Photo Essay of Historic Rehabilitations by Silent Rivers

Working on a historic rehabilitation project is always a special endeavor for the Silent Rivers team. As we uncover a home’s history and personality, sometimes it’s like being Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple out of an Agatha Christie book – the smallest details and clues can provide the biggest inspirations. Every one of these details is important to creating the home’s rehabilitation plan.

 Windows on a Des Moines Victorian house before undergoing historic preservation by Silent Rivers

Often our team has the opportunity to work on an older home that is full of character and charm. Sometimes a previous owner has neglected the home; sometimes age and time have taken a toll on the elements. With expertise in historical preservation and rehabilitation, we leverage our skilled craftsmanship to the project and the results are rewarding to all. Below are several examples and techniques we have used in our practice.



Before, during and after of a front porch column restoration on a 1921 Des Moines home

The column had rotted away from years of water damage. We cleaned out the rotted wood down to the solid wood then used a special weather-resistant composite to sculpt the column base to its original shape. The restored column was then given a fresh coat of paint.

This front porch column was part of a 1921 home restoration. The porch on this lovely older home had deteriorated and needed attention. Instead of replacing it with a fiberglass unit, our team cleaned the rotted wood and repaired it to its original beauty. You can see that it was well worth the effort.



Cast iron floor grate in a Victorian bathroom remodeled by Silent Rivers

We restored the original floor register to maintain the bathroom’s character.

In this historic bathroom renovation in an 1890 Victorian home, we paid special attention to several existing elements. This floor register was so beautiful and characteristic of the period, so we repaired and accentuated it by selecting a style-appropriate floor register in a contrasting color. A traditional black-and-white color scheme worked perfectly. It is also worth pointing out that the cabinet is set back intentionally to line up with the floor register – an example of a design subtlety in our work.



Victorian bathroom remodel by Silent Rivers featuring a toilet with remote tank and a ceramic shower faucet

We used hexagonal tile and new fixtures designed to match the character of a turn-of-the-century bathroom.

When working on a historic renovation, we are careful to research and source fixtures that are appropriate to the style and age of the home. These details contribute to a special feeling and connection with history without sacrificing the convenience of modern functionality. From a toilet with a remote wall tank and a special toilet paper holder to a white ceramic shower control valve and restored button light switches, all these small elements are key when preserving the original style of this bathroom.



Historic window preservation efforts by Silent Rivers

Silent Rivers artisans carefully measure, catalogue, repair and reinforce the joints of the original window components. Each window gets a complete makeover to ensure it is in good working order for years to come.

Window restoration is one of our most-requested historic home projects. Although true that window restoration can be a time-consuming project, this is an essential part of honoring the home’s original design and a responsible thing to do for buildings with historic significance. This window restoration project involved careful cataloguing of the window inventory. Then one by one, we stripped and restored the wood sashes, glass, weather-stripping and mechanisms for each opening.



Restored butler's pantry in a Victorian Des Moines home

The butler’s pantry now looks much like it would have in early 1900’s when it was first built.

Another unique restoration was of the wood paneling and butler’s pantry built-in cabinetry in a turn-of-the-century home. The wood’s old finish was peeling off badly. But instead of replacing the cabinets and the oak details, we worked carefully on repairing, reconditioning the finish and applying traditional flake shellac to restore the luster and durability of the elements.


The Silent Rivers team handles each of these historic restoration and rehabilitation projects in a sensitive manner. Our clients appreciate our extra care and the research we do to deliver beautiful, functional and age-correct renovations for their homes. See more of our Historic Preservation projects



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