Anyone looking for an old house ended up in a new one (and did you regret it)

(45 Posts)
GatherlyGal Sun 30-Aug-20 12:07:42

After quite a few moves we are looking for a longer term house. Kids are teens and we have a fairly limited search area due to schools, being near town etc.

We are moving out of a Victorian town house with beautiful features and high ceilings etc. To find that character but detached with a garden in the right area is proving very hard.

We've seen a modern (probably 80s) house that is very ugly from the front BUT great inside and lovely garden. I don't know if I will love the practicality (big kitchen separate study, lots of bedrooms) or hanker after something older.

Has anyone done this? Will wood floors / funky wallpaper and nice lighting etc make up for lack of character?

OP’s posts: |
JoJoSM2 Sun 30-Aug-20 13:31:01

Personally, we appreciate modern interiors but prefer some character in our own home. We’re in a characterful interwar property and probably wouldn’t go any newer.

Sweetmelody72 Sun 30-Aug-20 14:56:22

Placemarking. Have similar decision to make. Older properties are so much more desirable but are scarce in my search area so, assuming one comes up, will mean compromises....

notheragain4 Sun 30-Aug-20 15:04:16

Practicality always wins for me, I've just never felt the need for "character" in a house,
I say that as a heritage professional!

GoatsInBoats Sun 30-Aug-20 15:12:47

Yes, me. I ended up in a 20 year old house by chance and I love it. It’s an interesting design, loads of light and space.

It took a while to learn how to style it, anything boho/mid century looks great. Big comfy sofas look great, antiques not so much.

Bold colours on the walls don’t work either, my house has colour in it, but softer tones that work with the light. The really bright F&B shades that look fabulous in a period home make my house look like a preschool.

Bythepath Sun 30-Aug-20 15:16:21

We moved last year from a Victorian workers cottage into a 1950s chalet bungalow. I loved the old features of my old house but it was too small for us. I wanted to stay older but in my village the old beautiful houses are either tiny, or the bigger ones so massively overpriced (to me) we had to go for more modern. I actually love it now, it has its 1950's quirks and we have found some great wallpaper under the woodchip and an amazing internal stained glass window. It is also much bigger than my old house or anything we could have afforded that was a period property.

KindKylie Sun 30-Aug-20 15:21:40

It is swings and rou davouts.

Our last move was meant to be us moving into an older property and gaining a bit of character, but we ended up in a 1990s small estate!

What we lost in character we gained in practicality and location. We bough way below our budget and used the difference to create a new extension with brand new kitchen to our taste and renovate the whole house, removing the artex and faux arches and electric faux fires etc.

We now have a very low maintenance house with all the space we need in a location we wanted.

It's far from my dream house but once we're inside it's a great family home.


LaBelleSauvage123 Sun 30-Aug-20 15:28:56

Moved from an Edwardian property to a 10 yr old house 5 years ago as we couldn’t find an old house in the location we wanted. I have never lived in a modern house before, but I love it. It’s spacious, light, warm and cool when you want it to be, and so much easier to clean. I don’t particularly like the front view but am attempting to grow things up the brick to soften it.

howlathebees Sun 30-Aug-20 15:33:25

We always wanted a Victorian terrace but couldn’t find one big enough in our budget for the family we wanted. Ended up in a 70’s end terraced, I was disappointed at first as I did think it lacked character but we’ve been here just over 5 years now and we have gave it character. I don’t regret it as it been much more convenient

LauraPalmerViolet Sun 30-Aug-20 15:52:28

I always thought I would buy a period property, Edwardian, Victorian, 1930’s, but we’ve just moved into a brand new build! I was so bowled over by the space and the practicality and the light. Also the thought of not having to replace anything, boiler, wiring etc, in the near future is very appealing. You can definitely add your own mark and add character with furniture and decor. We’re enjoying finding old brown cabinets and bureaus in junk shops which can be too big for older houses but which look great in a large modern space.

ohffs66 Sun 30-Aug-20 16:04:02

We moved area in a bit of a hurry and quite a limited budget a few years ago - we'd always had victorian houses / converted flats and the plan was to buy an old house that needed work but it fell through and we had to find somewhere, so ended up in a 1990s built house on a newish estate. It was a revelation. No more spending a fortune on heating, way less dust for sone weird reason, a nice sized garden instead of yard sized, no more "Oh shit the chimney needs repointing / roof is leaking again" etc. I thought I'd hate it but I liked the low maintenance aspect of it so much when we moved again we bought a brand new new build.

Purplewithred Sun 30-Aug-20 16:07:33

Yes. I moved into a house that I didn't even want to view because it was a 1990s box, having previously lived in Grade 2 listed houses/selfbuilds etc. But it's been a brilliant house - ticked all the dealbreakers, is practical and easy to live in. You can add your own character really easily.

LimeLemonOrange Sun 30-Aug-20 16:11:49

I always fall in love with old houses. Our current house is 1886 semi, lovely fireplaces, bay windows, cornicing, etc.

But it is freezing in some rooms in winter, needs a lot of maintenance, has a poor awkward layout in some areas. Sometimes I dream about going modern and being warm and having decent spaces for my hoover and mop and my sons' sports kit etc. I'd ideally love a huge Victorian detached but there's no way I could afford one, so if we move in future it'd have to be to something more modern.

Sweetmelody72 Sun 30-Aug-20 17:05:01

@GoatsInBoats really interesting what you say about strong colour. I know the F&B colours well and it makes sense that in a more modern setting you would need to be much more careful.

Really really hate to thread hijack but we will soon need to make a decision on our final move (yes I mean that!). This house ticks so so many boxes for our family of four but, being on the edge of a 1970s estate, it’s kerb appeal is limited and just isn’t quite where I’d imagined we’d end up. I really want a house I love, but I won’t get that feeling until I’m inside and the door is closed!


StillGardening Sun 30-Aug-20 17:11:04

We’ve done that. Live in a large 80s exec box with lovely garden. Just shy of 5 years. And I still describe it as the ugly house when giving directions. It’s practical , but meh.

JoJoSM2 Sun 30-Aug-20 18:29:19


Personally, I don’t love the house. I also find it pretty naff when people put all this cornicing etc in such a boxy house.

Does the layout work for you? Seems like a series of narrow rooms (bar the large sitting room) and only 1 bathroom upstairs.

Sweetmelody72 Sun 30-Aug-20 18:40:10

Thanks for your honesty! It has most of the square footage we would like but would Still need quite a bit of reconfiguring. Knock through and extend to create a kitchen diner. On the first floor above, extend the smallest double to create a master bed with en-suite. Dining becomes a play room cum office. Wide, south facing garden gives all the rooms a really lovely outlook. Needs redecorating throughout

CurlyStrawsRock Sun 30-Aug-20 19:05:04

I do love period features (Location Location Location obsessed!) but never lived in a house with any. We wanted space and light both times we bought and for the budgets and areas we looked at period just didn't exist. We are in a 1960s extended house with a massive garden. I love (almost) everything about it even having to massively change the internal layout to much bother and expense. The one thing I can't wait to change but we won't for a while is the cladding out the front. A lovely render will do me just fine!

Lordamighty Sun 30-Aug-20 20:34:21

We moved from an Edwardian semi to a detached new build & we love it.
Whilst we have lost the period features, we have gained on the layout & number of bathrooms.
The light & insulation is much better & it is easier to clean.

Saz12 Sun 30-Aug-20 20:36:42

I live in a very old house, which has had various small extensions over the years.
I find the newer bits practical... our bedroom is south facing, light, corners are square, etc. But it’s just so lacking character. I can’t imagine going home to a new build, parking the car and feeling happy to be home in the same way.
Obviously if it was a money-pit draughty damp dark nightmare I’d feel differently!

Puffthemagicdragongoestobed Sun 30-Aug-20 20:41:20

I would move to an 80s house in a heart beat if it fulfilled all my criteria from a practicality stand point. You can create character yourself with paint colour, lighting and interesting furniture.
I grew up in an 80s terraced house and my parents loved antique furniture. They often got complemented on the interior of the house and people would say how they didn't expect the furniture to go so well in this type of house.
Maybe do a search on Instagram to get some inspiration?

GatherlyGal Sun 30-Aug-20 21:05:09

Thanks all some helpful perspectives. I hadn't thought about the fact that strong colours wouldn't work. Will look for design inspiration - was thinking oak floors and a scandi-type look might work.

@Sweetmelody72 some good sized rooms and a nice garden but not keen on the pillars. Also not a fan of that kitchen layout but I guess those things can be changed.

I think on balance the ugly house warrants a second look.

OP’s posts: |
JoJoSM2 Sun 30-Aug-20 21:11:25

Scandi style really suits more modern properties. Houzz and Pinterest are always brill for inspiration.

Mrsladybirdface Sun 30-Aug-20 23:04:00

We moved into our 80s "executive" home last year. It is built on a bit of a cottage style so does have character but wow the practicality and size makes me weep with Joy!
We live in an expensive town and if we wanted a period house with the square footage we would be looking at at betweem an.extra 200k at least!

Didicat Sun 30-Aug-20 23:37:07

We lived in 1930s and moved to a 1990s exec house on a small estate and by god it’s loud in comparison due to the cardboard walls rather than the bricks we are used to. Luckily it is a rental as a stop gap, but will definitely inspect acoustics in any further purchase.

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