What It Actually Means When Someone Says a Home Has “Good Bones”

published Apr 27, 2019
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We’ve all heard the saying “This home has good bones” but what does that really even mean? In most cases, it seems to refer to the architectural integrity of a structure — but when it comes to actually defining which specific features earn a place the description of “good bones,” most of us are left drawing a blank.

To help us break it down, we called on real estate extraordinaire Brenda McIntyre, owner of Brenda McIntyre Realty for the scoop. Read ahead for five things to look for when determining whether a house has “good bones” or not.

1. It Has a Solid Floor Plan

“A streamlined layout has everything to do with good bones.” McIntyre says. “The existing structure has to have a good floor plan for how people live today: a good flow between the public-and-private rooms and lots of usable living space.”

2. Only Minor Renovations Are Necessary

“If a home is sturdy with a good, solid roof and foundation, a great deal can be done on in the inside.” McIntyre explains, “Usually, when there are good bones, minor renovations and personal decorating are all that needs to be done to complete the place.”

3. There’s Room to Breathe

Much like a flexible layout, McIntyre believes good bones call for an open, airy ambience; with lots of natural light. “Oversized windows (especially floor-to-ceiling ones) and high ceilings are essential for good bones,” she explains. “Not only to open up a place, they bring in more natural light.”

4. Interesting Architectural Details Abound

“Look for elements like exposed beams, beautiful paneling, baseboards, chair railings, intricate moldings, and elaborate fireplace mantles when deciding if a space has good bones.” McIntyre says, “Core architectural features like these create a great infrastructure for developing your personal style.

5. Two Words: Hardwood Floors

“‘Good bones’ can be very arbitrary phrase because what may be attractive to some may not appeal to someone else’s personal taste,” McIntyre adds. “However, it seems the one thing that’s universal to all homes with good bones are authentic hardwood floors— which add a sense of contrast and depth to an open space.”

How to Make the Most of Good Bones

Lucked out and found yourself living in a home with a great design foundation? Decorator PJ Mehaffey of Alchemy Eclectic shares his tips for designing a solid space.

1. Highlight your architecture: “Beautiful architectural details deserve to stand out. Paint intricate panel doors in an unexpected color or wallpaper the backs of built-in bookcases with a bold pattern to make a statement.”

2. Find fragile furnishings: “Look for leggy or airy pieces of furniture that allow the glorious architecture of a room to really shine.”

3. Go big: “High ceilings call for large, oversized statement pieces—such as sculptures and artwork— that draws the eye upward.”

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Re-edited from a post originally published 04.25.2018 – LS