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Vintage or Modern?


I think that cozy vintage farmhouses are easily dominating my workload right now, and while I love a cute vintage look, I also think it is important to embrace the advances we have made in technology and construction today. I know it is fun to be authentic, but I’m asking you Vashon, to open your minds to a more modern approach to embracing your home’s authentic charm.


One area where massive improvements have taken place includes windows. I will start by confession that my 1920 home still has its original windows. There is nothing in this world that could convince me to replace them. I may add some and may replace the cheap vinyl ones that were added to the back of the house. But, the wood double-hung windows with authentic full lite division and wavy glass will stay forever. If a disaster, such as a baseball in my house thrown by one of my wild boys, were to take place, I would replace these gorgeous windows with LARGE panes of glass. Why wouldn’t I try to replicate the divided lites? Because we have moved past that technology and the replicas today are false. Typically, they are unecessary dividers applied to the glass. Why impede the view with decoration when I can have a big open connection to the outdoors?

On that note, I would stay with wood windows. Yes, they are pricey and vinyl safes oodles of cash. But, if authenticity is important, let’s embrace why it is important. It is the quality and craftsmanship we adore, not the decorative elements they made do with! Additionally, vinyl is not an environmentally sound choice, regardless of the greenwashing about recycled product (try recycling it again- and when it can’t be recycled, try watching it decompose. It won’t).


Next up, let’s talk about flooring. Authentic hardwood floors are gorgeous- we have them. But, if I were to go back and do it again, I would choose engineered hardwood. The nailing, sanding, and sealing on-site bring unhealthy indoor air conditions to the space. Let’s also remember that if we are trying to be authentic, using local sustainable materials is much more appropriate than, say, faux wood tiles.

Please, please, please, skip the vinyl. I have said it a hundred times and I’ll keep preaching this. I have heard:

  • It is not a space worth putting a lot of money into- it takes more money into it in the long term if cheap plastic is used and needs to be replaced (material plus labor!).

  • The durability is a good reason to use it- one scratch/dent and it’s over. Looking at a sustainable sheet good like linoleum, the color is all the way through and it is MUCH more durable! We put it in schools when I designed schools because it is SO durable.

  • Waterproof (see above)

  • The description says it is green. Remember what I said about vinyl windows? The same goes for vinyl floors.

  • It is a low VOC option- but why is it that it can’t be heated to a certain temperature… could it be the off-gassing? Remember when smoking was okay?


There are many times when a modern substitute simply makes more sense due to the functional nature and these two examples just barely hit the tip of the iceberg. So, when updating a historical home, know that authentic is very special, but imitation authentic… is not authentic. That said, if you have original items that may be reused, go for it!!! This is absolutely the best way to stay authentic.