Renovating Your Period Home? Here’s What to Keep in Mind

Renovating period home with VELUX heritage window
Renovating your home is a big undertaking, but if you’re renovating a period home, there are a handful of additional things to keep in mind before (and during) the renovation process. Renovating a period home is all about striking the balance between respecting the traditional style and materials, and modernising, in order to optimise comfort. Here’s what to keep in mind when you’re considering your period home renovation.

What is a Period Home?

A ‘period home’ is any house built during a certain period of time with distinctive architectural features, usually refering to homes built before WW1. Particularly popular periods include: Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian, and Elizabethan.

Make a Renovation Plan

It’s obvious, but true: it’s essential to make a plan before you begin your renovation. Planning should include a timeline and budget. If you’re working with a team or contractor, make sure that they are part of the planning process, so that you are aligned before you begin.

Structural and drainpipe surveys can be very useful. If you can’t do this before you purchase, definitely do it before a renovation: this will let you know if you have significant structural damage or if your pipes need to be replaced. If you begin the renovation and then your pipes burst, it will set you back much further in your timeline and financially.

Planning to renovate a period house means doing your research on what the home looked liked originally. Google image search and Pinterest can be helpful here. If you feel comfortable, ask neighbours with houses built at the same time if you can see their interiors, and ask about their experiences with renovation. You may get a great recommendation, or learn what not to do!

Use Traditional Materials - Or Get as Close as Possible

One of the most frustrating parts of renovating a period home can be finding materials that match the original home. Some elements will not be in production anymore. Don’t worry! You have options. Online marketplaces, antique stores, and even salvage sites may have what you’re looking for.

If you really can’t find the original materials, or if you’d prefer something more modern, the next step is making sure the look is a good match for your home. Light fixtures, door knobs, and fittings such as taps can be found new, but made with period-style charm.

Windows are another element that will likely need to be upgraded in order to make sure that they’re safe as well as provide good insulation and ventilation.

Key takeaways
  • Plan your project meticulously, create a timeline, budget, and involve contractors. Prioritise structural and drainpipe surveys to avoid setbacks.
  • Seek authentic or period-style materials, you can explore antique stores, salvage sites, or new products with period charm.
  • Blend old and new, preserve original features, seek period-style elements, and modernise strategically while respecting the home's heritage.

Combining Old with New

By the time you’ve purchased your period home, it’s likely had many previous renovations, and some past owners may have removed period features. That’s a shame! But don’t make the same mistake when you embark on your own renovation.

Interior elements that are typical to period homes include mouldings, interior doors, and architrave (often above and around doors or openings). It’s possible to find companies that specifically work to create period-style elements, so your renovation can easily include designs that match the original look, while still being new.

Restore Original Features

Have some original features in your home that have been painted over or boarded up? It’s often possible to restore them to their former beauty! Elements like paint or carpeting can usually be removed in order to see what’s underneath. Floorboards, metal fittings such as doorknobs, and fireplaces are some examples of original features that may be painted over or covered up.

With smaller restoration projects, it’s possible to DIY many of them: search YouTube for step-by-step guides if you’re not sure how to do it. Larger projects, or ones that require specific knowledge in order to not damage the original features, may require an expert. If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Modernise, but Not Too Much!

Ultimately, renovation is about making your home as comfortable and functional as possible for you and your family. That means you’re going to have to modernise some parts of it. It is likely, however, that you chose your house because you like the period features. These features are what make your house special, and preserving or restoring them adds value to the house should you ever wish to resell.

Don’t make the mistake of simply creating a modern house with a period framework; work with what you have! Modernise where it makes sense, such as in the fittings, windows, piping, and even upgraded materials. At the same time, respect the heritage of the house and make sure to integrate it into your renovation plan

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