So You Want to Build a New Old House?

Building a new home with historic character means learning from the past while thinking toward the future. If you're looking to work with your architect to design a classic, here are a few tips, gleaned from Jay Haverson's Greenwich, Conn., project, that will add to your new house's timelessness and craftsmanship.
  • If you're tearing down an old house, be sure its replacement is worth the sacrifice. Amp up the architectural details, and decide on a style—and size—befitting the neighborhood and site.

  • Define spaces with beams or wainscoting. New houses can feel oversized and impersonal. Wood ceiling beams or paneling connect large, open spaces and make rooms feel more intimate.

  • Incorporate long sight lines that make the most of natural sunlight and call attention to the flow of your floor plan.

  • Moldings on the interior doorways frame each room and make spaces with high ceilings seem cozier. To add warmth, match finishes to show off the wood's natural grains and hues. Give one or two rooms a slightly different flavor by using different woods, stains, and subtle variations in style.

  • Make small details count. Cabinet latches, bin pulls, a farm sink with an old-fashioned faucet suggest age.

  • Employ contractors and subcontractors who have worked together before. It'll make the job go a lot easier.

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