When we were planning our loft extension, I didn’t want the new extension to feel like an ‘extension’. I wanted it to feel like it had always been there and flowed with the rest of the house. Of course the exterior would always look slightly different and more contemporary, since slate cladded boxy dorma’s weren’t exactly a trend back in the victorian era. But, what was important to me was that the fixtures such as skirting and architraves all matched (or at least the best they could) to add that beloved character back into the new extension.
So here’s my guide on how you can add character into your modern extension..
Our lounge had the original deep victorian skirting boards when we moved in, the 195mm kind, so this is something we wanted to replicate across the rest of our house as we started our renovation project. In hindsight we probably should have ripped the original ones out at the beginning, as we ended up sourcing the almost the exact same ones in MDF from skirtingworld and the time we spent sanding the trillion layers of paint off the originals could have been better spent on pinterest or in the pub. But, never mind. Lesson learnt.
And something which is a huge bug bear for me is that when we had our flooring laid, we had to have a horrible beading edge trim the old skirting boards to hide the expansion gap. Unlike the new skirting boards, which could sit ontop of the new flooring and hide these gaps. But unless your a pro DIY-er, how would you know these things!?
Does your home have the original architraves? Or are you starting from scratch? It was the same story for us. Original architraves on the ground and first floor, which again had accumulated layers of thick paint over the past 100 odd years.
This is also something that can easily be ripped out and added back in if you have a good carpenter, and can still feel very much ‘characterful’ if thats a word. If you already have original ones and feel as though your monster to rip them out, I feel your pain, however you are NOT a monster. However having flush closing doors and beautiful architraves which emulate your houses period style is the way forward.
I chose the Victorian 1 MDF Architrave in 95mm width and 18mm thickness for our loft extension as these matched the old ones the best. If I could start the house all over, I would have these everywhere. But that’s another story for another day.
If you know me, then you will know this is something I’m passionate about. We added a dado rail into our hallway to break up the wallpaper and paint. See previous blog post to read more on that. Top tip, choose a dado rail that looks most similar to your architraves to keep in with your homes period style.
If you can afford it, and again its in fitting with your homes period, why not add that beloved coving back in. Find local coving/plaster specialists in your area who can make a mould to match your original.
If you have the head height in your new extension, and the room calls for it, add a ceiling rose to your extension. But only if its appropriate. Many modern extensions have skylights, and feature lights which might not work with a ceiling rose. However, it’s something to keep in mind if you want to add in.
Spindles / Handrails
We had lovely spindles on our original landing/banister. They weren’t the original ones, but they were beautifully shaped and fitted with our homes victorian style. When the new stairs went in for the loft we needed new spindles, so made the call to replace them all. This is something I would completely recommend. At the end of the day, consistency is key in any home, so choose new ones and choose ones which emulate your homes original period.
Brick Slip Tiles
When planning our loft we talked about keeping the original brick chimney breast wall as a feature. However, once the stairs went in, and I saw the original walls in all their jagged and dusty glory, I changed my mind. We did however consider using these old stock style brick slip tiles from UK feature walls though to achieve the same look. But in the end, we went down a different root and kept the walls plastered and painted.
Brick slip tiles are a great way to add character back in to create that old cottage, or loft apartment look without having to chip the plaster off the walls. The texture is just like real bricks and if you use a traditional mortar mix, the end result will look like its always been there. And, did you know you can also use brick slips on the outside of your home too? So you can say goodbye to the pebble dash/ plastered exteriors, and hello to old style bricks again. It’s definitely something to bare in mind if you hate the exterior of your home.