Last summer my partner, Stephen, and I purchased our first home, a c.1930/1 bungalow on the east side of Columbus. Our home has been modified since its original construction, and those modifications impact every decision we make as a homeowner.

When I worked for the German Village Society, I helped property owners and architects understand the history of their home prior to applying for a Certificate of Appropriateness. Working through the process for my own home has given me a greater appreciation for the difficult decisions one makes when living in a historic home. We are lucky, because the previous property owners have left evidence of what existed historically. Wood siding hides beneath aluminum; original window openings have been filled in, but the frames still exist; the original ceiling height is hidden beneath drop ceilings in the kitchen and bathroom. All of these clues, in addition to property research, guide our home modification choices.

We are in the process of renovating our living room. During our initial walk through of the home we were ecstatic to discover a functional wood burning fireplace. The fireplace is non-original and is surrounded by decorative slate tiles. Once our offer was accepted, we began to daydream how to modify the fireplace to better suit our style.

One of the best home renovation tips I have been told is, “Do not start work before you have lived in the space.” Having lived in our house for eight-months, we have developed a better understanding of how we want to utilize the space. The room has limited natural light, due to three of the original windows being closed in; an original oriel window was eliminated to install the fireplace; the wall is not smooth where the oriel window’s bay was eliminated, creating an uneven surface.

Do not be afraid to sketch out your ideas! Stephen created a sketch of our vision to give us a better understanding of how our modifications would impact the space.

Understanding both the history and our contemporary lifestyles, we have developed a renovation that respects both. We intend to do the following:

  • Fully open two of the windows that are currently closed.
  • Remove the slate tiles that surround the fireplace.
  • Modify the existing log storage.
  • Partially open the oriel window.

These renovations will allow us to bring back some of the home’s history but also accommodate our minimalist aesthetic. Check the blog later this year for after pictures.