How I Got Started in Historic Home Remodeling

My passion as an interior designer is what I like to call historic home revitalization. What exactly does that mean? It means I remodel homes, but not just for a quick fix. The way I design an interior for a remodel honors the history of the home and highlights a home's original features while changing it to the needs and lifestyle of the current occupants. I love taking homes that were built in the early 1900's, stripping them of all the bad updates in the late century, and taking them down to their original bones. I then utilize those bones (because heaven knows the quality was on point back then) and making them beautiful again. As I restore them to their original condition, I don't believe in just keeping them the way they once were, pretending to live in a different time period. They may be perfect in their original condition, but usually, there is a tweak here and there to bring the home up to the standards of modern living and to meet the needs of the current occupants. Every old home that I work on has something special to offer our time period. Older homes can help us to feel more centered on our values, aid us in living simpler lifestyles, and remind us of previous generations. This all can be done while giving the home a more open floorplan, bringing modern elements and furniture into it, and updating it to be more functional.

How did I get into all this? It all started about a year after my graduation from Brigham Young University-Idaho. I had received my degree in Interior Design and was working for a cabinet manufacturer in Spokane, Washington. We specialized in semi-custom cabinetry and I was hired as a designer/sales consultant. There I was designing mostly kitchens in all different styles - mountain, farm, traditional, modern, contemporary, you name it. One Spring day a client was referred to me that had recently purchased a home built in the 1920s. She wanted a salesperson with a background in design that would understand the important history and authenticity of her home. I was excited about this prospect, but the excitement really hit me when I took a trip to the home to measure for the cabinetry. I drove down this once bricked-paved road with large trees canopying above me. The sun was shining through them and everything around me was lush and green. I pulled up to the house and I felt I had transported into a fairytale. It was a tutor home with a steeply pitched roof, finished in red brick and a grayish-blue plaster. The chimney was off to the side covered in the same brick. It had an adorable red door and the original leaded windows. There were mature pine trees that towered over it in the back and a smaller tree in front that was in full bloom. I had never really been in that part of town before, nor had I ever truly experienced a historic home. There was a sense of wonder and playfulness about it, all while being strong and well-rooted. As I entered the home, I noticed the original wood floors and coved ceilings and I was shown a closet with a staircase leading to nowhere, an old dumbwaiter, and a nook where a telephone once hung. There was so much history to the home and it thrilled me. It ended up being my favorite kitchen to design, though there were many difficulties and setbacks.

The design changes we made to the home would go on to preserve the home for future generations to enjoy while catering to the current occupants' unique needs. I wasn't able to see the finished product because I left to serve a mission for my church nearing the end of it, but it sparked within me a love and curiosity for homes built at the beginning of the last century. I often drive past all of the craftsman and tutor homes that are so prevalent in Spokane, and I think about who may have once loved them and what changes can be made so they can be cherished again. Working for myself, those homes are now the focus of my career. I have learned that revitalizing those homes gives them a new life, the homeowners' an improved life, and often the surrounding communities' restored life. A lot gained from one project!

With specializing in historic home revitalization, I get to help my clients (who are often searching for a more unique and functional home than so typically offered), fulfill their dreams and desired lifestyles by remodeling these beautiful homes to meet their individual needs. I do that in Spokane, Washington and Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as across the country through my e-designs. I absolutely LOVE what I do. It is fulfilling, challenging, and improves my clients' lives.

Learn more about what I do and working with me by checking out my turn-key and e-design services on my website, or by scheduling a free discovery call. Or, follow me on Instagram (@jamienelldesign) with continual updates on historic home revitalization.

With love always,

Jamie Nell