Almost every home on Diane Pellegrini’s block is over a century old. That architecture, the quaintness, is what drew Pellegrini and her fiancé to Mt. Airy from Scranton almost three years ago, when the couple did what any relocating homebuyers would do: Picked a neighborhood, saw some properties and put down an offer. Pellegrini’s not a first-time homeowner, but paired with the area’s noted structural history, her decision to purchase an older home in need of modern renovations meant living in the house would be a labor of love.

“We bought the house, got it inspected, the structure was good,” she says. “We knew we could work with it, so we didn’t have a problem with buying something that needed to be fixed up. If we couldn’t do it, we have friends who could help us.”

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Among the tasks Pellegrini has undertaken to modernize her decades-old house include removing wallpaper, skim coating walls, repainting, re-staining the hardwood flooring, updating the flooring, sinks and toilets in the bathrooms, and replacing the home’s wiring and some lighting fixtures — which the couple completed by themselves.

Some of her neighbors don’t have to worry about this laundry list of to-dos, she notes, because those owners (or previous ones) had kept up with re-plastering the walls or preserved the state of the original hardwood flooring throughout the tenure of their residency.

While she admits many of the renovations she’s done thus far have taken a vast amount of time, they’ve all been small-to-medium–sized upgrades. One larger-scale project that Pellegrini is working toward is renovating the kitchen. That’s something Devin Mearig knows a lot about. As the interior designer and project manager of dRemodeling, an East Falls-based remodeling business, she’s just completed work on two kitchen renovation projects in the Mt. Airy neighborhood. 

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In both projects, the homeowners had recently purchased the house and were looking to take the old, somewhat antiquated stylings and operations into modern design and functionality, like replacing dark oak cabinetry with white cupboards.

It’s not only about the looks. What’s on the inside counts too, especially for these older homes. Pellegrini suffered through winters of busted radiators, heating pipes with holes, problems with old-school knob and tube wiring. On the job, Mearig has encountered water damage, termite damage and structural concerns. A major upside of renovating, as any avid HGTV viewer would attest, allows remodeling teams and homeowners to address concerns that could cause major headaches down the line.

“From our end, I’d say it’s [about] uncovering issues,” Mearig says, “because with older homes, the more likely you are to uncover something that needs to be repaired — like plumbing.”