When we first bought our 150-year-old house, sure, I was intimidated about designing a space from top to bottom – let alone a historic one. I was certainly worried about picking the right floors, the perfect tile and creating the right lighting layout. Sure I wondered if the perfect shade of white actually does exist (I would claim it does and I found it – more here). But it was upon demolition when the walls were opened and the trials and tribulations of renovating a century-old structure were revealed that I fully grasped what I was in for. Today, I’m partnering with NETGEAR to share a bit of what I’ve learned about modernizing a historic home.

how to modernize an old home on apartment 34

While an old home’s details may be charming and give you warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feels, they mask all the nasty that lurks just below the surface. Things like ancient pipes, hardly functioning nob and tube wiring and narrow insulation-less framing all hide beneath lovely plaster walls and charming antique archways. These hidden problems are just a handful of the discoveries we made upon embarking on our remodel – a few pics above for the proof (did you remember my dining room started out raspberry pink? Ironically, the same color as the original Apt34. Coincidence? I think not). Yes, I awe-struck by the 15-foot tall cedar 2x4s that have held up our home since the 19th century, but at the same time, we also discovered dry rot and termite damage, asbestos, and lead. If you’ve watched any HGTV show of late, you are familiar with the budget busters of which I speak. No wonder this house is the project that never ends.

how to modernize an old home on apartment 34

But I was determined to take the opportunity we had to preserve the home’s historic details while building a fully functional modern space from the inside out. So that meant all new wiring and all new plumbing, all new lighting and all new floors. It also meant installing solid core CAT-6 with RJ45 connectors for standard ethernet with a gigabit transfer. Or in real people speak; we installed nice fat internet pipes directly into the house. But once the walls are all closed up, painted and pretty, you still have to get the internet throughout the entire home.

how to modernize an old home on apartment 34how to modernize an old home on apartment 34

That’s where aesthetics come back into play. Throughout the design process, I worked to ensure we paid homage to my home’s amazing history by maintaining all of the crown molding, ceiling medallions and even the original hardware and glass doorknobs on our dining room’s French doors (swoon). I recently had the dining room fireplace reconstructed to replicate would have been there at the turn of the 20th century. It’s my current crowning achievement. I also love juxtaposing really modern elements against these historic details. Hence things like my new favorite shelving unit in the dining room. I can now display treasured pieces, have a place for both a mini-bar and my design book collection all while hiding some of my kid’s toys (#winning).

NETGEAR was also kind enough to supply their Orbi Whole Home WiFi System to ensure the house has modern function. The Orbi Wifi System has created such better connectivity throughout the house. The bonus? Orbi also comes with a much better design than your typical tech. Our house’s far corners (places like bathrooms – don’t lie – you know you bring your phone in there!) are no longer black holes and I haven’t had to sacrifice my design sensibility. There’s nothing I hate more than a lot of wires and cables running every which way, so I truly appreciate that Orbi Whole Home WiFi System has just one single plug-in. Did you even spy the wifi router sitting in my dining room?

If you’re planning on modernizing your home this spring you can update your look and modernize your connectivity without having to compromise on aesthetics. You’re going to really love having reliable wifi that gives whole home coverage yet is designed to look clean and simple.

how to modernize an old home on apartment 34how to modernize an old home on apartment 34how to modernize an old home on apartment 34

dining room sources: shelving / dining table / pendant light / art / design book / design book / design book / paint color

this post is in partnership with NETGEAR. All words and opinions are 100% my own. thanks for supporting collaboration that we are excited about and that have kept apt34’s doors open. to learn more about Orbi, visit NETGEAR’s website.

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  1. I was scrolling quickly and got excited that the wifi device was the white snake! Ha. That fireplace is lovely, btw. Nice work.

    1. Now wouldn’t that be impressive! That’s just my gem from Hey Yonder Shop. You should really check them out.

    1. Aw thank you so much will. That means a ton coming from you.

  2. Would you happen to have any more information on that white snake? I read that you picked it up at Yonder, but couldn’t find it on their website. Do you know who the artist is?

    1. Hi Caitlyn. The owner of Yonder makes them herself. I’m not sure if she’s selling any directly right now but I’m sure if you email Yonder you might be able to commission one. They’re very special!