I’ve been getting lots of questions from you lovely lot about what style I am going for in the new house – not so much with the furniture and styling but more to do with the fabric of the house. The short answer is that I am trying to reinstall as many of the period features as possible and replace what we ripped out in the renovation process. I want the house to have a period feel and look whilst being totally modernised.
Therefore, these are the things that we are doing to add some period character back to the house:
1. Re-installing picture rail, dado rail and coving
Jules and I had a bit of a heated debate about whether or not it was worth the cost to reinstall the picture rails, dado rail and coving. I was adamant that it had to happen as these details are so important to bringing a period feel back to the house and without them you end up with a blank white box, which is basically a new build.
2. Sanding and finishing original floorboards
We have been very lucky that the floorboards in the house are in good condition, especially as we have run out of money for carpet upstairs, which is what I had originally planned. Jules has sanded down the boards and we will finish them once all of the building work is complete before we move in. Our contractor, James, suggested using a mixture of white paint and white spirit as a stain to tone down the orange in the wood and then to oil over the top of that for a matt effect. We will try that as it is cheaper than alternatives and resort to Osmo oil (quite pricey) if not happy with the effect of the paint stain.
2. Period style radiators
One of the things I was very insistent on was that we needed to spend the extra to install column radiators, which feel a lot more in keeping with a period home. Downstairs we were faced with the issue of losing wall space for radiators once they were knocked down so we went for a vertical column radiator that was very kindly gifted to us by PlumbNation and is made by Myson. It fits in very neatly next to the French doors as it is surprisingly slim (something Jules was worried about as he though this style radiator would take up too much space) and isn’t a complete eyesore as some radiators can be. We bought the same style radiators for the rest of the house and it really does make a real difference.
Luckily all the original doors in the house were in tact and we had the added bonus of finding another one in the loft. We had them dipped and they look so lovely now! Getting original internal doors back in place is worth the extra effort even if you need to source them on eBay or the like.
4. Emphasising woodwork
The banisters in this house are one of the things that I love most and along with all the other woodwork including the skirting, architraves, dado rail we have painted it in a colour in order to highlight these period features. I love this before and after shot…
I always find that a fireplace adds instant character and charm to a room as well as giving it a focal point and structure. We have put some little fireplaces back into the two main bedrooms as well as a 1930s fire surround in the living room. As well as this we will try to fix the original hearth tiles upstairs and unfortunately the tiles downstairs are beyond repair so we will source some replacements.
7. Replace front door (I WISH!)
Very sadly I have had to concede to replacing the UPVC front door with a reclaimed original 30s door. We just don’t have the budget at the moment and other things have taken priority. However, changing the door would completely transform the hallway so if you have the option, do it!
The small details that you add at the end of a renovation project make a massive difference and door handles, for example, are one way of adding lots of period charm. I have had such a hard time finding door handles that I like that are within my minimal budget as most are at least £50 for each door. However, I came across these ebonised beehive handles that were only £17 for each door so even though they are not quite of this period the colour works well.
Is there anything that you have done to add period charm back to an old house? I’d love to know about your project or see pics – so many of you have shared pics of your 30s houses with me and it has been so fun seeing the similarities. Do get in touch!