brick backsplash

Preserving Historic Details In a Home Renovation

We started writing about a historic home renovation and addition that we’re working on last week. One of the things that was most important to the homeowners was to maintain the historic detail found in their circa 1810 home while expanding and updating it.

To the greatest extent possible we saved as much of the reusable building material.  When we removed flooring, it was either relocated to another area of the floor … or reclaimed as kitchen countertop! Matching old and new flooring can be tricky. After installing new boards that match the size shape of the old ones, the entire floor is refinished to a high gloss. While you can currently distinguish between the old and new boards, over time, they will “amber” to golden yellow/orange and blend together.


historic home
The process of aging wood to that distinctive, historic golden yellow/orange is called “ambering.” Here you can see the newly refinished older wood at the bottom of the image, and the newer wood at the top.




We removed a wall in the dining area adjacent to the kitchen that now opens up to the addition space. To enhance the historic look and make it feel as though it was meant to be there, the homeowners chose to border the opening with pine beams. Rather than use new wood, we contacted our friends at Bingham Lumber in Brookline, NH. In a stroke of luck, they had just received lumber from an old barn in Fitchburg. We carefully selected specific beams from the warehouse and used them to surround the new opening to the addition.

We hand selected and tagged the perfect beams for the project at the Bingham Lumber warehouse in NH.




reclaimed wood
The reclaimed beams have been installed and look as though they’ve always been there.

Part of the renovation involved removing a fireplace. Any regret in removing the fireplace was extinguished as we reused the brick as the new kitchen backsplash.

removing fireplace
This small living room fireplace and chimney was removed as part of the renovation.


Reusing bricks
The bricks were carefully salvaged and kept for later use in the kitchen.
reclaimed bricks
The salvaged brick is installed as a backsplash.



brick backsplash
The “new” brick backsplash looks great next to the countertop which was made from flooring reclaimed from elsewhere in the home.






Custom Contracting, Inc. 1267A Massachusetts Ave. Arlington, MA 02476 Phone: 781-648-2835 Fax: 781-648-0907 Email:

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