Preserving The Past – One Home At A Time

Posted on | April 15, 2012 | 6 Comments

While some people relish the idea of restoring a historic home to its former glory, such a restoration is a much harder and more involved process than it may seem. If you ask Wilmington interior designer and historic preservation specialist Debby Gomulka of Debby Gomulka Designs, it’s just another day on the job.

Images of The Willaims House, Wilmington, NC Courtesy of Debby Gomulka Designs

Debby has a deep appreciation for history, and a special affinity for restoration and preservation projects. For her, “restoring a historic home is like a journey of discoveries waiting to be peeled away one layer at a time.”

Wilmington, North Carolina is well-known for its old-fashioned charm and beautiful historic homes, and that’s exactly what makes it so appealing to Debby. “I like being at the forefront of design, and in Wilmington, purchasing older homes and restoring them to their former grandeur has become increasingly popular,” she notes. “There’s a growing sense of historic pride here. People are now seeking to enliven the community by preserving its past.” The town’s architectural crown jewel is the Bellamy mansion, and many historic homeowners in Wilmington use it as a source of inspiration.

The first step to doing a historic renovation is to get the right people on board from the onset. “It’s very important to have a great relationship with your local historical commission,” Debbie explains. “They can walk you through the process and keep you apprised of restoration rules and guidelines set by your city or state, which can help you avoid costly, frustrating delays. It’s also essential to hire a good, reputable contractor and an architect who understands historic homes. Everyone involved should fully understand the plan and the ground rules of the project.”

Whenever possible, Debby uses actual reclaimed items and existing antiques from a home’s specific era for restorations. She relies on a list of trusted sources, which she makes available to her clients so they can find the perfect items for their homes. 

Restoring a home as close as possible to its original state isn’t the whole story. The home still has to be comfortable for a modern homeowner. “Part of my job is infusing the personality and lifestyle of my clients into the design. That involves taking their life experiences, travels and tastes into account. The restoration is a living space that must be true to the home’s historic roots and also fit the homeowners’ unique vision. As a designer, I add in the modern amenities they appreciate, and combine contemporary artwork and accessories with appropriately selected antiques.”

A Wilmington interior designer, Debby Gomulka Designs provides a full spectrum of design services – from historic preservation of traditional interiors to dramatic contemporary condominiums.

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6 Responses to “Preserving The Past – One Home At A Time”

  1. Juliana rose
    April 19th, 2012 @ 11:51 AM

    Thank you! I appreciate gorgeous restorations!

  2. Dovecote Decor
    April 20th, 2012 @ 5:07 PM

    I just found you on twitter. Back from HP day 1! Come by and say hello! Will you be at market? Hope to run into you.

  3. Liz Hughes
    April 20th, 2012 @ 5:49 PM

    Liz Morten – I went to your blog – you have done a fantastic job navigating the Market ahead of time for folks. Alas, I have other commitments and cannot be there. If you or other Market visitors come across any interesting ‘design finds’ in the showrooms – send me pictures or video to possibly share with readers. Thanks so much!


  4. Liz Hughes
    April 20th, 2012 @ 5:56 PM

    Juliana, this home is indeed beautiful. When I look at the restoration of a home that dates back more than 100 years, I wonder what the family was like that originally lived there, and how they would react to its present state. I believe the family that lived in this home would approve.

    My Best, Liz

  5. Debby Gomulka
    April 29th, 2012 @ 4:46 PM

    The family did, indeed, come back to visit this lovely home on one of the home tours we participated in. Seeing the joy in their eyes after the complete restoration was very special! This was the great, great granddaughter of the lucky young lady who was married in the “Bride’s Room” of this home.

    Very Best, –debby

  6. Liz Hughes
    April 30th, 2012 @ 6:59 AM

    Wow, Debby…That made the project even better for you, I am sure. Thanks for sharing that.


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