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- Combining the Old with the New
Combining the Old with the New
Up until the years after World War II, moldings remained important design elements even in unassuming houses. Baseboards and casings around the windows and doors were made of wide stock, often with applied moldings to add shadow lines and a bolder, three-dimensional effect. Particularly in the late nineteenth century, cornices were heavy and dramatic. Save all that you can of the original woodwork, including any early paneling, built-in casework, spindle work, and other decorative wood treatments.
Think of such wooden elements as worthy of restoration, but also as a source of inspiration. If your plan involves new elements such as windows, doors, or cabinets, try to replicate existing details. Using existing quality work as a source for new detailing will help give the new space a feeling that it is of-a-piece with the existing house.
As the cost of quality craftsmanship has soared, the quality and character of the typical staircase have plummeted. If your stairway(s) have original balusters, rails, and newel posts, restore them. Strip them if they're of hardwoods or so coated with paint that turnings, panels, or other details are no longer crisp. Find ways to stabilize them (if necessary) that don't detract from their appearance.
Badly worn treads can usually be replaced without too much difficulty, but be sure the details are restored, too, such as the nosing returns (that's where the rounded edge continues around the open end of the tread). New balusters to replace broken or missing ones can be milled surprisingly inexpensively if you shop around. Staircases are key design elements in a house, and well worth extra dollars to conserve and restore them.
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