This Old House

September 13, 2018
Old stove
Photo: Unsplash/Annie Spratt

Writer and creator of the viral architecture blog McMansion Hell Kate Wagner offers some dos and don'ts on home renovation projects. 

The litmus test, writes Wagner, for deciding what to keep in one's home and what to get rid of, is figuring out if that appliance or home feature is "irreversible or irreplaceable," adding that this is not as straightforward a question as it first appears. Also, she writes for Curbed, "The best way to understand the way an old house works and what it needs to work better is to live in it. You may discover that some elements you disliked when the house was empty make it rather cozy when you’re all moved in," adding, "Those Hollywood-style lights in that orange bathroom may turn your reflection into an airbrushed goddess (this one is from personal experience)."

The discussion around whether or not one should renovate an old house feels like a raging battle between “history is sacred” and “tear out everything HGTV style.” This all-or-nothing framework—a product of long-running debates over which types of housing are worthy of attention—is unhelpful at best and detrimental at worst ... In fact, the vast majority of houses fall somewhere in the middle, neither pristine time capsules nor unlivable wrecks. For those houses, we need a new way of thinking about when and how to tackle home improvement projects.

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