Old House Resources

I created this resource page to easily list recommended publications, books, blogs, reference documents, and more, that I use and/or those I know are valuable. This way you can quickly find great products and services all in one place. Whether you like to DIY or not, my goal is to save you money all from one page, by ensuring that YOU are a well-informed homeowner and consumer!

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below and I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.


Home Designer Suite 2019

Home Designer Suite 2019. We used it for our kitchen and bath remodels, and liked the realistic results. With the download, you can be up and running in no time, but think about a backup disc for a small additional charge.  If really helped us have a firm vision of what we were planning. For $99 it was good insurance, and way cheaper than hiring an architect. After all, who knows your home better than you, right? Check out the Home Designer video tutorial here. If you are familiar with Power Point and, you should be able to catch on pretty easy, but with all programs, some features have a longer learning curve.  If you’d like to download the software CLICK HERE.


The Complete Guide to Wiring

Black and Decker. The Complete Guide to Wiring, 7th Edition. This book has excellent info, explanations, and full color wiring diagrams for all common wiring projects around the house. Its the best $20 education I ever received!

The Elements of Style
The Elements of Style

Calloway & Cromley (2012). The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural Details – 1485 to Present.

The Elements of Style is the most comprehensive visual survey, period by period, feature by feature, of the styles that have had the greatest impact on interiors of American and British domestic architecture. Unsurpassed in its range of illustrations, this magnificent volume covers more than 500 years of architectural styles from Tudor to Post-Modern and includes a wealth of American and British vernacular styles. Everyone from owners of period houses, restorers, and architects to interior designers, do it-yourself homeowners, and all those interested in our building heritage will find this reference indispensable.


More than 3,000 analytical drawings and historic engravings are included in this updated edition as well as 400 photographs in color and over 1,000 in black and white. These extraordinary images provide a systematic guide to the features appropriate for every part of a building, from the major components such as doors, windows, walls, floors, ceilings, and staircases to the small but important embellishments such as moldings and door hardware.

At the heart of the book is a chronological treatment of the primary styles and periods of architectural design during the past 500 years. Each chapter begins with an illustrated essay, then looks in turn at individual features, from doors and windows to ironwork and woodwork. The usefulness of this book is further enriched by the inclusion of permanent or semi-permanent fixtures such as lighting, kitchen stoves, and floor and wall coverings, as well as strictly architectural details.

A useful system of quick reference, employing color-coded tabs keyed to each feature, enables the reader to trace how particular features evolved over time. And at the back of the book, separate chapters dealing with vernacular architecture are followed by a glossary and a fully updated directory of suppliers of authentic materials as well as period and reproduction features. For this new edition, a biographical directory of architects and architectural practices has been added.

Compiled by a team of experts headed by Stephen Calloway and Elizabeth Cromley, The Elements of Style is the first book on architectural styles that is comprehensive, incredibly thorough, and accessible in its presentation of individual details. Equally invaluable for authentic period restoration or simply for saying to your contractor, “I want one like that” — this definitive resource presents literally thousands of details.


Dan Holohan. The Lost Art of Steam Heating Revisited.                                                                                                                                                                                                         



A Field Guide to American Houses

McAlester (2015).  A Field Guide to American Houses (Revised): The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture

Now in paperback: the fully expanded, updated, and freshly designed second edition of the most comprehensive and widely acclaimed guide to domestic architecture: in print since its original publication in 1984, and acknowledged everywhere as the unmatched, essential guide to American houses.

This revised edition includes a section on neighborhoods; expanded and completely new categories of house styles with photos and descriptions of each; an appendix on “Approaches to Construction in the 20th and 21st Centuries”; an expanded bibliography; and 600 new photographs and line drawings.


unnamedAncestry.com.So you have some old family history and info. Maybe you even found some additional data in your local phone directories. Now what? Piece it all together now and track down the rest of YOUR Old House history at  Ancestry.com.


This Old House

This Old House. For home improvements and renovations on houses of a certain age, no publication can beat This Old House magazine. Based on the same themes and philosophy as the PBS series, this publication takes you through every step of renovating older homes, from replacing damaged flooring in Colonial saltboxes to upgrading 50-year-old split-level family homes for a fresh and modern look.

This Old House magazine focuses on making your home, landscaping, décor, and furnishings blend into a harmonious whole. You’ll find columns detailing how to re-purpose beautiful old trim or how to choose the perfect stove for your lifestyle. Homes in the process of renovation are used as demonstration projects for your own home.

Old House Journal

Old House Journal  (Kindle or Print)Old-House Journal is written for people who are passionate about restoring, renovating, decorating and maintaining America’s wealth of old homes in a manner faithful to their architectural heritage. Its readers look to the magazine for authoritative background on homes of all architectural styles—from the earliest, Colonial-era houses, to Queen Annes and Craftsmans, to houses built in the mid- to late-1950s (anything 50 years or older is covered). OHJ is published 6 times a year, and gives readers the education, resources, tips, and inspiration to tackle and enjoy every step of the restoration process. OHJ’s readers look forward to a mix of topics in each issue, from historical overviews, expert how-to’s, and first-person restorer experiences, to technical articles offering a wealth of background and advice, to product reviews.

Guide to Restoration

Old House Journal Guide to Restoration. The book’s overall tone is “can-do.” If something’s broken or decayed, the Old-House Journal folks believe it can be fixed or restored–and they’re not afraid to tell how in great detail. This is not just a lesson in stripping and refinishing wood floors, but rather extensive schooling in boosting an old house owner’s confidence. –Karen Karleski


John Leeke’s Historic HomeWorks by John Leeke, American Preservationeer.

Practical Restoration Reports and books are a detailed technical series on preservation topics packed with practical methods you can use now.

“Based on years of extensive research and field application, each is put together with John’s trademark hands-on, step-by-step instructions and famously lucid illustrations. …photos in particular are marvels of clarity and veracity…” – Gordon Bock, Editor-in-Chief, Old-House Journal



36444417_10156459116797556_2676102540549947392_nWood Finishing Enterprises. Polish/varnish: Their “1704 blend” ingredients can be purchased for you to mix up as needed in small batches at home. 1704 is probably one of the oldest varnish recipes still extant. We use it in the violin restoration trade because it is compatible with the finishes of the 18th-early 20th c. People have different variants of the recipe that they use, but you can find it on the Internet if you Google 1704 violin varnish recipe. It smells wonderful and is completely non-toxic. It takes about three weeks to make, then add a clear or poly over the top. – Rose. V.


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