Every property has a heritage, whether it’s heritage listed or not (visit the NSW State Heritage Inventory if you want to check whether a property is listed). There’s some debate about the benefits and costs of owning a heritage listed property, but many people enjoy living in a dwelling with a period style. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to make sure your decorations, living arrangements and renovations are in harmony with your property; here are some tips.
What kind of house is that?
First, it’s helpful to have a handle on the most common architectural styles and their characteristics. Typically, architectural styles are attached to the times in which they were built and the Inner West features a great cross-section including Victorian, Federation, California Bungalow, Art Deco and International styles.
Decorating and furnishing
It’s especially important to fill a period home with furniture and decorations that complement its style. That doesn’t mean spending a fortune buying antiques, rather it means you need to be especially aware of how things will look and feel once they’re in place. Of course, if you trust your ‘design eye’ enough, you can bring ultra-modern furniture and design into your period home and create a fantastic space that combines the charm of the old with the style of the new.
Colours can make a world of difference. By keeping your walls, ceilings and any built-in fixtures (like kitchen and bathroom fittings) ‘in period’ you’ll have a suitable and sympathetic canvas for decorating.
Renovations and extensions
Broadly speaking, it’s best to work with your property’s style if you’re considering a renovation or extension. Doing some research can be a huge help, and you might want to seek out an architect who specializes in period extensions – ditto for your builder. These experts won’t just be familiar with period styles, they’ll also be able to advise on how to integrate a more modern renovation or extension so the styles complement each other, preserving the heritage while embracing the new.
If your home is on the heritage register, here’s when it’s important to be clear on what you can and can’t change. While owners have considerable freedom there are certain restrictions that must be respected. There are plenty of resources available to assist; for example the Art Deco and Modernism Society is a rich source of help and information for homeowners.
Selling a heritage property
Heritage properties can have a mixed reception on the market; on the one hand, there’s a perception that there are restrictions on ownership; on the other, they’re often in highly sought-after areas (like the Inner West) and over the long term should appreciate in value ahead of the market (because they’re a scarce commodity).
As always, the best way to make a good sale is to understand your buyers and allay their concerns. Presenting your heritage property as a ‘museum piece’ might not be the best strategy; then again, ignoring its innate character as you display and sell may mean you miss the mark. Your agent will be able to advise you on the best way to sell, based on their experience with the local area and their understanding of the market.
There’s a lot to love about a heritage property, from intangibles like ‘charm’ and ‘character’ to very tangible benefits like having a greater say in local developments and access to information that will help with renovating or decorating. So, if you own a heritage property – enjoy! And if you’re thinking of purchasing one – full speed ahead! There’s nothing quite like living in a home with a history attached.