If you recently bought and moved into an older home, you are probably already thinking about improvements. Over the years, other people have fixed up and decorated this home, and much of what they did may not suit you. Tastes change over the years. The linoleum floor that was once state-of-the-art is now dingy and unfashionable. Here are some thoughts to help guide you in improving an older home.
Wall-to-wall carpeting probably needs to be replaced, unless it brand new. Such carpeting is difficult to clean thoroughly, and becomes a happy home to dust mites and pollutants--not even counting the unsightly stains. When you pull it out, you may be in for a pleasant surprise: solid oak parquet flooring, for instance. It has happened. It is not unusual in an older home to find hardwood flooring hidden under carpeting. With a little refurbishing, you may find yourself with a splendid hardwood floor.
Inexpensive thin wood paneling was popular for a while. It hid old discolored wallpaper and water stains or cracks on plaster walls. You will probably want to remove it, as it tends to darken a room, and becomes unsightly over the years. Here you are more likely to be in for an unpleasant surprise. A wall that needs re-plastering or old wallpaper that needs to be steamed off, for instance. If these improvements were not done before you bought the house, you probably paid a reasonable price for the home. So don't complain, just get to work. Having to do these upgrades yourself means that you get to do them according to your own taste.
Aluminum or vinyl siding has often been placed over the original wood siding of the house. This was often done to conserve heat as well as to improve the appearance of the house. Replacing it is not likely to be a do-it-yourself project. Get some estimates from contractors. Or, better yet, get a professional home inspection that uncovers the state of the original siding. You may just want to paint the present siding. On the other hand, this may be an opportunity to save on heating bills by putting up new siding with advanced thermal technology.
Look for any soft spots in the flooring, especially near windows where water got in. You want to go ahead and replace damaged flooring. It can be a hazard, and it is not going to get better on its own. Re-caulk windows to make sure there are no further leaks, and to add insulation value. On some older houses it is definitely cost effective to replace the old windows. You can get an energy credit for this on your taxes, and the new windows will save a lot on heating and cooling bills.
Renovating an older home can be a rewarding adventure. You will find surprises both welcome and unwelcome. But when you finish, you will have re-created the house according to your own tastes. You will also have a more energy efficient home. And you will have a home you are proud to show off to your guests.