Six Invaluable Tips for Restoring a Period Property
There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of taking a neglected ruin and turning it into a splendidly restored version of its former self, alive again with light and inhabitants.
But restoring a property, although the dream of many a home owner and aspiring interior designer, comes with its own extensive and particular set of pitfalls and difficulties.
Here are six invaluable tips to help the process unfold smoothly and leave you with your dream home at the end of it all.
1. Reclaim, reuse, recycle
The best way to get authentic materials and items for your period property is to seek out original examples. You have to be creative about how to do this; get in touch with local builders’ merchants that often deal in used materials and tell them what you’re looking for; visit salvage yards and even tips for things that people are going to throw away; scour boot sales and second hand furniture shops for pieces that might be being sold on; or even put up advertisements online or in your local paper asking for people to contact you if they come across an item on your list.
2. Pick your battles
Unless you’re made of money, you may not be able to restore each and every element of your house to its former glory in exactly the same manner as its original design. Often, compromising on less important areas will leave you with the time, energy, and money, to focus on the more significant, noticeable, and important areas.
3. Have either time, money, or skill to spare
Restoring an old house, as any one that’s been through the experience and come out the other side will tell you, is an exhausting business. It’s almost always more time consuming, expensive, and energy draining than you’d expect, and many simply give up with the project unfinished.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to have an excess in one of your resources: time, if you’re short on money but are willing to wait; money, if you’re short on time and are getting others to do the work for you; or skill, in which case you can take on some of the work yourself. Expecting the project to go smoothly with all three of these factors at a low limit is unrealistic and will probably end with disappointment.
4. Choose the right contractors
Make sure you do your research, get in touch with previous clients, and choose workmen who have experience of the type of project you’re undertaking, or you may be left infuriated or disappointed with the results.
5. Save what you can
Restoration starts right at the very beginning, when you decide what to rip out and what to keep. Is that one missing tile in the corner of the utility room enough of a justification to retile the whole ground floor? Does the fact that the upstairs floorboards, although sound, have a slight undulation, really mean they need replacing, or does it just add character? Accept that old houses are different from new houses, with quirks and idiosyncrasies. Try and get rid of them and you may be dispelling the character of the place, as well as costing yourself a lot of time and money in the process.
6. Get the order right
Don’t get carried away with superficial decoration before you’ve got the basics in place – foundations, structure, plumbing, electrics – or you’ll lose time and money in the long run.
A successful restoration project lies in accurate planning, good organisation, and a dedication to the authenticity of the place that’s balanced with the inevitable practicalities of life. Try and enjoy the process and you’ll end up with a life-ling home to be proud of.