From a smart terraced house in Bear Flat to a palatial, double-fronted home in the Wiltshire countryside…keen to preserve the period beauty of your Victorian property but not at the expense of contemporary style and functionality? Try our top 5 tips on how to renovate your Victorian house:
1. Preserve the period
If you’re lucky enough to have a home with some, or even all, of the original Victorian period features still in situ, then start by deciding what you can refurbish or restore. Sash windows are an obvious Victorian classic and add bags of character, both inside and out. A specialist can work wonders with even the most neglected timber box sash frames, applying some much-needed TLC and restoring them to their former glory. If the sash windows are long gone or beyond even an expert’s help, think about introducing some quality authentic replacements. Whether you opt for wood or a decent PVC replicate sash (probably the lowest maintenance solution), your house will definitely thank you for it.
2. Fake it
Even if your home is devoid of any original Victorian features, you can still inject some character with a few carefully chosen architectural additions. Panelled doors, for example, window shutters, Victorian-style fireplaces, intricate cornicing, deep skirting boards, old-school radiators and even dado rails can all be replicated fairly easily. If you are prepared to put some work in, try your local reclamation yards for authentic pieces. It might require a bit more effort in the long run, but it’s great fun looking and the results will speak for themselves.
3. Add a modern touch
Don’t be afraid to embrace the contemporary. If your Victorian terrace is too small, consider a full or part side-return extension to give a bigger, open-plan kitchen/living space and consider using modern materials – glass, wood and even slate is always a crowd pleaser – to create something really special that contrasts (as oppose to blends in) with the original Victorian house. Inside, the same principle applies. Try mixing the old with new: a bold, contemporary light fitting, juxtaposed against an ornate central ceiling rose, for example, can look really stunning. More on that below…
4. Don’t shy away from colour
When it comes to home décor, it’s tempting to stick to an all-white or muted palette to maximise those high ceilings and showcase all that beautiful Victorian cornicing. But if you’re feeling bold, experiment with something darker on the walls, such as a deep, oxblood red or a rich, heritage green. Still unsure? Try a dark colour below the dado and a lighter tone above, or go for something in-between, like a mid-grey or deep rose on the walls and a bright white on the woodwork and ceiling to accentuate the detail in the mouldings and ceiling roses.
5. Upcycle…with a twist
Unless you’re a design purist, furnishing your Victorian period home can be tricky: how do you achieve a look that embraces the old and yet celebrates the new? One idea is to pick up an original piece of furniture – a wing back chair, for example, or an old footstool – and have it reupholstered in an eye-catching fabric to create a unique, statement piece. Or how about a vintage bureau, transformed with just a few coats of chalk paint and some wax. Too much effort? Try a classic Ercol love seat and then add a pop of colour with some simple, brightly-coloured cushions. The trick is to go for the unexpected: an antique table or a classic Eames chair alongside a modern, geometric-inspired copper light, anything that will provide an element of contrast to the classic Victorian details. Get this right, and you will be rewarded with truly beautiful home.