Historic Renovation and Restoration in St. Louis: What Is The Difference?

Written by Josh McDermott

historic renovation and restoration st. louis moWhen you think about renovation versus restoration, you might get the two confused to a certain degree; however, the two processes are very different on many levels.

On one hand, renovation is somewhere in between what the original architect intended and what is desirable for the current owners. For instance, if we are talking about a home built in any period, whether it was built in the 1890s or the 1960s, a renovation might mean upgrading the kitchen to include modern appliances and features and make way for smart technology. It may focus on changing the floor plan of the home, opening up the space, or adding new functionality such as built-in custom cabinetry or under-floor heating.

On the other hand, restoration is closer to—or exactly preserves—the original architect’s intent and design. In a true restoration project, we take into account the original features, such as millwork and other decorative details, while staying as true to the original design and plan as possible.

This includes sourcing specific materials and even having items fabricated by top artisans who specialize in historic preservation. Each project we take on that involves a historic home undergoes a detailed process to discover, both for ourselves and for the homeowner, what the various options are as well as what the client is really looking for.

historic renovation and restoration st. louis mo

Custom Trim and Original Features in St. Louis Home Restorations

In our historic renovation/restoration engagements, there is often a lot of custom trim work. Oftentimes, there will be cabinetry involved – items that were (for instance) replaced in the 1970’s that could be of sub-par quality and needs to be replaced.

In this case, it is very important, both to us and to the homeowner, that we maintain the original look and feel while building quality and functionality that will serve the home and its inhabitants well into the future.

In other cases, we may need to consider built-in items that are central to the flow of the home—like a central hutch or staircase—that anchors the space back into the time period in which it was built. We take great care to replicate or refinish pieces such as these, using them as a focal point to play off the other things we decide to do.

Ultimately, we put great effort into identifying the elements that we need to keep in order to maintain the integrity and character of the home. We never jump directly to replacement, determining instead whether the cabinets are original and salvageable, if the floors are original and salvageable, and so on. That’s what we do.

historic renovation and restoration st. louis mo

Creating Continuity

Historic renovation/restoration requires us to do a lot of matching up. Unique features like custom millwork or matching the profile of the trim is key to maintaining and preserving the original architect’s intent.

Sometimes, we are able to source these items from a company who is still making some of these things because they are common enough in older homes and there is enough of a market for them.

Other times, we need to look deeper into the structure of the walls to determine what we can and cannot do. For instance, the client may want new cabinetry, so we need to know if the walls are sturdy enough to handle their weight. Depending on what we discover, it may be necessary to adjust expectations to be sure we are applying the best possible solution based on the available options.

In older homes, there may be special challenges that go along with changing the footprint. We have to weigh how much it will change the historic integrity of the home against the cost of doing so. In the end, just about anything can be done, but many times, with special care, there is a creative option that provides the perfect balance of historic preservation. modern functionality, and our client’s needs.

Historic Preservation Contractors in St. Louis

We have heard that there are a lot of builders in St. Louis who are not interested in renovating or restoring because it is so much more difficult to do so. We can assure you – that is not us!

Our team is passionate about the challenges we face with older homes and we truly care about the work we do to restore and update them. We serve clients with both old and new homes and are passionate about delivering on a vision that is respectful of budget and timeframes.

If you would like to learn more about a historic renovation or restoration for your St. Louis home, give us a call today. We would love to show you how we can help.

For Josh, it’s always been about relationships. As J.T. McDermott’s 2nd generation owner, he believes nothing matters more than the enduring friendships that are built with the homeowners he serves. “If I can help both our clients grow and the team grow, everything else will take care of itself.”

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