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Why Do We Restore?

Why Do We Restore?I just returned from a much needed 10-day vacation visiting friends and family. Over that time, I had a lot of time to slow things down and do some long overdue reading and reflecting.

It wasn’t long before I knew exactly what I wanted my first post of the year to be. There was one question that kept coming to my mind and to be truthful I didn’t have a good answer.

Why Do We Restore?

I’m sure the answer is different for all of us, but I suspect we’re not that far off from each other. What is it that we are really doing when we choose to restore instead of replace? Why do we do it?

Why are we the crazy ones who want to restore these crumbling old buildings, yet the people who want to tear them down are considered the “normal” folks? I want to know your thoughts.

This isn’t a post to just read and and learn a handy new skill. If we’re serious about saving our historic buildings (starting with your own house) we need to know why we’re doing it. Swinging a hammer just because you can isn’t enough.

What Are We Selling?

One of the books I was reading was about business and it posed the question “What are you really selling?”

Easy enough I thought, “I sell preservation and restoration.”

Then, like all good books do, it made me look at things a different way. The author spoke about how the CEO of Revlon makeup had been interviewed and he answered the same question but much better than I did. “Yes, we sell makeup, but what we are really selling is hope.”

Brilliant! Revlon sells hope for their customer. Hope that they will look more beautiful, hope that they will be happier, hope for more success, hope they will fall in love. Who doesn’t want to buy hope?

So when it comes to preservation, what are we selling? (this one is especially for any of you preservation professionals!) If we don’t know what we are selling, how are we supposed to sell it? And why would anyone want to buy?

My Answer

How I wish I had an answer for you. I’m still reeling from this discovery myself and I was hoping to crowdsource the solution with my awesome readers like you.

So, I’ll get the ball rolling…

On this blog, I’m selling hope too. Hope that it can be saved. Hope it’s not too far gone. Hope that you CAN do it yourself. Hope that you can learn to do it yourself.

But that’s only one side of the story.

What am I selling for the clients who work with my restoration company? Is it beauty? Craftsmanship? Trust? Yes to all of them, but that doesn’t answer the “why” behind it all.

  • Why do people want their windows restored?
  • Why do people want to save their old plaster?
  • Why do people restore their old hardwood floors?

Yes, it’s the rich character, the beauty of the wood, the harkening to another time, the history that surrounds them, but what else?

If you had to boil it down to one sentence, what would it be?

I’m putting together an exciting project this year and I need your help.

Answer this question:

I restore because ___________.

Tweet it, post it to my Facebook, email me, comment below. I don’t care how you answer it, but give me your best explanation of why you restore old buildings. What drives you? I want to know.

I’ll be collecting everyone’s responses and putting together something very cool over the next couple months.

Thanks for being a part of it all and for helping to save our history!

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14 thoughts on “Why Do We Restore?

  1. I restore to have a closer connection to my past. To preserve the examples of craftsmanship and methods of days gone by and leave these structures for future generations to appreciate and marvel at. As well as provide inspiration from the artistic detail common on older structures yet lacking from the box type structures of today.

  2. I restore because I Respect. I respect the Heart & Soul of every person who ‘did their best’ in their work. From the lumberman to the glass maker, to the alchemist who created the finishes. All of it, I want to Respect their Lovely work.

  3. I restore because I believe reducing waste and reusing what we have are among the best ways to support the sustainability of this planet–by reusing a building in lieu of new construction/materials you are doing both!

  4. I restore because I value authenticity…I want the real deal. I don’t want a reproduction or an imitation or a “new and improved” replacement if I can have the real thing. Thanks for asking a great question, Scott!

  5. I restore because repairing well built old things is almost always more satisfying and less expensive than buying newer often poorly built items. Houses, cars, electronics, etc. are included.

  6. We restore to preserve and enhance our sense of place in the increasingly homogenized, one size fits all, off the shelf, far too often disposable world we’ve created for ourselves. It lends us a sense of belonging and having shared intimately in the history of those who’ve come before us, and allows us to do the same for those coming along after we’ve departed. We restore because it warms our souls and connects us to these places we live in and around and call home.

  7. I restore because I recognize and appreciate quality. If it were even possible to buy products of the quality found in my 90 year old house, I could never afford them. In addition to quality, I appreciate things that can be repaired, like my original wood windows.

  8. I heard something the other day that sums it up for me, on the show “The Librarians” of all places, “Architecture is art in three dimensions.”

  9. I restore because old structures are one of a kind and I hate the cookie world we are becoming. I restore because old structures can be cozy, warm, quirky, elegant and have soul that is nearly impossible to replicate in new structures. I restore because it is my hobby and it gives me a never ending list of projects that give me a sense of accomplishment when they are completed.

  10. I restore because it reminds me of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, who has come into the world to restore, redeem and heal all of creation.

  11. I restore because the wood that was used years ago was such quality. There is nothing like it in today’s market. Homes were built to last. Our home was built in 1920. The window’s and door’s are beautifully made. Totally worth restoring.

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