16 Old-House Trends We Want to Bring Back

composite of four old-fashioned house details the this old house staff would like to see come back in fashion

Timeless Characteristics

Here at This Old House, our staff look at a lot of historical houses. It’s no wonder that they’ve become quite attached to many of the old-house features of yesteryear. Which trends would we most like to see make a comeback? These 16 ideas made the cut, for both practical function and classic beauty.
two kids bed with blue bedspreads set on opposite walls of a renovated attic room

Shared Kids’ Rooms

“Generally, I think kids do better when they share space with others. It’s time to stop giving each child a private suite! Let’s go back to bunk beds and a hall bath.”
Deborah Baldwin, articles editor

Steal design ideas for the ultimate kids’ space: An Attic Turned Ultimate Kids’ Bedroom Suite

closeup of a herringbone floor, with part of the white baseboard and the leg of a chair off to the side

Herringbone Floor

“As a former hardwood flooring contractor, I’m a huge fan of the chevron hardwood floor pattern.”
Sal Vaglica, senior editor

Upgrade your floor with this beautiful design: How to Install a Herringbone Floor

exterior of a red, two-story, Italianate home with fall foliage and a blue sky

Detail-Rich Exteriors

“I’d like to see the exterior architectural details we often see on older houses incorporated into the renovations and additions of newer homes as well as those that are built today.”

—This Old House master carpenter Norm Abram

Choose your favorite historical house type: American House Styles

view across a cottage-style kitchen with white walls, square-tile floor, simple table and chairs, with a shut door leading out of the kitchen on the opposite wall

Closed Kitchens

“Everybody wants an open kitchen these days—that way, you can talk to guests while cooking, and they can meanwhile admire your skills (and maybe even ‘help’). When my husband and I ended up with a closed kitchen in our Manhattan apartment, and a dining area in the living room about 15 feet away, I was really crushed.

But guess what: It’s much better. If the kitchen is total chaos, you can shoo guests out. No one sees me scraping icky plates or filling the dishwasher; they’re too busy chatting to even notice I’m in another room. Smoke, smells, noise, and oil slicks stay in one room, and guest-ready serving dishes arrive in the other. Clearing between courses is like pausing for intermission. Then out comes the next act.”

orange-brown walls and white trim of this modern laundry room with a the fold-down door of an open laundry chute visible at the back

Laundry Chute

“Bring back the laundry chute! It is such a convenience. Now if they’d only build an automatic laundry folder, and an elevator to bring the clothes back up, that would be terrific.”

Eric Hagerman, special projects editor

Create the most efficient laundry space with our pro tips: Read This Before You Redo Your Laundry Room

straight-on image of a dumbwaiter with an opening at the top that shows the large wheel mechanism, and an open door showing foodstuffs and wine reading to be moved to a lower floor


“I’d love to see dumbwaiters and laundry chutes come back into style, ASAP. Why schlep stuff upstairs (or down) when an ingenious old-world invention will do?”
closeup of an arched roof on a weathered shingle house, with a cut-out showing the opening of the sleeping porch on the upper floor

Sleeping Porch

An alcove off the bedroom provided a comfortable place to sleep in the days before air-conditioning.

Charlotte Barnard, features editor

Tour these popular and highly decorated porch designs: Victorian-Era Porches

view down a hallway with a wood stair rail on the left, looking at an exterior door with red and green stained glass window and transom

Leaded Glass

“I love the leaded or stained-glass windows you see in some Victorians and 1920s homes. Even a small decorative window really stands out in an otherwise traditional facade. Some homeowners get the look by replacing their front door with one that has leaded or stained glass.”

Maureen Shelly, managing editor

Find ideas for salvaging stained glass: Divining Uses for Stained Glass

natural wood wrapping around a padded window seat with patterned fabrics and two complimentary pillows

Natural-Wood Built-Ins

“I would love to start seeing more built-ins with natural wood tones, like you see in old Craftsman homes. I think some of the orangey builder-grade cabinets throughout the 1990s turned a lot of people off to wood, but if you choose a species with warm, rich tones—and eschew glossy finishes—it will look timeless, not dated. Oak is a classic, but maple and pine are great choices, too.”
white wall niche set under a turning stair, with a green potted plant set on the niche shelf, set into a lavender wall

Wall Niche

“I find wall niches charming; they’re perfect for putting flowers or pottery there for display.”

Leslie Monthan, deputy copy chief

Add more charming interior architectural details: Beautify Your Home With Crown Molding and Other Trim Upgrades

white multiple-level staircase wrapping it's way from floor to floor, with white railings, white beadboard walls, and white beadboard ceilings

Staircase Landing

“The really wide landing on a staircase from first floor to second floor, found in some types of Victorians, can be made into an inviting area by placing a table and chair there. There was often a stained-glass window or some type of decorative window treatment. It makes a statement of gracious living. A mother with a baby or an older person could pause there to rest before going up or down.”
white fluffy dog lying on a striped area rug under a bench, in an open vestibule leading into a craftsman style room


“The vestibule. A cozy room before you enter the main part of a house provides a place to shed coats and shoes, and it buffers the interior from a blast of hot or cold air coming through the open entry. It is both functional and inviting.”

bedroom with pale, blue walls and two doors side-by-side, leading to other rooms each with a transom partially open over the door frame


“Transoms. My parents recently built their dream house and included transoms throughout. These features let in a lot of natural light and unite one space to the next. I often spot the airy old-house features as selling points in our Save This Old House column.”

Elizabeth Lilly, associate online editor

Tour a house redo that incorporated functional transoms: Tattered 1920s Bungalow to Updated Gem

white sheets hanging from a standalone, wood-frame clothesline under a blue sky with green grass and tress surrounding it


“An old-fashioned clothesline.”

—This Old House general contractor Tom Silva

Find the best drying rack for your laundry room: Splurge or Steal: 8 Cool Clothes-Drying Racks

pale violet french doors leading into a sitting room, with one of the doors open

Interior French Doors

“I would love to see large French doors as room dividers separating rooms come back once again.”
modern kitchen with an exterior dutch door

Dutch Doors

“I’d love to see more Dutch doors in homes. They are so charming and versatile—they’re especially practical in the kitchen. Imagine the convenience of passing a plate of grill-ready food over the open door. So much easier than trying to open the door when your arms are loaded with dishes!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s