With turrets and towers, bay windows and bullnoses, ornate fretwork and verandahs, Queen Anne Federation style homes couldn't be more different to the contemporary box style houses being built all over Australia today.
Queen Anne houses with their wealth of decorative details – inside and out – are sometimes described as ‘frilly.’ Frills can be charming, but if you’re looking to create a home with modern creature comforts, you need to find a way to combine the best of the old and the new.
Not sure where to begin? Here are our tips:
If you’re buying a house that’s more than 100 years old, you’re very likely to be taking on a home with someone else’s ‘improvements.’ There’s no point ripping out something for the sake of it, but do look at modifications, such as small lean to extensions, and consider if they truly meet your needs. Maybe the floor plan could be better reconfigured? Maybe you need to repurpose a particular space or perhaps you simply need to create better flow within the home.
Period features, design details and colours can be a rich source of ideas for a renovation. If your home has beautifully tiled stairs to the front door or original stained glass, you may like to use these as inspiration for your colour palette.
If you’re planning an extension, you may want to consider introducing architectural details such as ornate moulded ceilings or cornicing. There’s no need to try and create an exact replica of what’s in the original part of the home. In fact, many architectural historians would advise you not to. The simplest, and probably the best, approach is to choose something similar and complementary to the original feature without trying to replicate it.
Create a cohesive look in the older and newer parts of the home by working with the same materials and colour palette. Door hardware, for example, could be brass throughout, but combine original and newer examples.
Similarly, if you want to incorporate period and contemporary elements in a functional space like a kitchen or bathroom, choosing new and older items in the same colour palette will help create a harmonious feel. A monochrome scheme of black, blue or green with white usually works well for vintage and modern designs.
Enhance the feeling of spaciousness and create a smooth transition between the older parts of a house and newer additions, by using a single type of flooring throughout. Timber or timber effect flooring is a good choice as it complements traditional and contemporary style homes.
Want a contemporary kitchen that will complement the period features in your home? Look for fixtures and fittings in styles and finishes that will give you the performance and functionality you need without looking out of place. For example, simple Shaker-style cabinets or V-groove panelled joinery are simple, elegant and work well in older properties.
Complement your cabinets with a timeless choice of bench top; timber, marble and engineered stone all work well in classic and contemporary kitchens. Butler sinks and traditional tap ware are widely available now and much more affordable these days.
Bunnings offers a special order service for its Chambord ceramic sinks, but if your budget is really tight it’s worth seeing what you can find on eBay or Gumtree.
When it comes to choosing appliances, Ilve and Smeg both produce freestanding cookers, which look much more in keeping with heritage homes than built in options.
Bathrooms can be a place where period inspiration shines. If you have a coloured leadlight window in your bathroom but are thinking of relocating it, consider moving the window too. If you don’t need the old window for the bathroom, consider repurposing it elsewhere, for example as a kitchen or hallway skylight.
You may also want to think about installing a traditional claw foot bath tub and heritage inspired tiles. As with kitchens, traditional ceramic sinks work well in period bathrooms. If space allows, dual vanities are practical and appeal to many potential buyers.
If you have the skills, you could repurpose an old cabinet, dresser or table into a vanity. It’ll give you a one of a kind look in keeping with the period style of your home. Complete your bathroom space with antique style mirrors.
These days most of us want to create homes that are lighter and more spacious than those of a century or so ago. We also love our creature comforts and modern technology. Fortunately, those things don’t have to be incompatible with period houses. A thoughtful renovation can breathe new life into an old home and help ensure it’s cherished for years to come.
If you would like to discuss home renovation options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
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