The Decatur Old House Fair in Decatur, Georgia


The Decatur Old House Fair will return in 2016! Stay tuned in for updates. Take a peek at the 2014 Decatur Old House Fair seminars below.

Old-house owners— we know what you’re up against! The Decatur Old House Fair presents a full program of seminars on a variety of topics. Our experts will share their insights and answer your questions about everything from historic wood-window restoration to researching your old house to kitchen and bath solutions to energy efficiency . . . and so much more.

NEW! The Architecture and Career of Leila Ross Wilburn, Georgia’s Second Woman Architect

2:45-4 pm, Mary Gay C
Randall Zaic, Zaic & Associates Architects
Join architect Randall Zaic as he discusses one of Decatur’s notable pioneers, Leila Ross Wilburn. Wilburn has been variously described as Georgia’s first–or second– female architect. Either way, find out more about this trailblazing woman whose classic designs are found in houses, schools, gyms, and more throughout Atlanta.

NEW! Creating a Maintenance Plan for Your Old House

10-11:30 am, Mary Gay D

Laura Drummond, preservation consultant, Atlanta Preservation Associates
They really don’t build them like they used to. Historic houses face the challenges not only of old age, but of old materials and technologies, some of which are not used in home construction today. Too often a one-size-fits-all repair is undertaken without understanding the historic material or the underlying cause of its deterioration. This seminar focuses on identifying what your old house is made of, common problems that occur, and creating a realistic plan to repair and maintain it.

NEW! Creating a Master Plan for Your Landscape

2:45-4 pm, Mary Gay D

Deanna Ozio, Landscape Architect, Pope-Ozio & Associates, Inc.
This is the “big idea” phase of design, where one works with the site’s unique characteristics to realize a property’s potential. Integrate plantings and construction features that complement the overall garden design and architectural style of your home, and whenever feasible select plant materials that will be allowed to mature into natural form. A good master plan creates the structure of a garden, so do it once and do it well. With those “bones” in place, a garden can continue to evolve gracefully through the years.

Energy Efficiency Updates for Older Homes

9:30-11 am, Henry Oliver F

Joe Thomas, home performance consultant, general manager, Renewal System Solutions
Many deficiencies in your old house have simple, cost-effective remedies to increase energy efficiency and comfort. Taking a holistic approach to your home means identifying and correcting problems, ensuring you’re making the right energy efficiency improvements. This seminar focuses on home performance improvements that make your old house feel as good as it looks – without breaking the bank.

NEW! The Goldilocks Chair: Selecting Right-Sized Furniture for Your Older Home

10-11:30 am, Mary Gay C

Wallace Bryan and Lisa Turner, Trinity Mercantile & Design
Many older homes are modestly sized and homeowners can find it challenging to decorate and select furniture for these compact spaces. Interior designers Lisa Turner and Wallace Bryan offer tips on selecting right-sized furniture and design secrets to favor, not fight, your home’s dimensions. They also give great advice on hiring and working with a designer.

NEW! In Over My Head! DIY or Hire a Pro: How to Know

2:45-4 pm, Henry Oliver F

Peter Michelson, Renewal Design-Build
Russ Carnes, Earth Sky Builders

Have you ever thought you could save money by being your own contractor? Maybe you’re addicted to DIY television shows and you’re convinced you can handle that massive re-wiring project on your to-do list? Before you pick up that hammer and set up the sub-trade spread sheet hear from contractors, sub-trades, and a homeowner who have all been through it and seen the results themselves.

NEW! Period Kitchens for Older Homes

1-2:30 pm, Mary Gay C
Heather Shuster, project development director, Renewal Design-Build
Do you gaze longingly at subway tile in the home improvement store? Do you dream of linoleum floors and the retro 1950s dinette you saw at the antique store? Maybe you just want cabinets that look like they were original to your house with modern or retro appliances. Find out how to make your dreams a reality in this seminar on creating a classic and period-appropriate kitchen in your home.

Reviving Old House Chimneys and Fireplaces

1-2:30 pm, Mary Gay D

Phillip Raines, master craftsman
Every old house needs a working fireplace. Nationally recognized mason and author Phillip Raines shares his thirty years of experience explaining methods and procedures to bring an old chimney and fireplace back to life. Phillip describes restoring chimneys and fireplaces built between the mid 1800s to the late 1920s. “Masonry repair can be like archeology, “says Raines, “discovering the motives and means of the past.”

Storm Windows for Old Houses

1-2:30 pm, Henry Oliver F

Bill Clark, architect, Stevens & Wilkinson
We have offered this session every year since 2008 along with the wood window workshop. If you think all storm windows are alike, you need to come to this seminar. Storm window technology has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. A wide selection of options is available and the quality is amazing. Learn from a formerly frustrated homeowner who created his own storm window system and cut his heating and air conditioning bills in half. These aren’t your grandmother’s storm windows. This is one of our most well attended seminars so come early to get a good seat!

Hands-on Workshop

Historic Wood Window Workshop

10 am-noon and 2-4 pm, Swanton Amphitheater

Sandy Crowe, master craftsman, Crowe Development Corporation
We’ve repeated this workshop every year since 2008. Why? We want you to restore your windows and save money! Did you know a properly restored historic wood window has higher e-value than most new windows on the market? Eliminate the unnecessary expense of buying replacement windows and save the character of your home by attending this hands-on demonstration of restoration techniques. You’ll learn the anatomy of historic windows and what are the best tools and products for restoring your windows. Wear old clothes and bring a “can-do” attitude. The number of hands-on participants may be limited but anyone can watch.

Short Bites

Aging in Place

11-11:30 am, Avondale Room
Peter Michelson, Renewal Design-Build, certified aging-in-place specialist
Will you or a family member be living in your home long-term or throughout retirement? Adapt your home to meet the immediate and long-term needs of your active lifestyle and maintain your independence comfortably, without sacrificing modern style and design.

American Small House

9:30-10 am, Avondale Room
Amber Rhea, preservation planner
Sometimes good things come in small packages. The American Small House is the fastest disappearing home type in the Atlanta area due to development pressures. Learn about its value to our history and its contribution to the built environment. It may be small but it’s mighty in its impact on post WWII Atlanta and beyond.

NEW! The Big Flush! A Q&A on Plumbing Pitfalls in Older Homes

11-11:30 am, Henry Oliver E
Michelle Cary, M.Cary and Daughters
Plumbing repairs can cost you thousands of dollars. The pros from M. Cary and Daughters offer advice on avoiding costly plumbing mistakes.

NEW! Insuring Your Historic Home

10:15-10:45 am, Henry Oliver E
Carmel Booth, Booth Insurance Group
Insuring your house for partial or full replacement is an important and necessary expenditure. Find out from an insurance expert how to understand insurance polices and how to make sure if tragedy happens, you are covered.

Lunch and Learn: Painting 101 and Choosing Interior and Exterior Paint Colors

12:30-1 pm, Avondale Room
Ramon De Sanchez, Sherwin-Williams
Bring your lunch and get great advice on best practices for painting.

NEW! Plaster Repair

11:45 am-12:15 pm, Avondale Room
Jim Fuller, contractor extraordinaire
Get plastered with this exciting newcomer to the Decatur Old House Fair! Join Jim Fuller as he offers tips on preserving, restoring, and maintaining original plaster walls. Don’t take the drywall shortcut! Keep this historic feature intact and out of the landfill. Discover plaster’s sound dampening abilities, learn how insulation can be added, and find out how simple it is to maintain.

Historic Tree Care and Maintenance

1-1:30 pm, Henry Oliver E
Mark Livingston, Arborguard
Historic homes are surrounded by historic trees. Learn from an expert arborist about the best practices for feeding, maintaining, and protecting our precious canopy.

NEW! Re-Learning this Old House

11:45 am-12:15 pm, Henry Oliver E
Dan Curl, Comprehensive Home Inspections, Inc.
Learn about the systems that make your old house function including double hung windows, gravity furnace, ceiling height, and attic fans. Learn why homes were built the way they were and how to restore functional elements. Discover how well-intended modifications can disrupt these systems and how to avoid these mistakes.

Researching Your House History

1:45-2:15 pm, Henry Oliver E
Kenneth Thomas Jr., Professional Historian and Genealogist
Discover how to research the history of your house including looking for building records, census data, photographs, etc. in local, state, and federal archives and libraries.

NEW! The American Small House: Sensitive Additions

10-10:45 am, Avondale Room
Stacie Monroe, architectural designer, re:FORM, Inc.
See how the unique American Small House can be expanded to meet the needs of today’s families while respecting its form and function. Don’t tear that house down

NEW! The Smart Home

9:30-10 am, Henry Oliver E
Bobby Wilbanks, Source 1 Solutions
Technology now offers many wireless solutions for protecting and monitoring your home, its occupants, and even its basic systems. These 21st century updates can be easily integrated into your historic home, enhancing its safety and comfort for a new generation. Learn about available options and solutions from area expert Bobby Wilbanks.

NEW! Spending Money Wisely: Saving Money and Financing Dream Projects

2:30-3 pm, Henry Oliver E
Greg Russell, Private Bank of Decatur and Denise Pajak, Private Mortgage Solutions
Dreaming about an addition or a new kitchen? Learn how to finance big projects, what banks look for when lending money, and how to borrow the smart way and save.