Live in a Crooked Old House? Here’s a Great Tip from Genevieve Gorder

We love old homes for their charm and character. But we don’t love topsy-turvy floorboards that make us feel like we’re out to sea. Barring expensive structural work, what’s a symmetry-loving gal to do? Genevieve Gorder, interior designer (and host of Best Room Wins), says it’s as simple as a wall of built-in bookshelves. Let us explain. 

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crooked house

The Problem
Your room pitches downward: either a result of a sinking foundation or old-school building methods. 

The Fix
We’ve watched Gorder flip old, historic homes masterfully since her days on the OG cast of Trading Spaces. So when she stopped by PureWow HQ for a recent visit, we just had to ask her thoughts on this tricky design woe: “If your floor pitches one way or another, build up the end of the room where it tips down,” she advised. Specifically, add built-in bookshelves or media units that disguise the slope. 

How? Run the shelves so they are square with the room and perpendicular to the ceiling. As a result, you will have more room between the bottom shelf and the floor on the sloped side than you have on the non-sloped side. Unless your slope is really pronounced, this won’t be noticeable. But even if it is, you or your contractor can add a faux front panel to better blend it into the floor. Plus, says Gorder, “Custom built-ins always add value to a home.”

The Finished Effect 
What sloping floorboards? To complement your wall of built-ins, layer in lush textiles, large furnishings and pretty decor—all of which distract from the room’s wonkiness—without detracting from the historical charm.


Home Editor

From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.