Interiors for Period Homes

We are delighted to be featured in this week’s edition of The Hunts Post as a headline feature in their newly revamped Homes section where we talk about our approach to designing stylish interiors for more traditional homes.

You can read the full article below;


What are some of the key considerations when designing the interiors of a period home?

The most vital thing for us to gauge is how our clients aspire to live in their home, whilst designing an interior that is relevant and suitable for the demands of modern life.  The layout of the home of yesteryear was intended for a very different lifestyle to how we live today, so we will carefully look at this. Does the original series of small rooms work, for example, or would a larger, more open-plan configuration provide a better way of living.  At the same time, how to retain the original integrity of the building while making a contemporary intervention underlies this thinking. 

It’s particularly important also to plan, plan, plan for every eventuality when designing the interior of a period property, as one never knows what might be uncovered, potentially adding time and budget to the project. 

Integrity of materials and traditional building techniques are also an important factor, whilst having an understanding that both have improved significantly over time.  We’re also very mindful of making draughty old houses as energy efficient as possible.  

Of course, if your house is listed, you will likely be required to seek Listed Building Consent to make most changes, so gaining this permission and working within this framework is also something we are adept at doing. 

2 What is your starting point for a period property’s interiors scheme? 

The historic ‘bare bones’ of the building itself will always inform the interior for us.  We look for ways to incorporate these elements in order to preserve its character and originality and look to give them an important role in the interior.  Whether it’s the oak frame of a cottage, a Victorian tiled hallway or intricate cornicing in a country house, this is the DNA of the building and something we like to make a feature of.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that everything should be kept, but it is about making careful decisions about what is important, and then treating it in the right way.  

3. Are there any kind of reoccurring issues that you come across when doing the interiors for period homes – odd shaped rooms, dark rooms etc? 

Invariably, nothing is perfectly aligned, which can prove challenging when trying to lay a floor or fit cabinetry, and is another reason why great care has to be taken in planning period interiors! 

4. Any kind of tips to enhance period features such as fire places or cornicing?  

One of our favourite design tips is to choose a limited decorating colour palette for a zone or even a whole house, with a light, mid and slightly deeper shade of the same colour.  The ceiling will be the lightest shade, the woodwork such as picture rails, architraves and skirting boards will be in the mid and the walls in the deepest shade.

Sometimes, if a room is lacking interesting period details, we might introduce some panelling or a tongue and groove detail to a wall to bring another level of detail to the room as opposed to bare walls, and again these will be picked out delicately in a lighter tone to enhance these features. 

5. How can you bring in contemporary design elements?  

Our aim has always been to inject timeless contemporary style and a new vitality to both the inside and out of beautiful old buildings, whilst maintaining the soul of the property. Often the simplicity of contemporary interiors serves to enhance the period features of an interior space so we see great value in this, so a scandi-modern sofa will look wonderful alongside a panelled wall or contemporary lighting in front of an exposed reclaimed brick wall. Client’s often have their own much-loved items and are looking to make these pieces work in the mix, so again, these will be considered right from the start as part of the scheme.

6. Are there any particular colour schemes that work well? 

We tend to favour more muted, soft and chalky colours which sit beautifully alongside natural materials such wood and stone, but we also like to inject more striking, rich colours as a counterpoint and often use inky blue-blacks and heritage greens and pinks. 

7. Do you lean on any particular textures, materials or patterns for period properties?  

We create a palette of materials within a house to help provide continuity between the different spaces. For example, we might choose polished nickel, limed oak and a natural grey limestone as a palette and run this throughout for a well-considered, harmonious look.  Small details layered on top of this will really bring the scheme together, including door and cabinet ironmongery, worktops, and the brassware in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Period homes often don’t have perfect floors, or even ones that can be restored with a satisfying result, so we will always recommend high quality wooden floors or natural stone for hallways, kitchens and bathroom, particularly if we are introducing underfloor heating. 

8. When was the English Listed founded? 

Founded over twenty years ago, and known as The English Listed since 2016, we are specialists in designing, extending & renovating buildings that have history, that are well loved, well lived in and that tell a story.  From a Grade II listed town house to a contemporary addition, we breathe new life and add timeless style to not only the fabric of the building but the interior as well.  Our lovely studio, shop and fine art gallery in St Ives brings to life the aesthetic of The English Listed.