it all works together! So why not just show how what you’re doing to this house is sympathetic to the… Read more »

Zoe
2 months ago

Welp…. I’ve lost you. I guess the one thing I’d beg is for them to find their way to another historic home instead of the dump. I’ve seen tons and tons of renovation / historic accounts work through each of the reasons you noted successfully…. there is someone out there trying to replace history once it’s been torn out of a house. Hopefully the old growth wood and handmade routing, etc can find a new home.

Kathryn
2 months ago

I think the problem with the trim is that it is in the wrong proportion to all of the doors and windows. Maybe it is because they are so low, but I am guessing fixing this will actually add to the charm of the house!

Lucy
2 months ago
Reply to  Kathryn

Yes, I love old houses and plaster walls (you can update the electrical and still keep the plaster!) and original trim, but I don’t find the proportions of this particular trim to be that wonderful. Maybe I’m used to old houses on the east coast and this is more of a Craftsman thing.

Lavinia
2 months ago

I live in a 125 year old home with lead paint underneath every bit of our recently painted original doors, windows and trim. With two kids under 5, we work constantly to make sure any chips are contained because of the threat of lead. I do not recommend it! You’re making a great decision.

Emma
2 months ago

I feel this so much. My house is the victim of an 80s drywall redo the ate up the profile of all the original moulding. What was once nice wide craftsmen mouldings with about an inch profile are now almost flush with the wall. Cutting in when we paint is a nightmare. It’s some stanky, janky old house bs that I can’t even wrap my mind around how to fix right now.

MM
2 months ago

Why not just keep the plaster? We were able to update an entire 100 year house with all new electrical and blow in insulation without removing walls. We did not live there during the renovations, but were able to keep the walls, windows and window trim (without stripping — just hired out a super paint job). We replaced all the baseboards (not original); they were removed for the whole-house electrical update to make them uniform. Your trim looks very farmhouse to me — I would be Team Keep, but your house, your rules.

Professor
2 months ago
Reply to  MM

We replaced knob and tube without touching the plaster. There’s probably many different ways to update without touching walls. Some people just don’t like the plaster walls.. fair.. just say that and be done with it.

MM
2 months ago
Reply to  Professor

I love plaster and it can take a beating! Pets, kids, skateboard crashes, furniture bumps, thrown toys — the plaster handles it all with nary a ding. The downside of all that diamond hardness is that it can be a bear to drill through, but get yourself a good drill and use the correct bit! Texture can be hit or miss, and I agree that it’s not everyone’s jam. For easy upkeep and good looks, I would choose plaster over drywall every time.

Kendra Hansen
2 months ago
Reply to  MM

I have been wondering about the the removal of the plaster as well. We are restoring/remodeling a 1908 craftsmen in SE Portland and had all new plumbing and electrical put in without removing the plaster walls. We paid a pretty penny to have the plaster walls restored where there were big cracks, but the restoration work was way less expensive than ripping out and replacing it with drywall. This produced less construction waste, when we were already making a lot, and kept some of the historic integrity of the house.

kiki
2 months ago
Reply to  MM

agreed, and well said! I have a 1920’s Portland house and we were able to update hvac and electrical without loosing the plaster. We did have to sacrifice it in the kitchen though…that room was about 60% plaster, 40% other materials (bead-board, shiplap, old plywood-type stuff). So, we had to drywall to make it consistent in that space. Maybe Emily is dealing with something similar?? I love the texture and sound-dampening. One downside, is wi-fi doesn’t pass through it very well so we had to get a mesh network…that might also be a consideration?

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