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Interior Design in Historical Homes

Historic Interior Elements

Historic Home Interior Elements

When you have a older or historic home, you will find many architectural and interior design elements that give your house its personality. These architectural elements are worth maintaining and even accentuating in your decorating.

Bathroom Tiles

In some historic or old homes, you might find some 20th Century tile in your bathroom.

The oldest you might find would be classic white tile. These were from a time where the idea that dirt harbored germs. Therefore, if you were able to clearly see the dirt, that meant you could easily clean the bathroom.

In later years you would find more Art Deco inspired colored tiles. Sometimes you would find tiles that have drawings or designs on them.

These trends would flip flop through the years, by going between plain and bright, flashy designs and color.

Keeping the historic tile will make your bathroom an incredibly unique space in your house, especially if the tile has an interesting design. Play with the color palette in the tiles by including it in your styling.

Paneling & Wainscoting

Wainscoting and paneling can be dated back to the 1300s. It was originally used as insulation as well as a way to cover up any moisture that was in the stone walls. Most early wainscots and panels were made of wood.

Over time, wainscoting and paneling became a decorative feature. Raised-panel walls did not become fashionable until 1750 and the details that were carved into them, were lifted from English Pattern books. Paneling was fixed around focal points in a room like fire places and doors. Wainscoting and paneling made the room look “finished.”

If your home is from a certain era, try to find wainscoting or paneling designs that are from that same time period to add dimension to your home. There is a variety of materials, colors, and designs you can choose from.

Tin Ceilings

Tin coated steel ceilings were a popular choice for both residential and commercial buildings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were an inexpensive, yet elegant addition to any room and they weren’t at risk for damage or decay like wood and plaster.

Tin ceilings are believed to have started popping up in America in 1885 with an experimental installation of tin-plate squares in Brooklyn, New York. Tin ceilings grew in popularity because they were very inexpensive to install compared to decorative plaster ceilings. Instead of hiring a master craft person to do a plastered ceiling, the homeowner could do something similar with tin instead.

Replacing or adding tin ceilings to your home is still very inexpensive to do today. You can get pieces unpainted or pre-painted, and there are instructions easily accessible online on how to install them. The designs on tin ceilings help draw the eye up in your home, and if you have high ceilings, it’s a great way to spruce up that space.


The history of carved mantels is a big part of western history. Original mantels in the house can determine the style, if not the date of a house. Decorative mantels were popular after the revolution and often were the focus of interior decoration.

Mantels over the years were made from a variety of materials including, marble, limestone, or wood. Elegant designs were often carved into the mantel, making the mantel piece itself, a work of art.

If your home had a fire place that was walled over, you might be able to reopen it and replace the mantel with a time period piece. A lot of mantels end up in salvage yards. Once you figure out the dimensions, what local fire codes expect, and the age and style of your home, you can go down to a salvage yard and hunt for the perfect mantel.

One of the things a lot of people recommend is to decorate your mantel in the style of the era it comes from.