Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Working around architectural and design flaws

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece, "the supre...Image via Wikipedia
Man has been the master of design
 far before technology 
Many older homes have a lot of charm, character and history. However some were built out of practicality and by the original homeowner. As such, they may have certain quirks and oddities in their layout and design. Finding ways to work around these can be a challenge and calls for a lot of creative solutions.

Off centered windows-
Sometimes home builders placed windows in areas for airflow, and not necessarily for visual appeal. Even new construction has windows placed in odd places making it hard to arrange furniture or achieve balance in the room. To counter windows that are off center, you can create faux windows that simply counter balance the existing window. One technique is a mirror similar in size to the window placed adjacent or opposite of the window, and then adding drapes to it to mock the appearance of a second window. There are really no limits here, adding molding around it to frame it like a window can be done as well. Preferably it should reflect some light from the other window for the illusion to be ideal. In some cases, an off center window can be simply balanced by a large floor lamp that has presence in the room visually and offers bright light. In some extreme situations, it may be best to simply have the window removed and placed in a more ideal location. This may be a good time to start thinking about window replacement if the home is old.

Barrier Walls
Walls that block the flow of a room may have originally been erected in early times to help maintain heated and cooled areas. However in today's world of design, open spaces are desirable to partitioned areas. Consider hiring a contractor to either remove the wall, or add either an opening on each side to allow for flow through traffic, or a pass through window that will give you visual access to the adjacent room. If the wall is a weight bearing wall, do not do this by yourself. Leave that project for the professional contractor. Additionally you will have to ascertain whether such a change will compromise the charm and integrity of the home. Never make a rash decision in this area.

Old painted wood work
In older homes, pre - 1978, you may encounter painted wood work that you wish to restore. I can not stress this often enough. Before you sand, strip and paint any surface in an older home you should consider and assume the paint used was lead based. Research indicates that up to 75% of all homes built prior to 1978 had some form of lead based paint used in them. Homeowners suspecting that their home may have lead based paint used need to take special precautions. Err on the side of caution if you aren't sure and use a lead paint encapsulating paint. There are several types and options and all have specific manufacturers instructions that you must follow. However, that being said, using an encapsulating paint is much less expensive that hiring a lead removal team to remove lead from the home. Consider replacing all doors and windows that have a lead paint possibility. Avoid doing anything that will create dust in the home as air borne lead is dangerous. For more information on encapsulating paint, see   
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