9 Tips For Restoring Original Features

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It’s no secret that there are countless ways to improve the look of any property. If you’re a homeowner, you might be wondering what you could do to enhance your property. After all, it is an investment, as well as being your home!

Did you know the previous owners of your home may have covered up some otherwise original detail? More often than not, uncovering those details creates stunning focal points. Likely, you are here today because you want to learn how to discover and restore original features in your home. The following tips will give you some ideas of what you can do with your property:

Interior Features

It’s commonplace for people to change original features inside of their homes. Go into any property, and you will almost certainly see evidence of those original features covered up or replaced entirely.

Here are a few examples of interior features that you might want to consider restoring to their original look.

Fireplaces

One of the most significant telltale signs that you’ve got a period fireplace is by looking outside. Check out the top of your roof; do you have any chimney stacks perched on the apex? If so, you more than likely have an original fireplace in your living room. Some properties even have additional fireplaces in other rooms too!

There was a time when many homeowners preferred gas and electric fires in their living rooms. It’s not unusual to see such a modern fire fitted inside a period fireplace. Sometimes, homeowners even board up the fireplace completely! As you can imagine, it’s such a shame to have a period fireplace hidden away.

These days, traditional fireplaces are back in fashion and add more value to any property. When you open up the fireplace to how it was initially, you then have a couple of choices. You could create an open fireplace, or elect to fit a log burner instead. The latter of those choices tend to be more popular. But, if your home originally had an open fireplace, you may wish to retain that feature.

Be sure to have the chimney lined and any necessary inspections done. That way, you can rest assured that the fireplace and chimney will be safe to use.

Doors

Most houses come with cheap, hollowed-out interior doors. They give the impression of period styling, but are 100 percent modern! As you can imagine, they are cheap for a reason. First of all, they are hollow inside and typically have thick cardboard to space out the two sides. Secondly, they aren’t robust; you can easily put a hole in those doors without much effort.

If your property has such interior doors, you should consider replacing them with original period ones instead. You can often find solid wood doors from places such as architectural salvage shops. What’s more, there are plenty available to buy so that you can find some made around the same time as your house.

For added effect, consider buying matching doorknobs. If you’re having trouble finding originals, you could opt for reproduction ones instead.

Windows

Many homes will now have double or triple-glazed windows. They are excellent in that they keep your home warm and street noise out. While they are available in many different colours, they are too modern for older properties. Aside from having no windows in your house, what should you do?

Houses that were built before World War II didn’t have windows with plastic UPVC frames. Instead, most got built with sash windows – the ones with wooden frames that slid up and down to open. In England, the oldest surviving sash windows date back to the late 17th century! Sash windows are often found in Georgian and Victorian properties.

While sash windows look stylish and conjure up nostalgic thoughts of a home’s past, there are some drawbacks. Sash windows can sometimes have draught problems. Plus, if you happen to live by a busy main road, you can sometimes hear external noise inside your home.

Still, the news isn’t all bad. It’s possible to have secondary glazing installed in your home to combat both issues. There are many options available, and the styling is sympathetic to your home’s design. When you have secondary glazing installed, the benefits are almost as similar as the ones from UPVC windows. And from an investment point of view, they can increase the value of your home if it originally had those types of windows when new.

Floors

A surprising way to reintroduce the original features of any property is with the floors. You may not think it, but there could be hidden features lurking underneath your carpet! The majority of rooms in any home will have floorboards. Some may even have floorboards made of elm or oak wood. As you can imagine, in those cases it can be such a shame to hide them with carpet!

Believe it or not, you can restore such floorboards to their original condition quite easily. It’s even possible to DIY restore them using a floor sander and some varnish. Of course, you may decide it’s more convenient to hire a professional to do that for you.

In the kitchen, you will likely have some hidden flooring in there too! Yes, the majority of kitchens in British homes have tiled flooring. But, in older properties such as Victorian ones, previous owners may have had new tiles fitted over the top of the original ones.

When it comes to restoring original features, kitchen tiles are an excellent idea. They’re also one of the most useful for adding financial value to your home.

As you can appreciate, you have no way of knowing what the condition of the original tiles is like. Or even if you do have any tiles underneath your existing ones! The only way to find out is by removing your current floor tiles. Great care must be taken when doing that, so you don’t damage any original tiles underneath.

It’s unlikely that you could walk into your nearest DIY store and get the exact same original tiles. In those cases, if you decide to stick with the originals but need some spares, you may have a challenge on your hands! It might be possible to get reproduction ones made for you, but the cost might be expensive. Another option is to look online or in local architectural salvage shops. You might be lucky and find the same style of tiles for sale that someone else removed from their home.

If you decide to make use of original floorboards or tiles, it’s crucial to have the surface ‘sealed.’ Doing so will protect the surface, especially in high traffic areas like kitchens and living rooms.

Ceilings

You might think there isn’t much that can be done with ceilings in rooms, but you’d be surprised! Over the years, the previous owners of your home will have made significant alterations to the ceilings. For example, some people may have fitted adhesive polystyrene roof tiles and covings. They will have doubtless got covered with layers of paint over the years, and may even look like original features!

But, if you remove all that polystyrene, you will eventually expose the ceilings as they once were. In some rooms, such as the living room, there may even have been plaster ceiling roses. It might be worth researching which features your ceilings were likely to have had. Still, what we do know for sure is polystyrene roof tiles, and covings are not original features!

If you live in a Victorian or older property, it’s likely to have wooden beams running across the ceilings. Unfortunately, some people like to paint those beams rather than opting for the natural and original look. By restoring those beams back to their natural wooden style, you’ll add both aesthetic and financial value to your home!

When it comes to removing layers of paint from wood, always use the right tools for the job! If you’re sanding the wood back, be sure to do so in light layers. Otherwise, you run the risk of removing too much wood from the beams. It might be possible to use chemicals to strip the paint off the wood. But, some products could cause irreversible damage to the beams. If in doubt, talk to a professional for more information.

Walls

When it comes to redecorating, we don’t really give much thought to the walls. After all; we simply slap on a few coats of paint and forget about them! The thing is, your walls could be hiding a few secrets!

Don’t worry; you’re unlikely to find any hidden treasure (or people) hiding behind your walls! What is likely, though, is that there will have been some major alterations at some point. Those changes may have included adding stud work and plasterboards to some walls. Some homeowners may have had such work carried out to make rooms have a more uniform appearance. For example, you might find hidden alcoves boarded over by previous occupants.

It’s worth checking if the original plans for your home are still available. You can use that information as a reference point to determine if there were any wall changes. If you find hidden alcoves or even larger sections of wall, you’ll make those rooms bigger. And with larger rooms brings higher property values!

Did you know that in some properties, there might even be hidden features in walls like ‘dumbwaiters’? They are typically found in larger properties such as country mansions. In some properties, it’s not unusual to find entire rooms (albeit small ones) hidden away behind walls. Such rooms might be kitchen pantries, or storerooms and ‘broom cupboards.’

Staircases

Unless you live in a flat or a bungalow, you will have at least one staircase in your home. Staircases will have been covered over with various carpets over the years. More often than not, staircases may not appear as they once did many decades or centuries ago.

For example, some staircases might have had carpet runners and exposed wood on the sides. On that note, the wood itself might have layers of gloss white paint covering it!

The handrail might not even be the original one from when your home got built. It’s not unheard of for people to replace handrails or even move them to the opposite wall. If your abode has the original handrail, consider stripping off the layers of gloss paint on it to reveal its original, natural finish. You can seal the surface and use wood varnish to protect it.

Exterior features

Most changes made to a property will have got carried out inside of it. But, that doesn’t mean the exterior of your home looks the same as it was when it was originally built! Here are some examples of exterior items that may look different to original features.

Roofs

It will come as no surprise that the roof on your house will be slightly different to the original one. Things like roof tiles are quite durable but they don’t last forever. Erosion from the elements can cause them to split or fall down to the guttering, for instance.

With some properties, in particular ones that now have ‘listed status’, the type of roof might be completely different! Some properties like cottages, for instance, may have had thatched roofs instead of tiles.

If your home is several centuries old, there will doubtless be information on it from local museums or libraries. You might even come across some local history groups with old drawings of your home. It’s worth finding out what original features your roof had, and restoring them.

Paths

Last, but not least, did you know that you might have some hidden paths outside your home? It’s not uncommon for landscapers to have covered over original paths. The plans for your home should have details of those paths.

Still, why would something like a path be worth restoring? The paths outside some properties might have had ornate designs or got constructed to a particular pattern.

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