REmodel; REnovate; REstore; What’s the Difference?

Clear communication between owner, contractor, and Architect is critical to a successful home design project.  Agreement on some simple definitions is a good place to start.

Remodeling” is often broadly used to describe any kind of change to an existing house.  Technically it’s more accurate to say that remodel means to change the character of a house or a portion of a house.

A renovated kitchen in Chillicothe, Ohio

So when you convert a den into a master bedroom you’re remodeling the den; when you combine a kitchen and dining room into one large eat-in kitchen, you’re remodeling the kitchen and dining room (this is an extremely popular type of project in our office right now).

“Renovating” is a much more specific term.  It means, quite literally, to make new again. An out-of-date kitchen, updated with new finishes and fixtures, has been renovated.  Replacing old windows with new ones is a renovation project.

A home undergoing restoration in Appomattox, Virginia

“Restoring” a house is sort of the opposite of renovation – instead of updating, you’re making the house like it was before (i.e. you can do a historic restoration but not a historic renovation).  Even if you convert existing spaces back to their original use, you’re still restoring the original rooms.

Removing vinyl siding and fixing up the original wood siding and trim is a restoration project.

Confused? Let’s REview.

Three similar terms, three different meanings.  I remember them this way:

Remodel: changing the use of a space or spaces
Renovate: make a space new without changing its use
Restore: return a space to its original use, and/or return a space to its original character

What do you think – how do you use these definitions?  What other “RE” terms apply to home design?

Need expert Residential Architectural advice for your new home or remodeling project? Contact Richard Taylor, AIA at RTA Studio.

  • What a grand kitchen. I always wanted to have this kind of kitchen. Wide and open. And that natural sunlight can get through the open windows.

    09/04/2011 at 9:49 am
  • Thanks – there's a lot packed into that small space, too. The design gave them a lot more space and function without adding any new area. There are more photos of that kitchen here:

    09/04/2011 at 9:52 am
  • Wow,the renovated kitchen is really looks good and the space is really big.
    I was planning a kitchen renovation and you inspired me here.

    03/27/2012 at 7:00 am

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