The Good Old Edwardian Terrace
The Edwardians were a breath of fresh air after the dark, stuffy Victorian era. Their homes were light and airy and less ornate than their predecessors. They embraced the arts and crafts movement, influenced by William Morris, which rejected the damaging effects and mass production of industrialisation and instead celebrated craftsmanship, reforming design and decoration. Electricity had only recently been introduced and was becoming more commonplace in households which meant that rooms no longer had to be decorated in dark, heavy colours to hide the sooty mess that all those candles made, and the Edwardians enthusiastically adopted this new way of living. It was William Morris who declared “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. The original Marie Kondo!
Built in the early 20th century Edwardian terraces are good, solid housing, exuding character and brimming with period features. What’s not to love about their colourful red brickwork, stunning stone mullions, proud bay windows, decorative tiled and wooden parquet floors and cast-iron fireplaces. Their walls and ceilings adorned with a variety of cornicing, ceiling roses, picture and dado rails; a perfect combination of good design, attention to the detail and practicality. Sadly, they don’t build houses like they used to! *
Our Edwardian terrace is a little gem; a short walk from the centre of Cardiff with the beautiful Bute Park on our doorstep. Period properties are such a good investment and a pleasure to live in. We decided not to convert the ground floor into an open-plan living space and have kept the rooms as intended, but I’ve seen some fantastic conversions. And adding a dormer loft conversion can be truly transformational. These homes are so versatile; small enough to suit somebody living on their own but can happily be converted into a good-sized family forever home. A minor drawback is garden size; being so near the centre of towns and cities, the gardens are quite cosy. One way around this is to take advantage of any space you have available. We rebuilt the garage at the end of our garden with a flat, trafficable roof, adding seating and planters - similar to a roof terrace, which has doubled the length of our garden.
Inside, I decided to keep to the décor sympathetic to the original Edwardian colour palette of muted pastels e.g. Farrow and Ball Dayroom Yellow in the hallway, Peignoir in the spare bedroom and Breakfast Room Green in the study. Unfortunately, the previous owners had stripped out all of the original cornicing and picture rails, so we have installed our own, slightly updated version of a picture rail with concealed lighting. They had also covered up the beautiful original doors and stairs with hardboard. Sacrilege! So, we stripped everything back to the original, removed and dipped the doors and balustrades and then reinstated them all and protected them with a clear satin varnish. We refurbished all of our original tiled and parquet floors downstairs and revealed the original floorboards upstairs. The result is a beautiful home full of perfect imperfections.
I really hope that first time buyers in particular aren’t put off from buying a period property. They may require a little bit of work and some maintenance, but all houses do, even new builds. With a little bit of imagination and a lot of elbow grease, terraced period properties can be refurbished into fantastic homes to be proud of.
*My husband is an architect and developer who aims to build zero carbon buildings for future generations, so there is hope for us yet… see www.serohomes.com for further information.