When designers Reed and Delphine Krakoff purchased a circa-1917 Arts and Crafts residence on a historic 11-acre estate in East Hampton, New York—it was the childhood summer home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis—the Manhattan-based couple chose to preserve its many period details instead of giving it a strictly contemporary overhaul. “I think we enjoy the process of bringing a house back to what it was more than the end product itself,” Delphine says. “We were very disciplined about getting rid of whatever wasn’t house-appropriate and bringing in things that were.” It’s a delicate balance that requires a sense of discovery, a discerning eye, and an inexhaustible spirit in the face of unexpected developments. Here are four things you should consider when renovating an old home.
Lay the groundwork. Before even thinking about doing anything aesthetically, have an inspector check the existing systems and structures. It’s easier to repair electrical work and plumbing—as the Krakoffs did when they updated their home’s antiquated pipes—as well as roofing and windows before you’ve added wallpaper and paint.