Tips for Renovating a Victorian Property

Tips for Renovating a Victorian Property, Architecture and Interiors Images

Tips for Renovating a Victorian Property

Property Interiors Design, Create a Beautiful, Light-filled and Modern Home – Architectural Article by Houzz

29 Aug 2017

Tips for Renovating a Victorian Property

Be inspired by the renovation of this Victorian terrace and see how to create a beautiful, light-filled and modern home

Full article first published on Houzz

Victoria Harrison, Houzz Contributor

Are you looking for ways to modernise your Victorian or period home? This pretty London terrace, home to interior designer Holly Canham and her family, is packed with clever ideas on how to modernise an older property.

Canham, who co-runs design studioCanham & Hart, knew that she wanted to live in a period property and she also knew she wanted one that was a fixer-upper. “We wanted a period property we could fully refurbish to suit our own style and taste,” she says. To do that, Canham and her husband Hugh undertook a full refurbishment of their new home with the help ofVorbild Architecture. The update included, among other things, a side-return kitchen extension and a loft conversion.

Here are some lessons to learn from their smart renovation.

Open up living spaces
Older properties with several small rooms can sometimes feel dark and cramped, so opening up the interior is an instant way to bring a breath of fresh air to a period home.

One of the first things Canham decided to do when renovating her home was to knock through downstairs to create an inviting double reception room with a dual aspect. The ground floor still has two clearly defined areas, but each room now benefits from the light flooding through the connecting archway.

If you’re interested in opening up the ground floor of your period home, talk to a structural engineer or design professional and think carefully about the way you will use the new space. Retaining a section of the dividing wall, as here, can help to maintain the feeling of two separate rooms, while still helping to get plenty of extra daylight into both spaces.

Mix old with new
Canham has decorated throughout with pale paint colours and contemporary furniture, but she has also made sure to weave in a few vintage pieces such as this characterful chair in the living room. “There are various antiques and vintage finds dotted throughout the property to add character,” she says.

The reclaimed oak parquet flooring also adds character (and warmth), and is one of Canham’s favourite things about her finished home.

To create a similar feel in your home, scout for vintage pieces at antiques fairs or try online auction sites to discover little gems.

Find an architect near you that could help with a Victorian renovation

Choose period-appropriate fittings
All the fireplaces in the home had to be replaced with new surrounds, but Canham made sure to source models appropriate to the period. “The marble surround is Victorian,” she says. “We definitely wanted to retain the classic framework of a Victorian drawing room – along with the beautiful parquet floor – but furnish it in a contemporary way so the room doesn’t look out of date.”

Salvage yards and online auction sites can be useful hunting grounds for original surrounds or you could ask an expert to help you source an appropriate one to bring a dash of authenticity back to your living space.

Find out more about period-appropriate details at The Victorian Society

Remember the small details
The family were keen to preserve and reinstate period details, and their attention to detail even carried across to the ceiling in the living room.

“Unfortunately, we had to replace the ceiling so the only original feature is the ceiling rose [seen reflected in the mirror in the previous photo]. However, the builders did a great job of replicating the cornicing,” Canham says.

Do your research into the period of your home to discover which details would have been typical of the era and look into bringing these back if they are missing. Ceiling roses are another way to add instant character and you can source both original and modern replica versions.

You can search the Land Registry for information on your property

Consider a ‘broken-plan’ layout
Although the family knocked through the ground-floor living rooms to open up the space, they decided to keep the kitchen and dining area separate from the living rooms, creating a ‘broken-plan’ layout in the process.

“We wanted a separate space for cooking and family living,” Canham says, so she made sure to create a clear division between the living and cooking and eating spaces.

A broken-plan layout can bridge the gap between a traditional ‘closed’ layout and a contemporary open-plan space. By dividing your overall space more subtly, the aim is to hold onto an appealing sense of light and space throughout, but to provide a clear distinction between separate ‘zones’.

Read more about the new trend for ‘broken-plan’ living

Add more light
While the house might be light and bright now, that definitely wasn’t the case when Canham and her husband bought it. “It was very dark and dingy,” she recalls, “so it was important to create a light and airy feel by maximising the space as much as possible.”

The couple have drawn lots of light into the kitchen-diner thanks to a new side-return extension with plenty of glazing, including two skylights.

If you’re thinking of adding a side return, glazing should be a big consideration. “One of the main reasons why the Victorians and Edwardians followed the ‘out-rigger’ formula for terrace and, to a great extent, semi-detached houses, too, was that this allowed windows to be available to bring light and ventilation into the space in the middle of the house,” says Hugo Tugman of Architect Your Home. “Building an extension into the side return therefore runs the risk of creating the kind of dark spaces the original builders were trying to avoid, so employing significant amounts of glazing, particularly in the side-return roof, can enhance the daylight within.”

Read more about side-return extensions in our beginner’s guide

Maximise the loft space
In a period home, a loft conversion is a common way to squeeze in an extra room and Canham has managed to carve out a cosy guest space under the eaves of her Victorian home by converting the attic.

If you are going to extend your roof you will need Planning Permission, although this might fall within ‘Permitted Development’ rules. “Permitted Development allows roof extensions without the need for a planning application as long as (broadly) they are not on the front pitch of your roof, do not exceed the highest point of your roof and stay within certain volume limits. However, the section on extending roofs does not apply in conservation areas and flats have no Permitted Development rights at all,” explains Tugman. Talk to a professional to see what type of permissions your conversion would need.

See if your loft has extension potential

Increase loft space with a dormer
The addition of a rear dormer helped to open up the family’s loft conversion. Large, double-glazed doors let the light flow in and offer pretty views over the nearby gardens.

Dormers can create more internal height and volume, meaning that in areas that would otherwise be too low to stand up in you can have much more usable space. Think about how you would use the extra space and if it would add value to your home. Here, the family have set up a little home office by the glazed doors to take advantage of the light.

Read the full Houzz Tour of this family home

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