Living in a period home is a lot of fun, especially if you’re somebody who loves their history. However, such houses also have their downsides. For instance, kitchens weren’t the center of the home when the Georgians and Victorians were designing their buildings. As a result, space is very limited, and you’re often forced to entertain guests in other rooms. Equally, many period properties are just plain old and simply can’t facilitate many of our modern-day amenities. Wiring work that hasn’t been replaced since the original electrification of the home can leave a lot to be desired.
At the same time, owners of period properties want to retain the character of their homes, even after a redesign. Thus, it’s a balancing act: on the one hand remodeling a period property so that it provides all the things that modern living demands while at the same time preserving elements that make it interesting. After all, people only buy period homes to escape the monotony of modern builds.
So if you’re the kind of person who loves history, what can you do to preserve your period home while also bringing it bang up to date?
Avoid Trappings Of Contemporary Design
Many interior designers will try to convince you that you can successfully marry the modern and the classic in interior design. But the truth of the matter is that it rarely works. Bi-folding doors, despite their apparent utility, can never look at home paired with a Regency interior.
If you really want to update a Victorian home, it’s best to stick with modern incarnations of contemporary fittings. Rather than going with sheet glass – a 20th-century invention – stick with the kinds of doors and windows that would have been available at the time. Classical home designers, just like modern home designers, wanted to blend outdoor and indoor spaces, they just had very different ways of doing it. Whereas today it’s decking and glass sliding doors, in the past it was pavilions and bay windows.
If you really want to bring the outside into your home, a traditional conservatory is probably the best bet. Whatever you do, make sure you avoid plastic double glazing.
Leave Some Walls Exposed
Redesigning a period home from scratch often involves a lot of work. Walls have to be replastered, foundations need to be damp-proofed and rotting support beams removed. But the good news is that you might not need to completely redecorate to the original specification. More often than not, period homes contain hidden gems – design features you never knew were there until you peered beneath the surface.
For instance, in the 1950s and 1960s, many homeowners ditched traditional stone tiles for vinyl instead. It’s not uncommon to find several layers of vinyl down in the kitchen or the bathroom, covering up otherwise beautiful period tiles.
Equally, because period homes were made of brick, rather than breeze blocks or concrete, exposed interior walls can be stunning. If you’re renovating and stripping back the plasterwork, think twice before covering it all up again. Could a bare wall be incorporated into your design?
Preserve The Floorboards
Floorboards in modern homes are usually made from cheap, untreated wood that splinters really easily. But period properties often come with hardwood floorboards, something which should be celebrated and emphasized.
In the past, these floorboards would have been covered up by carpets. But today, it’s fashionable to rip up the carpet, repair the floorboards if required, and then leave them exposed for all to see. Nobody said that renovating floorboards was an easy job, but the effect can be stunning if you get it right.
Invest In New Classical Pieces
Most homeowners today wouldn’t want to live in a home as it was in the Victorian era. Though they might like the look, Victorian period homes fall short when it comes to functionality. As a result, those who want to renovate their period properties should look for new pieces that are made in the classical style. Old-style 2 column radiator designs look the part, but they are a nightmare to manage. On the other hand, modern equivalents are easy to install and maintain. The same goes for things like boilers, cookers and bathing equipment. Victorians didn’t have shower heads – at least in the way we understand them – but there’s nothing to stop you from getting a shower head designed in the spirit of the era.
There’s no need to go raiding antique shops for furniture either if you don’t want to. There are plenty of modern takes on period designs, all made in ways that make them a lot more functional and durable than the originals.
Go For Dark, Moody Hues
Most period homes were constructed one to two hundred years before the world was introduced to hippies. Back then, things were a lot more conservative, and rainbow colors did not rule the day. Most Victorian homes had bare walls, or walls painted in dark, moody colors. If you own a period property, you can do the same, focusing on dark greens, browns, and reds in the living room and hallway.
The great thing about dark colors is that they provide the perfect backdrop for focal points, like fireplaces and artwork. Try putting a single picture about the mantelpiece in the living room and pairing in with a sea-green or dark red paint job.
Keep The Sash Windows
Double-glazed windows might offer you home better energy efficiency and greater security, but when paired with a period home, they can ruin the look. The great thing about modern day sash windows is that they can solve many of the problems that plagued the originals. Not only can you get double-glazed varieties, but modern-versions don’t leak like many of their historical counterparts. What’s more, they require little maintenance. There are a variety of companies today that can supply double-glazed sash windows – something which can be handy if you’ve got planners on your back.