How to Research Your Home's History

October 15, 2019

If you live in an older home, it can be exciting and edifying to find out about the history of your house. What did it look like if it was constructed? Who dwelt in it? What changes are made over time? Knowing more about your house’s history can also help you make crucial renovating and decorating decisions with an eye on maintaining the timeless allure.

Whether you are trying to find the perfect colors or seeking the ideal newel post, the more you know about where your home has been, the easier it’ll be to proceed. But where on earth do you begin? Listed below are a host of tips that will put you on the path to discovering your house’s history.

Learn about your house’s architectural style. If you don’t yet know what architectural style your home is, or know what the style is but not much about it, reading on it is an excellent way to begin. There’s a wealth of information in books and about covering all significant architectural designs, from colonial to Craftsman. By simply knowing your home’s architectural style, you can find color scheme ideas for inside and outside, and get an idea of what your home probably looked like if it was constructed.

Learn about the origins of most popular home designs

Tim Andersen Architect

Search for clues in and around your Property. Any and original details your home still has to be carefully analyzed and maintained, if at all possible. Even if you know you will not have the ability to salvage something, save a part of it or take photographs of it for future reference. Old shingles, tiles, lighting, floorboards, hardware and pieces of cabinetry could be replicated by a fantastic craftsperson. Even areas of cracked paint can give you a peek in your house’s original colors.

At the home revealed here, the original box beam ceilings were revealed when drywall was eliminated. The buffet and flanking windows were original, but new leaded-glass cupboard doors were added by means of a craftsperson.

Artifacts you find in your loft, shed or yard can also provide clues about the people who formerly lived in your home. Exposed lumber in the attic or crawl space can reveal markers which may help identify your home as a kit home, for instance, or provide clues about your house’s age.

Sarah Greenman

Speak with your neighbors. If you want to take your research a step further, it can be interesting (and enlightening) to check in the narrative of your home. The easiest way to begin is frequently by striking up a conversation with neighbors — especially residents who have lived in your block for a long time. You may have the ability to find out what changes are made to your home, who once lived there and possibly even more historic details a previous owner shared together.

Matthew Frederick – M. Frederick L.L.C.

Research your house’s history. First consult the State Historic Preservation Office to find out if your home is a historic structure, in case you are not sure. This is important, because any changes you’re considering making will be affected by your house’s historic standing. You can even go to your city or county offices and ask to perform a deed or title search in your speech. These land and property records can provide clues about if your home was constructed and how it may have changed through the years.

However, the most helpful rate of may be your local library! In this era of digital information, it’s almost shocking to understand that some information is actually simpler to find in person. Old town records, original photographs of houses, historic maps and related newspaper articles are things that can be tracked down with assistance from your local reference librarian.

Attempt your local historical society, also. A busy historical society can have an abundance of information on houses in the region. Many of these societies don’t maintain an office with regular hours, so try emailing or calling the contact person, who will probably be pleased to assist.

HartmanBaldwin Design/Build

Uncover your house’s original color palette. Only wiping away a bit of the present paint can reveal the original colors of your home. You can take the (literal) paint chips to a paint store to get them matched, but you should be mindful that the original colors were probably brighter than what you see now — after many decades, the colors have definitely faded. A historical renovation professional may have the ability to generate an educated guess about what the original colors looked like. If you’re doing this all on your own, a better bet is to utilize the faded old colors as inspiration for a new palette.

Tim Cuppett Architects

Pick paint colors from a historical color collection. Whether you’re using paint chips found beneath layers of interior or exterior paint, or are starting fresh but wish to use historically true colors, there are now numerous paint companies prepared to make things simpler.

A few you might Discover helpful:

Benjamin Moore, that has a detailed historic color collection covering a Selection of architectural stylesSherwin-Williams, which has both interior and exterior paint colors for a wide Selection of American architectural stylesFine Paints of Europe, which carries high-pigment-content paints in historical huesFarrow & Ball, which has historical paints and papers

WINN Design+Build

A particular note for owners of kit houses. Kit houses sold through catalogs were once a popular and affordable alternative for new homeowners in America. If you find that your home was constructed as a kit home from the old Sears catalog, your first stop should be the Sears Archives, where you can find photographs of all of the original Sears kit home designs and floor plans. This can also be a terrific help in deciding if your home really is a Sears home. If paint colors are what you’re after, there’s a list of ones that were utilized on the original Sears houses, together with contemporary equivalents, available from Old House Journal.

Obviously, while Sears was one of the most popular, it was not the sole manufacturer of kit houses — visit Cabinets Homes Stand the Test of Time for additional info on kit houses.

Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc

Tell us Have you researched your house’s history? What resources have you found most helpful?

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