From Victorian townhouses to Art Deco apartment blocks, south west London, like much of the capital, is brimming with traditional architecture. For Londoners lucky enough to inhabit such homes, this poses something of a dilemma when it comes to the renovation process: how do you successfully mix the old and the new?
While some may prefer the simplicity of a clean and ‘boxy’ modern interior, many of us can’t resist the charm of traditional features, especially when they’re complimented by beautiful modern design. Of course, achieving this look is a balancing act.
Identify your traditional features
While London’s developers are somewhat notorious for gutting the character from period properties in favour of minimalist design, there are still plenty of homes in the city that retain a wealth of traditional, if not original, features. Knowing which of these to preserve is something you’ll have to decide before giving your renovation project the green light.
Victorian properties in particular have plenty of scope for blending the old and new together, and sought-after features like decorative cornicing and ceiling roses, elegant panelling, beautifully aged balustrades, and, of course, fireplaces are not uncommon. If you’re renovating a property that’s been stripped of its original features however, you won’t have to look too far to find replacements or reproductions, or tradespeople that specialise in reinstating them.
What you retain, replace, or get rid of however is a matter of personal taste. Just bear in mind that traditional features often add a certain warmth and homeliness to a space that’s difficult to replicate with modern design alone.
Structural alterations and additions
Architecture has reflected our lifestyles throughout the ages. Take kitchens as an example. At one time they were hidden from view and considered nothing more than functional. Whereas these days they’re the beating heart of the home, and the nucleus of any modern living space.
Many of south west London’s Victorian properties were designed with formality in mind, with a series of smaller, purposeful rooms; a direct contradiction to today’s trend for casual, open-plan living. With a little imagination and a lot of work however, these properties have bags of potential for creating a modern floor plan.
Knocking down dividing and corridor walls is the obvious way to maximise your space, but it’s important that you don’t entirely disrupt the character of the building. Pay close attention to the materials you use, and ensure your builder is well aware of the traditional features you intend to keep or restore at a later date.
Image: Our project on Chiddingstone Street, SW6
Adding an extension on to your property offers you even more scope to mix the modern with the traditional, whether it complements the existing structure or creates a strong contrast between the old and the new. Sleek floor-to-ceiling windows can work beautifully alongside old brickwork. And if you’re knocking down interior walls, you should have plenty of original bricks to repurpose.
Image: Our project on Trinity Road, SW17
Need advice? Speak to our build team.
Combining traditional elements with striking modern features has long been a staple of eye-catching interior design. While Victorian features are particularly grand and regal by today’s standards, a beautiful juxtaposition is forged when modern furniture, clever lighting solutions, and bold prints and colour schemes work together to tone down its formality.
With this in mind, take stock of what you have to work with and gather some inspiration. Things to take note of when designing your interiors include:
Lighting: Older properties aren’t always the brightest. If you’ve opened up the space but don’t have the desired natural light, then a thorough lighting plan is essential to solve the problem creatively.
Colour: Don’t be afraid to use it. And don’t be afraid to paint your skirting boards, decorative cornicing and original doors the same shade. This is a fantastic way to give a room a modern monochromatic feel, while still maintaining its traditional forms.
Image: Our project on Trinity Road, SW17
Furniture: Anything too traditional can confuse the blended look you’re trying to achieve, especially if the property is retaining many of its original features. Instead, opt for more contemporary pieces, with one or two feature items that pay homage to your home’s era.
Finishing touches: Pay careful attention to the artwork, ornaments and soft furnishings you choose. Unifying things with colour is a great way to subtly blend the old and the new together, while building up the room’s texture.
Need inspiration? Speak to our creative team.
Refurbishing a traditional property certainly comes with challenges and requires more forethought than your average renovation. However, when you find the balance that’s right for your property, you’re left with a home that’s functional, beautiful and tells a unique story.
At BTL Property we know what goes into creating a bespoke home. Our team of professionals specialise in all areas of property refurbishment, from small renovations and reconfigurations to larger extensions, loft conversions and basements.
We also offer top-to-bottom house renovation services, providing our clients with a seamless, one-stop solution with turnkey results. We’ll handle absolutely everything, from the initial architectural design and planning, right through to the final decorative touches.
Want to know more? Get in touch today, and let’s talk about transforming your house into your dream home.
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