Some Things Are Worth Saving

Some old things are worth saving - Living Vintage

I recently stumbled across a photo of an old house and the caption Beyond Repair.  My immediate thought was:

Huh?  What?  That house doesn’t look that bad to me.

I must admit, though, that most people would think the same thing.    Honestly, I think when most people see an old house, especially an abandoned one, they think it’s not worth saving.  I think that people almost don’t see an old house’s potential because they automatically dismiss even the notion of making an old home new again.

In fact, when we were searching for our current home, we actually had a realtor tell us that most of his clients specifically tell him that they won’t consider an old house.    Who knows the reasons why.  Maybe they’re just overwhelmed by the amount of work required, or perhaps they think they’ll never be as energy efficient as a brand new house.

However, I disagree.  I’ve shown you how we have slowly remodeled our home and how we made our home more energy efficient.

Anyway, to me, photos can speak volumes, so I’ll shut up now and show you 15 old houses in the same or worse condition than ours that were saved and renovated into lovely homes.

Maybe I (and you) can make a small difference and save a few.

Kim signature

Before and After - Nacogdoches houseThis house is the City of Nacogdoches‘ 2011 Preservation Award Winner.


Upstate New York Home - Before and AfterThis old place had been converted into six apartments and had been vacant for over two decades when the new owners found it.    Pretty incredible transformation, don’t you agree?


The Green House in WaldeckThis ramshackle house was vacant for over 10 years.    After discovering it in a cow pasture, the new owners moved it 20 miles, then renovated it.


Greek Revival Sand Hill Cottage (Before and After) - Living VintageHard to believe this is the same home, isn’t it?


Ford Plantation - Before and AfterThis darling board and batten cottage, once owned by Henry Ford, is located near Savannah, Georgia.  The new owners originally thought they’d tear it down.  Thank goodness they had second thoughts.


Matt's folk victorian - before and afterMatt Grocoff is a contributor to Old House Web.  He’s renovating his  110 year old Folk-Victorian house in Ann Arbor to prove that old homes can be incredibly energy efficient.  His goal is to use “net zero energy“.


A Queen Anne Victorian in Maryland - Before and AfterThink a burned house can’t be saved?  Most people do.  However, the homeowners who bought this Queen Anne Victorian in Maryland saw its true potential.  It’s gorgeous, isn’t it.


Heirloom Design Build - before and afterHeirloom Design Build took a dilapidated 1890s Victorian house in Atlanta, Georgia and restored it in a way that preserved its historic charm while turning it into a cozy home.

 Danielle's house - before and after

Danielle’s house was in very poor condition when she bought it — no plumbing, heat, electricity, and a rotten foundation.  However, she saw the potential and 6 years later, their home is their pride and joy.


Saving a Grand Old House in TexasThe Cartwright House in Terrell, Texas was originally built in 1883, and it was in terrible shape when the new owners first saw it and fell in love.     It’s no wonder the new owners are house proud.


A Little Yellow House That's Cheerful Once Again - Living VintageThe new owners of this little yellow house made it cheerful once again.


A rescued home in Grant Park Historic District's, AtlantaThis home, located in the Grant Park Historic District of downtown Atlanta was built circa 1900 and was for many years used as a duplex. Located near Zoo Atlanta and on the oldest city park, the home was ready for renovation.  Carl Mattison and Rob Smith, owners of Balustrade Properties, realized the potential of this home, worked with local and city codes and Round Here Renovation and brought the home back to life while retaining as much of the old as possible. The home became a 3 bedroom, 2 bath gem.


A Scary Overgrown Mess Transformed Into a Gorgeous Home - Living VintageA scary overgrown mess of a house was transformed into a well-manicured home.


Before and After- The Wedding Cake HouseA young couple transformed a run-down Queen Anne, circa 1887, into a beauty.


A Mississippi Civil-war era home restoredSeriously?  If the  ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of this Mississippi home don’t convince you that old houses can be saved, I give up.

No, I won’t.  Never!

Want to see more?  If so, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.



  1. Kim, these are fantastic. I must say, the cottages (#4 and #5) are my favorites. Great post!

  2. Bill Cromack says:

    You have no idea how inspiring these photos are (well I am actually sure you do!)! I am already half way there lol! Except for the fact that I too will have to tear down, insulate, and replace the exterior siding among 8 million other things on my old house! What excitement I have when I can see the potential! I was a bit worried about the little guest house on the property because the exterior is in really rough shape but you have cured my fear and now I look forward to the opportunity to bring it back to life! Houses 1, 2, and 4 amaze me but the Cartwright house in Terrell proves that ANYTHING is possible! I love our old house. I cannot wait to be there full time so that I can really see where we are at and where we are going to go. We have plans for a wrap around porch in the works as well as a larger pond for irrigation purposes. I am a big landscape fan and see so much potential in front of our house possibly including a large white gazebo and the possibility of hosting the occasional wedding with the farm house as a back drop.

    Thank you for taking the time to research and post these pictures. I am like an excited kid right now! Filled with ideas and hopes and … and… and…


  3. Victoria says:

    Those sure are amazing! They look like a LOT of money has gone into them though. I think that is the main reason people stay away from old houses, especially if they don’t have the skills or time to work on it themselves. I’d like to fix up an old house someday, but I’m scared I’ll accidentally pick a haunted one!

  4. Patty/NS says:

    Hi Kim – I love your website especially when you highlight the houses down and out of luck! We have bought our own sad one to bring back to life here in Nova Scotia. I saw the work, my husband saw the water view. But still it is an eye opener to the amount of things can are in sad shape and had re-muddling done in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It has not been touched in probably the last 10-15 yrs. Some days it feels like a mountain and I wish we had bags of money to do a lot more than we can for the next 2 years. But we will get through it and ensure this 230 year old caper will make it through the next 50 yrs. We are thankful no one tore out the original Georgian wainscotting, dish dresser, shiplap or corner cupboard. But it is still sad how they also did not do things to preserve the house’s continued long life. I suppose it is up to us now and we plan to do it right this time. I am busy buying old door knobs, etc to put back what was lost and ripping 1980’s wallpaper off as we plan to rip out the rusted avocado green tub. No where to go but up! : )

    • How exciting to have found an old house to fall in love with! I’d love to see photos of your old gem someday! Best of luck to you. I’m cheering you on!

  5. Absolutely love the transformations! I’d love to redo an old house.

  6. Heather C says:

    This was a wonderful post. Getting ready to redo my mom’s, 1950’s house and this was so inspiring. When I looked at the before pic’s I got a little sad – I have seen these homes here in Mississppi and in Northeast Arkansas and always wondered about the stories they could tell – but the after pics made me happy – new stories to tell. Thanks

  7. I agree 10000%!! I don’t understand it when someone says a house isn’t worth saving because of the condition. Maybe not to them but there are a lot of people who would jump at the chance!

  8. I love our 100+ year old house. It was a rooming house and a summer rental (no central heat) before we bought it. We’ve had to do renovations a little at a time, and it’s not perfect yet, but it’s getting there. In the summer it’s definitely energy-efficient – no AC! It was built before there was air conditioning, and with the high ceilings, plenty of windows to open, and an added ceiling fan in every room, we really hardly need our two window units more than a week or two each year. Some new houses can be nice, but you can’t beat the character of an old house.

  9. Jane H. says:

    Thanks to you, Kim, for providing all of this irrefutable proof that restoration can bring us greater beauty, and significance, than building new.

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