Seeking to help reverse a trend and preserve Post War beauties, rather than demolish them, Preservation Austin hosts a tour of homes that provides inspiration and ideas for all homeowners.
Do you live in a mid-century home and looking for ideas to renovate and sensitively update? Or maybe you just like looking at homes in general (we do), especially renovations, that are unique to each residence? Or, perhaps you share a passion, as the homeowners quoted below, in preservation, in respecting history and in sustainability?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you might want to check out the upcoming 2016 Historic Homes Tour by Preservation Austin, “Post War Boom”, on April 30th.
Post War buildings offer particular challenges to homeowners. While the materials used are often of excellent quality, ceilings heights are low, bathroom fixtures designed to “match”, and in many cases, all painted in colors that did not stand up well to the test of time, and kitchens do not easily convert to a modern way of living that includes changes in appliance sizes and styles. Then there’s the absence of [current] technology that we take for granted today. Perhaps the biggest challenge is dealing with the lack of connection, perceived or real, between the kitchen and the main living areas.
There’s something “solid” about Post War homes. That “something” is sadly lacking in today’s homes which seem to be built for transient occupation with a certain air of anonymity. It’s more than the home being built of better materials. Many homeowners speak to the idea of being connected, by way of abode, to a different time period that is viewed, more often than not, as more grounded and safer than the world today. At the time, these were the “modern” homes of the day, many equipped with new devices and innovations, even air-conditioning was a novelty, and part of the transformative nature of renovation is the evaluation and adaptation of modernity, as it was then, to today’s iteration.
Modern Austin talked to Kate Singleton, Executive Director of Preservation Austin, about the tour which was inspired by the idea of reversing a trend of demolition and focusing instead on renovation.
“We have great volunteers,” she said, “so we put out a call to find potential homes for the tour. One of the most interesting thing is that many of the homes have preserved their original exteriors, so the renovations are only evident from the interiors, which is why the tour is a must-see.”
The renovations include both additions and the development of a different type of space within existing conditions. These homes presented unique challenges for a group of homeowners determined to preserve, and respect, the best of the past while updating a home for a modern lifestyle. Eight homes in the Allendale, Brentwood and Crestview areas of Austin are on the tour. Every week leading up to the Tour on the Preservation Austin blog there are interviews with homeowners, which should be sufficient inspiration to want to take the tour. Their values are revealed in these quotes extracted from their blog.
“It’s important to us to preserve and respect the endeavors of the original homeowners. Also the home’s material – such as wood walls, brick, steel-casement windows — would be very costly in a construction project today. It would be a shame, as well as environmentally unsound, for all of that to go into a landfill.” ANNE-CHARLOTTE PATTERSON, HOMEOWNER (1955 RANCH HOME)
“We didn’t want to sacrifice that history with remodeling. We also loved our house before the remodel and wanted to just update it some and make it the perfect space for us.” COSSY HOUGH, HOMEOWNER (1954 ORIGINAL “AIR CONDITIONED” HOME)
“It has been a fun puzzle to figure out how to change the house incrementally to work for our family, learning that we can live in a smaller footprint because the house has a good connection to the outdoors….. it is usually the more sustainable approach to work with what you have and renovate/add on, rather than tear down and throw away.” CHRISTY SEALS, ARCHITECT AND HOMEOWNER (1954 HOME)
“…. we knew we wanted an older home that we could renovate to our own needs. As a native Austinite it was really important to maintain the character of the house. AMY ROGERS, HOMEOWNER (1964 MID CENTURY HOME)
“We LOVE old houses and wouldn’t have entertained the thought of demolishing just to save money”. ANN ERICKSON, HOMEOWNER (2/1 CRESTVIEW COTTAGE)
“Character is in the eye of the beholder, and in our case we felt that we could preserve the spirit of the home while still adding features and design changes that made it more aesthetically appealing to us without tearing it down and starting from scratch.” B. JANE AND BRENT BUFORD, HOMEOWNERS (1949 HOME)
To see these homes on the Tour and others, buy tickets to the 2016 Historic Homes Tour.