In Europe buildings are generally built to last. And last. And last… Meaning we end up living in hundreds-years’ old buildings. Whereas the charm is undeniable, modern comforts are obviously lacking.

So Europeans have gotten really got at updating old structures. Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes it’s ultra cool. Sometimes it’s provocative. Sometimes even humorous.

Most modern updates and upgrades fall somewhere between the “subtle” and “ultra cool” category. There’s a huge respect for architecture and the character that comes with old buildings. And they were built to last and therefore not deemed “disposable” so we work with what’s there. But Europeans also like luxury and the comforts of modern living. So we have become experts at updating old structures in a very respectful way, making old and new work together in perfect harmony, with a hefty dose of “cool” thrown in for good measure.

Then there’s the new additions to old structures. Europeans have enough “old” buildings that it does not occur to them to build something new and try to make it look old. When I first moved to the US I was utterly confused and horrified by the factory-made “distressed” look of wood floors or furniture, with obviously repetitive hammer marks or scratches. Things are either old or they’re new, they shouldn’t try to be what they’re not. But that’s just my opinion…

And seemingly also that of many other European architects. The pictures below are great examples of ultra modern additions to old homes. Not everyone is going to love it, but you have to appreciate the unapologetic vision and audacity, and they certainly make a statement. Hey, it worked at the Louvre…

And sometimes you come across a whole other level of open-mindedness and even humor that is just really inspiring. If there’s almost nothing left to use, use it anyway! The amount of character some old walls can offer is astounding. Old and new go together in ways that aren’t obvious, you just need to be open-minded and inspired and magic happens!

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