Traditional features within period homes

As an architect and designer of home extensions in London & Brighton, we have a strong appreciation for the traditional features that are found within period properties. Historical architecture is arguably more detailed and far more intricate in detail then modern-day design. Modern design often boasts clean lines and simplicity. Architecture in the Edwardian, Victoria and Georgian era favoured complex cornicing and ceiling roses. 

The developers of Victorian homes were born during the Industrial Revolution. The industrial revolution enabled mass production of new features and mass transit (the railroad system), which meant ornamental architectural features suddenly become much more readily available and affordable. For this reason, it’s common to see lots of brackets, spindles, scrollwork, and other machine-made building parts on these properties. 

Why re-design? 

While many homeowners, architects and designers appreciate these intricate features of period properties, the larger scale design of these properties feels outdated. Period properties were designed to have lots of enclosed rooms as they were designed before mass-central heating systems were used. Homeowners therefore relied on fires and chimneys to heat rooms. As a result, we see the typical three-room design within the ground floor or Victorian and Edwardian properties: the living room (often with a bay window facing the street), the dining room and the kitchen to the rear. These properties often have a side return leading to the garden. 

Why extend?

One of the main reasons homeowners chose to extend their property on the ground floor is to gain more liveable space. If you have a side return you will know it’s a highly inefficient space and it would be much better used encompassed within the kitchen. The other reason homeowners chose to extend is to re-design their home to suit their lifestyle. With central heating systems and more effective insulation, heating the home is no longer such an issue. Open plan living is often the preferred design choice, creating a lighter and more social multi-functional area. It’s also more desirable to have natural light within the home and there are loads of effective modern methods to encourage more of it within the home now too. 

Can I keep my traditional features?

Yes absolutely! We love traditional features and often use them to enhance and complement our designs. Some homeowners want to remove chimney breasts for more space, but many want to keep them and work them into the design. You can always opt to remove one or two if they are interrupting your design, but to maintain others to keep that period home aesthetic. There are loads of design options! 

Cornicing can also be repaired, maintained, or removed depending on your preference and style. We recently installed these beautiful ceiling roses on our project in Ealing. This extension is almost all new space so there was very little existing cornicing to work with. The property was in a conservation area, so we were also sensitive in our proposed loft conversion to ensure the council approved our planning application to extend.

Why extend into the loft?

Most period properties have been designed with pitched roofs. In most cases these can be extended with a loft extension. Most planning policy will restrict modifications to the front façade, so the extension is generally to the rear pitch. You open the rear slope of the roof and add a box on-top, also known as a ‘dormer’ on the rear of the property. This opens the room and gives it the traditional flat ceiling, enabling the room to be used as a bedroom, office, or study. If the property has an existing outrigger, you can even add a double dormer, adding two bedrooms to the property. We extended the loft of this family home in Wandsworth and added two spacious bedrooms and a bathroom, taking the property from a 3-bed to a 5-bed. 

Can your builder restore other traditional features?

Yes absolutely! While you’ve got the builders in it’s often a good excuse to refurbish or re-do work elsewhere in the property. Our recommended builder often adds scope of works elsewhere. It’s common to re-do windows, especially if the property has the original windows from when it was built. Building regulations mandates double glazing now so the new windows would be much quieter and safer.

Our builder recently built this side extension on the Southfield’s grid in Wandsworth. He took great care and time in re-purposing the bricks so that the new extension seamlessly transitions into the original brick façade of the property. Another shining example of how traditional features can be used to compliment a design! 

If you want to discuss your own project in more detail get in touch with our team today on 0207 043 2378 or email us at We look forward to hearing from you! 

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