Merging Historic Preservation with Today’s Lifestyle

Working on San Antonio’s beautiful historic homes which are fortunate enough to still retain their original finishes is indeed a treat and poses a special kind of challenge for Amity + Kett Architecture and Interior Design. Maintaining the period aesthetics of such beautifully preserved homes is a priority while ensuring that kitchens and bathrooms perform for a contemporary family without feeling out-of-place in the existing home.  

The Trinity University San Antonio interior design project presented us with the unique opportunity of refreshing interiors for four faculty residences at once in one contiguous interior decorating, renovation project. In one of the residences, we decided not to take down a dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room. This alteration would have previously been considered a “no-brainer” in many modern-day home renovations. Today a typical contemporary family gathers in a great room–which is a room incorporated into an open floor plan, connecting the family living room to the kitchen and dining. This was not the way families in more formal 1920’s homes used to live. Back then, it was more common that the dining room was separate from the family living areas, which honestly had its perks. It begs the question, “who really wants to see their kitchen sink from every corner of the home, 24/7?”  

The compromise to leave the wall was perfect for the family. We gave them a comfortable built-in sofa to maximize the floor space in the smaller room while also adding a large TV. We also made the kitchen, while separated with a wall from the other areas, into a nice gathering place with a large wooden-topped island where the entire family could easily gather around.

Interior design that embraces history and works for today.

The finishes we chose for this quintessential San Antonio interior design project were practically chosen for us. We simply matched the quality of the existing bathrooms using historically appropriate materials. What is striking when doing a historic renovation is the notion that, “they don’t build them like they used to,” becomes apparent. Often, modern building methods are less substantial and hearty than they used to be. When challenged to meet a budget for an interior decorating project such as our Monte Vista neighborhood residences, it is imperative to keep in mind that it does not pay to use lesser quality materials. They will usually stand out in contrast against the solid historic finishes and details, and ultimately the difference in quality would undermine the feeling of authenticity.

Pink bathrooms? Yes, please! To stay within the period and also within budget for this renovation, we decided to keep the pink, green and lavender plumbing fixtures where we could. When we had to replace them, we added colored selections. Again, perhaps it would not be the experience found when building or designing a more contemporary home in San Antonio, but for this interior design project in historic Monte Vista, it was just right for this space in order to keep if feeling cohesive.

Finally, to make a historic home feel authentic, vintage lighting is a must. The light in the room is a profound influence in how the room feels throughout the day and evening, and the textures of the fixtures are often subtle echoes of the era.

We always feel so honored to work on historic projects like these, and we are very excited to share the end result. We look forward to welcoming a new and lovely chapter for these beautiful historic Monte Vista homes and are eager to share the images in our portfolio when the project is completed.

If you have questions about how to design a home that integrates historic preservation and inspiration from the past with today’s modern lifestyle, please call us 210.526.1459 to schedule an appointment. We’d love to meet you.

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