Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

If you manage to scrape together enough money to buy a period house in these expensive times, it’s quite likely it will need some work doing. Moving in to a pristine, beautifully restored period home sounds wonderful, but in reality, not many of us can afford it.Instead, we go the alternative route.  If we simply must have an old house compared to a new build, we move in to an old house that requires plenty of work, love and elbow grease – but at the end of it, we have a beautiful home improved to our own specifications, designed and decorated in our own personal style.  Hands-on home restoration is not something to be taken on lightly because it can take a while to achieve, but in the long run, results usually far exceed expectations and your investment in time and money is worthwhile.

Historical update

To get the right look for renovations in a period home, decide early on which style you intend to adopt.  Old homes with a contemporary twist can look amazing, but consistency is key. The aesthetic and approach needs to tie in with a modern renovation and will be undermined by inappropriate fixtures and fittings added along the way. A blend of ancient and modern can look excellent, just be mindful of keeping a balance between not going too twee or too cutting edge – there’s a fine line to be walked.  A pure, minimalist and pared down treatment of timber floorboards, panelling, plasterwork etc should be observed when aiming for a more contemporary feel. Get inspiration from architectural magazines which feature old farm buildings or historic homes, dragged into the 21st century with a good dose of stainless steel staircases, glass floors, skylights and modern materials that thrive in an ancient setting.

Historically true

If you decide to be faithful to the era in which the house was built, it is your job to source architecturally sympathetic materials and fittings to reawaken the innate beauty of the house. Yes, you are totally in love with your new house, but you need to take a step back and try to see its imperfections. The chances are there will be a lot of basics that need replacing or improving upon.

A home with old rotten sash frames can be transformed with replacement timber windows – the modern versions of this old window style are historically accurate in appearance, yet boast the benefits of technological advances. Roofing, guttering and drainage are all likely candidates for an upgrade, the best thing is to get expert advice and ask them to give a sliding scale of urgency to jobs. This will help you with  scheduling an order of works and budgeting.

Acquaint yourself with local salvage yards where architectural treasures abound. If you need some local stone, balustrade, floor tiles, interior doors, bath tubs or sinks, fireplaces, mouldings, ironwork even exterior lighting and garden statuary, get the salvage dealer on speed dial to make sure you don’t miss out on any authentic, gorgeous house goodies.

When making changes to a house of historical significance, it may be necessary to get extra permissions. If the house is listed, research the implications this will have on your plans. There can be restrictions placed upon interior and exterior changes you make on old buildings – the golden rule is to start asking questions early, planning, permissions and any appeals can be lengthy processes.

Period paints

Once the structural aspects have been nailed (so to speak!) you can move into the fun part of deciding on décor and interior design schemes. Whether you’re going for the modern or traditional look in your home, authentic period paint colours always look fabulous. Heritage shades in heavily pigmented paints instantly bring a sense of drama to an interior. Typically, deep shades such as blues, olives, scarlet and greys all create a timeless and historical feel that sets the tone for the rest of the room. Avoid modern finishes which shimmer and reflect too much light, matt paints with a dull glow give the most authentic results. Most DIY warehouses do their own interpretation of historical paint ranges, take a look and be pleasantly surprised by the choices available.

Upgrading a period home is a really satisfying way of getting the home that’s perfect for you. Don’t let the age of a project deter you, with the new building technologies, fittings and materials available today, house renovation couldn’t be simpler…

Leave a Reply