The Funky Side of Home Buying – When Vintage Style Clashes with Modern Taste

You drive up to a property and like the architecture and the fact that it has a wrap around porch and more than a dash of character. Yep that front door handle is a blast from the past and the landscaping needs a bit of TLC but most of it’s not bad. Walk in the front door and your senses are assaulted by a mish mash of velveteen flocked wallpaper and shag carpet. Should you turn and run or put on a pair of sunglasses and continue your tour? Some things in a home, like a sagging porch or obvious water leaks might and probably should send you packing. But garish colors and homes seemingly stuck in time warps deserve a second look.

The Vintage Home

Enter a vintage Victorian or Craftsman home and you’ll notice that these styles have character. The homes are usually well built, which is why some are still standing after more than a century. Sure, you’ll have to go through the electrical and the plumbing to make sure it’s workable. You may have to take down layers of wall paper and replace the chandelier that looks like it came from Dracula’s castle. But think what you’ll have when you’re done. You home will be as far away from a cookie-cutter property as you can get.

What Have They Done to the Walls?

Many owners repaint their walls with more neutral shades before putting a property on the market. Then again you have people who won’t or can’t do the work and sell their home “as-is.”  You may find a boldly colored mural in the children’s room or a bathroom awash in hot pink. Paint is cosmetic, it can be changed. Look beyond the outrageous colors and focus on the size and space of the room. The same goes for wallpaper. Some people love the stuff and you’ll find it nearly everywhere. Victorian homes are known for this, it was the rage at the time. Just like paint, wallpaper can be stripped and the walls redone to your liking. Oh, and those popcorn ceilings? They can be removed.

Grandma’s Kitchen, Grandpa’s Bathroom

Ok, the stove is older than you are and the cabinets are a blast from the 1970s. Similarly the appliances are that avocado green that was the rage when tie-dye was a fashion statement. The bathroom is in a similar time warp with a worn tub and a shower with yellow tiles and a matching smiley face shower curtain. Both color schemes may make you cringe, maybe even giggle. But if the spaces are large and you have enough cash to renovate you may just have a bargain in the making. You may even get a deal on the home because of the need for renovation.

Eau de Carpet

Carpet is hard to keep clean. Old carpet can develop an unmistakable aroma that permeates the entire home. On those “as is” properties, particularly those that have been vacant for a while, you may notice an odd smell when you step through the door. Unless the odor is coming from mold, remember that removing old funky carpets and giving the place a good clean will get rid of that “eau de carpet.”


All of these items are really bargaining chips, items you can use when negotiating the price of the home. Most owners are reasonable and know that repairs cost money. Who knows, you may just get that dream home for a really good price.


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