By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction
One of the things we love about being a remodeling company in Reston is the diversity of the homes we get to work on! From the original townhomes of Waterview Cluster to the newest condos in Reston, every home tells a story, and we love working with clients who are ready to write theirs.
With many of the houses built in Reston’s early years now well into their fifth decade, you may be living in one and are starting to think it’s time for an update. If this sounds like you, here’s some inspiration for turning your 1970s home into a modern oasis that will stand the test of time.
1. Create a More Open Concept
There was a time when clearly defined rooms were the only way houses were designed and built. It’s very common in older homes in this area. The kitchen. The dining room. The family room. The bonus room that no one really knows what to do with. This often meant the size of the kitchen was compromised leading to odd “U” shaped or cramped galley kitchen.
Over the years, the way we use space has changed with less demand for formal dining rooms and more demand for multi-functional spaces that serve as family gathering areas with informal dining, and let’s face it — once we can safely gather again — the kitchen is THE room where guests congregate.
The kitchen has taken center stage as the place where most homeowners are willing to spend more to get more. The most obvious example of a way to give your kitchen a modern feeling is to create a more open plan concept and increase the usable square footage in your kitchen. This is usually achieved by completely removing walls between rooms. Not in your budget? You can also make a huge difference by creating larger openings between rooms to improve the flow and allow more natural light into your space.
Read our previous blog How to Tell if a Wall is Load-bearing, and ALWAYS get a professional opinion before you take down any walls!
The home below was built at the very end of the ’70s. This is a great example of how removing a wall between the kitchen and dining room enabled us to expand the size of the kitchen and add a large island with lots of room for the family. The dining room was relocated to another room at the front of the home.
In this second example, this Reston townhome had undergone a previous renovation some years ago, but this time around we opened up the kitchen to the dining room, which not only provided better flow and light, it opened up the fabulous view to Lake Thoreau.
2. Flooring, Stairs and Front Doors!
Parquet floors. Small square tiles. Carpet. Painted stair railings. If you love them, don’t change them. However, these are some of the things that really age a home. Some of them are an easy(ish!) fix.
If your hardwood floors have lost their luster, you don’t necessarily need to replace them. Spend the money to get them sanded and refinished. The popularity of hardwood is going nowhere, so if you’ve got some original 1970s wood floors, they are probably a quality product, and the quirks and imperfections acquired over the years make them even more endearing. Take care of them, and give them a chance to shine in their own right!
If you have tile in your kitchen but hardwood floors elsewhere, you may also be able to tooth new hardwood floors into the existing floors. This will require the entire floor to be refinished to avoid a patchy look, but it is possible, and the same flooring throughout provides cohesiveness between spaces.
We’d like to tell you that small square brown/white/yellow/pink/blue 1970s bathroom tile is “in” again. Alas, it’s not. Although a tile called zellige has become popular in recent years, that’s about as close as it gets to the 1970s tile we all know. It’s time to let it go. Want to know more about tile trends and how you can get an updated look? Read our latest blog!
Lastly, unless you live in a cluster neighborhood with HOA rules about what you can and cannot do on the exterior of your home, start with the front door (as long as the Reston Association is OK with that!). Nothing provides better curb appeal and an instant home update than a new front door.
The Reston home below (built in 1970) shows how a beautiful new front door, refinished floors/stairs and modern cable railing bring this home right up to date — but still look perfectly at home!
3. Switch Up Your Lighting
We don’t know why, but lighting always seemed to be an afterthought in most ’70s houses! In many older homes, one single light fixture was expected to provide enough lighting for an entire room. Recessed lighting is nothing new, but it is a simple way to update your space.
There is now such a fantastic choice of reasonably priced pendants, sconces and chandeliers that there’s no excuse for that flush ceiling fixture or fluorescent light that’s been there since your house was built!
New lighting is also a fantastic and easy way to add personality to your space. Under cabinet lighting in kitchens is the perfect way to add additional lighting for prep work or added ambience.
A word of warning! Additional lighting will inevitably show up flaws in your paintwork you may not have noticed before. Have realistic expectations of your home remodeler or general contractor. Unless you are refinishing a wall or having new drywall installed, the downside is that additional lighting may show up the imperfections you’ve lived with for many years but have never been able to see!
4. Show Your Powder Room Some Love
The powder room may be the smallest room in your house, but it can easily make a design statement in its own right. Many older homes in Reston feature the same thing — a round sink with a wooden vanity with square floor tile. Nothing says “modern” and adds a little pep to your space like switching things up in the powder room!
You also don’t have to hold back in your design choices in your powder room. If you’re afraid of wallpaper because you don’t know how to use it, now’s your chance to try it out! Here’s a few “before and afters” to give you a little design inspiration for what is possible in your space!
5. Sometimes, Simple Changes Have a BIG Impact.
Depending on the look you’re going for, it may be possible to make simple changes that completely update your space without breaking the bank. If removing a wall or replacing the flooring isn’t within your budget, a subtle change might make the difference between your space looking dated or looking like it is a design choice that fits beautifully into the rest of the room.
A great example of this below is the change to this fireplace. Previously, the stone fireplace was overpowering the room. By adding a natural wood mantle, the visual line of the fireplace is broken up so it seems like it now fits right in. A beautiful Ansel Adams picture above and a great choice of furniture pieces that all complement one another make this feel like a whole new home.
You can read more about the steps we took in the recent transformation of the main level of a local 1970s Reston single family home into a modern but family friendly space here. If you’re ready to start the discussion on your next home remodeling project, we’re always happy to chat!
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