Restoring Period Homes

September 26, 2018

heritage home melbourne

Bringing period homes into the 21st century is a labour of love. It takes a confident set of skills to restore, rebuild and seamlessly integrate a period style home with a cutting edge renovation. It’s this reason that many clients employ us to manage the restoration and building process from start to finish. A lot of the decisions regarding aesthetic detailing are made during the design stage.  

Breathing life back into a 19th century Victorian home, is a task that requires passion for the era. There are many factors which contribute to what you can and cannot do to the façade of a Victorian period home and this ultimately comes down to heritage sensitivity. 


Establish Heritage Restraints

Before we get started, you need to identify the parameters of your build. The most important question is, does your home have local council  heritage requirements or elements? Your local council can answer this for you, and can explain what you can and cannot do to your home. While it may not be compulsory, it’s in your best interest to comply with the neighbourhood throughout your restoration process.

Their main guidelines will focus on the façade of the house. These guidelines are not designed to make life difficult for renovators and investors, their goal is to maintain a piece of Melbourne’s architectural history. These beautiful homes add character, charm and value to many streets within Melbourne, and are highly sought after by buyers.

If you plan to renovate a heritage home you may be held responsible for maintaining or restoring the following features:

-Tessellated tiling

-Decorative timber elements

-Cast iron filigree


-Bullnose verandas

-Ornate ceilings

These features enhance your property’s heritage-feel and will appeal to buyers of this market. It’s a good idea to restore these details regardless of council restrictions and guidelines.

We highly recommend establishing a checklist that you and your builder can work from in terms of what is being restored and what isn’t. Once an original feature is removed it can be very hard to replace. If you can, always recycle and reuse original materials.


Find the Right Builder

The most important step in renovating your period-style home is to find the right builder. As we said, it has to be something that your team is passionate about. Restoration can be timely and cannot be rushed – it is a true labour of love. 

Architect and heritage consultant Robert Moore urges home owners to seek professional advice. “The best rule of thumb is to find someone who comes with good references and established experience in doing the kind of work you’re proposing,” Mr Moore says. “It’s an area of specialised knowledge.”


Maintain the Magic

So often we see the character stripped from these beautiful period homes and unfortunately for the developer, this does not go down well with buyers. Today’s market seeks modern contemporary and Victorian era character-filled homes – especially in Melbourne. There is however a way to incorporate both styles. This is done subtly, gently, and with the utmost respect to the home’s exterior details.

The Hansen Living team takes a respectful approach to maintaining the old-world charm and unique characteristics of your period home – all while incorporating modern techniques, materials, and finishes in a seamless manner from room to room. The interior of your home will feel modern, unique to your lifestyle with modern contemporary finishes, but you will still feel enveloped by the charm of your Victorian home. 


What can you do to a period home?

While each house is unique and will come with its own set of rules as determined by the council, these are the general guidelines to what you can do to modernise your period-style home:

  1. Install a contemporary kitchen
  2. Renovate bathrooms
  3. Open-up living spaces provided the structural integrity is maintained and in some cases part of the original walls must also be maintained
  4. Extend on the back-end of the home with a modern extension while maintaining the front of the house in its original style.

    P&S Heritage Consulting Architect, Suzanne Fuchs, explains that owners are typically not permitted to render the front façade, demolish or rebuild, or build up – essentially maintaining the way the dwelling looks from the street. “But you can have a federation front and go completely contemporary with a low-rise addition at the back.”, says Suzanne.   

Hansen Living Project: Victorian Charm

This unique piece of Port Melbourne real estate had been uninhabited for nine years. While the house itself appeared run down and in desperate need of a remodel and complete renovation to cater to its new owner, we dedicated ourselves to retaining its period charm.

We worked to maintain the exterior while giving the interior spaces a contemporary design – truly bringing the home into the 21st century for both design and functionality. 

heritage renovation

Melbourne Builder


Hansen Living projects are custom designed, architecturally influenced, and typically draw attention from those in the industry as we set the benchmark in building excellence.

See more beautifully restored Hansen Living homes here:

· Balgownie Beaconsfield Parade St Kilda West

· Barrett Street Albert Park

· Beaconsfield Parade Albert Park


Consider restoring and enhancing your period style home with Hansen Living – the experts in creating homes for lifestyles. Contact us today! 


Back to the blogs

Enquire now

If you want total piece of mind and to ensure your biggest asset is your most valuable,
contact Hansen Living so we can discuss how we can best benefit you.