Five Questions...

…for interior designer Kurt Knapstein on renovating old homes

Kurt Knapstein, owner of Knapstein Design, has renovated four older homes for his personal use and countless others for clients. His newest project is a 1935 Tudor near Brookside.

What draws you to old houses?

I’m drawn to established neighborhoods, but what I really love is the challenge. I get excited transforming an older home for modern living.

What are the biggest challenges?

It’s important to think through the reconfiguration of existing spaces. Typically, kitchens were much smaller and sometimes designed for hired help. Obviously that’s not how most of us live today. In the new house I’ll incorporate the former maid’s quarters to make the kitchen a place to entertain friends. Bathrooms usually require the same sort of rethinking.

How do you decide what to keep and what has to be reconfigured?

There are elements of old homes that need preserving. The woodwork in the breakfast room of the new house is charming. I wouldn’t think of taking it out. But I’m planning on making that space a little library. The wood paneling on the fireplace wall of the living room will stay, but its finish will change.

What are the greatest rewards?

Seeing these old homes that have gotten tired come to life again.

Will you renovate again?

Absolutely. But not for a while!