The charm and character of an older house can sometimes be offset by the frustration of finding the right company or information when it’s time to maintain or update such homes. That was the thought behind Decatur’s annual Old House Fair—now in its fourth year. It comes to the Courtyard by Marriott Atlanta/Decatur Conference Center in downtown Decatur on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Hosted by the city of Decatur in partnership with the Georgia Historic Preservation Division and the DeKalb History Center, the fair had been a dream for the city for many years, according to Regina Brewer, Decatur’s preservation planner and the fair’s organizer. “When I came on board here it became one of my first projects,” she said. “There are so many homes in DeKalb County that are 50 years old or older. Not all home maintenance companies know how to work on such houses. At this fair, we have many vendors who understand old houses—the plumbing, the paint, the windows. They’re not going to do anything to damage the character of house.”
While “historic” house is usually defined as one that’s 50 years old or older, Brewer said there will be lots of information for owners of houses 40, even 30 years old. DeKalb County has many ranch-style houses, she said, referring to a narrow rectangular style of house that was popular in the middle of the 20th century. “If that’s what you’ve got, come on. We’ve got lots here for you.”
Experts and exhibitors are the main draw for the day-long event that usually attracts approximately 300 visitors, though Brewer said there would be no problem accommodating more people. With a large exhibit hall of professionals, retailers and suppliers specializing in home improvement, historic preservation, and interior furnishings, the fair offers homeowners the opportunity to either learn to restore, renovate, preserve and maintain their old houses or find a reliable contractor they can hire to do it for them.
Installing an additional bathroom is a common project for owners of older homes, Brewer said. “Builders used to put only one bathroom even in relatively large houses,” she said. “That just doesn’t work for today’s families, but figuring out where to put a second bathroom can be a challenge.”
Because the event is the only home show in the Southeast focused entirely on older homes, visitors to the fair aren’t necessarily from DeKalb County or even from the metro Atlanta area, Brewer said. “I remember someone last year who had driven from Waycross,” she added.
This year, featured speakers will include television personality Jodi Marks, co-host of Today’s Homeowner, who will present “Fun Projects to Enhance Your Home” and, Roger Moss, nationally known exterior paint color expert, whose topic will be “Exterior Paint Colors from the 19th Century to Mid-Century Modern.”
There also will be 30-minute “short bite” lectures on such topics as electrical 101, plumbing 101, selecting exterior colors, aging-in-place and chimneys 101. Traditional seminars include such topics as researching your old house, landscapes for historic homes, energy efficiency and storm windows.
“The wood window workshop is so popular we’re offering it twice,” Brewer said.
For the complete seminar schedule, exhibitor details and ticket information, visit www.DecaturOldHouseFair.com.