Adding back period character to a gutted house on a budget(12 Posts)
Hi, I was hoping to pick some mumsnet brains.
I recently brought an Edwardian semi detached house. We bought for the size and location, not the period charm. Everything original has been ripped out. There is no coving, downlights everywhere, cheap firedoors, 1970s staircase, 1980 floor boards, no fireplaces nada.
The house will never be returned to it's former glory, but I would like to add back some charm - but need to keep an eye to budget. Anyone got any tips or warnings? Can I just get coving/ceiling roses/picture rails/skirting from a DIY store to fit - or should I source from elsewhere? The house has a rather colourful history, and was most recently used as an unlicensed HMO and needs complete redecoration (floor to ceiling).
This is to be our family home for at least 10 years, longer if secondary schools are good in 10 years time. We want to do it up with an eye to resale, but really to enjoy living in it.
We have an early Edwardian detached house and have found over the years that much of the 'ready made' stuff from DIY stores just doesn't fit the proportions of our house. The high ceillngs, large windows etc mean that even skirting boards have to be deep to keep the proportions. It is possible to find stuff but measure everything very carefully before you buy, and if possible get small samples to 'try before you buy'.
You may be lucky and find doors etc at a salvage yard. Again measure, measure, measure.
I lived in a house built in 1910 in Brussels with all the original marble fireplaces, stained glass doors and staircases. So sad to think of people ripping these out.
Try and do it as authentically as possible, using reclamation yards and ebay (there is nothing worse than a badly-done pastiche e.g. putting a Victorian style fireplace in a 1930s house). See if your neighbours have original features, and take photos so you can replicate them. We have an early Edwardian house where the previous owners had taken out the original fireplace upstairs and replaced with slider-robes. We sourced an Edwardian fireplace on ebay (about £100 plus courier) and were able to match the missing picture rail with something near-identical from a DIY store. You would not know that the fireplace was not original, it looks like it's been there since the house was built. I think doors would be the most instant way of adding back the character and for these I think I would go for reclaimed, rather than repro, as new ones are never battered enough! Skirting and picture rails though would be fine from DIY store (so long as they are right proportions, as Seeline says).
PS. My Edwardian house doesn't have (and never did have) any coving or ceiling roses (although it is out in the sticks so maybe not as fancy as yours would have been!). But things like this are worth checking (with neighbours, or by research) so you don't end up putting the wrong thing in!
Thanks. My house is quite unique on the street, with only the other half of the semi being the same style. I keep trying to invite myself in to have a look! Are there any good online resources on what proportions should be? My concern about reclaim yard is whether or not it will be easy to get things to match for a whole house. I may have to use modern doors, as they need to be fire rated (3 story house), I have been told because they are currently firedoors building control won't be sympathetic to reverting. I do hope to at least get 4 panelled firedoors.
For paint colours, is it better to use something like the dulux heritage range?
Definitely going to be trying to reclaim some fireplaces, although not quite sure where they will go downstairs.
Sometimes it is possible to adapt DIY store fittings. For example adding to the height of replica skirting by putting plain 2x1 at the bottom and painting to hide the join. If there is no coving, I wouldn't try to replace it as anything that will look good will cost a lot. I'd just put up a picture rail to define the wall.
The fire doors will have to remain as such, but you could start by replacing the downstairs, 'on view' ones first. Door handles are important and you might be able to get some authentic ones on e bay or at a reclaimation yard. DIY shop ones are light, flimsy and don't really look good.
Hope you have fun decorating.
There may be an historical society in your area? Speak to the parish council or try the local archives for any pictures of your street, or info about it.
You say your house is unique in the street but was it built by someone who built others locally (thinking maybe a hospital or charity or local factory for workers?). We found a 1850 picture of our house in a local pub and a newspaper article for the millenium a lady who had once lived there wrote her memoirs of the village and the house.
The biggest thing that makes a difference in our house (1930's semi) are the skirting boards and picture rails. Skirting is 9 inches tall and we can't find that but B&Q did have an exact replica of our picture rails.
Have a think if there are a few things that will make a difference and invest your money there. We splashed out on our front door because we wanted to have it look original. We took photos of the original and found a carpenter to make us a new one (he even preserved the original stained glass inside the glazing on the new door). If wasn't cheap but it has a huge impact on the character of the house so I feel it was a worthwhile investment.
Thanks everyone. I think the general messages I am getting are
a) it is worth reinstating accurately to the house,not just generic to the period or my best guess
b) not many corners can be cut, so I should do things quality as I can afford them (but maybe get cheap picture rails/bodge some skirtings).
c) I should at the very least get some reclaimed door hand!es/knobs for the internal doors
d) I should put a lot of thought into the front door
Look on gumtree. People are selling or even giving away for free stuff like that. If you see a building site, stop and ask if you can have the doors/moulding/skirting boards. Be prepared to do the work to take them off yourself. Also look for architectural salvage yard in your area. This will be more expensive, but they will have done the removal work for you.
Our flat was built in 1880 and totally shat on by the previous (landlord) owner.
We found the best way to restore it was to sand the wooden floors, buy really deep skirting and rehang old doors (he had these plasticky veneer things).
The two main rooms (one the lounge and one our bedroom) are decorated usind Dulux Heritage.
Thankfully we had the ceiling roses left in and just repainted them.
The next job is the bathroom and again Id like to stay in keeping but am scared it will be £££
As an architect who has been involved in renovating many period places, I would recommend making the bathrooms and kitchen completely modern and taking advantage of all the new wonderful materials and technology that is available.
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