May 13, 2020

Restoring a Victorian House

In this blog post, I’m going to talk about restoring a Victorian house. Maintaining the integrity of the property increases value in the property and adds much sought-after character. Restoring and enhancing these features is one of my favourite things to do on projects. I often try to find pieces sympathetic to the property in antique shops or markets pieces you wouldn’t find in retails shop. I find there is a level of beauty steeped in historical pieces which further adds to the character of the property.

Victorian properties tend to have an array of features like fireplaces, original floor tiles, picture rails, dado rails. All add to the character of the property. When restoring a Victorian house it’s a good idea to think about how to enhance these features to further add to their character.

Having worked on several Victorian properties, each one has its nuances and quirks which makes them so special.

For this particular blog post, I’m going to mainly talk about the renovation project I worked on in Battersea, South London.

This flat was in dire condition when bought and needed modernising throughout for rental purposes. Most of all the property had some exquisite features which would look stunning once restored, like this fireplace.

Before & During Construction

Images of the living room during the first site visit and during construction. Original features like the fireplace and picture rails were restored.  

Restoring the Fireplace

Let’s start with the living room, as you can see the fireplace feels a bit lost amongst the beige and also needs restoring. Looking at the rest of the images you can also see how it desperately needs modernising!

During construction, we explored different finishes for the fireplace. The builders stripped the paint back to reveal its original cast iron colour. However, I felt for a grand fireplace like this the black would be too heavy for and instead paint it white. In line with the new elegant colour scheme.

The remaining parts of the fireplace were given a little lift too. By painting the inner sections dark blue so that it doesn’t get lost more feels more modern.

In terms of the picture rail I wanted it to stand out so it can be seen as a feature rather than blending it in with the wall paint. I felt that the wall paint also needed to feel classic and feel elegant.

When restoring a Victorian house, to maintain the integrity of the features the picture rail was taken around the new partition to be in keeping with the rest of the room.

Skirting Boards & Coving

The skirting boards couldn’t be saved due to new flooring and some reconstruction in the room.

Luckily the ceilings were in good condition and did not need replacing in doing so we were able to maintain the existing coving.

If the coving had to be stripped out a moulding could be made so that the original style and groves could be maintained.

Installing a shower room

Moving on to another room in the property this room was adjacent to the living room. I believe it was the previous owner’s sewing room hence the crazy amount of shelves! Seeing beyond the existing state is key to renovation projects to creating a vision. I love how the high ceilings and large window made this room feel really big and bright.

We converted this room into a shower room as the client wanted to have two bathrooms. In my design, I incorporated the existing features. By painting most of the room the picture rail was more visible.

I also expanded the light in the room by removing the drab net curtains allowing light to flood in.

If you are renovating your period property here are some tips for maintaining those lovely features:

  •  Create your design around the features and ensure they are the focal/talking point of the room.
  • If you want to restore fireplaces look at antique fairs or specialist antique suppliers who may have just what you need. Vinterior is a good place to start. Alternatively, eBay is also another great option.
  • Researching the history of the property will give you an indication of what the original features looked like. You might find your neighbour’s house on Rightmove with original features that have been taken out of your home. Once you know what you want to restore and what it looks like it’s just a case of sourcing it.
  • Sometimes it simply isn’t possible to maintain some of the features when modernising, like skirting boards or coving. When this happens you can get a moulding of your existing coving or skirting board. Though this is the more expensive route. Alternatively, you could find something similar via a coving supplier such as Decorative Coving.

I hope you found this blog post helpful on How to restore a Victorian house. If you are working on a renovation project you might find my previous blog post on How to plan your renovation project helpful.

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