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

  1. 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 🙂

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

          2. 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

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

        2. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

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

        1. 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…

      3. 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.

    2. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.”

      2. 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.

        1. 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 …

    2. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

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

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

      2. 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. 🙂

      3. 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.

    2. 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.

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

          1. 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.

          2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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…

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

      1. 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!

    1. 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.)

  18. 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 sure the parts for each window/door are bundled together so the parts work for the end user.

    In so, so many ways, renovating the Old Girl is harder than restoring, because there’s always the temptation to go too far from the original, thus losing the soul of the original home.
    I think this will be extra difficult for you, having lived in the minimal, very modern mountain house. The comparison between the two would make not-so-fussy trim look fussy.

    FYI: Lead paint can be easily and safely removed by dipping in an acid bath. This is the most common way to strip lead paint and is commonly used for architraves, doors, etc., where there may be detailed grooves.
    Quick, easy and there are experts that do this as their core business.
    It’s cost effective, because there’s not much manual labour involved (hand stripping would be labour-intensive and costly).

    Sending the Old Girl ‘survival ‘ energy (kinda tongue-in-cgeek, but not entirely).

      1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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

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

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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?

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

  23. 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.

    1. 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.

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

        1. 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’. ☺

    2. 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?”

      1. 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 I kinda wish this was an MCM house on this amazing lot. Sigh. Maybe if she could show us the trim she wants to go with instead?

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

  24. 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 anywhere. Inside, the house is and feels updated, but the period features remain — with the benefit of a snug, designed laundry room, and entirely useful pantry, and row of maple cabinetry in the interior hallway that so easily could have been wasted space. The home inspector said not only were there no problems with this house, but it’s built like a house that’s only twenty years old instead of a hundred years old. Our realtor has said it looks like a Hamptons classic. I took out half a dozen charming, but dead or diseased trees in August, and have been reconfiguring the gardens to take advantage of sun and create a plan (and planted a dozen trees and 500 perennials and nearly a thousand bulbs). Our improvements are living with the house and property, constantly checked to make sure we aren’t imposing something that doesn’t fit, but to continue to make this place a comfortable, welcoming family home. And in November when I planted a white Oregon oak in the very middle of the back gardens, on a spot that is smack dab in the middle of this summer’s vegetable garden, I know that the oak — which now measures only 12″ tall — will be habitat and focal point as it grows over the next few decades. Loving an old house means loving it not only now, but for the next century. I’m excited to see your choices as you move forward, neighbor (or near neighbor).

  25. 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 suit its current owners.

    1. 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 do a great job, no doubt…

      1. 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 not, this means I would have to replace all the trim in my house. Expensive, but in order for it to be cohesive, this is what I may have to do.

        Remodeling is not a 1 size fits all endeavor. What is right for one family, may not work for another. We all have different tolerances for salvaging, lead, asbestos, etc. Why don’t we all just try and show each other a little grace. Especially in this time of Covid. And stop with the holier than thou attitudes.

        Emily, you do what you think is best. I know you are not making any willy nilly decisions. Look forward to seeing the end results.

  26. “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.

    1. 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!

  27. 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 did.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

  28. 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. 😂

    1. 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.

    2. 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 we hamper ourselves by clinging onto the past. I love period homes as much as the next person but too much tunnel vision is never a good thing.

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

    1. 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….

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

    2. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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!

  34. 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

    1. 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!

  35. 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!

  36. 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.

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

    2. 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.

      1. 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!).

      2. 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.

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  40. 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

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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 buildings heritage *and* true to you. That’s a far more exciting prospect (to me anyway) than a post that seems like it’s almost asking for the approval of people (us) whose opinions, in the context of you doing the right thing for your home, don’t matter. And you can always sell the window surrounds to a reclamation yard so they can be repurposed! Win-win!

  43. 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.

  44. 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!

    1. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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?

  48. I am baffled by how a company SPECIALIZED in restoring old homes is acting like the most basic thing (ie. Renovating trim) is so confusing. “OMG! We have to remember where things went before!!” I have restored 3 homes and my basic builders figured it out. The “Tudor” was such a mess, it really seems like the lesson of trying to shoehorn a house into another style should have been learned

    1. Totally agree. Put some masking tape on each piece of wood and label “1-right/top/bottom” or whatever .
      For my 100-year-old house, i’m so glad the trim in main rooms was never painted. wood is classic. And I love plaster walls. and radiators. my boiler is like 60 years old i think. it’s amazing.

  49. I’m steering away from the trim discussion (fwiw – I like the style but get the reasons to pull it) and towards what you are doing when you pull down the walls. We bought a 1 story 1960s ranch that had sturdy exterior brick walls but a poor conditioned interior (literally holes through the floor into the basement and smoke embedded walls that chopped it into tiny little rooms in case anyone wants to judge) and gutted the first floor and then added a second floor. Otherwise, this area is a desirable area for flippers/builders and the whole thing would have been torn down.

    The point for Emily is – we had dry wall directly over brick on the first floor. We’d live with that in our old house for 15 years and it is FREEZING in the winter (Chicago). In the renovated house we added a frame inside the brick and then sprayed in cellulose insulation, then put up drywall (and of course they did this on the new second floor). It is SO much better! We rarely have to run either the furnace or the air conditioner – the house almost always maintains a high 60 degree temp. Yes, we lost 4 inches of floor space all the way around the first floor but it was worth it!!!! So, if you are pulling down those walls, think about rebuilding better.

    Honestly, I’m less interested in the nitty gritty of the renovation and more about how you are financing everything. You now have three houses – I know how difficult it was for us to have one mortgage and then secure the construction loan on this house and then move the construction loan to a regular mortgage while renting out the first house. And we have good credit and two stable jobs (not self employed). Can you speak to how you are keeping all this afloat? And do you have someone handling it for you? It was almost a full-time job for us to work with all the paperwork. Thank you!!!

  50. Maybe you can just save all the wood and trim that you’re not using in this house and have someone make a bench or table out of them?

  51. The tone of some of these comments are really disappointing. Can we please stop attacking Emily and attacking other commentators for their own opinions? There’s a kind way to say everything, please try to keep that in mind. I’d like Emily to feel comfortable sharing this process. If I were her I’d be rethinking how much she invites us in.

    1. This is literally her job. She’ll keep inviting us in and generating controversy because that’s how she makes money. She’s not a random person who happens to have a blog and if people are too mean in the comments she might just stop blogging. She did all of this on purpose. I’m not knocking her at all but she was never restoring this house, she was never genuinely seeking opinions on trim, etc. She was always going to do exactly what she’s doing and creates these posts for clicks and engagement to get brand partnerships, etc. She’s really good at her job! Which is decor styling, product roundups, and content generation, not real interior design and historic architecture.

  52. I think there’s no doubt that the home will be beautiful when you’re finished with it! And it’s *your* home, so of course it makes sense to run with what appeals to you. A lot of the objections you raise to keeping the trim are also definitely important to keep in mind, and it’s also a bit funny how exercised some of us are getting about this subject.

    Just my two cents – the comments above that ask about your preference for this house rather than one from a different era, or a new build, resonate – and I promise I’m not coming at this from a “preserve every element of an older home and while you’re at it, keep the styling/furnishings period-appropriate” perspective 🙂 It sounds like you’re looking to replace many of the characteristic features of the era or style – the window and door trim, cover/replace the floors and original wood, replace the plaster walls, potentially remove the nooks, etc, and you mentioned that you prefer a Shaker style. Many of these probably do need to be replaced for practical reasons, but overall it does seem like you might just not particularly like the interior of Craftsman homes? Which is of course fine, it’s just a weird feeling for those of us for whom the character, individuality and quirkiness of some older features is a big part of the appeal of projects like this (and just speaking for myself, what feels especially exciting is restoration of period details, contrasted with more modern or eclectic styling).

    Anyway, as I mentioned, I’m sure that what you’ll do with it will be gorgeous. And I also wholeheartedly endorse getting as much light in there as possible, given the rain and shorter winter days!

  53. As a fellow Portlander in a 1904 house with lead-painted, janky window frames – I support your decision. We’ve replaced our old single-paned windows and trim with new wood-framed, insulated windows & new wood trim that goes with the era of our house. 100% worth it.

  54. I did this. I kept all the plaster – which ended up looking AMAZING and something that drywall can’t replicate – took down the ceilings and had an electrician update that way. We did choose to remove most moldings and have them dipped and stripped. The wood can’t be replaced. It just can’t. It is so expensive, that old growth wood. So where you pay more for some things you will save substantially for others. If there is one thing I wish I had done – I would have not tried to save the windows at all costs. The bugs, they will get in. You will feel the cold, even with storms. They will rattle in the wind. It’s just not worth the effort, unless you are in a very substantial, historically significant home. So yes, we opened walls, saved the plaster and the mouldings and are forever grateful for that. Let’s be real. The builders never want to do this. You have to push.

  55. On a related note..

    Can you please do a post on the best way to reglaze old windows? Especially in humid climates. I’ve heard that linseed oil glazing putty can take forever to dry when it’s humid and can grow mold before it’s even ready to paint. Are there better options?

    1. This would be great information because so many people don’t understand how original wood windows can be repaired and maintained! However, I’d gently suggest looking elsewhere for this information as Emily is not a historic restoration/DIY blog. There’s a wonderful old house blogging and Instagram community full of people showing how to restore. Emily would write a post talking about how how she really wrestled with keeping the original windows but after lots of thinking, here are four reasons why we just couldn’t and also we happen to have a brand partnership with Pelli/Marvin for all new windows so follow along!

      1. Recommendations please for old house blogs and Instagram accounts? (My house is “only” 72 years old, but it has marvelous trim!)

        1. Daniel Kanter is a great follow and he’s been renovating and restoring some houses in the Hudson Valley. He’s young and has made mistakes but has learned a lot and he’s generally a delight. House of Brinson, Old Town Home, and Blake Hill House are other big blog/Instagram follows who can lead you to lots more old/historic home accounts. Blake Hill House also hosts a podcast about old house restoration. I like The Gold Hive too-she has a historically listed home, does a lot of work herself, and also talks a lot about sustainability. Lady Dukart on Instagram isn’t a prolific poster but she’s very slowly restoring a stunning house and she’s got salvaged trim for days.

          That’s just a few off the top of my head but their hashtags can direct you to even more. Hope that was helpful and leads to some inspiration!

    2. This is a great starting place for window restoration information (some of the links get into some really detailed opinions on glazing putty options, but I can’t remember off the top of my head exactly where I read about that before because there’s a lot of information, only that this was how I got there):

  56. I 100% support your decision. My husband and I are currently adding on to our 95 year old house. We decided to replace 3 of the original leaded glass windows with the same windows we are using in the addition. We currently have several pieces of the window frames – complete with all the labeling you mentioned– sitting in the addition with this idea that we are going to reuse them. We already tossed the ones from the exterior and I think we will end up throwing away the interior ones too. They also have lead paint and they will be in rooms that don’t have any of the original windows so we can imitate the look of our moulding without using the exact same thing and it will be fine.

  57. WOW. Just here to say I can’t believe how strongly some people feel about window trim. So much that it has them questioning every little thing you’re going to do with this house. Everyone take a deep breath and see how silly (and often rude) and unnecessary your commentary here really is. Also maybe realize this is NOT YOUR HOUSE. It’s the Henderson’s (I see you, Brian! :)) and they will undoubtedly do it justice, as they have done with every house we have seen on this blog. You are here to follow their adventures and enjoy reading about their design choices (or not, whatever), not judge and denigrate. They have hired architects who know what they are doing, so they obviously do love and want to preserve the historic character of this house. THAT is why they are not scrapping it and building anew. Duh. Relax, and go worry about your own window trim if you must lol. Hendersons, carry on!

    p.s. absolutely agree with removing any darn thing that would cause you anxiety in your own home!

  58. I think you’re just making excuses. I wish you’d say “I don’t like it so I’m taking it out” and be done with it. I also wish you’d just build a new house since that’s clearly what you really want.

  59. Also! It’s YOUR house, not a democracy. If we knew better than you about this stuff, we’d be the ones with the wildly successful interiors blogs.

    You owe us nothing. You do you!

  60. Thanks for writing this post.

    I admit that my initial reaction to hearing you want to get rid of old wood architectural details was to cringe.

    But, I think that’s because of the “HGTV effect”. I grew up in a 120 year old house that my parents have lovingly restored and made changes to improve functionality (removing part of a staircase, widening/moving doors – bc nobody needs a small kitchen with 4 entrances).

    However, so many “flippers” have come into the neighborhood to destroy homes. They tear down all the walls, which means the woodwork is trashed and the beautiful hardwood floors have to be covered with cheap laminate, and the wood windows are replaced with vinyl and “trendy” shiplap walls are added and everything will be out of style in a few years and have to be updated.

    All the houses look like HGTV flips – which often don’t care about individuality, or honoring architecture or sustainability.

    But I know you don’t do cheap flips with cheap materials, so I’m excited to see how changes are made to the original craftsmanship in a way that is timeless and uses quality materials that honor the home’s history – even if it means removing the original woodwork.

  61. I actually have a 1910s house that has the original casings and baseboard, and the plaster was replaced with drywall and I can confirm it is WEIRD. It’s the only thing about this house that drives me nuts. Original doesn’t always mean better!

  62. All of those issues could be solved if you wanted to keep them (including the lead issue). Keeping them might actually increase the value of the home if they were restored. In some historic districts you would not be allowed to replace them. I would myself work to restore them to keep with the integrity and spirit of the house, however, it’s your house and you can (and will!) do as you wish. All the best!

  63. I think the absolute biggest problem with this whole conversation is that you’re replacing the plaster in the first place. To me, that’s a dividing line between “restoring” and replacing. As other commenters have said, older homes are not supposed to be new. You bought the house with plaster walls, there’s no reason to replace it all with drywall. I don’t think the argument should be used to push against all change—I too own a 1920’s era home in Portland. When I remodeled my space, I patched what I touched with drywall. But to go out of your way to rip up and replace all of the lathe and plaster is sacrilegious to me, even if you replace it with “period charm” details. You own and are remodeling an old home, you shouldn’t be aiming to build a new home with old period charm.

    1. oh and what a mess it will be! ugh, just taking out our ceilings (I had a fear of pieces of plaster falling on my head) was so disgusting! the things you let loose. You know, I had someone come out to bid new plaster walls, and it was just so outrageous. Def, save what you can (assuming you want my opinion). Love your blog!

  64. Why are you keeping the old windows though? Are they energy efficient? We bought a 1970s house and the windows are single pane which means not only can you hear everything happening outside (hello neighbor who likes to mow the lawn at seven am on a Saturday!) but they also make the house hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. I can’t wait until we can save up to replace them!

    1. 1970s windows are different from pre-midcentury wood windows. 1970s windows are not worth saving but old-growth wood windows can be repaired, reglazed, and made just as efficient as new windows. And they can be used for literal centuries whereas new windows, even the best ones, will eventually need to be replaced after a few decades. There’s no comparison. We had to replace all our 1980s windows because they were beyond repair and it’s not cheap! It was so worth it but I wish our house still had it’s original wood windows.

      1. Katie, I’m ‘getting’ your comments!
        Refreshing to read from someone who actually knows their s**t and isn’t simply vocalizing feelings.

        1. Ha, thanks Rusty! I’ve enjoyed your comments too. I love old buildings and architecture and also love when new meets old and you can see how things changed as life changed. I’m not usually a purist but people should fully understand the reasons for why they’re doing things, be honest about their decisions, and we have to move away from our intense throwaway culture. It’s terrible. Watch Daniel Kanter basically rebuild a house with salvaged wood and make it all work. Watch Old Town Home take pride in making an old window new again. People are taking away terrible lessons in fear and laziness from a someone who wants to be perceived as an expert and its damaging.

  65. Agree with you! If you’re removing the plaster they can’t stay, and likely won’t be fully salvageable anyways (and with lead paint and kids I wouldn’t anyways, yikes). But what style trim are you planning to use if not replicating the original? Do share!! 🙂

  66. I agree that the crux of the issue is not coming clean that what you really want to do is gut and renovate the house, not restore it. While people can be sad about that, at least it would be clear that that’s your plan, and frankly there are many nicer Craftsman houses in the PNW so – it’s sad, but not the loss of something completely unique. It does seem like buying an empty lot and going full new build would have suited the look you want much better, and been less expensive too. I’m still super confused by removing the plaster instead of running electric and blowing insulation, demoing (please don’t trash it!) old growth, gorgeous, simple trim, and then for some bizarre reason keeping very old windows? That’s not a money saver, now or in the future… So I guess just come clean. You’re not restoring, you’re gutting to the studs and renovating. The goal isn’t to preserve character or history. Arciform doesn’t do historic restoration, which I guess is why simple (if time consuming and precaution requiring) things like stripping lead paint and working with existing plaster is beyond them. I would still be sad about the loss of original features, but it’s your house. I think the anger and confusion comes because you’re saying one thing and doing another, and offering up a bunch of reasons that don’t make much sense. I would still be a little weirded out because didn’t you write love letters to the previous reluctant-to-sell owner about wanting to preserve and restore it? So that’s a bit sad too. But meh, you own it now. You can do whatever you want, but call a spade a spade.

  67. Why buy a historic home, squee over it’s character, and then rip out most of it? You don’t HAVE to demo plaster away to do insulation or electrical. You don’t HAVE to remove windows. Everything old has lead in it, it’s not a shocking discovery.

    To me this sounds more like you just don’t like any of the old stuff, like the windows.
    And those are my favorite parts, I mean, I thought the plan was to bring that charm into the 60’s addition?

    Can you please at least make sure the windows get into a salvage yard, or used some way and not just sent to the dump. *breaking heart emoji and tearing my eyes out reaction GIF here*

  68. If you plan to paint the trim, all it takes to make lead paint safe is to add a lead free layer over it. Lead paint itself isn’t the problem, it’s lead dust. Your kids are old enough to not be chewing on the windowsills, so I think you’re overthinking the whole lead danger issue.

    Also, PLEASE donate any trim, etc, that you rip out to architectural salvage. I follow a ton of old house restoration accounts and people would kill for this old growth trim!

  69. Im fascinated by how much people care about window and door casings that are going into YOUR home. Please do what you love in your own home that you are paying for all on your own. Despite what some of these commentators are saying there is not only one right way to do these things and you certainly are never going to please everyone. In the end it does not matter what anyone else thinks but you and your family as you are the one who will be seeing it everyday. If that means you lose a reader or 10 over your choice of window and door casing, that’s ok…there is no need to justify it! I love watching you create amazing spaces in ways i would never have dreamed of! Can’t wait to see your spin on this farmhouse.

    1. I agree, I’m looking forward to her spin on this farmhouse. But it’s not that she can’t do what she wants in her house, it’s that she pretended like she cared about historic restoration when she never did. She has every right to do exactly what she wants and she will do some very cool things! I can’t wait to see them! But she’s misleading people about the difficulties of restoration if that’s what they want and it’s a shame. People think she’s an expert on things she isn’t and they’ll do a google search on historic features, find this series of posts because she used certain phrases (Emily knows SEO!), and make a decision that’s not based in reality because she presented herself and her architects as caring about preservation and retaining historic features and charm.

  70. I totally get the desire to deal with the lead paint issues here. But you keep claiming you hired Arciform because they work with historic buildings, yet you want to get rid of everything that makes this house unique and old. I’ll probably stick around to see how this reno goes, but I’m really bothered by this so far….

  71. All I know is that we didn’t keep ours from our 1916 Craftsman for these same reasons, and it is the one thing from our whole house reno that I regret daily. I would have paid the extra money.

  72. I live in a 1910 farmhouse with very similar features and I was so excited when I saw you bought the farm! Finally I’ll get some design inspiration that isn’t the suburban “modern farmhouse” that is so over done but truly a modern farmhouse. So, I’m sad to see the trim go (same as mine) I was looking forward to your challenging project to breath new fresh life into the farmhouse while keeping more original facets, but I understand this isn’t just a “project” for you, it’s your home, and you need to do what you and your family will love. But yes, please salvage and donate! And please share that too, we’d all love to hear and it’s great inspiration to others who are renovating.

    1. I do agree that I wish you would start calling it a “renovation” instead of “restoration”. It would cool a lot of fires, those words have very different meanings. And justifying decisions because of the time and labor it would take does not promote sustainability or thoughtful design, it promotes throw away fast culture, that’s why so many people are invested in hearing that you are saving and donating the trim, so please share that so we can see it’s not all just throw away adding to a fast fashion world. Again, your house you are entitled to do what you love! Just clearer motives or more direct language would be helpful for those who stick around to watch.

  73. There are ways to strip lead safely (Peel Away, Smart Strip, Cobra Speed heater) also you were living with lead in your Tudor. Most of us are all in reality living with lead. I’ve seen tons of neighbors go through the process of removing all the trim, labeling and stripping and they are working with no budget. I live in a community with plenty of beat up old homes. People have successfully rewired and kept the plaster.

  74. I look forward to your updates on the farmhouse posts. It’s an exciting adventure that I have thoroughly enjoyed following. Thank you for sharing with us. I can’t wait to see how you make this your family home.

  75. It’s your house and you are free to do whatever you want! I come here for the styling content and information like rug sizing and curtain heights not historic preservation and detailed info on restoring homes.

    However, you try to present yourself differently the the unfortunate result is that people who might genuinely be wrestling with similar issues in their current homes and are looking for guidance on how to approach original features are going to read your four reasons and think they’re legitimate. Trim can be saved and labeled and homes can be rewired without destroying the plaster and lead paint can be remediated. You just don’t want to do that and you found an architecture firm that gives its client what she wants. They aren’t a preservation architecture firm and you aren’t a preservation blog and you should be honest about that. You bought this house for its location and your job is styling, generating blog content, and getting brand partnerships. You are great at your job. You were never going to save any part of this house that didn’t fit with your vision and that’s fine! Just be honest about it so people who are looking for information about how to preserve and update older homes don’t think they’re going to get that honest content here. These four reasons are laughable and you shouldn’t mislead people into thinking they’re actually valid justifications. You just don’t like the trim! You don’t particularly like most of the house and you’re going to make it something that works for you and your family and you’ll keep a few bits of the charm that do work with your vision. End of story. That’s great blog content!

    And please don’t throw all of this old-growth wood into the landfill. The very least you can do is get it into the hands of people who are restoring their homes. Surely Archiform isn’t telling you that intact removal is just too hard! and surely there’s an architectural salvage company in Portland you can partner with for a blog post about it.

    1. Brilliant comment, Katie.

      “These four reasons are laughable”, indeed. Especially #2, about what a chore it would be to label and store the trim sections. I lost a lot of respect when I read that – some for EHD, tons for Arciform.

      1. Arciform didn’t co-author the post so I’m giving them a pass. Their work looks good and at the end of the day, they’re hired to do what someone wants. I find it hard to believe they’re on board with the whole lead excuse and labeling. It’s certainly a consideration to be sure but every house they touch has lead. In the end they’re being paid to bring Emily’s vision to life and with the information available from the post, I feel bad for them.

    2. Damn girl, way to lay it out clearly and succinctly. This is all the darn truth of the truth. I’m thinking you may be an Enneagram 8, not to go off topic. Ha.

  76. Surely you knew all these things before you asked your audience their opinion.

    I figure… it’s your house. Do what you want. I don’t have to live there. I also know you could recreate the look with new woodwork and moldings. Several people I follow who are restoring old houses do that all the time.

    Why not just do what you’re gonna do and educate everyone? What’s with the fake surveys? I mean… I’m pretty sure I know the reason but….

  77. Old houses equal lots of lead unfortunately and possibly other bad chemicals. I would definitely get rid and go all new. Much safer and peace of mind 🙏

  78. There are paint removal companies local to your area. They will bring in a whole team to remove every bit of paint in the house. Might even be safer than disturbing it by removal.

  79. If you have beautiful and original architectural features that have lasted for over a hundred years, why not at least try to preserve them for another hundred years even if they are not something *you* would choose for a new build.

  80. After today, I think I have realized that I should never scroll down and read the commentary from your readers. I love the blog, love the team and love your transparency. Note to self, never scroll down! The commentary is not nice and borderline mean spirited! (Makes me love your team more Emily, to handle all that commentary and still keep smiling! Thank you for all you do!)

  81. Nicole Curtis would have a thing or two to say about this!! She keeps original moldings all the time, so I dunno about the whole “plaster to drywall” argument. It breaks my heart whenever old houses are dismantled. I always wonder why anyone buys a really old house if they don’t love the janky-ness of old houses. But at the end of the day, it is YOUR house, so it certainly shouldn’t get too heated! People have forgotten how to express an opinion, I tell ya!!!

  82. Oh, I’ve been right in this same spot… however, I was the one painstakingly removing the trim, labeling it, hoping to re-install it. My handy husband was working somewhere else in the house at that time, and telling me all the things you sighted above.
    Then we got to work removing ALL the plaster and lathe from our home. Insulation and updated wiring behind the walls becomes more sexy when you’re in the depths of renovation, and you realize just how nice it will be to have these essentials in your home. So, where did we land? With new trim and window casings, replicated to the original style, and we used real wood (not MDF). It’s beautiful, has only two coats of paint on it, no holes from years of window covering changes, and still speaks to the sytle of the home. Framing new windows is difficult enough without trying to rig old molding to new drywall as you mentioned. The old trim we stored in the old ‘garage’ (story for another day) with sharpie marks on the back to denote front bedroom east wall, etc, made it’s way to our local Restore to be used again, somehow. Although I saved a few pieces to see if we can work them into any basement plans, or even a hang rack for clothes coming out of the dryer.

  83. Once I read about the lead, I understood much better your situation. That would be a huge problem. And of course, it is your house. I myself absolutely adore those windows, and I like keeping original touches like that of a house intact, so if I were there with you, I wouldn’t be able to look as they removed the windows. But…drat that lead! You’re right: Not all things used in the past are good. They didn’t know better then, but we do now, and it’s prudent to act accordingly, especially when it comes to health and safety. You’ll make it lovely, I’m sure. 🙂

    1. This is exactly the problem with this post many of us are pointing out-people who don’t fully understand the issues are reading this, seeing fearmongering around LEAD, and getting scared and thinking that removal is the only option. Please do your research and understand that while lead has serious and real concerns, it can absolutely be safely abated without removal. This post is disingenuous and misleading about the severity of lead paint issues.

  84. I HATE THIS POST. I wish you hadn’t written it. These are such disingenuous excuses. I wish you’d just be honest: You hate the trim, you hate the unpainted wood, you hate pretty much all of the original elements of the house. You don’t actually like the house much at all, when it gets down to it. You just wanted the land/location. You don’t actually care about the house being historic, but you feel like you have to put on an act that you do because you don’t think it’s good for your image to admit these things.

    “Historic charm” (farmhouse charm in particular) is extra trendy right now and you like the idea of it, but not the actuality of it.

    No, I don’t like that you bought a historic house with no actual interest in preservation (especially since you’ve made it a big deal that it’s historic instead of being lowkey about that from the start), but what I truly hate is this unwillingness to be truthful. Of course it’s basically always going to be cheaper to gut/knock down! That’s why gutting and knocking down perfectly good homes is so common. That’s the wasteful truth of our current society that loves to destroy everything it touches. This house isn’t a lone exception to a rule, that’s just the way things are and you know this. Stop weakly pretending that you don’t. The reason it’s cheaper is because people don’t want to bother with effort (including you, as you’ve stated here) and so they make effort extra expensive.

    Of course throwing something away and buying a shiny new version is easier. That’s why people do things like trash clothes instead of mending them. No one likes to bother with effort these days. I cannot believe you’re advocating for that mentality like this. I mean… it’s one thing to do it quietly, it’s another to write an entire post like this one which serves to encourage other people to do the same.

    Old houses require endless effort and upkeep. If the effort is deterring you now, then you are absolutely not going to enjoy this house as your forever home because there will always be something…

    ONCE AGAIN: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE KEEP ANYTHING YOU RIP OUT. These things are completely irreplaceable. Store the moldings, windows, whatever else in the attic or something. Whoever lives in this house after you may want it, even if you think it’s too much effort to bother with, but if you throw it in a landfill then it’s gone for good.

    1. One more note: A large part of why this particular post feels extra fake is that you acknowledge that you want to do something that a significant amount of people dislike and instead of just owning that, you point to Arciform and go “but they say it’s okay!” This feels like an attempt to shift people’s attention away from you and onto them (almost as if they’re some kind of higher power and it’s beyond your control), like shifting blame by going: don’t be mad at me, be mad at them!

      You can’t please everyone. The people who dislike original features being gutted from the house are never going to be made to like original features being gutted from a house. Stop trying to frame yourself in the narrative of a preservationist because you are not. You are renovating, not restoring, and the sooner you own that with honesty the better. Keeping a couple windows is not restoration. The problem here is the false narrative you’re trying to create. Maybe you aren’t even being honest with yourself about it.

      1. Ahh, nailed it! I know from experience all four points listed above by Arciform/Emily to not restore were weak.

  85. I personally think any old wood or trim or framing is what makes an old home. If you’re going to change the wooden bits, then it isn’t an old home any longer. That’s the charm. And it’s worth the extra time and effort. 🙂 Just throwing my opinion out there hoping it’ll encourage you to take that little extra step. It won’t look janky!

  86. Never mind the trim but why on earth would you remove all the original plaster with drywall! It is completely possible to do an electrical job with plaster. Drywall will strip the charm out of the bedrooms completely and make them look like every other new build. If the plaster has dips and bumps embrace it! Think of it as the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic centered on the acceptance of imperfection.

    Any good window restorer wouldn’t have a problem with numbering the current trim, stripping the old lead paint in a safe manner and then restoring them. Alternatively, you could replace the windows and trim completely with new hard wood and thermally efficient and modern glass in a like-for-like way.

    I live in a conservation area in London where the buildings date from the 1870s. When my window frames had completed rotted through and needed replacing I required planning approval and they had to be replaced with like-for-like (except the new ones are double glazed – with a lot less condensation as a result thank goodness!). However, they did cost a pretty penny.

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