This Old New House

This Old New House

Design Article By Suzy Barnett


Clearly, my passion is decorating and design.  I love new homes. I love the smell of fresh paint, sparkling clean windows, new shiny appliances. BUT, my favorite décor is making new, look old.

You might say, “why would you want to make the new look old?” Because old means character. Old means it has history. Old means reminiscing and remembering.

I can’t live with painted trim. I need knotty, stained and old. I live for things that remind me of my childhood. Finishes that you can’t get from anything but age. Collections that have meaning. Dishes with a story. Boxes that smell musty like an old attic. Pieces that you can’t fathom giving up.

Here are some of my favorite ways to make a new house look old:


antique books

–Why buy new doors when you can find an antique door? I have a friend that literally built her house around a bunch of really cool, old doors that she collected from her travels.  My current front door is from an old farmhouse near my home. It is a beautiful oak door that has unique etching in the glass. You can’t buy these kinds of things, new. It has a story. I just wish I knew what it was. In my last home, I bought an old door, put some frosted glass in the top panel, painted it black, aged it, and created a beautiful pantry door with character. It was a shorter door, so we made a transom to match up above it, which brought the eye up and it didn’t look so short. Definitely, one of the neatest creations that I have done.

–Accent wall. New accent walls are nice, but I don’t like nice. I want it to draw attention, but not because it’s pretty, but because it looks old, and of course, pretty. Why not take wide rough-cut planks-stain them and chink in between them? How about rough-cut (one of my favorite things, obviously) run vertically on your accent wall? Use all different widths. Or find boards with live edges.  

–Nothing says old and character like a collection of what you love. Collections that have age, of course. Grouping those treasures together make more of a statement. Whether it’s old books, kitchen utensils, antique bottles, cowboy spurs, or quilts, it just doesn’t matter. The only requirement is to surround yourself with things you love.

Anyone can have new, trendy “stuff” in their homes. Those things will go out of style. Old never will.

antique oak door