When it comes to your period home you are always looking for the best of both worlds. You likely chose your Victorian semi because of its charm and the original features it offers, but with that kind of age comes the inevitable debate whether style trumps comfort.
In this case you might be talking about those rattling real wood sash windows or the soffits that have seen better days.
Whatever your tastes, if you are looking to modernise your home while also being sympathetic to its original features, then this blog is for you. We bring you some tips that manage to combine the best of both worlds, leaving you with a home that simply ticks all the right boxes between style and practical comfort.
The most obvious giveaway of a property’s age. Like its owner, those tale tell wrinkles are a dead giveaway though in this case we’re talking rotten sills, windows that don’t quite close flush and that rattling noise so often associated with old sash windows.
If you’re not a fan of this old fashioned material then you’ll have no problem making the decision to replace them with uPVC equivalents but if you’re looking to retain the wood then you have several other options at your disposal to consider.
Firstly you might try and have them repaired, back up to the standard they would have been when first fitted. A sash window repair company will be able to refit the bearings and sashes that make sure the window opens and closes smoothly and eliminate the rattle with closures that fit snugly. They might also advise you on some traditional looking double-glazing options to give you that extra warmth while staying with the traditional style.
A second option to look at is the half way version, where modern uPVC windows are placed within the existing wooden frames offering a compromise on the original style but giving you the modern convenience of double glazing
Finally, if you’re determined to keep the sash look, there are options that will give you uPVC sash windows replacing all the old wood but keeping the same mechanism – a very modern take on an old style. Whichever approach you decide to take, you’ll then be able to decorate around the windows with PVC window boxes, orchid pots, and other outdoor decor that can improve the exterior design of your house. This way you can keep the character of an old house without spending a fortune on repairs.
PROTECT WHAT YOU LOVE
If you have original brickwork outside then to protect this beautiful feature, prevention is very much better than cure. You’ll shudder at the idea of applying any kind cladding to the front of your property but if your brickwork is looking a bit the worse for wear then think about having them cleaned and repointed. This is a time consuming and messy job and best left to someone experienced who has access to scaffolding if necessary.
It’s also the kind of job that can help protect your period home for many years to come. One of the biggest damaging agents to older properties is water and crumbling brickwork is often one of the first places that water can seep into, damaging the structure and the internal walls of your home as well as the outside.
This also applies to gutters. Clogged gutters lead to overflowing water and that constant drip of water down the wall will, at some point, start finding its way into the house. Have gutters cleared, certainly before the bad weather and make sure to have outlets pointed away from your house and directly into a drain if possible.
Another potential problem area is that of drains. Victorian pipes sometimes struggle under modern demands so it’s well worth having a drain survey done if you’re experiencing any problems with the flow of your water or drainage issues.
ADD CHARACTER WHERE THERE IS NONE
Even if you own a period home, it doesn’t automatically mean that it has character – at least not everywhere. If you find that some of your rooms are a little lacklustre, try to spruce them up a little. Add large abstract wall art, shutters, or put down a thick, lush rug.
If you want to overhaul an entire room, consider adding your own crown moulding, particularly if the room has high ceilings. Nowadays, you can buy stick-on versions, so you don’t have to pay a fortune for an artisan to come in and do it for you.
You can also invest in fireplaces in rooms that wouldn’t ordinarily have one. So, for instance, if you have a box room that doesn’t have a focal point, adding a hearth can make a real difference (even if you don’t plan on using it).
ACCEPT THE QUIRKS
If you live in an older property, you’re bound to have noticed some quirks and unique aspects of your home. Floorboards that aren’t quite level, the staircase that feels a little uneven in places. Rather than feel like you need to rip them up and start again, embrace the history of your home and enjoy what makes it unique.
Starting with your staircase, why not give it a modern Victorian makeover. Sand the stairs back to their original wood and think about a modern stain, grey or darker to create a stylish look. You might choose to fit a carpet runner down the stairs in a slightly lighter colour to create a beautiful contrast and highlighting the original wood. Replace rickety banister rails to complete the look.
Image from Pexels: CC0 licence
And how about that old fireplace? You may have discovered it when you were decorating. A traditional tiled fireplace can transform a room, creating a warm, cosy and colourful effect. If the original tiles are past their prime, why not replace them with some that are more to your taste but that also draw inspiration from the past. A working coal fireplace is a fabulous addition to anyone’s home but if you don’t use the actual fireplace, why not fill it with dried flowers?
Those old cast iron radiators may have seen better days too but by stripping off the old paint and having them checked for leaks, they can make a striking addition to your home with an antique look that is both fashionable and stylish. Combine them with some underfloor heating and your home is going to look great and feel toasty.
Your someone who appreciates style but not at the expense of a warm and comfortable home. While it might feel like you’re running roughshod over the original features of your house, it’s entirely possible to restore them in a sympathetic way while giving yourself a fighting chance of being warm this winter.
Take a look at some of your window replacement or repair options before leaping in with a full uPVC refit. Protect the areas you love by making it hard for water to find its way in and accentuate the unique features of your home that give it that authentic period touch and what drew you to it in the first place. Use your innate sense of style to give your home a gentle makeover.