Victorian Homes

Victorian house renovation: 6 top tips

Victorian home renovation

So you’ve bought your dream Victorian home but, having been built more than 100 years ago, you want to update or restore it to its former glory. Here are six projects to help kickstart your Victorian home renovation.

1. Install draught-proof sash windows

Sash windows are lovely, but they are often draughty and poorly insulated. The first job for your Victorian home renovation is to get a specialist to fit bespoke secondary glazing so you retain the Victorian elegance but get rid of the draughts.

If you need to replace the whole window – perhaps the old wooden frames are rotting or damaged beyond repair – go to a specialist. New double-glazed sash windows could cut heat loss in your home by as much as 75% and they come with specially treated wooden frames to extend their lives, so this is well-worth the investment.

Victorian home renovation
Victorian home renovation

2. Show off your cornices and ceiling roses

Many Victorian homes were typified by decorative plaster cornicing and ceiling roses adorning ceilings, arches and other architectural detailing. As part of your Victorian home renovation, restore them to their former glory.

Ornate plasterwork was often removed when many Victorian homes were modernised in the 1970s and 1980s, but mouldings can be replaced thanks to a wealth of companies that offer a host of options for Victorian homeowners. Find out more by reading our blog on caring for your ornamental plasterwork.

3. Restore your fireplace to its former glory

When they were constructed, Victorian homes boasted a fireplace in just about every room. Nowadays, with the development of central heating systems, many have been blocked.

But there has been something of a resurgence as many people are now wanting to restore their fireplaces to their former glory. After all, there’s nothing like a fireplace for creating a cosy, inviting atmosphere. Plus, it can be an easy and cost-effective way of heating your sitting room without turning the central heating on.

And if you own a Victorian home, changes are you’ve got a beautiful fireplace just waiting to be restored.

First, get a sweep who will clean and inspect the chimney flue and advise of any damage. You can find a local approved sweep using the HETAS website.

Victorian houses typically had one-piece cast iron fireplaces with the surround and insert combined, or cast-iron inserts with surrounds made of stone, marble or timber. Many had tiled inserts on the side.

Nowadays Victorian fireplaces have been overpainted and often have damaged tiles, cracked hearths, and cracked firebacks.

You can knock years off the look of your cast iron fireplace with a lick of matte black fireplace paint. You’ll probably need to call in a builder if you want to replace a broken hearth or firebricks. A decent DIYer should be able to chip off the tiles and replace them.

Find out how to keep your fireplace safe, clean and efficient in our blog.

Victorian home renovation

4.  Restore wooden floors to their original Victorian shine

Victorian homes combined pine floorboards throughout the house with tiles in hallways. Carpets and lino became fashionable in the mid 1800s but some of the floorboards were left exposed to give an authentic Victorian feel.

As part of your Victorian home renovation, hire or borrow an electric sander to strip the boards back and restain them with a shade of your choosing. The Victorians preferred dark colours to try to replicate the expensive look of mahogany, but nowadays homeowners tend to go for lighter shades.

If you are lucky and have parquet flooring, now is the time to stain, polish and replace any damaged areas. Read our blog on how to care for parquet flooring for more information.

download the full victorian homes ebook

Download Victorian Homes, a free ebook created by Adrian Flux insurance services. It is full of Victorian house facts, tips on how to create a Victorian style house — even if you live in a new-build home — and advice on where to source original Victorian and reproduction fixtures, fittings, furniture, accessories and art.

5. Give your kitchen some Victorian charm

One of the biggest problems with a Vicorian home renovation is how to tackle the kitchen. That’s because the appliances that have become essential today simply didn’t exist during Victoria’s reign.

Is it possible to create a space that is sympathetic to the age of the property but also meets modern requirements? Yes it is.

If your kitchen has a chimney breast – where the original wood stove would have sat – this could be the ideal place to have a range that will add atmosphere and warmth to the kitchen.

Other appliances can be hidden in cupboards or even behind curtains – the Victorians often added a curtained area underneath their sinks.

Victorian kitchens didn’t have fitted cabinetry. Instead they had freestanding storage units, of which the dresser was one of the most important, and in it you could display your poshest glassware and crockery. Adding a dresser like this is a fairly simple way of adding a traditional Victorian feel to your kitchen. You might even be able to find one at a car boot sale or auction.

6. Add some Victorian features to your bathroom

The earliest Victorian bathrooms were decorated in exactly the same way as a bedroom or parlour with rugs, paintings, wallpaper and tables, with only the addition of a bath, sink and toilet.

When the penny dropped that wood wasn’t particularly practical in bathrooms, rooms began to be tiled and fixtures were made of porcelain so they were easy to clean.

Today, industrial-strength varnish means that, as part of your Victorian home renovation, an element of wood can be reintroduced into a bathroom without the fear of damp or warping.

The main feature of the bathroom was a free-standing cast iron bath with claw feet. There were showers, but they were still quite rare.

Today, it is best to look for a reproduction bath and a faux-Victorian style shower. Add accessories to anchor your theme in Victoriana: think over-the-bath racks, glass shelves with chrome fittings, freestanding or wall-mounted soap dish holders, medicine cabinets, chrome and wooden toilet roll holders, hooks, towel rails and mirrors. Read more tips in our blog on making a splash in your Victorian bathroom.

Get a Victorian home insurance quote before your renovation

If you’re planning a Victorian home renovation, now would be a good time to review your household insurance options too. Adrian Flux specialises in bespoke insurance for Victorian homes. Call 0800 369 8590 for a free no obligation quote,

Our home insurance customers saved an average of 31% in 2021 when taking out a policy with us. See how much you could save by giving us a call.

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