When It’s Time to Renovate Your Historic St. Louis Area Home


historic_home_renovation_st._louisWhether it’s newly purchased or a currently lived-in one that hasn’t seen an update in decades, most historic homes eventually require a renovation. And while a historic house renovation can be time consuming, it’s also a great opportunity to customize your home to your family’s present lifestyle and needs.


Historic Home Renovation in St. Louis

Hanley House in Clayton

There’s an abundance of beautiful historic homes in the greater St. Louis area. Neighborhoods like Kingsbury with its beaux-arts entry gates, Skinker DeBaliviere with ties to the 1904 World’s Fair, and the Central West End Historic District with its mix of historic commercial, industrial, and residential buildings, are rich in fine historic architecture.

There are 17 local historic districts in greater St. Louis (10 are Certified Local Historic Districts), and each one has a unique set of design and construction standards that must be followed when renovating a historic home. Some require a review for exterior changes only, while others have preservation boards that review all projects.

Preserving the Past While Embracing the Present


Any historic home renovation is challenging, but they are always an incredibly rewarding endeavor. While our clients want to preserve and enhance the historic nature of their home, integrating modern technologies and conveniences that add to the comfort (and operating costs) of the house is of key importance.


There is much more than age that defines a historically significant house. The architect who designed it, the architectural style, who the original owners were, and events that took place there are all important factors that go into determining whether a home is “technically” historic.

Sometimes it’s a family affair, like a project we did in Creve Coeur, where the younger generation moved into and upgraded the home a grandparent built. Many area residents even took architectural pieces from the world’s fair and used them in their homes! No matter what the circumstances, clients who live in these older typically have a lot of respect for them and want to preserve their historic status.

More often than not, it’s necessity that drives a historic home renovation. The windows are usually shot or have chain pulls that no longer work, and rotted porches are common.  No matter what work we do, we love to salvage as much as possible from the original structure; hardwood floors, trims, and custom mantles are just a few beautiful architectural elements that are difficult to replace. But damaged cabinet doors, old tubs and faulty drains, ancient wiring, and inefficient HVAC systems tend to be replaced.

One thing most older homes don’t have going for them is their layout. Kitchens, in particular, don’t make sense for today’s living, and it isn’t practical to keep the original setup. Built when central heat and air were not an option, older homes tend to be more fragmented, or “choppier” than newer ones, meaning homeowners were able to shut off each room when not in use. Small closets, a single bathroom, and kitchens closed off from the rest of the house are all characteristic of a historic house.

The clients we work with naturally have a more modern style in mind. They want more efficient heating and cooling options and a more spacious living area. A renovation often includes a home addition like an expanded kitchen, an additional bathroom or two, or a new master suite.

We take each historic home we renovate on a case by case, or room by room, basis.

  • Can the hardwood floors be refinished? Or has it been done too many times?


  • Are there electrical or other safety issues?
  • Has the heating and cooling been modernized at any time?
  • Do the pocket doors still work?
  • Is the crown molding and other trim in good condition?

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There are many layers to a historic home renovation and J.T. McDermott will help you evaluate all the factors that might affect your home’s upgrade. Done right, a historic home renovation structurally and functionally transforms your Greater St. Louis area home while preserving its historic significance and beauty.

To learn more about historic home renovations or to discuss any remodeling project you have in mind, drop us a line today. We look forward to meeting with you!

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