Living in a pristine period property is the dream of every one who loves high ceilings, spacious rooms and character. New houses just don’t have the same kind of adaptability or foundations that you will expect from an older home. Although there are some advantages to newer homes: for example, you won’t experience the same kind of financial challenges that these older homes (sometimes referred to as money pits) will attract.
Baylyn House is a classic Victorian house built in 1882 and the history of the edifice never ceases to amaze and fascinate me. I have conducted many happy hours of online research and even visited the Christchurch ‘Red House’ museum to learn more about the people that lived here before. I am intrigued about knowing more about the people that ate, slept and laughed in these halls more than a century ago.
But, the big question you will face in a period property will be how to decorate it right. Here are my top tips.
Being conscious of the age of the house and sensitive to its needs in décor is the way to start. I struggle to contain my disappointment when these really beautiful old properties are degraded with minimalist design or converted into sleazy bachelor pads.
This doesn’t mean you must scour the globe for Victorian silver and carved wooden chests to place at every corner. Simply acknowledging the age and maturity of the building with traditional tomes or a celebration of those rich old floor boards is a great improvement.
What did you expect? After more than a century standing you can expect the attrition of time and the marks of generations of occupants will eventually leave its mark. But, you will be able to hide them to some extent.
It will invariably be the features reminiscent of time gone by that will attract you to these beautiful homes. The mouldings, door details and elaborate trimming remind us of a time when personality was imbued into every fabric of life. These can be filled and painted over to restore.
There was a time not too long ago when the fashion in decoration was to rip out the older fireplaces, windows and doors to place newer modern looking options. Today, this has been reversed and these relics of times past have great value for their intrinsic beauty. Now, these cast iron fireplaces and antique details are being returned.
The beauty of a period property lies in its period, so whether you have found a beautiful Georgian(1714-1820), Victorian (1837-1901) or an Edwardian (1901 – 1910) you want to keep the details that were included in the original construction. If they have been ripped out, it would be just grand to find them and put them back.
Let Character Be Your Statement Piece
If you have the original windows make these the focal point of the room’s décor, especially if they are beautiful stained glass windows. In the same way, if the original fireplace is still there make this the centrepiece of the room’s décor, even if you also use modern conveniences such as electric radiators. Use the furniture and other elements of your décor to draw the eye towards these points.
And finally, lighting and the keys to striking a balance between using natural light and applying electric fixtures. Remember the rule of thumb and address lighting on three different levels: high, medium and low lighting. Furthermore, the rooms where you live should not be as brightly lit as the rooms where you work, like the office, kitchen and bathroom.
Dimmers are almost essential. Even a very ornate and attractive “period perfect” chandelier will look kind of flat and out of place if the bulbs are too bright, and a dimmer switch is just the thing to get the level perfect.
Finally, don’t be shy about using modern lighting options in older homes. This is the one area where the contrast can be beautiful. Use lighting elements to accentuate beautiful architectural designs and panelling.