Owning a property in the Northeast means owning a piece of our country’s historical land. Whether you are the proud owner of an estate on the New Hampshire Seacoast or a classic Cape Cod-style home on the coast of Maine, your property is a place where you can express your love for the local culture while implementing your own touch of style.
One of the best ways to see the full potential of your property is through a remodel. Renovating an existing home can be a rewarding experience by highlighting the original features of the property while implementing a modern touch.
Today, we’ll take a look at what it takes to renovate and remodel a property in Maine and New Hampshire, paying attention to the local trends in architecture and design.
Understand Building Regulations
Before you begin dreaming and scheming, make sure you are aware of any local building regulations. Remodeling often requires specific permitting, especially when major structural changes are being made.
In Maine, building permits are regulated by each city, making it important to check with local authorities before beginning any work.
For example, according to Portland’s Permitting and Inspections Department, “A building permit is required when a property owner intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, convert, demolish or change the use of a building or structure. Obtaining a permit can be one of the most important actions before starting a home improvement project.”
If the home is a historical building, any renovations and remodeling may be regulated by Maine preservation ordinances.
Similar to Maine, New Hampshire building permits will be issued city by city. New Hampshire is also home to many historical buildings, which can require special permitting for renovations. In both Maine and New Hampshire, be sure that when choosing a contractor for work, you pick one with the proper permits and licensure.
Consider the House Type
One of the biggest factors in your renovation plans will be the style of your home. While a remodel will allow you to change a lot about the design of your home, ultimately, you will be working with the bones of the existing structure. Each of the following New England-style homes will necessitate a different focus for renovation, like this classic Colonial home in Kennebunk.
Ranch-style homes feature a single level but may also include a basement, and they typically have a garage attached to the side of the home. These homes are designed with wide layouts and a casual style. Homes in this style built after the 1960s incorporated more notable features, such as cathedral ceilings and sunken rooms. When renovating a ranch-style home, focus on the open floor plan and work with this structure’s natural flow. Ranch-style homes lend well to a focus on natural lighting and warm decor.
Split-level homes are another popular style in the Northeast. Often referred to as tri-level homes, these houses are designed with three or more levels connected by stairs. Split-level homes usually feature an integrated garage with bedrooms lofted above the garage as well as multiple living areas and large front-facing windows. When renovating a split-level home, staircases and windows are a central focus of the redesign. These homes are a great pick for casual and warm styles.
Colonial homes are a traditional form of Northeast architecture and feature unique, elegant facades. The most notable feature of a Colonial home is the symmetry of the design. These homes are rectangular, generally featuring two stories, with a front door placed perfectly in the center of the house. Windows on Colonial homes are aligned to the right and left of the door, adding to the perfect symmetry of the design.
Colonial homes are notable for their stately design and spacious interiors. When remodeling a Colonial home, stay true to the history of the design. Restoring the original materials of the build goes a long way in revitalizing this historical home style.
Unique to the Northeast and popular in Maine are Cape Cod homes. These homes feature a steep pitched roof and chimney, designed to minimize snow buildup, and a low ceiling aimed at increasing heating efficiency during cold winters. The homes are a story and a half high, and the home’s attic is often converted into an extra bedroom.
A renovation of this style of home should maximize space and focus on the build’s rustic appeal. Most Cape Cod homes have been added onto over the years, making it important for renovations to include structural upgrades and ensure modern code requirements are met.
Victorian-style homes are elegant and ornate. These homes are usually two to three stories tall, with large porches and tall windows. Due to the ornate nature of a Victorian-style home, renovations will often include restoration of original woodwork while upgrading the function of the home. The remodel of a Victorian-style home should begin with the exterior, focusing on the revitalization of wraparound porches and detailed bay windows.
Saltbox homes feature a long pitched roof that slopes down to the back of the home, creating a single story in the back of the house and two stories in the front. Most saltbox homes feature a central chimney and flat front. Nicknamed after the boxes once used to hold salt, these homes are rustic and asymmetrical.
When renovating a saltbox home, the key is to highlight the historical elements that make this home design stand out. Revitalizing wood beams and leaning into the rustic appeal of the house can go a long way in capturing the charm of this unique New England style.
Carry on the Tradition of These Northeast Trends
New Hampshire and Maine also feature notable interior design trends. When renovating your property, carry on the tradition of these states’ one-of-a-kind styles.
New Hampshire: Bohemian
For those residing in New Hampshire, there is a certain appeal to a life focused on a carefree spirit and time spent in nature. This is reflected in the area’s Bohemian design, which features warm colors, mixed patterns and textures and materials from around the globe. Similar to the state’s motto of “Live Free or Die,” there are no rules to the Bohemian design. Warm lighting, earthy tones, jeweled accents and eclectic decor are all elements of this gypsy-inspired style.
To implement a Bohemian-style design in your New Hampshire home, tackle the following renovation projects:
- Swap out closed cabinets for open shelving
- Implement natural elements, such as wood paneling
- Use materials from around the world, mixing and matching textures
- Build a living wall of plants
- Restore hardwood floors and pair with exotic rugs
For those who love the rich history of the Northeast, nothing beats the Victorian-style home. This style focuses on opulence and elegance, with ornate wallpaper, molding, rugs, curtains and furniture. Victorian-style homes focus on rich colors and tones, dark woods and luxury stones. To implement a Victorian-style design into your home, focus on the following renovation projects:
- Restore the original porch and doorway, focusing on authentic period style.
- Add a touch of elegance with hand-carved trim and molding
- Upgrade countertops to marble
- Scavenge local flea markets and antique shops for Victorian-era furnishings
There is truly something special about the style of Maine and New Hampshire homes. Renovation of these historical properties can embrace the flair of the local culture while incorporating new life into the space. As you renovate your property, stay true to the allure of the area.