September 25, 2019

Home Style || Modern Decor Ideas For Older Homes

I adore our old Victorian terrace home, with gorgeous high ceilings, original ceiling roses, traditional coving, Large fire places and heaps of quirky features throughout. As much as we love the original beauty of this house, when you crave a modern airy feel to your home, it can be hard to strike the right balance between respecting the history of your home and having the home you want. 

The best thing for me though is that old and new do compliment each other perfectly and although it can take a little trial and error to get it right, when you do get it right it can look stunning. I thought I'd share some tips for decorating older homes, to achieve that sleek modern look, whilst utilising those gorgeous features that have stood for years, giving your home it's character and charm.

Highlight the Original Features

If we're lucky enough to have a home packed with history, we have to make the most of it and accentuate those beautiful aspects that set these old houses apart from the modern new build. If you have focal points in your home such as stained glass windows, wood work or those wonderful high ceilings, then it's a great idea to leave these intact. Most modern houses seem like an easy option, a blank canvas, but actually we are very lucky to be blessed with original features that can act as a starting point for your decor. Stained glass for example can be complimented with plain white walls to really show it off. Traditional fireplaces can be brought to life with a modern log burner, to keep the bold look of your old house but give it a more modern use.

Make Use of Your Alcoves

Older houses can often have awkward alcoves by the fire place, which can feel like a bit of a waste of space. Although some people favour bricking up the chimneys now and opening the room back up, if you want to keep the fireplace (who wouldn't??) then you need to make space of those alcoves and awkward spaces too. In the downstairs living areas, to get the most of the space it's a great idea to have bespoke storage built into the alcoves, with open shelving on top and storage below. This gives a classic look for a Victorian style home, with the storage we all crave and can look super sleep and modern in white with floating shelves to show off the natural shape of the room.

Seton Fitted Wardrobes
Image: Hammonds

Upstairs, the alcoves make the perfect space to have bespoke built in wardrobes from experts at places like Hammonds, to make use of every inch of space and achieve a super sleek finish with ample storage. If you want something a little less permanent, then you could invest in freestanding furniture, just be sure to measure well to get a good fit both width and height wise so you can make use of those older high ceilings. 

Mix & Match Your Decor

Never be afraid to mix up your decor using old and new. Your home is all about representing you within the space you have, so if you love modern art, or sleek Nordic deign, there's no reason why this wouldn't work well in a mix of antiques and treasured items too. Older homes compliment industrial modern styles perfectly, and by mixing natural fibres, modern patterns and various materials you can achieve the look you desire. Try and keep your focus clear, with a neutral room and striking furniture or vice versa, though if you like something a little 'extra' just go for it! For most of us, it's impossible to hide the fact we live in a modern world, with TVs, consoles and gadgets, so by consciously mixing our decor, we can tie it all in without anything standing out like a sore thumb. 

See 'What Lies Beneath'

Before embarking on any kind of decor in your older home, it's important to see what's going on behind the scenes. You may unearth features or wood flooring that's been hidden by previous owners, or on the other hand issues such as damp that can be super common in old houses, but it's always worth treating that before putting time and money into decorating. I learnt this one the (very) hard way and it cost us a fortune that we just didn't need to spend had we known a little more before we got started. Sometimes, the original brickwork can be really beautiful and work really well with a modern industrial look, so it could even give you new ideas or save some cash along the way.

Work With Natural Lighting and Fake the Rest

Old houses with quirky alcoves and large windows can really play with natural light well. Large bay windows for example let in a lot of light, which means you can afford to be a bit more daring with darker decor if that's your cup of tea. Alcoves can throw shadows and add depth, giving you the perfect opportunity to play with colours and patterned papers. Lighting is always the key to creating the perfect feel to your room, but for those areas where natural lighting is not on your side, fake it with lighting that fits your style, such as modern lamps, built in strip lights or fitting pendants. 

The most important thing about perfecting the decor in your older home is to make it just right for you. Properties with history can give us inspiration as long as a lot of headaches along the way, but they are so worth it in the end. 

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