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What to consider when you’re planning new spaces for a period property

So you’ve moved in, given it a few months to see how you use it and where the light falls – and now you’re ready to update and upgrade your period home.

The biggest trap you can fall into when you’re re-modelling or re-decorating a place like this (especially if it’s listed) is feeling you have to consider the house’s era in whatever you do.

And the second biggest trap is ignoring the fact that it is a period property and not acknowledging that at all.

As an interior designer these are the two most common problems I encounter when helping someone redesign their listed home, or new rooms for their period property.

Let’s get this straight – just because your house is Georgian doesn’t mean you have to try and replicate that era in the family room or kitchen.

And just because you live in a Victorian house you don’t necessarily have to have a Victorian bathroom.

Equally, an ultra urban look with acres of harsh concrete worktops would probably feel wrong in a beamed rural cottage.

When I’m designing for clients we work out together who will be using the house – children, will there be lots of visitors, are there pets, is it a main home or for holidays?

And when the house is older, that doesn’t change. For instance, just because your Victorian house has a separate dining room doesn't mean you have to retain it – would it be better to incorporate it into a kitchen/family room arrangement, for instance?

What I often notice is that older homes have useful rooms that we can re-purpose. Awkward box-rooms can become en-suites or dressing rooms, old washrooms can become modern laundries, or utilities, pantries can be the perfect places to house all the white goods, leaving a kitchen just for food prep and eating.

But another thing I sometimes see are older homes which have been brutally modernised and one of the loveliest parts of my job can be helping the owner decide what to put back; a Victorian fireplace, perhaps, or panelling in a room that’s had it stripped out.

And then there’s the chance you get to combine old with new; sometimes a modern bathroom can look stunning set against the ancient beams and unplastered brickwork of a cottage wall. Modern LED lights can be used to highlight beautiful architectural details.

Of course, the best time to decide all this is at the beginning, before you’ve wasted any time and money.

 As a designer my job is to find out what you want, what your house needs and then to show you a curated collection of ideas which would work for it and for you. I specialise in period properties – I love their quirkiness and solidity. Most of all I love knowing that I’ve helped their owners get the best from them and helped bring new life to their old home.

*Need some clever ideas and design for your home? Contact me on 07784 469 334

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