7 Ways to Uncover the Secrets of Your House
These easy steps will help you discover your dwelling’s past.
1. Take a Closer LookTo obtain some background―and a sense of what your house may have once looked like―start with a physical examination. A peek behind a piece of vinyl siding on the exterior, for instance, might reveal a hint of an original paint color. Inside, try lifting up the carpeting. (Mismatched floorboards can suggest there was an addition.) Or loosen a corner of wallpaper or paneling―perhaps you'll find a vintage wallpaper print or even old newspapers, which were often used as insulation. Look into every nook and cranny. "I always check the newel post on the stairs," says Tim Gregory, a house historian in Pasadena, California. "Sometimes the top screws off and you'll find rolled-up house plans in there."
For help identifying your home's architectural style, consult an easy-to-understand, illustrated reference book, such as A Field Guide to American Houses, by Virginia and Lee McAlester (Knopf, $40. amazon.com), or Identifying American Architecture, by John J. G. Blumenson (W. W. Norton & Company, $16, amazon.com).
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