Choose Your Own Aesthetic (or is it the other way around?)

What do you get when you cross an 1880s hewn log house on a stone foundation with a 21st century addition on cinder blocks? I will have to ask my art history major friends for confirmation, but I think that could arguably fit our house into the "modern rustic" style category. (Remodelista is full of great examples of my opinion of this style.)

Growing up, I watched my parents restore their 1860s farmhouse with the utmost care in keeping everything original and consistent. I definitely understand the importance of this practice in order to maintain a house's intrinsic style, integrity and value. In our case, unfortunately, the previous owner(s) of 3820 sort of ruined the opportunity for us to be historically accurate because of the "improvements" that they made--some of which cannot be reversed even if we tried.

In a way though, these modifications kind of freed us up to explore something new -- the balance of the rustic, the antique and the modern -- without feeling that we've compromised our house. Really, I believe that this is the new nature of our house based on how it has taken shape over the past 120 years. Though we are taking pains to accurately restore the logs, the stone foundation and the original fireplaces, we are also interested in how we can inject some modern touches into the original section. And conversely, we are bringing antique and rustic elements into the modern section to maintain that balance throughout. It's like the yin and yang of home restoration.

Some purists will likely turn up their noses at our final product, but I do feel that our house itself is determining its own style. Old wooden floors that are rotten and twisted cannot be feasibly salvaged, so they must be replaced. Historically accurate windows add a kind of value, but they are horribly energy inefficient. As we are learning, renovating a home is a series of tradeoffs, especially when your house bears scars and thumbprints from dozens of past inhabitants. At the end of the day, your house is a home where people must comfortably and conveniently live, and you have to work with what you got.

So while our house is not going to be a stop on any National Register of Historic Places walking tour, we are trying to create a place where the past and the present will come together in the most useful, beautiful, logical and creative ways--where the elements complement and challenge each other. There is value in that. Plus, I really think it is the natural next step in our house's ongoing adventure.

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