About the Book

How can you expand the tiny kitchen of a 1920s bungalow without losing its rich, vernacular style? Is it possible to build a guest cottage that enhances the traditional character of an adjacent old house? What mechanical and electrical retrofitting is required to bring an 1850s Greek Revival gem up to modern standards, without discarding its vintage radiators?

When it comes to renovating or adding on to a historic home, questions of proper craftsmanship and design abound. Renovating in a way that upholds the character and integrity of the original house is not always easy, but this book—written by two of the nation’s most respected old-house professionals—provides a veritable blueprint for doing just that.

A must-have primer for historic preservation–minded homeowners, architects, and designers, The Vintage House is the first comprehensive guide to achieving truly compatible, stylistically resonant additions and renovations. It details the basic parameters around which vintage houses can grow, how to make a “conditions survey,” and how to fully understand what you have to start with

Mark Alan Hewitt and Gordon Bock carefully explain the preparations that are fundamental to renovation and walk you through the various aspects of intelligent rebuilding—how to work within the existing footprint of a home, blend in additions that “stay in tune,” expand heating and cooling systems discreetly, maintain a “face,” or facade, in keeping with a home’s codified style (be it Colonial, Cape Cod, Tudor, etc.), select authentic materials, and much more. Also included is advice on meshing sustainable building practices, such as geothermal heating, with an already built house (the greenest house there is).

The authors’ expert perspective on dealing with historic houses offers a wealth of new design ideas as well as problem-solving technologies such as corner bathroom fixtures. Richly illustrated with more than 200 color photographs, plans, and drawings from nationally recognized architects, this book offers invaluable analysis and nuts-and-bolts guidance that will help any old-house homeowner or professional preserve the essence of a vintage treasure.

The Vintage House, Table of Contents

  1. Conserving Vintage Houses
  2. How Do Houses Grow?
  3. Understanding What You Have
  4. New Spaces in Old Places
  5. Additions That Stay In Tune
  6. Blowing Hot And Cold (HVAC)
  7. Facing The Neighborhood
  8. Outstanding Outbuildings
  9. The Real Deal (Materials)
  10. The Long View


“The greenest house is the one that lasts the longest. In a useful book that is part architectural history primer and part building manual, Mark Alan Hewitt and Gordon Bock show how old houses can be given new life—sensibly and beautifully.”

Witold Rybczynski, author of Makeshift Metropolis

“The Vintage House will convince any homeowner that treasured houses deserve thoughtful renovations. With a blend of inspiration and information, Hewitt and Bock make the case that quality design and a healthy respect for history yield brilliant results. Follow their suggestions and you just can’t go wrong.”

James H. Schwartz, editor in chief, Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation