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How to Remodel a 1970s House

Updated February 21, 2017

Take in an episode of "The Brady Bunch" and you have a good idea of what a 1970s home looked like when it was freshly constructed. Wood panelling and stonework were prized, along with special features such as a contemporary staircase. Dark cabinetry, wallpaper, appliances in harvest gold and olive green and shag rugs were other trends of the time. If you've purchased a 1970s home, you may appreciate some of its features while wanting to get rid of others. Weigh all your options, and plan well before you undertake your remodelling project.

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  1. Call an expert for an energy assessment, as many homes built in the '70s were energy inefficient. Ask someone from a utility company, for example, to check windows and attic and wall insulation. Make a list of upgrades, such as new windows and doors, extra insulation or a new heating and cooling system. Your investment in these upgrades will pay off in energy savings in years to come.

  2. Change the facade. Many homes built in that decade had dark brick, stone or natural wood exteriors. Some had a combination of brick and wood or stone and wood. Wood siding can easily be painted a more contemporary colour, and you might consider painting the stone or brick, as well. Other facade changes are more challenging. Some '70s facades featured diagonal-wood siding and curved Mediterranean-style entries. These will need to be removed. Consider replacing them with more traditional siding and entry. Also consider adding a front porch.

  3. Change wall coverings and cabinets. Keep upscale tongue-and-groove wood panelling, but paint or stain it. Remove fiberboard panelling and add drywall. Install crown moulding in the living room and entrance. If your home is small, paint the interior a light neutral colour to create the illusion of space. If it's not small, choose colours based on your own preferences.

  4. Upgrade the bathrooms, which tended to be more functional than inviting in the 1970s. Replace the sink with a two-sink vanity. Put in a two-person shower and a soaking tub. Replace outdated ceramic tile with glass or subway tile. Remove fluorescent light fixtures beside the mirror and install recessed lighting in the ceiling and contemporary fixtures at the vanity. Consider enlarging the bathroom by borrowing space from a nearby hallway or closet.

  5. Rip out old carpet and put in hardwood flooring. This will give your home a more open feeling. Use tile that harmonises with the hardwood in the kitchen and bathroom.

  6. Tip

    Improve the landscaping. Take out overgrown shrubs and old retaining walls. Plant shorter evergreen shrubs in beds around the house. Add small solar lights, as well.

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Things You'll Need

  • Exterior paint
  • Drywall
  • Cabinets
  • Interior paint
  • Crown moulding
  • Two-sink vanity
  • Shower
  • Tub
  • Tiles
  • Light fixtures
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Tile flooring

About the Author

Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.

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