Preserving the Historical Integrity of Your Cleveland Home

From the late 19th century Victorians in Ohio City to the early 20th century Colonials of Shaker Heights, proud Cleveland homeowners are finding ways to recapture and honor the beauty of their historic homes.

Cleveland and its surrounding area is home to some of the most interesting and charming neighborhoods in the United States. Nestled in these neighborhoods can be found a variety of century homes boasting distinctive architectural details from eras gone by. From the late 19th century Victorians in Ohio City to the early 20th century Colonials of Shaker Heights, proud Cleveland homeowners are finding ways to recapture and honor the beauty of their historic homes.

1. Get to know your home’s architectural history

It doesn’t matter if you are a new home owner or if you have been living in your abode for years, it’s never too late get to know the historical history of your home. The first thing to do as a homeowner is find out when your house was built. Knowing the era will help you determine your home’s architectural style. Don’t worry if you can’t tell the difference between a Greek Revival and Arts & Crafts, there are experts out there to help you explore your home’s history. It may be as easy as a trip to your local library or historical society. For those homeowners living within Cleveland city limits, The Cleveland Restoration Society in an excellent resource for learning about your home.  The Cleveland Restoration Society is “the largest non-governmental regional historic preservation organization in Ohio” and focuses on encouraging preservation by offering support and programs to Cleveland residents.

SEE ALSO: Willoughby, Ohio: An Americana Town

2. Choose a historically accurate exterior color scheme

One of the easiest ways to restore the original beauty of an older home is with a historically accurate exterior color scheme.  Again, doing some basic research on the era and architectural style of your home will give you hints on how your house may have looked when it was first built. For example, a Craftsman Bungalow built in the 20’s would have historically been painted with neutral earth tones that complimented its landscaping. Sherwin Williams, a company based right here in the CLE, offers their  Exterior Preservation Palette, geared to helping homeowners “achieve a coordinated period look for the exterior of their home with historically accurate paint color palettes for home exterior walls, trim and accents.” If you don’t feel like you have an eye to  mix and match the colors from the palette, you can choose one of Sherwin William’s preselected color schemes that best fits your home’s style.

3. Accentuate your home’s unique details

Over the years, the details of older homes can often be lost under layers of paint or behind overgrown hedges, but it just takes a little bit of detective work to uncover the treasures that once made your home great. It may be as easy as ripping up that carpeting to liberate the beautiful hardwood floors underneath, or trimming the trees in the front yard to showcase a large picture window. A beautiful old fireplace often just needs a good cleaning to be restored to its original beauty, while moldings and wood work may need to be stripped. Original brick work that could be an eyesore can be restored and exposed as a unique accent.  Again, knowing the history and architectural style of your home will help you look at your home with a fresh perspective and you may just discover a plethora of features that you never noticed before.

4. Restore and Reuse, Don’t Just Remodel

Homeowners often are excited to update and remodel their homes, and even a preservation purist would agree that this is a must to keep up with modern technology, and to increase the value of your home. What most homeowners often don’t realize is that they can still preserve the historical integrity and craftsmanship of their home even when adding modern touches. One of the easiest ways to do this is by complimenting a remodel by restoring or reusing original pieces already in your home.  It’s easy to install new vinyl windows in an old home, but what about restoring the original wood windows by fixing the ropes or replacing the glass? If you find your home is lacking the original details common to its era, you can track down vintage pieces to add to your remodel. There are countless consignment and antique stores in the area that possess beautiful pieces waiting for a new home. Visiting The Habitat for Humanity Restore is also a great place to search. The ReStore “is one of the largest reuse and recycle centers in Cuyahoga County.”  The ReStore offers homeowners  the chance to purchase affordable new and gently used  home improvement items, building supplies, furniture, windows, flooring, appliances and much more. Another great local resource for Cleveland homeowners and businesses is the Old School Architectural Salvage Project, whose goal is to save materials from buildings that are to be torn down and “is obsessed with saving high-quality, well-preserved building materials.” So when you’re perusing the aisles of Home Depot or Arhaus for your next project, make sure to leave some room in your budget, and your home, for vintage and restored pieces.

So come on Cleveland, take another look around the place you hang your hat, and try to picture it in all its glory. Figure out what you’d like to preserve and restore, maybe watch a little DIY Network for inspiration, and get moving! Yes its 2015 and Cleveland is forging ahead, but let’s not forget where we came from.

Annemarie Colosimo grew up in Independence, OH and has been living in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood  for the last 10 years. Annemarie is a Licensed Independent Social Worker  and is currently working with the region’s aging population.  Annemarie enjoys taking in all of the wonderful things Cleveland has to offer, is an avid Cleveland Indians fan, and volunteers at the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

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