From your experience merging energy efficiency with the preservation of a home's original character, what insights can you offer those aiming to achieve a similar balance in their own refurbishments?
Retaining the front facade:
Often much of a period property’s character is in its external front facade. This can be retained by insulating the front facade internally instead of externally. Also, consider double or triple-glazed traditional sash window replacements at the front.
An original front door can be retained and improved with draft strips and a draft-proof mailbox. Secondary glazing can be installed behind character stained glass in the door and fanlight.
A 12mm to 15mm (1/2 inch to 5/8 inch) thick layer of Lime Green Solo plaster, applied by a standard plasterer directly onto the brick walls, creates a naturally airtight layer inside the house. Lime plaster is a traditional material originally used in our period properties and left unfinished, the bare lime walls add texture and depth to the minimalist interiors.
If the character of the original fireplaces and chimney breasts are being retained, the flues will need to be insulated and made airtight, otherwise, they will be a significant source of heat loss. Vermiculite insulation can be poured in from the top of the chimney. Ventilation may need to be considered to avoid condensation.
Use as little steel and concrete as possible as both are energy intensive. Reuse original timber joists where possible and new beams could be formed from characterful reclaimed timbers instead of steels.
Rather than a polished concrete floor (beloved of architects) we used natural stone tiles for the ground floor and in all the bathrooms, which would have been a familiar building material to Victorian and Edwardian house builders.
Upstairs, the floors are in timber, again a traditional characterful material. We used both oak and - in the master bedroom - Douglas fir.
The simple, minimal palette of natural materials can create a tranquil yet characterful backdrop in any home.