Seven Ways to Make the Most of Your Period Home Features

Estimated reading time 7 minutes

If you are lucky enough to own a period home, you might be wondering what the best approach is when it comes to decor and renovation. Should you embrace the traditional features and the quirks that come with them, or reimagine your home for the 21st Century? Well, wonder no more, as we’ve assembled our top tips for making the most of your period home.

1. Retain and celebrate original features

The greatest factor in any heritage home lies in its character and historic interest. If you live in a period property hopefully you feel the same, and want to let the architectural features in your home take centre stage. These details are part of the huge appeal of older homes and we think the best design schemes are built around original features. 

Whether it’s ornate gable trim or stained glass windows, restoring and celebrating these features will not only bring period charm to your home but are also likely to add value. Research has shown that areas with a high density of older buildings have property values up to 50% higher than average, so the focus of any project on a period home should be to protect and enhance its character.

If you are doing renovation works, consider how you can reuse original features to maintain an element of history in the design. This will not only save you money but also preserve the building’s historic features. 

2. Marry old and new 

Many homeowners worry about creating an awkward juxtaposition furnishing their period property with contemporary fixtures, but by selecting the right styles and pieces you can achieve perfect harmony. Opt for contemporary furniture with subtle echoes of the past in the detailing - deep buttoning in upholstery or a canopy bed frame will speak to the history of your home without looking out of place. 

Embrace the original features of the property and take them as inspiration for your interior scheme – why not try using contemporary fabrics to breathe new life into your living spaces?

Of course, the way we live today is very different from the way the original residents of period properties lived, but this doesn’t mean you can’t maintain the character of your property. Modern life requires easy access to electricity, so factor this into your design and consult with an electrician early on if you are doing renovations. Underfloor heating beneath a traditional floor really offers the best of both worlds by providing modern comfort without jeopardising a traditional aesthetic. 

3. Work with your windows

Windows in period properties are usually made out of wood, which can rot over time. If you find that they need replacing, it is always worth checking whether they can be repaired first to retain the heritage of the building and reduce costs. 

If you have no choice but to replace your windows, make sure the new designs are in keeping with the style of your home. Plastic frames will save you money but ultimately cost you, as they will undoubtedly lower the value of your period property. 

Saying this, when it comes to windows you would be forgiven for straying from one original feature - single glazing! Double glazing may not be true to tradition but it will make your property more energy-efficient and will add value to your home. 

4. Make your period home energy efficient

If you’re already making energy-conscious choices with your windows, it’s worth thinking about what else can help save the planet and save you money. 

Monitoring your energy use is the first step to take here, and thanks to a requirement to offer homeowners a smart meter by 2020, most homeowners will be set up with one this year.

One of the most prevalent issues in old houses is airtightness. If your home is heated to a reasonable temperature but still feels chilly, you might consider commissioning a test to see how ‘leaky’ your home is.

Old floorboards are a huge culprit for poor airtightness. Simply laying a large rug can help here, but if you have the budget to fill the gaps in your floor you are likely to save up to £40 per room, per year.

According to Energy.Gov, about 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows. Window shutters provide an excellent way to improve energy efficiency in your period home; they can reduce heat loss through a window by more than 50%. They are excellent insulators and trap the cold air between your shutter and the window, stopping it from reaching your cosy period home. Why not take a look at our vast selection of window shutters?

5. Focus on floors

Although those beautiful and traditional floorboards may be giving you the chills, there are many ways to keep the original flooring in your period property. As we’ve suggested, try underfloor heating or filling the gaps to keep the heat in. During your floor refurb, you might like to channel wealthy Victorian homeowners and consider introducing a beautifully designed border to your floor. A pattern around the edge is a great finishing touch, it can be added for little cost and will also add value to your period property. Maintain your floor with a simple polish to keep the quality and aesthetic.  

Wooden floorboards are not the only period feature you’ll find in historic homes, many older floors would have originally been tiled with decorative, geometric designs. Some properties may still have the original tiles hidden underneath the current flooring, so be sure to take a look and you might find some hidden gems. 

6. Don’t forget the front door

Just as traditional-style windows can add value to your home, the right front door can work wonders in improving your curb appeal whilst maintaining a traditional charm. 

It’s easy to pay homage to your period property with the right front door. An antique wooden door with features like a large knocking handle will add appeal and character to your home. Make sure the door is draught-proof, has secure locks and is freshly painted, polished and treated. Why not look at local flea markets to find unique, traditional door numbers and doorknobs?

7. Keep things cosy

Nothing says period home quite like a cast iron fireplace. Even if it’s not in use, having an original fireplace increases your property's value and is a fitting tribute to the tradition of the place. 

Over the years many properties have had their original fireplaces updated. In fact, many were boarded up in the 1960s and replaced with electric fires. It can be a lot of work but restoring the original piece is worthwhile, and there’s nothing like having a cosy fire burning in an ornate and unique fireplace that reflects the property’s history. 

If your period home doesn't have a fireplace, fear not, as cast iron radiators are a great alternative. Adding both character and value to your property you can find a number of designs that will speak to the heritage of your home.  

Hopefully, these tips have inspired you to cherish the original features in your period home whilst adapting it to work for your family in 2020. Remember, Kingswood at Home specialise in traditional blinds, shutters and fitted furniture, expertly crafted and designed to complement your home, whether it was built in the 1800s or 1980!

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