Many people move from a city to the countryside when they start to long for space or a home to bring up their families. A love for country and period homes with character is also a huge attraction. However, these traditional homes need to be adaptable for the lifestyle changes associated with modern country living.
Here, I share my top 5 tips for creating a traditional home that works with your modern lifestyle.
1. CONSIDER THE LAYOUT
Traditional homes have wonderful character with unusual layouts. They don’t always work though for modern living. Large kitchens in older properties are rare, so an extension to allow for a large country kitchen is often the best route. There is more advice about planning a modern country kitchen here. However, obtaining planning permission for these types of extensions can be very challenging and many people spend years trying to get the planning permission. My advice is to appoint a planning consultant (and a heritage consultant for a listed property) who will work alongside your architect. A planning consultant will ensure that your plans stand their best possible chance of being approved. They can save you a huge amount of time, money and stress!
2. CONSIDER A BOOTROOM
If you’re concerned by potential challenges caused by mud, dogs, and storage, you may want to start with a bootroom. A space with its own entryway, bootrooms provide the perfect spot for shedding the day before enjoying the rest of your home. And it doesn’t have to be reserved for muddy paws, children’s shoes, coats and bags, either. Your bootroom could double as a utility room, if you want to free up space in your kitchen. Consider your bootroom alongside any designs for your kitchen, as you may wish to submit a joint planning application.
3. CONSIDER WARMTH AND COMFORT
For those new to country living, the temperature can come as a surprise – especially in larger and older houses. Underfloor heating is great for keeping you warm should you choose stone or floorboards over carpet. For stone flooring I would say underfloor heating is a must. In the case of a period property that can’t have underfloor heating and has original stone flooring? Rugs really come into their own. Choose a wool rug with texture to add warmth and a sense of cosiness. Rugs are also a great way to bring together a decorative scheme.
Original features are wonderful to look at but not designed for modern living and warmth. Use specialist joiners to update existing windows and always check in with your local council too before commencing work. If your house is listed you must get permission to change windows.
4. DON’T SHY AWAY FROM MODERN DESIGN
It can be very tempting to only include pieces that fit with a country feel and don’t necessarily reflect your personality. Don’t ever choose a product just because it fits into a country home stereotype or what you feel you “should” have in a period home. There are many simple design ideas that help bring together a more contemporary feel into a country setting. Ways that I do this include upholstering traditional pieces in modern fabrics; adding brighter coloured piping to cushions and upholstery; and introducing statement lighting or lighting in more modern finishes. This Cotswolds project I worked on for Justin Van Breda combines some of these elements and creates a modern country feel in this dining room. I have also put together an article on my 5 golden rules of interior design which may be of interest.
5. TAKE YOUR TIME
The move from a city to the countryside is a big one. Enjoy settling into your new lifestyle before making major decisions. I think it is always useful to live in a house for six months to understand how you use the house and simply things like the way the light changes throughout the day.
Of course there are exceptions. If you are moving to a house that needs a major renovation then these decisions have to be accelerated. That is when I advise to ask for professional advice. The number of decisions can be overwhelming and when you are used to city living it can be difficult to envisage your country home.