Making over a Victorian house: five top interior design tips
If you're lucky enough to have bagged yourself a Victorian house, you're the envy of many. Victorian homes boast grand-scale rooms, period features, and quality builds. Whether you're starting from scratch on a property that's way past its best, or you're looking to freshen up your current look, here are our top five interior design tips to help get you started...
1. Don't jump straight in
We're all for a bit of spontaneity but when it comes to interior design it's best to suppress that desire. Spontaneity has a lot to answer for: bad colour choices, fussy carpets, wallpaper you're sick of on day two. When you're doing up a Victorian house you need to take your time. Decide what look you're going for - wall-to-wall traditional, bang-up-to-date modern, or a happy mix of the two. Scour design magazines and the weekend papers for ideas. Create mood-boards for the rooms you're working on - or stick images and ideas straight onto your walls (if your kitchen needs doing anyway it doesn't really matter). The important thing is to let these ideas sink in, and see how you like them once you've been living with them for a week or two.
2. Time vs. money
Any doer-upper can eat your money, but if you're looking to restore the period features of your Victorian property, you'll be dealing with a home that has a serious appetite for cash. If you're short on time and have the funds, invest in an interior designer. These style-savvy gurus can turn what seems like a gargantuan task into a process that is achieved with minimal stress from you - and results in a beautiful home. You need spend no more working through an interior designer than buying from medium- to high-end furniture shops - set the budgets and ask your interior design professional to work within that. If money is in very short supply, but time isn't, try to source your materials as cost-effectively as possible. Salvage yards, Facebook selling pages, Freecycle, and charity furniture stores are all great places to look.
3. Who are you doing it up for?
Is this property going to be your home for years to come, or are you looking to sell it on once you've done it up? Steer clear of seriously bold ideas if you answer 'yes' to the latter. Your idea of cool could be another person's idea of design hell, so if in doubt leave it out. Subtle colour palettes always work best, but big rooms can get away with darker shades too.
4. Work with what you've got
Ripping everything out and starting from a blank canvas can often seem like the easiest option - as once you've made this decision it's all systems go. But, wait. Those doors that have been caked in layers of paint might be beautiful once they've been dipped back to wood. That banister that's been given sexy MDF panelling sometime in the 1970s may just be hiding the original spindles underneath. Original features are highly sought after, so keep as many as you can and get them back to beautiful.
5. Trust the Victorians
Here's the deal - Victorians knew what they were doing when they were designing homes. They knew how to make the most of light, and make spaces feel as big as possible. Trust that fact. It's only over time that people have come along and messed with that. So if your home has been given additions like stud walls, partitions, and lowered ceilings, get rid of them. Get your home back to the way the Victorians designed it and you'll have more light, and a space that works.
Written by: Amy Rich
Photo credit: Vanessa Rhodes Interiors