Homes with character tell the story of the many generations of families they’ve seen under their roof. They showcase the passage of time in the most dramatic way. Here and there, little quirks and tears appear, a mark left by the previous owners. Under the old wallpaper, you can discover the words left by the teenager who once lived in the house. Behind the broken floor panel, you unravel the hidden diary of a frivolous young woman. In the attic, real period dresses gather dust spider webs quietly. There are so many secrets from the past that wait to be discovered in an old home. That’s precisely why old builds and especially historic properties are sought after. Having been the home of many before you, they carry in their very history the feeling of homeliness you need.
However, historic homes come with a lot of issues and challenges you need to manage as a modern homeowner. For a start, even though your home might have been planned and constructed several decades and centuries ago, you want it to be the nest of a 21st-century family. In other words, you can’t afford to let your old home drag you into the past if you want to maintain your lifestyle standard and comfort. So how do you bring the old into the modern age without losing its peculiar character?
You can’t afford not to maintain it
First of all, if you’ve made the decision to buy an old property, you can’t afford to let it fall into ruins. Restoration is the keyword here. If your house has a documented history, you will find plenty of useful details in the public record offices about how the house was designed and who the first owners were. More often than not, you will need to hire expert craftsmen who can restore original features to their former glory, using the best possible material to maintain the personality of the building. Your property may also require the addition of modern upgrades when original features can’t be repaired to sustain effective performance. If this is the case, you should get in touch with professional architects and constructors who are experienced in modernizing historic structures safely and aesthetically.
Period decor is not always the right solution
The first and most important question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to maintain the period interior. You can find wonderful properties that create a fixed historic pocket in time, such as this 17th-century farm with Georgian and Victorian additions that has been entirely decorated to preserve its personality. The quirky result is breathtaking, especially during the Christmas season. However, unless your home is also a listed building that has to maintain its period feelings at all times, it’s best to bring your interior into the modern age. Nobody wants to feel like an actor of a period drama. Ultimately, even if the building is old, it’s the home of a MODERN family.
Bringing modern touches with style
Maintaining the modern atmosphere in your home is essential if you want to feel at ease indoors. Contemporary features are crucial to your everyday comfort, from practical furniture selection to essential technology and electrical addition. While you can choose to keep some of the antique furniture – or get in touch with specialist collectors and retailers to find the items of your dreams –, more often than not, modern elements are a necessary addition to your comfort in terms of ergonomy and lifestyle. The reason why many homeowners choose to mix and match furniture and decor styles is in an attempt to bring together the modern story of the house. It’s ultimately an ancient building, and it’s something you can promote proudly. But it’s the home of a 21st-century family; hence you need modern tech, shapes, and materials to fit in your day-to-day life.
Modernizing the floor plan
Have you ever looked at the floor plan of an ancient house? Homes built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries tend to display a succession of enclosed rooms, which ultimately divide the space in fixed little boxes. This creates a partite and old-fashioned space. In modern lifestyles, the division serves no more purpose. Where old homes needed a reception area, a dining room, a library room, and a tea room, a modern home can combine multiple functions in the same room. Consequently, if you want to modernize your internal structure effectively, you will need to focus on creating an open space environment. Indeed, an open space encourages natural light inside the home and builds a fluid and mobile living environment.
You can DIY the old finish
It can be difficult to find old furniture to give your home the right mix of ancient and new. Ultimately, antique furniture comes at a price, and it’s not a valuable option for families with young children or pets – who are prone to accidental damages. However, if you’re an enthusiastic crafter, you can effectively transform a second-hand piece of furniture into a distressed item that can become the next iconic piece of your period house. Distressing furniture is the work of an afternoon and can dramatically improve the ambiance of the room. If you’ve never painted furniture before, chalk paint is the best option for beginners. It’s is not only easy to apply, but it dries rapidly too. Its thick structure naturally covers most surfaces, giving an effortless, smooth result.
Tell your story with greens
Last, but not least, you might be tempted to add period paintings to the decor. However, unless the pictures are meaningful to your family or to the house itself, you might want to avoid them for fear of feeling you’re surrounded by period drama props. Instead, you can bring an aged impression using houseplants. Indeed, an attractive antique planter or pot immediately lends a historic feeling to your favorite greens. Additionally, you can use plants to evoke impressions and smells of the past, such as Phalaenopsis, small rose bushes, or even a tall tropical plant for a colonialist touch.
For homeowners, old homes can have a personality that clashes with a modern lifestyle if you don’t know how to tame it. The secret is in creating pockets of old and new elements throughout your interior to build a unique and charming decor.