|A '55 Studebaker President just like mine—|
except this one runs.
Many times over the years I've been approached by car restorers who want me to join some auto club or other, but I always demur. Most of these guys are just too fanatical. For example, it’s routine for restorers to insist on tires made from the original molds, as well as hoses, belts, and batteries marked exactly like the originals. Nowadays, restorers will even painstakingly duplicate the carelessly-scrawled inspection marks that were chalked on the engines during assembly. Why stop there? Why not insist on 1955 air in the tires, or 1955 oil in the crankcase?
|Her'e a "correct" bungalow kitchen:|
Is this really what you're after?
Car restorers aren’t the only ones to go overboard, however. I see many people with older homes—be they Victorians, bungalows, or mid-century Ranchers—getting caught up in the same sort of mania for authenticity. They slavishly outfit their homes in period furniture and fixtures, no doubt goaded by well-meaning magazines that encourage this sort of thing. One recent article, for example, showcased a restored bungalow kitchen that was correct right down to the intrusive freestanding range and dreadful circulation. It was an authentic bungalow kitchen, all right—clumsy and impractical.
|Don't hesitate to upgrade old infrastructure, such as this|
asbestos-laden and extremely inefficient old
gravity furnace. Antique technology is fascinating to look at,
but not much fun to live with.
Fortunately, it’s fairly obvious when to abandon the tiresome constraints of “correct” restoration. So unless you’re aiming to turn your house into a museum, don’t fret over the occasional anachronism.
|Gorgeous—but I bet you wouldn't|
want to hear "Back in Black" on it.
The golden rule is: Respect your home’s architecture, but don’t be straitjacketed by the compulsion to make everything look “period”. Feel free to modernize when it comes to functional necessities such as appliances, plumbing, wiring, or heating.
Times change, and the ability to change with them is what distinguishes a living, breathing home from a museum.