Archive for the ‘Interior Details’ Category

Unique Historic Home Details – Nursery Rhyme Tile

Friday, March 6th, 2015

I haven’t come across them too often, but when I do, I always try and photograph the nursery rhyme tiles I find in historic homes. They seem to be in homes ranging across a huge span, from the 1890’s to the 1930’s (at least the ones pictured below). I have found them most commonly in fireplace surrounds, but also in children’s bathrooms. Of course I tell owners that they have something special and to preserve them in their natural place in the home. Ripping them out for some “new” trend borders on criminal (at least to a preservationist like me). No matter who seems them, the response is always the same…lot’s of ooh’s and aah’s from the adults, giggling like children at the site of these old nursery rhymes.

Nursery Rhyme Tile at New Victorian Bed and Breakfast

Bathroom Childrens Tile


Great Sources for Hard to Find Replacement Pieces

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Princeton Historic Home DoorknobRenovating an older home has all kinds of challenges, but sometimes the hardest part is finding replacement pieces. Many times, homes have been stripped of their original light fixtures, stained glass windows, or hardware. Other times, time itself has deteriorated pieces beyond repair. The most aggravating part is trying to find historically accurate replacements that even the pros won’t know aren’t “real”.


Hardware can be the most aggravating to find, but luckily there are some companies that still realize old homes need fixing too.

  • Window sashes: First of all, don’t replace your old windows! If you’re in need of some heavy cast iron sash weights, check out Architectural Iron. Missing sash pulleys or sash cords can be found at Smith Restoration Sash.
  • Butler Pantry doors: Door no longer swinging? If your looking for a replacement piece, you won’t find one at Home Depot. Instead, check out Bommer Industries double action spring pivot. Viola, problem solved!
  • Door knobs: Besides going to your local architectural salvage companies to find original door fixtures, you can also try online sites that specialize in reproduction hardware like Crown City Hardware or House of Antique Hardware, as well as look for original pieces on Etsy or Ebay.


The most dramatic pieces of a historic home can be the lighting fixtures. Even the smallest can be inspiring. I love walking around auctions, antique stores, and architectural salvage companies to admire the beautiful chandeliers, sconces, and lights for sale. But you can find great fixtures online, too. Rejuvenation has a special “restored antiques” section where you can buy real vintage light fixtures. Some might be expensive, but if you want the real deal, be prepared to drop some cash. In your search, keep an open mind about replacements. While you may not be able to find an exact replica, there are many options available true to the period of your home.


Newel Posts

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

One of my favorite architectural details in historic old homes is the newel and finial found at the base of wooden staircases. Most people just refer to them as “newel posts”. Sometimes I find simple finials for simple homes, while others are elaborately carved masterpieces. The two pictured here were ones I found while viewing homes not too long ago.

Some are worn down after a century of use by the multitude of hands that have grasped them over the years. It always makes me wonder who those people were and what became of them, and if they ever realized that something as simple as a touch would give patina to an object that only a lover of historic homes would notice.

If you want to see a variety of newel posts, here is a company in Pennsylvania that has pages of them listed for sale, all of different styles.

Historic Floor Tiles and Patterns

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
I was in a historic home the other day where each bathroom had different floor tile.
 This tile pattern is typical of a 1930’s home giving me a clue that this could possibly be a bathroom addition not original to the home, or a renovation during that time period.

 Both of these are Hexagon Patterns

For the Restoration Fanatic in All of Us

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

If there is one bit of advice I can give then it is to stay away from stores that offer historic looking replicas of hardware. They are evil places, built to lure you into their showroom, wanting to temp you into falling in love with their products. STAY AWAY!

Ok, maybe I am exaggerating. But honestly, one of my favorite stores is the one I stay away from. I remember when they first came to Indianapolis, over 10 years ago, and I was amazed by their product line. Mixing in the old with new design was something I had not seen. Their concept was revolutionary…so who are they? Restoration Hardware, of course.

I guess the concept I like the best is the old looking products they offer, perfect for when you want to update your old home. They also offer very modern designs which allow you to bring a historic home into the 21st century. But either way you go, I stay away because I could browse there for hours. I could also walk out having spent tons of money on things I don’t need, well, at least not right now. If you are remodeling a home, or completely restoring one, check out this store for some great ideas.

If you are brave, and bring your check book with you, have fun shopping. We are lucky to have the only two locations in Minnesota, here in the Twin Cities:

  • 3670 Galleria, Edina
  • 791 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul

Trent Tiles

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

One thing I love about historic homes is the interior details that go into a home. I don’t think you could afford to build a home today like they use to a hundred years ago or more. The cost would just be too high, and the craftsman to do the work don’t exist.

When we were renovating one of the Victorian Queen Anne homes we bought, the double parlor had two of the most beautiful fireplace surrounds I have seen. This was my first experience with Trent Tile Company tiles. It is quite easy to distinguish them from others because the images are amazing. Below is the “God” image I fell in love with. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but if you were to look at it closely, you would find some beautiful work: the eyes have detailed pupils, and his hair has depth to it.

The second fireplace had images of a mother and a child, shown below is the mother. You can see it is just as detailed as well.

Trent also produced tiles of nature scenes, birds, flowers, etc. I have even seen an entire surround of cherubs. (I wish I would have bought it.) Trent was founded in 1882 and closed it’s doors in 1939. If you find some tiles, and they are free standing, that is not attaced to a fireplace mantel, then the words TRENT can be found on the reverse side to help with identification.