Often it is the vision of charming original features and period character that we fall head over heels with on viewing day of a new home, but fast forward to decorating and the prospect of working traditional foundations into a modern scheme and that joy can soon start to feel like an overwhelming responsibility.
Picture rails and decorative mouldings are a treasured find in period properties and were once used in affluent homes to hang valuable paintings and tapestries as a demonstration of wealth. Though conventional function has changed, in modern interiors they are useful for adding definition and proportional balance to a room as well as accentuating or creating the illusion of ceiling height.
Use colour to draw attention to these architectural features by keeping the wall and ceiling colour the same and painting the picture rail in a contrasting colour or alternatively, limit visual distraction and create a more subtle detail by integrating the picture rail and main wall colour.
If your room has particularly low ceilings paint the picture rail the same colour as the wall or carry the wall colour all the way up to meet the ceiling itself to give the illusion of more height.
Decorative mouldings also add an element of grandeur to a room, and true to period character, the more elaborate the better. In our Carlton Hill residential project, we painted the ceiling mouldings blue to highlight the intricately detailed period features, amplifying the decorative charm and overall splendour of this spectacular open plan living room.
Many period living rooms were designed around the fireplace. As the primary heat source within the home, it was a very important feature and as such became the focal point of the entire living room scheme. To draw attention, the mantle and surround were often highly decorative, made of stone and featured intricate mouldings and patterned tiles.
Incorporating the style of a traditional feature into your home can be tricky. One way to overcome this is to allow the items’ characteristics to be echoed within the wider interior scheme. Take inspiration from colours, textures and patterns featured in your fireplace and coordinate with soft furnishings and accessories throughout the rest of the room to tie the look together by positioning furniture strategically around it.
Fitted carpets had become synonymous with luxury and home comfort by the 1960s, with the extra layer of insulation keeping the cold out and the heat in. Installation was cheaper and easier if laid directly over the original hardwood flooring, meaning that to this day, some lucky homeowners discover perfectly intact wooden flooring on the removal of old carpets.
Asides from the natural beauty and wide variety of hardwood flooring finishes, one of the most valuable qualities is the potential for repeated restoration. Yes, a little hard work and dedication is required, but once the boards have been sanded, re-stained and sealed, they can perfectly complement any scheme, until the restyle is called for.
Many traditional Victorian properties had an entranceway tiled in a decorative floor tile for both practical and aesthetic purposes. Again, over time, the tiles were often overlaid with new floorings preserving many a charming, hardwearing floor to the delight of subsequent buyers. At our Chelsea residential project, we uncovered this exquisite Portland stone flooring inlaid with black marble, which was carefully restored to its original beauty.
Antique furniture often displays a level of quality and craftsmanship that is harder to come by today. Boasting intricate wood carving, marquetry, or decorative flourishes that you simply won’t find in run-of-the-mill modern-day furniture.
It is well worth investing in a statement piece that works with the age and character of your home such as an armoire, vintage dresser or ornate antique chair. If the item needs some love, consider having it refinished or reupholstered to fit perfectly within your scheme.
It’s always worth keeping an eye out for authentic pieces at markets, vintage fairs, or online. Whether you veer more towards period designs or mid-century style – antique or vintage buys offer an excellent opportunity to collect unique, one-off items that can be remodelled to reflect your personal character and style.
Our expert team would be happy to provide design direction and help you incorporate your home’s traditional features. Contact us today to discuss your home renovation project.
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