There’s something very special about period homes, not only are they filled with charming character and bespoke custom design, but they exude grace and grandeur, and evoke a warm sense of nostalgia.  Whilst there’s so much to love about beautiful old homes, most often they lack the functionality needed for the modern family lifestyle. As specialists in period and heritage house renovation, Bentleigh, Burwood, and Brighton locals have turned to Duncan Thompson Extensions for over 30 years for outstanding, detail-focused renovations.

If you are wondering if it it’s possible to update your old home without losing the charm that originally attracted you to it, the answer is a resounding yes! With careful planning and design, you can have a home that seamlessly blends the old with the new. Read on to find out more.

List the Details You Love

Before you tear down walls or rip up floors, make a list of all the period elements that you love about your home. Think about what made you fall in love with it; was it the original woodwork? ornate cornices and ceiling roses, picture rails, wall panelling, oversized architraves, or original hardwood floors? Whatever makes the list will be the features you should try to preserve when renovating.

List the Changes You’d Like to Make

Now it’s time to list all of things that bother you about your home. Whether it’s the lack of natural light, lack of storage, poor flow, or outdated floorplan, to ensure the end result meets your expectations it’s vital to understand the updates you need to make. With the right building team beside you, it is possible to transform your home into a more contemporary living space without removing all of the beautiful, original detailing.

Restoring Old Windows

Original windows give an old house much of its historical charm. If your old timber sash windows are in relatively good condition, don’t replace them with new versions. There are specialists in the building industry who can perform the necessary repairs to bring them back to life and improve their energy efficiency. However, sometimes original windows are simply beyond repair. If this is the case in your home, try to match the style as closely as possible. If you are concerned about the expense of replacing all of your windows with replicas, you can still retain charm by keeping only the most visible windows, such as the street-facing windows at the front of your home. You can replace the rest with modern wood or aluminium types, and most people would not notice.

Refinishing Original Hardwood Floors

Dating back many centuries, hardwood flooring has been the pinnacle of flooring materials for a long time now and is a signature feature of period and heritage homes. Timeless and beautiful, hardwood is one of the more durable natural materials, and if maintained properly, can far last for generations. If your hardwood floors are in good condition, you should definitely preserve them. Timber can be sanded and re-finished in a multitude of ways, and it really showcases the history of your home. If you are looking to extend, you can choose to match new hardwood flooring in the new section or contrast with modern polished concrete, tiles, or other high-quality flooring materials.

Highlighting Unique Features

Older homes often include quirky or unique features, and while some might not be to your taste, other left of centre features that may seem a bit odd can actually be transformed into something special. Whether it’s a strange niche in the wall, an unconventional archway, or an odd-sized cupboard, be creative and repurpose or highlight these unique features. Not only does it show off the history of your home, but it creates a bespoke design element that only your home has and is the ultimate talking point when guests come to visit.

Opening Up the Interior

Old homes often have a compartmentalized layout, with lots of rooms and closed off spaces. Removing walls and creating open plan areas is a staple of contemporary design, but it’s important that you work with an experienced design team, structural engineer, and builder so that the new layout functions well, doesn’t compromise the structural integrity of your home, and preserves some of the original character.

Extending an Old Home

If your period home just doesn’t have enough space for your family to live comfortably and you have the space to add on, there are several options for you to consider. You can choose to match the addition to the original style of the home, transition from old to new, or create a modern addition that juxtaposes with the original section.

Matching the original is often the most expensive option, but if you are focused on historical authenticity and you have the budget, the end result is almost always worth it. If you home is under heritage overlay, then this may be the only option that you have. Seek advice from your local council and specialist heritage home builders for genuine advice.

Transitioning allows you to utilise more modern elements but still match some of the original details. This could mean that you remove some of the plasterwork, such as ornate ceiling roses yet still keep period cornices. This might be a good option if many of the period elements are in extremely poor condition and cannot be repaired. Carefully chosen transitional furniture and accents can also help incorporate the new addition with the old section.

Juxtaposing old and new is a contemporary idea which has resulted in some of Australia’s most award-winning houses. This concept allows you the best of both worlds and if designed correctly will most certainly result in a stand-out masterpiece. It’s important to have some sort of clear transition, such as a door, or walkway, so that the new space is clearly defined and doesn’t look like it was tacked onto the existing home.

Want to Renovate Home? Camberwell’s Duncan Thompson Extensions is Here to Help

Melbourne is filled with beautiful historic homes, and we consider it an honour to breathe new life into them for our clients. If you’re looking to renovate an old, period, or heritage home in Melbourne’s inner, eastern, or bayside suburbs, get in touch with us today. We are highly experienced in period renovations and extensions and will work with you to ensure we preserve your home’s traditional beauty whilst delivering a contemporary home that functions for modern family life. Reach out to us online now or call our friendly team on (03) 9836 8655 today.