I love sparkling fresh spaces brought to life from old – even ancient – structures. Those who do it well respect the existing elements like arches, deep window sills, courtyards, stairs carved from bedrock foundation and other things designed by necessity more than to satisfy some aesthetic requirement.
Renovating a run-down, neglected space highlights those elements so you get the best of both worlds: bright, open-feeling, livable spaces within the venerable old bones, quirky proportions and age-old personality of a purpose-built space, like a mill or a barn. With modern and ancient coexisting you are reminded daily to honor the craftsman.
Here is a nice example by MGM Arquitectos found on Archidose, via Judit Bellostes.