Ambiance – one of the main reasons we choose to live in an old house. The wood, the plaster, the history, the feeling that when we walk into a room, we’ve just stepped back in time. To immerse ourselves in that and forget all that’s happening in the modern world outside our doors and small paned windows, we have to make sure that there are few, or no, traces of that world within.
In restoring or reconstructing an old house, one has to allow as little intrusion or change as possible. If you let the harbingers of progress, aka the electricians, hvac folks and plumbers, have their way, each competing to have their craft stand prouder than the others, goodbye old house. It’ll still be there, in the basement, in the attic, behind the walls. But the intimate spaces that you treasure will be marred.
I realize that some change is required, but there are ways to subdue it. However, the homeowner will have to be pro-active. They will have to walk softly and carry a big stick with the trades. Inquire as to the least obtrusive areas to place outlets, switches, heat registers. Think like a sleuth. Plan like it matters. You can’t just let the trades have a go with your rooms! A plumber, who once arrived ahead of us, went right along and cut a hole in a wide plank floor board to run a pipe. After our shock and subsequent repair we found another, hidden way. We once let an electrician, who had been with us a long time, place the electric meter on an old house without our being there. Turns out he let his apprentice do it without his direction. We were shocked to find the meter on the front corner of the house! Who does that? Someone who cares only to get the job done and move on. To them, I guess, an electric meter is a beautiful thing? Of course, we moved it around to a less conspicuous spot on the side of the house.
Plan, persuade, rant and rave if you have to! To maintain the integrity of these old structures, to witness them as they once were, you always have to take the path of most resistance! And then you get to enjoy that ambiance, forever.