Giving an Old Home a New Life

The appeal of a classic New England style home is undeniable in the details, the history, and the charm, but their floor plans tend to conflict with modern tastes, prioritizing light and access. We marvel at their lofty ceilings, small room footprints, and locksets on every interior door. But we live in a different time, a world of open floor plans and informalities, so, naturally, down come the walls.

To reformat an old home's layout for a modern lifestyle without losing all of the home's charm requires meticulously salvaging as much of the existing millwork as possible. We value this era of millwork and finishes because they're so lush, generous, and challenging to replicate. S+H can undoubtedly match the craftsmanship, but the old-growth forests, which produced an abundance of faultless, straight-grained panels in large dimensions, are sadly gone. Removing existing millwork without damage is a skill in itself, requiring the same level of patience and attention that it took to install it. The result is a seamless synthesis of modern taste and Victorian design.

We explore this topic in an upcoming Boston Design Week panel where S+H's Sarah Lawson, along with Slocum Hall Design Group, Briar Design, and host Bruce Irving, building consultant and former producer of This Old House, share their expertise on the challenges and the rewards of owning and restoring historic properties.

The discussion focuses on levels of restoration, the permitting process, how to assemble a knowledgeable team to help with the process, how to remain true to the home's original glory while making it functional for modern living, and more.

We hope that you’ll be able to join us – especially if you’re considering purchasing and remodeling an old home. RSVP at To view historic restoration projects by S+H, take a look here.