From picturesque Victorian terraces to sprawling country farms, or even stately homes, many of us dream of one day owning our own period property full of character and charm. The reality of these properties however, if they haven’t already been well maintained, is extensive renovations or even a full conversion to make them suitable for modern living. But how do you even begin such a huge task? Sims Hilditch are not only experts in interior design, but interior architecture too and specialise in period property renovation.
They even operate out of their very own period conversion, The White Hart, a Grade II listed former pub that had fallen into neglect before they bought it in 2013. Founder and Creative Director, Emma Sims Hilditch, also lives in her own country period property which she has lovingly restored. Knowing full well how daunted these projects can be, Emma has shared her 10 top period property renovation and conversion tips with us to help you prepare for the key stages of turning a historic building into your dream home…
1. Gain the Help of an Architect
Whatever you do, make sure you’ve got planning permission before ploughing ahead. We would advise seeking help from a planning consultant or an architect. As with all things in life, it is possible to do it yourself but often, you’ll end up saving time, money and anguish by getting professional insight. They will provide the right advice on how to reconfigure the building to suit your lifestyle.
2. Look to the property itself for inspiration
We love mixing old and contemporary. Exposing timbers and showcasing the heritage of the property is so important, every home has a story to tell. We also understand we need to create a home and incorporating the contemporary is all about modern day living. Original features provide inspiration for furnishing the scheme, then we love to use beautifully contemporary fabrics that breathe new life into the design.
Try and make the most of what you have. Strip away previous decor to see what lies beneath. We try and incorporate everything that is existing because we love showcasing historical features, from exposed brick walls to wooden beams.
4. But, Don’t be Afraid to Remove Elements that Don’t Work for your Lifestyle
The design of your home is all about improving your lifestyle, therefore change it to suit you. Just because something is historical doesn’t mean it can’t change. Before keeping something, ask yourself, do I really love it and do I want to see it everyday?
5. Make the Most of Height
Opening-up ceilings and exposing original features is a wonderful way to maintain a property’s heritage in a room but also completely transform a building. These features may be the core inspiration for the colour palette.
6. Add New Layers
On the other hand, adding new layers will transform the space. New materials like lime washed timber cladding is a wonderful way to introduce texture to the scheme and works well with fabrics and soft furnishings.
7. Incorporate Functionality, but also Personality
8. Introduce Light
Incorporate bi-folding doors and new windows to allow as much light in as possible. One very important factor when converting old properties is getting more light into the building as they can be incredibly dark. In rooms you can’t add more external light sources, invest in good lighting to illuminate the space.
9. Expose Existing Features
Your period property could house a treasure trove of beautiful original features which have been covered up over the years. By exposing the elements of the building its history won’t be forgotten and can work wonderfully with new contemporary elements. We love the combination of materials when exposed features are involved, it provides so much depth to the scheme.
10. Reuse Materials Where Possible
This will not only save money but also maintain the building’s historic features. Don’t be afraid to mix old with new, we love antique furniture but often pair this with new products such as contemporary lighting. So many materials can be reused and redesigned to provide an element of history to the design. Wood could be reused for a staircase or a kitchen cabinet or glass can be used for a mirror, there are so many options.