One of the main reasons we love period homes is the traditional features that, to a varying extent, still exist within them today. They were put in by the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian's to add character and grandeur to rooms. That is why, whenever possible working with architects on the overall design we enjoy restoring and reinstating as many of them as possible in our projects.
There are a few scenarios within a renovation project which may lead to you dealing with period features:
Features have been removed or are damaged
It’s common to find that over time some features have been lost – typically if they are damaged they are likely to have been removed rather than replaced. It’s a shame, but not unsurprising. Some features are easier to replace than others, for example skirting boards are more straightforward than cornice as it is possible to buy a lot of traditional skirting profiles from specialist suppliers, whereas most cornice will need to be matched to the original and then produced by professionals. With this in mind, this is why when renovating it’s useful to have an idea of how far you would like to go as it can be costly time wise and some require skilled professionals.
2. Altered and put back
It’s also likely that some features will need to be altered and matched once you’ve made layout changes to your home as part of a broader project. For example you may need to match newel posts and spindles after adding a set of stairs or a section of dado rail after relocating a door. As a builder, there are always a few things that it helps to know from the outset when doing this type of adjustment, for example in a lot of later period homes what looks like a mahogany handrail or newel post may be pine: softwood stained to look like the more expensive hardwood. And what looks like a marble fireplace surround could actually be another stone painted to look like marble. Putting these back in therefore requires a bit of knowledge and thought.
Some things will have served their time and just need replacing to meet modern standards. For example older sliding sash windows are often drafty and damaged. In these cases they will need replacing with a modern alternative. Keep in mind, if you live in a conservation area there will be strict rules around the site lines of the frame, glass thickness and horn style on the windows you replace them with (for good reason). Similarly, original tiled paths may have moved and cracked over time; the sub-base will need relaying. But once strengthened, laying similar tiles will mean it will last another 100 years!
All of this means that the way in which original features are treated needs to be considered from the outset of your project as your builder will need to understand how best to work with them, your architect will need to incorporate them into your designs and ultimately the right budgets need to be applied. But everything can be matched and replaced, you just need to decide to what extent you want to do this in your home.
In summary, reintroducing original features is often a skilled job and you need a builder and an architect who have the passion and desire to work with them.
Anyway, that’s enough about original features for now, except to say that our favourite traditional feature is picture rails. Why?
Well in addition to them just being grand, they are so practical! No one wants holes in their walls, the Victorians definitely outsmarted us on this one!