PROPERTY / LIVING HISTORIES: Notes to Buyers: 4 The Edwardian House

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The Independent Culture
GLAZING in the porch, a common 'improvement' to the Edwardian house, should never be considered. Detailing is irreversibly lost; surrounding brickwork and plaster ornament is often destroyed to facilitate fitting. Decorative wooden elements such as turned columns or brackets are sacrificed. With the recess to the front door gone, the property presents a blank, dead face to the street.

Bright white paint on exterior wood or stonework gives too much emphasis to features such as windows and doors, and is historically inappropriate. Edwardian woodwork would commonly have been painted deep green or dark red, with brown making an appearance too. Sills and stonework surrounding windows were painted off-white or cream. More subtle colours give depth and variety.

Edwardian houses tend to have substantial lofts, often converted today into study-bedrooms or laid with floorboards to create extra storage space. Square skylights are best fitted to the less noticeable rear of the roof rather than the front, where they break up the long clean sweep of tiles and become an unsympathetic feature.

Edwardian doors, skirting boards and so on - invariably pine in the average home - were never left exposed and undecorated as is the fashion today. Pine, considered a coarse, inferior material, was generally grained in imitation of more expensive woods. Only the wellheeled who could afford fine oak and mahogany left it unadorned.

Laying a fitted carpet over a tiled floor in the hall should be avoided. Carpet fixings are usually nailed through tiles, which cracks and disturbs them. Opt for rugs instead.

Modern replacement windows do more to compromise the character of a house than any other 'improvement' - and lower its value. A good joiner will be able to repair most wood-framed windows.

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