Back in the 80s and 90s, it was trendy to rip out "dated" parts of houses, such as fireplaces which were often boarded up or replaced with gas fires instead. Fast forward 20 years and nowadays we are appreciating these design features all over again. From original wooden floors to intricate ceiling roses, here’s how to preserve these historic details.

Hero piece

Channel a classic look with an original marble and cast-iron fireplace. Shiva table lamp, £120; with black card shade, £75; Eclipse floor lamp, £155; with printed linen Ikat shade in black, £75, both Pooky

If you’re lucky enough to have a period fireplace in your home, it can make a wonderful focal point and a piece to base your décor choices around in that particular room.

In some properties, fireplaces have been left with their original tiled surrounds, which give a nod to the history of the house and the era from which it dates. Use an accent colour from the tiles in your paint or wallpaper choices to tie the fireplace in with the decoration and stop it from looking out of place.

A lot of paint companies, such as Little Greene, have specialist ranges based on certain periods and these are a good place to look for colour inspiration if you’re stuck for ideas. Consider tiling the hearth or repainting the surround if you want to give the fireplace an update. Even if it’s not necessarily functioning, it will still make a defining and decorative focal point in the room.

Read more: How to open up an old fireplace


Hit the floor

White-wash wooden floorboards to brighten up a room and frame sash windows with floor-length curtains. Lavender double divan bed in Brera Cestino Noir by Designer’s Guild, from £895, Button & Sprung

Original wooden flooring is a common feature in older houses and if restored properly, it can totally transform the look of your home and act as a charming part of your interior.

Many properties will have had the floors carpeted over in more recent years so it’s worth checking what lies beneath and what sort of condition the wood is in.

Parquet or regular parallel boards can be stripped back, sanded and varnished or even painted to highlight the character of the building. The same can be said for patterned Victorian floor tiles, which were a popular feature in hallways during this era, and may have been hidden with drab carpet by previous homeowners.

Read more: How to repair floorboards


Design details

Mix and match colours to draw attention to picture and dado rails. Railings & Lamp Room Gray estate eggshell, £60 for 2.5L each; Blue Ground estate emulsion, £43.50 for 2.5L, all Farrow & Ball

Make the most of elements such as ceiling roses, cornicing and skirting boards by repainting them to allow them to really stand out. Why not use paint a shade lighter or darker than the surrounding walls or ceiling to emphasise these aspects and draw attention to them as interesting features.

If you have picture rails at home, only paint or wallpaper the walls up to this point, or use a different shade above the divide to give this design feature more impact. Alternatively, if you’d rather they were a more subtle part of the décor, paint the whole wall in one colour to allow them to blend in seamlessly.

Use the rails for their original purpose by hanging artwork and mirrors from them, too. Stained-glass windows were installed in lots of 1930s properties and, if you’re lucky enough to have some left, these can make a beautiful focal point when paired with the correct décor.

Avoid anything too contemporary next to these features and stick to muted shades to really let the colours of the glass stand out.

Read more: 10 Innovative uses for old churches


Old and new

Paint wall panels in an all-over shade for an elegant finish. Burlington Bathrooms’ round pleated lights in chiffon silver, £195, The Pure Bathroom Collection

Why not have fun decorating your home with touches to add some period charm and experimenting with the looks you can create? Do some research into the era of your property to make sure the design is sympathetic and then head online to auction sites such as eBay to hunt down pieces of furniture and accessories to finish off the look.

Local reclamation yards are often full of treasures that most people overlook and you can pick up anything from bureaus and dressers to fireplaces and ceiling roses, all at very reasonable prices. Pulling together a scheme in this way will not only suit the character of your home, but you’ll build up a fascinating story of where everything has come from.


Read more tips from Cassie Pryce

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more tips

Enjoyed this story? Share it!


Related Posts