4 ways to modernise a listed building

There is no doubt that living in a listed building is a very special experience. However, period homes were built for the families of that time who had very different ideas about ‘home comforts’ – there was no open-plan living in a Victorian home, and there were no designer kitchens or ensuite bathrooms in a Georgian house!

Understandably, today’s home-owners want all the comforts of modern-day living but within an historical setting – here’s how to strike the balance…

1. Go open-plan

Open plan kitchen-diners are still in demand and perhaps one of the easiest ways you can modernise a listed building. It may be a case of reconfiguring internal rooms, or it may be the addition of a glass box on the back of the house with bi-fold doors onto the garden. Either way, these touches can give modern families the living space they require.

2. Add a bathroom or two

Bathrooms were non-existent in Georgian homes and only the smartest Victorian homes could afford plumbing and running water. Today, modern homes are built with a number of bathrooms, with at least one or two being ensuite. Adding, moving or modernising existing bathrooms in your listed property is not only essential, but one of the quickest ways to add the level of comfort we expect from our homes today. Bathroom style can be dictated by he period of your property – roll top baths and Victorian fixtures are still very popular, while decorating in Georgian palettes creates a very calm atmosphere in keeping with the rest of the property.

3. Get wired for the 21st century

When you buy a listed property you may find that it hasn’t been wired for decades: as a rule, if a house hasn’t been rewired for more than 30 years, it will need to have some work to bring it up to current standards, otherwise it may be dangerous and unable to cope with the demands of modern living. With the advent of the internet, wifi, smart TVs, surround sound, not to mention lighting, electric cookers, fridges and washing machines, our electricity needs have changed dramatically over the last 60 years. You may want to install external lighting, create a home office, a media room or a utility room – all of which will require a thorough review of the property’s current systems.   

4. Choose efficient energy

Installing a new heating system is another way of modernising a listed building. Today there are several ways to heat a home – whether you want to go down the green route with solar panels and ground source pumps or stick to conventional gas or oil radiators. Underfloor heating is an increasingly popular choice in family homes which have open-plan living, however you will need to consider your flooring and ask an expert to check for any signs of damp.

Any of the above will help to give a beautiful listed building a more family-friendly appeal. However, it is essential that you obtain the correct planning consents before starting any work internally and externally. Take a look at planningportal.co.uk for more advice. 

Peter Little
Property Conservation Company Ltd