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How to give you period home a modern update


At AUTHOR we celebrate all styles of design. From traditional period pieces to contemporary takes on British craftsmanship, we understand that everyone has a different way of decorating. This week we’re discussing how to give your period home a modern update.

Modern design can bring out the best in a period property and from contemporary furniture additions to inspirational interior design touches, there are plenty of ways to bring a period property into the modern world. We’ve gathered our top tips for decorating a period property to make it look fresh while still paying tribute to its original features.

Keep your colour palette light


Certain period properties can have lofty and large spaces, with plenty of windows for light to spill through. While Victorian walls can easily handle a darker shade of paint or opulent wallpaper, you could opt for a lighter colour palette instead. Using fresh layered whites or neutral tones help make the most of natural light and bring a bright and airy feel. That extends to your decor too; light furniture can add to the calming atmosphere and can be dressed up and down with colourful accents depending on the season.

Author’s pick: Helm Chair

But don’t be afraid to create a statement feature wall

Mary Wallpaper

If you’re a fan of colour, a period property can take it while still looking modern. Just add it to one of the walls instead. Victorian homes are typically dark and ornate so can handle inky tones of green and blue, as well as rich shades of red and purple. Create a feature wall with a patterned wallpaper and pair it with mid-century modern furniture for the ultimate maximalist but modern aesthetic.

Author’s pick: Mary Wallpaper

Dress your windows


Period houses are known for their windows and if you’re lucky enough to have large bay or sash styles, you need to keep them in good order and dress them accordingly. Wooden shutters are well worth bringing back into use and if left without curtains will add to a clean, modern aesthetic. Equally, if shutters are not available, or if you want to give a warmer, more clothed aesthetic, you could opt for full drop curtains. Period properties with high ceilings will mean you need bespoke curtains so choose a fabric that draws the eye to your windows and have a full-length style made to accentuate height.

Author’s pick: Midnight Limbs Fabric

Make cornicing a feature


Intricate cornicing is a staple of period home interiors and these decorative touches should be celebrated, even in a modern setting. Update these features by adding pops of colour to ceiling roses or by contrasting them with modern lighting. Picture rails are another typical feature of older homes and can easily be brought into this century by using them to hang artwork, or just as a design element. They can be used to break up wall colours in a contemporary way, or painted in the same shade to create a continuous look straight up to the ceiling.

Add statement rugs to accentuate flooring

Chira Rug

Wood flooring and period properties go hand in hand with one another, but you still need to add warmth to your home. A statement rug will add a contemporary touch to your living room or bedroom. Pick a style with bright colours such as the Hugo Tapis by Roger Oates or a geometric pattern as seen in this Geometric Chequerboard number. Don’t go overboard; simplicity is key here as you still want to show off the natural grain and texture of the floor.

Author’s pick: Chira Rug

Create a feature gallery wall

Mobile Home Paintings

Modernise your walls by hanging contemporary artwork in a gallery wall feature. Mixing styles and types of art will bring about the best overall aesthetic and you can finish the look by placing a console or modern desk in front. Framing is essential here to keep the look fresh; don’t go for ornate golden styles and instead opt for simple black or glass frames. For the braver amongst you, choose items other than framed works, such as plates and other sculptural pieces for an eclectic finish that will add new points of interest to your period home.

Author’s pick: Izzy Wall Plate

Add mirrors to accentuate light

Port Side Mirror

While we’ve mentioned that period properties tend to be on the larger side, hallways can be cramped and limited on light. Add impact to all rooms with mirrors in strategic areas to reflect natural light. Contemporary styles are also a must. Think large round designs or arc styles and move away from those with detailed frames that will steer your overall scheme more to the traditional side.

Author’s pick: Port Side Mirror

Mix in Modern Furniture

Oxbow Chair

One of the simplest ways to update a period home is to update the furniture inside it. Contemporary furniture looks idyllic when contrasted against traditional backgrounds and will bring an effortlessly sophisticated feel. Modern and traditional designs can sit harmoniously together so don’t assume that you need to be one or the other when decorating a period property. We champion a huge range of designers merging traditional techniques with contemporary design – you can have the best of both worlds.

Author’s pick: Nahlin Dining Chair

Go bold with lighting

Olivier Floor Lamp

Those extras-high ceilings mean that you can afford to go bold on your ceiling lights with contemporary pendants and chandeliers. Create a statement with our Shine Chandelier but don’t forget to consider other lighting too. Table lamps, floor lamps and wall lighting will all help to modernise your period home and finish off your design scheme.

Author’s pick: Zoe Ceramic Table Lamp

Still looking for tips to help style your home? The AUTHOR team is here to advise on any aspects of design and furnishing. If you would like any further advice or interior design tips on how to make the most of your interior space, please do get in touch.

Read more of our styling guides here on on our Magazine.

About the Author


Written by Jane Adams, founder of Author Interiors. LinkedIn:

Read more about her here.

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