When it comes to period properties, the beauty of them is in the history. Be it exposed beams, a beautiful fireplace and surround or an arched window, period features definitely make or break a property for me. I adore the quirks, and will squeal with delight at the site of a butlers bell - how decadent!
However, I am also a lover of more modern designed furniture. Having been brought up around antique markets I've got a soft spot for design that nods to its heritage without being all consumed by it. For me, renovation, design and decoration is all about balance and since those features are probably very present (or perhaps hidden behind an old 70s fireplace!) I believe in juxtaposing furniture or colour and creating a focal point of the age of the property.
Fireplaces are often a key feature in an older house, sometimes having been covered up and other times left to be decorated around. Our bedroom and living room both have this lovely feature and although I think the living room surround was replaced a long time ago (I don't think it's the original!) it's still very in-keeping. We decided to take the dark wood to white, bringing it in line with the rest of the decor in the room. Against the inky blue wall, it certainly is the focal point of the room and provides the perfect place for a traditional over-mantle-mirror (upcycled of course!). It appears a lot on my instagram feed because it ALWAYS demands my attention!
Unfortunately, even after a sweep we cant get the fireplace to work and smoke leaks back into the room. So another option could be a wood burner or another heat system that would be in-keeping with the Victorian era.
To accentuate the features even more, we also painted the picture rails in white along the feature blue wall to life them out. I'm hoping to use them for purpose, but we haven't got to printing and framing anything quite yet! This simple colour choice really celebrates their presence in the room and draws the eye up showing off how high the ceiling is - another nod to the age of the property!
The bedroom fireplace was more of a challenge. I loved it with the original looking (hopefully actual original!) tiles in place, but the other half was not a fan at all. This meant coming up with a clever way of preserving them for future valuation, but covering them up for now. Another problem came in the form of a mirror I couldn't say no to, I mean look at it; so beautiful! On initial placement, the frame at the base hung over the edges of the mantle, something I couldn't look past.
We decide that we'd make the mirror work because of how much I liked it and how much more light it brought into what is otherwise quite a dark room. After a bit of a brainstorm, the concept of extending the surround's width to offset how top heavy everything felt was a winner. We bought wooden trim and some sticky back plastic (to temporarily mask the tiles) and fitted it all together. Here's the final look!
Other characteristics to watch out for and make the most of are traditional doors, coving and ceiling roses; depending on the state of these, they could be reinvigorated with a fresh lick of paint in a unexpected colour if you are feeling daring! Sash windows, could be updated with double glazing but kept in a traditional style just like in our bathroom:
The addition of a claw footed bathtub, could add the feeling of the period back into a property and again this could be painted in an unexpected colour - lime, or florescent pink look amazing! There are tons more ideas over on Pinterest I'd love it if you pinned your favourites!
Hopefully that's been food for thought! I'd love to see your old houses with more modern interiors that repect their original features and fittings - it's one of my favourite things about home interiors and renovation! Shoot me a message or tag me in a picture on Instagram: @cushionfort.