Classic and traditional style homes never go out of fashion! However, do you know how to design and decorate your period property in a way that represents you and your contemporary lifestyle?

We’re seeing more and more of our clients looking for ways to utilise the period features in their homes in a more modern way. So let us share our expert advice on how you can maximise the potential of your character home in all ways big and small. 


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Celebrate, don't hide original features

Victorian home | Pink and blue bedroom with fitted fireplace alcove storage

Image credit: My Bespoke Room

Don’t sacrifice character for quick-paced design trends. We’ve seen people time and time again tear out period features such as picture rails to make a room feel taller and they have regretted the decision later. 

Ripping out the history of your home can leave it feeling soulless and boxy but don’t panic, this should not limit your ability to make an old home your own. We instead encourage you to celebrate and restore original features - they make your home unique.

For example, to make the space feel bigger we recommend painting the wall above the picture rail and below the same colour, giving the room depth while keeping the grandeur. However, if you have a dado rail we suggest painting below and above in different colours for a traditional feel and breaking up the space with contrasting colours.

You could even use gloss paint on the bottom half in high-traffic areas such as hallways, to prevent scuffing and to help bounce light around the room.

Period homes often have classical regal features like old fireplaces, stained glass windows and original coving that should be enhanced not replaced! In fact, if you live in a home where the previous owners may have taken them out, we encourage you to get yourself a plasterer who can bring back the traditional coving or ceiling roses to where they belong.

Accentuate tall ceilings and grand ceilings with statement lighting. Our top tip would be to choose lighting that is bigger than your ceiling rose, not a tiny lampshade which looks lost and out of scale. Take a look at some of our past projects to see more ceiling lights that will make you green with envy! 

If you are looking to put in new flooring,  we encourage you to look for original flooring. Sometimes you can strike gold and find original tiles like Minton or parquet wood under newer-laid flooring which can create a striking feature in your home. Keep in mind that you can always replace carpeted floors or bathroom tiling with more modern parquet or herringbone floors that still give the same classic feel.


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Learn your home's history

Interior design bathroom with period features

Image credit: My Bespoke Room

If you’re looking to make big changes in your period home but don't want to sacrifice its character, make sure you research the period of your property first to make sure the additions you’re making are authentic to the home. You wouldn’t want to put Georgian furnishings in a Victorian home as it will look awkward and out of place.

Many Victorian and Georgian homes have huge windows that take up a large amount of wall space. This can be tricky to position furniture, however have you ever considered installing window seats? This would add character to the space and make windows the star of the show rather than the bane of your living or bedroom. 

Kitchens can be a tricky place to leverage the history of your home. Our Head of Design recently worked on a Victorian property where the owners installed limestone flooring in the kitchen that flows onto the outdoor patio. Not only does this create a seamless flow from the inside to their beautiful garden, but it's clean and modern thanks to the use of traditional materials.

Belfast sinks are also always in high demand. They are deep, durable and best of all, easy to clean! Not to mention they bring a traditional feel to your kitchen. Function and beauty - what more could you want?!

On the topic of sinks, have you ever thought about how to make the most of your bathroom sinks? Many of our clients have really loved the idea of installing a crisp white sink in a dark cabinet or vanity which contrasts with the rest of the white, often marbled space. You can also keep the classic feel but add some warmth and texture by installing some exposed brick slips as we have done in this client's home above. 


Want to see more incredible room designs that we have created for our customers? Click the button below to see more of our previous projects.



How to mix old and new

Fireplace alcove storage | Period propertt ideas

Image credit: My Bespoke Room

Don’t feel like you can’t mix old and new! The key to getting the modern traditional styles is to make sure there’s an even mix. You can find out a little more about this balance in our previous blog here.

Combine traditional antique pieces of furniture with white washed clean, modern walls. Or pair heritage paint colours like deep burgundy, greens and inky blues with sleek furniture with more contemporary silhouettes.  

When considering wallpaper, we love to use traditional patterns in period homes. You could either choose a more neutral take on a traditional pattern to give some subtle and classic texture, or you can choose a classic pattern with a bold twist with a contrasting colourway.

Got some blank wall space just crying out for a feature? Hang a gallery wall in a combination of frame colours and styles for an eclectic look, or stick to the same style frame for an easier and less cluttered option. 

You could also give the room some texture with modern panelling. Panelling is a fantastic way to create a classic and cosy feel to a space through a traditional period feature. Not to mention it can be great for feature walls within modern open-plan spaces. In the home of our client Tracy, we suggested navy blue panelling to create a big feature in the living room zone of her open plan space, while also accidentally hiding the TV as it blended into the wall. Watch more about Tracy's experience with us below:

You can bring a traditional texture in a similar way to panelling through shaker-style doors on wardrobes and cabinets. Make sure to avoid bevelled or tapered edges for a more modern take. Paint them the same colour as the walls to make them less of a feature and add brass hardware to keep it traditional. 

You can also use brass or black staircase runners to hold carpet runners in place. These give your hallway a grand but modern twist that can be accentuated throughout the rest of your home. After all, your hallway is one of the most important rooms in your home, connecting the rest of your modern traditional home.


How to decorate your Victorian chimney breast

Fireplace alcove before and after

Image credit: My Bespoke Room

Some of our clients in period homes are lucky enough to have fireplaces in their master bedroom. It could be seen as an obstacle, taking up valuable space but with some clever bespoke storage, you can have the best of both worlds. Use the space on either side of your chimney to fit bespoke wardrobes or even just one and use the alcove on the other side for a dressing table. We recommend you paint this storage the same colour as the skirting boards and the chimney breast to help them blend into the room rather than look like a bulky after thought.

In living rooms, many of our clients use the alcoves either side of their chimney breast for shelving. Here they can display their family photographs, favourite books and ornaments they’ve collected. It's also a convenient place to sit your TV as it hides it slightly out of view. Think carefully before installing your TV above your mantel piece - if your room is narrow, you'll be straining your neck as it's usually too high. 


If you want more advice on how to make your home work for you, then click the button below to book a call with our expert team and see how we can help you with your home design needs!



Period property problems

Fireplace alcove storage ideas

Image credit: My Bespoke Room

Old homes have so much character and history. They come with a few quirks you need to look out for before you begin renovating or decorating. 

In old homes, not a single wall will be straight! Where possible, we recommend you select custom-built furniture for everything so that everything fits seamlessly and you won’t be disappointed.

With winter coming up we have one thought on our minds - insulation. Old homes are draughty. Aside from adding insulation and upgrading your windows, small things like putting up thick-lined curtains or even purchasing a curtain to go across a draughty door can really help. We suggest adding as much softness to your home as possible through throws and rugs which will also help get rid of any echoes. However larger period properties have random void spaces so be sure to have these well-insulated to keep those bills down!

When renovating, please be wary of previous owners' DIY projects. For example, the original plaster can become flaky over time and may need to be re-plastered or skimmed. Our designers also recommend using command strips for artwork and shelving or suspending art or mirrors from picture rails to reduce pressure on the walls.


Hopefully, we've equipped you with everything you need to transform your period property. However, if you'd like some help from our experts then click the button below to start your project with us!



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