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10 Ideas to Keep and Blend In Old Charm When Renovating a Home

A white bungalow-style home with exposed brick on the sides. There is a bright green lawn and a walkway going to the front door.

You love your old house. Its exposed brick, quirky columns, elegant beams and large deck give it a unique charm and character that you just don’t see in homes anymore.

That being said, it could use a little updating.

You want to give your home the facelift it deserves, but you’re worried about modernizing it beyond recognition. What if your renovations eliminate the charm and character that made you fall in love with your house in the first place?

Fortunately, there are many fun and exciting ways to update your old house without sacrificing its distinctive charm.

Why Renovating an Old Home Doesn’t Have to Mean Making it Brand New

It’s an all too common occurrence — the cute house at the end of the block gets a renovation or remodel that transforms it into an unrecognizable piece of modern art.

Just because this can happen doesn’t mean it has to. A talented DIYer or contractor can skillfully update and renovate an old home without sacrificing the house’s character.

10 Ideas for Maintaining Old Charm During a Home Rehab

From painting and staining to repurposing flooring and furniture, there are a variety of ways to update your home and also keep its cozy charm.

1. Brighten Up Concrete Surfaces with Colorful Paint 

An image of a yellow concrete house. There is a green tree located in front of the home.

Exposed concrete can certainly show a home’s age, but it usually serves as a vital component of your structure. However, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for its lackluster aesthetic. There’s one easy way to take that concrete and give it a fresh new look — paint! 

Painting concrete is a simple way to create a more modern, lively look without uprooting the slab or having to do a whole home renovation. Within just a few days, you could have the concrete painted to just your liking, giving your home a new identity!

2. Restain Old Wood Furniture to Mix in with Updated Interiors

The view down a wood dining room table with a singular light hanging above it.

Do you have an old wooden dining room table or set of barstools that you love, but they just don’t quite work with the new paint job that you’ve done?

Before you go out and spend a fortune on new furniture, consider giving these well-loved members of your home a facelift for a new lease on life.

Refinishing your old furniture with some new stain and polyurethane can be a fun and rewarding project that any motivated DIYer can do.

3. Stain and Install Reclaimed Wood for Shutters Alongside New Windows

An image of an arched window with black shutters from the outside. There are pink roses climbing on the walls of the home, with a bright-colored flowerbed in front of the window.

One of the best ways to keep some of your home’s old charm during renovations is to reclaim and repurpose some of the wood.

Shutters serve as a delightful accent to your home and can be an excellent application for reclaimed wood. Apply a fresh coat of stain, and your reclaimed shutters can match or accent any color scheme or aesthetic your mind can imagine.

4. Is the Deck in Good Condition? Restain and Update!

A bird's eye view of an outdoor deck with potted plants and gray furniture.

If your deck is structurally stable but has seen better days, sanding it down and applying a fresh coat of stain could be just what the doctor ordered.

Between pets and kids, barbeques and cocktail parties, wind, snow and rain, your deck has probably taken quite a beating over the years. 

Give your deck its own celebration with a thorough refinishing and enjoy it for many summers to come.

5. Add Painted or Stained Cedar Planks to Enhance Old Exterior Columns

n image of exterior columns. The wood is a warm brown color and there are white panels between the columns.

Exterior columns are vital to holding up your deck or supporting the roof over your covered porch or entryway. While these structural members carry out an important function, they can become beaten and battered by weather and age.

Reward your exterior columns for their hard work over the years by beautifying them with cedar planks. 

A natural cedar tone doesn’t match your new color scheme? Give them a coat of stain or paint to create exquisite accents for your home.

6. Take Old Wood Flooring and Make an Accent Wall of Wood Planks

A modern-style bedroom with an abstract blue wall behind the bed’s headboard. The bed has gray, black and brown coloring and there are two nightstands on either side of the bed.

Did you remove old hardwood flooring from your home and add something new? Save that flooring from the landfill and give it a new lease on life as a beautiful new accent wall.

An accent wall is a great way to spice up a room and is the perfect project for an aspiring DIY enthusiast. Resaw and restain to create an infinite amount of designs. Create a fun design, or go with something classic — it’s up to you!

7. Get a Brand New Yet Vintage Look with Edison Lighting

A bundle of classic style Edison Bulbs lit up.

Transform dull, everyday lighting fixtures with the classic style of Edison bulbs. 

Edison light bulbs expose the energized filaments that produce light in these vintage-style bulbs that create a more compelling aesthetic than their standard counterparts. 

The captivating ambiance of Edison lighting is now available with eco-friendly LED technology to ensure that you don’t need to choose between beauty and efficiency.

8. Reupholster Old Chairs and Benches for a Fresh Take

A wooden chair with dark green cushions and a striped pillow on it. There are two side tables next to the chair and a spotted rug below.

If the bones of your old chairs and benches are sturdy, but you and your family have literally loved the upholstery to death, consider reupholstering them so that you can continue loving them for many years to come.

9. Reuse Beams and Restain for Interior Beams and Columns

A small dining area with interior exposed beams.

Interior beams can often be boring at best and an eyesore at worst. Transform your bland beams into beautiful and unique accent pieces by wrapping them in reclaimed lumber. Apply stain to create rich, sophisticated tones to accent any room of the house.

10. Make Old Plastic or Metal Tables Into Wood”

A packaged ZAR Wood Graining Tool.


Do you have metal or plastic tables that lack the rustic charm that you desire? Instead of replacing them, try turning them into wood” with the ZAR® Wood Graining Tool.

Perfect to use with ZAR Interior Oil Base StainZAR Interior Oil base Stain, this graining tool can create realistic wood grain patterns on metal, painted, and plastic surfaces. Try it out today and breathe new life into old furniture.

The Best Stains to Use on Both Old and New Wood

Trusted by contractors and DIYers, ZAR provides unbeatable protection and its uncomplicated application makes it the best stain to use on both old and new wood alike.

Interior Stains

A black tin can full of ZAR Interior Oil Base Stain. The can has the ZAR logo in gold across the top, with “Stain” written in cursive gold across the middle.


Formulated with controlled penetration,” ZAR Interior Oil Base Stain wipes on easily for a beautiful, uniform color without pesky streaks or lap marks. You can even use ZAR stains on previously painted or varnished surfaces without stripping, to achieve deeper and richer tones than competing products.

Exterior Stains

A tin can full of ZAR Deck & Siding Semi-Transparent Stain. The can is dark gray with an image of a house on the side, and the ZAR logo across the top of the can.


Composed of a proprietary formula, ZAR Deck & Siding Semi-Transparent Stain delivers rich color and subtle sheen to new and old wood surfaces alike.

With ZAR, you can apply beautiful and durable weather protection to decks, siding, docks, shakes and shingles, fences, log homes, railings, posts and more.

Make a Dramatic Change By Painting Instead of Staining

A tin can full of ZAR deck & siding products. The can is a light gray color with a picture of a house on the side.


Are you the kind of person who likes to make a splash? Make a statement by refinishing wood, T‑111, fiber cement board, composite decking, masonry and metal with bold, opaque colors using ZAR Deck & Siding Solid Color Coating.

Utilizing self-crosslinking Core-Shell Technology and Aliphatic Urethane, ZAR Deck & Siding Solid Color Coating provides unmatched durability, adhesion, weather resistance and color retention performance.

Use the Best Stains for Exterior and Interior Redesign with ZAR®

Whether a first-time DIYer or a seasoned professional, you can easily elevate your home with ZAR.

From stains to polyurethanes, ZAR has a full line of products that are created to be as unique as you are. So, whether you’re staining your deck or refinishing furniture, you can be confident that ZAR has you covered, no matter what your project throws at you.

Check out the full line of ZAR products or utilize their interactive online project planner to help determine what products are right for you. 

Ready to get started? Find a retailer near you today and give your home the premium finishes it deserves!