Does your house tell a story? A new home may be energy-efficient and pristine, but it may be hard-pressed to compete with the charm and lore of an older home. Then again, vintage homes, for all their charisma, tend to have wrinkles, sags, and leaks that reveal their true age.

So which is better, old or new? Some savvy builders are opting for a little of both in an effort to deliver homes with character. Some are doing so by integrating reclaimed or vintage materials as accents inside or outside the home. Others are faithfully replicating historic architectural styles--down to every last cornice detail, porch column, and gable end--in ways that look authentic, but with products and practices that perform like new construction.

Here are some examples of new or remodeled homes that tell great stories.

Photos: Ryan Lowe

Barn Raising
Tommy Sancic’s company, Olde Wood Ltd., recycles vintage wood from old barns and farmhouses that have structurally outlived their use. His personal residence in Malvern, Ohio, which showcases his wares, is arguably packed with more history than some museums.

Clad in random-width pine siding sourced from local farms, the rustic home is topped with an antique slate roof, rusted tin trim, a foundation skirted in reclaimed barnstone, soffits made of old-growth walnut, and exterior support timbers salvaged from an old woodworking shop in Cleveland, circa 1880. (The roof's slate tiles are 9 pounds each, bringing the total weight of the roof to 80,000 pounds.)

The guest suite is paneled in 18- to 22-inch planks rescued from a demolished historic train station formerly located fewer than 8 miles away. Brick pavers in the exterior landscaping were sourced from industrial buildings in Cleveland’s Flats area.

In addition, the home’s kitchen cabinets, flooring, backsplash, fireplace, support beams, floor joists, stairs, bathroom vanity, and shower tiles are all made from reclaimed materials. All wood available through Olde Wood Ltd. is de-nailed, kiln-dried, and milled as dimensional lumber.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Appleton, WI, Austin, TX, Napa, CA, Cleveland, OH.