How to modernise a Georgian property

Written on 2 July 2018 by Giles Cook in Frequently Asked Questions


For many of us, ownership of a Georgian property is the stuff of dreams. But buildings are like us: they age and decay, and their interiors become outdated, requiring restoration and (sensitive) modernisation. 

modernise a Georgian property

Let’s say you admire Georgian architecture and can readily see yourself investing in a Georgian property. By knowing how to modernise a Georgian property – whether it should need modernising or your preference is to modernise it – you can breathe new life into it while retaining its innate delicate grandeur.  

Georgian interiors are often the easiest to restore, redecorate and refurbish. This is because Georgian proportions are defined by symmetry and clean lines. Rooms tend to be square and so are easier to furnish, while the tall sash windows and typically high ceilings are sought-after features which will not require alteration.  

When modernising a Georgian property, it is generally wise to let the impressive proportions speak for themselves while placing your own personal stamp on the property’s interiors.  

Below are some ideas of how to modernise a Georgian property.

Pick tradespeople with experience of period properties

As well as using an architect who’s well-versed in period restoration and conservation, adopt the same approach with builders and tradespeople. If the building is listed, work with people who have experience of listed buildings, as they will know to expect the unexpected.

Be prepared to replace the wiring and plumbing

If you buy a period property, there is always a possibility that you’ll need to replace the wiring and plumbing, which can amount to a lot of work. Before you buy, make sure an appropriate survey is carried out on the property. As long as no major structural problems are revealed, you should be able to modernise and personalise the property so that it meets your lifestyle needs.

Can the internal space flow better?

From creating an open plan kitchen to moving a door or two to enhance the flow of the bedrooms to the bathroom, you can always engage an architect to get some ideas as to how to make the property work better for you.

Don’t over-restore

The history of the building should still be able to shine through despite modernisation, but if you ‘over-restore’ the interiors, this can leave the property feeling devoid of that sense of history and heritage. Replace what needs replacing, and give your own spin to things, but it might be better to allow some things to stay the same. This should result in a building which feels up to date yet historic at the same time.

Let original features sing

Look to restore original period features where possible and incorporate them into your designs for modernisation. This will keep the integrity of the building intact yet allow you to alter the space so that it responds to your design tastes.

Make an impact with small, considered changes

Modernising doesn’t need to mean ripping everything out and starting from scratch. With a Georgian property you’ll find that small, considered changes may make a bigger and better impact. For example, if the entranceway needs a replacement floor, replace it to your taste and aim to find a solution which works well for the style of the property.

Don’t shy away from colour

That’s paint colour. Interestingly, because of the classical proportions, high ceilings and symmetry of the rooms, Georgian properties take bold colours well. Ceilings should ideally still be painted a white or off-white to reinforce the height of the ceiling and encourage a feeling of space, but walls will really shine when painted in anything from darker taupe shades to deep blues or strong reds. Yes, really.

Who might eventually buy it?

When modernising any property, always keep in the back of your mind what type of person might buy it and what might appeal to them. Aim to invest in period detail restoration and make sure the standard of workmanship is as high as possible. Focus on the little details. This will ensure the modernising influences you’ve brought in age well and enhance the value and appeal of the property over the long-term.

Consider yourself a custodian

This may be hard to hear, but if you buy a Georgian property, especially one that is listed, you should consider yourself a custodian rather than an owner. If it is listed or in a conservation area, planners are unlikely to approve any work you want to do if it doesn’t improve or help maintain the property. But this shouldn’t deter you, as the property is yours to enjoy for as long as you want to live in it.  

To find out more about buying, selling, letting or renting Georgian property through Best Gapp, contact us

Giles Cook

Giles joined Best Gapp as Partner Designate and Head of Residential Agency, bringing over 20 years’ experience to the firm. Following a three-year stint as an Area Director for Foxtons, he went on to head up Chestertons’ sales and lettings operations in central London, before becoming a Partner at top Knightsbridge boutique WA Ellis.

All articles by Giles Cook

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