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3 top tips to sympathetically restore your period home

29 Jul, 2019

Have you recently bought a period home that is in need of renovation? You may have been seduced by the potential of a ‘fixer upper’, undaunted by the work required to restore the house to its former glory and adding real value to the property in the process. Or perhaps you simply love the splendour and grandeur of Victorian or Edwardian architecture and are motivated to preserve a little bit of our national heritage.


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This victorian style design was created by Lune Noire, Homestyler mobile app user


Either way, historic home renovations require a lot more thought than doing up a modern property. In order to enhance its value, it is essential that any home improvements are in keeping with the architectural period of the original build. Sympathetically restored period homes are hugely sought after in the property market, so it’s worth putting in the effort to tastefully upgrade your historic home.


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This victorian style design was created by Isa Martinez, Homestyler mobile app user

1. Preserve original features


Retaining as much as possible of the original character of the building must be your guiding principle in everything you do. Period features are what define your heritage home; whether large or small you should make every effort to protect them. In addition to obvious architectural elements such as original fireplaces, ornate ceiling cornicing, historic flooring, sash windows and panelled or stained glass timber doors, there are little things including picture rails and light fittings that all add character to your home.

Many period features can be repaired and fully restored – and this should always be the preferred option. Take sash windows, for instance. Did you know that it is rarely necessary to replace original windows? Here’s one expert craftsman who makes a strong case in favour of restoring traditional sash windows.


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This victorian style design was created by glaci mussi, Homestyler mobile app user


Original fireplaces that have become stained, corroded or fire damaged over the years can also be restored. Cast iron can be sandblasted, polished and finished with a black heat resistant paint, while damaged tiles or slate surrounds are easy to replace.

When you lift up old carpets and discover parquet or tongue and groove flooring underneath, this can be a real find. Wooden floors have a charm all of their own and restoring them is well worth the effort. Once any missing or damaged sections have been repaired or replaced, the entire surface should be sanded, then oiled or varnished to bring out the beauty of the wood’s natural grain.

2. Choose replacements carefully


If restoring your home’s period features is not feasible or possible, replacements need to be chosen sympathetically, so that they don’t end up stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. Take your time to scour architectural antique dealers and salvage yards to look for pre-owned fireplaces, reclaimed window shutters or authentic doors that match your building’s architecture. Depending on the architectural era in question and the availability of suitable products, you should not expect this to be a quick process.

As an alternative to sourcing reclaimed furnishings, and possibly yielding a quicker solution, you could also check out suppliers of reproduction items. However, be extra vigilant that these are made to exact specifications and accurately recreate the period style. A bad copy of, say, a Victorian fireplace, will not only be immediately obvious, it will let the rest of your home down.

Take particular care when replacing an original timber front door. Its design, condition and colour are an integral part of the kerb appeal of your home. Your door is the ‘face’ of the house and its mouthpiece too. In Feng Shui, the door is seen as the main inlet for positive energies. Whichever way you look at it, it’s critical to get the visual appeal just right.

Whether you go for a solid wood front door, one with wood panelling or inset stained glass, the important thing is to work with a specialist supplier to ensure you get the perfect result. Here’s a selection of external door styles from Period Projects where reclaimed front doors are offered alongside carefully crafted new timber doors so you can choose the best possible door for your home. Finish off with vintage or reclaimed ironmongery such as a bronze letter plate or brass lion’s head door knocker to complete your historic home renovation.

3. Sympathetic painting and decorating


When all architectural features, fittings and furnishings have been restored or replaced to your satisfaction, it’s time to turn your attention to the interior décor of your period home. You may want the colours to reflect the fashions of the time. Deep greens and rich reds were popular during Georgian times, for instance, while the Victorians and Edwardians tended towards paler pastel shades of blue, pink and cream.

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This victorian style design was created by Kym Puga, Homestyler mobile app user


Choose paint colours with care – paint technology has evolved dramatically in modern times and modern colour ranges may look out of place in an older property. Luckily, it’s not hard to find ‘heritage’ ranges by most of the major brands. These have been accurately recreated from paint analysis in historic properties through the key ages of interior design such as Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco to ensure that they are as faithful to their period as possible.


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This victorian style design was created by Lune Noire, Homestyler mobile app user


Wallpaper was hugely popular in the 1800s (and beyond). Hand printing, continuous paper reels and subsequent roller printing made wallpaper an important interiors trend. Take a look at this glorious selection of 19th century wallpaper including designs from the English Heritage archive. From restrained stripes to relief Anaglypta, dainty florals, botanicals and bold patterns in a wide range of colours, vintage wallpaper will enhance the period charm of your home, whether used for an entire room or a feature wall.


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This victorian style design was created by Rutchevelle Den Ouden, Homestyler mobile app user


Hope you liked this article! Please note that this is a contribution of Annie Button – Make sure you follow her on her Twitter account for more related content: @anniebutton1994 and read her previous article on Homestyler – 5 Top kitchen improvements that will help you sell your home.

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