What to Keep and What to Change in Your Victorian Home

by Marian McQuillan January-16-2019

There was a rapid growth in canal and train infrastructure in the Victorian era and the homes were built much differently than the homes of the Georgian era. The Victorians could use building products that were not local and bricks could be used decoratively. Georgian homes were plain and uniform. Victorian homes could be more individual.

When renovating a Victorian property it is worthwhile to keep in mind the features that are important to keep in terms of maximising the value of your beautiful Victorian home, and which ones you can change to update the space for modern life.

Victorian home

What to keep

Front façade

Key features of a Victorian façade are the bay window and the tiled front path. The large front window became popular after the abolition of the ‘window tax’ in 1851. It allowed more natural light to enter the house.

Try to keep the original features at the front of your Victorian property, in particular the tiles in the path way. In most cases, they can be refurbished. So if the front path tiles seem to be tired, broken and uneven, always contact your local specialist for advice before replacing them.

Internal woodwork

The Victorians used mature trees to make the front doors and stair cases so the timber is very durable. If the timber has not started to rot or if it’s not infected with wood worm it would be a good idea to keep them and restore to their natural beauty.

Internal woodwork

Internal doors can be refurbished and refitted by stripping back paint. If you require a fire door you can upgrade the door rather than replacing. Fireproof sheets can be installed on the panelling and painted over or 30-minute fireproof paint is another solution. Windows can be renovated andthe sash frame can have a draught treatment if required.

Fireplaces

The fireplace still remains a major focal point and keeping as many of the original fire places as possible is a good idea.  You may need to reline the chimney in order to direct any toxic fumes upwards straight out of the chimney stack.

Interior plasterwork

While Victorian houses were simple in terms of shape, elaborate ornamentation in the shape of ceiling roses and cornicing was very popular. They can be restored by a specialist and a patient cleaning method. Usually they may need to be stripped back from layers of paint over the years. If you are renovating ask your builder how to protect the plasterwork as it might not react well to building vibrations, depending on the type of construction you are doing.

 

What to change

The rear layout

The rooms at the rear of a Victorian house were not as ornate as the front of the house. The design was more functional then high quality. Today the kitchen is the heart of the home and to extend and open up the rear of a Victorian house is a good idea. An extension that extends the kitchen to the garden with glass doors and windows can create a beautiful bright kitchen.

Back elevation

If planning permission permits constructing an extension to the back may have a positive impact on a Victorian house. Using an architect and a good quality builder you could make a clear distinction between the old and new part of the house or you could blend the extension to stream line the brick to make it look like the extension was always there depending on your taste in design.

Back elevation

Floor Finishes

The look of the 150 year old wooden floor boards can look beautiful but is not suitable for under floor heating. Replacing the wooden floor boards with engineered floor boards could add value to the house.

Lath and plaster

The ceilings and internal walls were built using lath and plaster. This involved narrow timber strips being nailed across the ceiling joists or wall studs with small gaps in-between to form a key for the plaster. This method did not stand the test of time and if there is evidence of loose plaster or previous water damage when removing wall paper you would be advised to get it removed.

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