Monday, 6 January 2014

1930s House Original Features

Happy New Year everyone, I hope this year is kind to you all.  I'm long overdue in sharing some pictures of some of the original features left in my 1935 house.  We're lucky to have these features preserved, as in the 1970s a lot of work was done to the house in the form of an extension, an avocado toilet suite, feature wall with knick-knack shelves and lots of artexing.  I'll save photos of those delights for later, when I can show 'before' and 'after' our rennovations.

To anyone interested in 1930s homes in the UK, I can't recommend The 1930s House Manual by Ian Rock enough.  It was invaluable when we were looking at our property, as it helped us understand a few things that our surveyor's report said, and helped allay some of our fears about old features and their potential dangers.  It also helped us to visualise some of the things we will be trying to achieve as we 'undo' some of the 1970s work and take it back to a more traditional and authentic finish.

First of all, our entrance hall.  Apparently in the 1930s, large entrance halls were popular as it helped you impress visitors - an idea of how social standing was important to people at the time.  The stair panelling is original, and in the book I read that - and saw visual evidence of - quite outlandish colour schemes in greens, reds and yellows.  I wonder if ours was ever bright and clashing, or if our previous owners just kept it neutral?  Our hallway is currently carpeted, but the original parquet is preserved underneath.

1930s house original features

The original parquet flooring is also in the dining room, and is under the carpet in our living room.  The blocks are in a herringbone pattern, approx 3" by 8", and apparently oak was commonly used at the time our house was built.  We can't be sure what wood it is - my other half thinks it might be pine, but that's quite a soft wood so I'm not convinced that it would have been used for the flooring.  Interjection by other half leaning over my laptop - I've just been told that 'pitched pine' is hard-wearing and used a lot as flooring, so there's my theory out the window!!


As well as the parquet, our dining room has a beautiful bay window.  Curves were very popular in the 1930s, especially with the Art Deco aesthetic, and a bay window really does introduce a lot of light into a room and open it up.

 
Stained glass portholes are another common feature of 1930s homes.  On the inside, ours is in the under-stairs cupboard, a shame really to have the feature tucked away!  But at night, with the light on in the cupboard, the glass looks beautiful as you approach our doorway.  The glass is leaded, and with age, the whole panel can start to bow slightly.


The lovely black and white tiled floor of our under-stairs cupboard.  Excuse the mess!


Upstairs in one of the bedrooms, the original 1930s linen cupboards are present.  Today, the boiler is in one half, but we still have the rest of the space to fill up with towels and sheets.


Two of our bedrooms have the orginal panelled ceilings.  The book was very helpful in explaining that the panels would be made of fibreboard, which was good to know because our surveyor wasn't 100% sure what they were made of, and if they'd been made later could have contained harmful asbestos.  Knowing that they were the original panels, we could identify that they were perfectly safe.  (I have to say, our estate agent mentioned that we'd probably 'want to change those', but then she thought the house was from the 1960s!).


Finally, upstairs all of the original doors, and possibly the original handles, are all present and correct.  The doors have 'rising butt' hinges, which means that as the door swings open, the whole door rises slightly in order for the door to smoothly rise over the carpet.  Downstairs, 4 of the original doors have been replaced with 1970's ones, the ones with a veneer over a hollow centre filled with what looks like corrugated cardboard.  They are on the list for replacing.


There are some more features that are hidden away a little - I have peeked behind our electric fire in the lounge to see a glimpse of some original 1930's tiles, but most are cracked or missing.

I wonder what else we will discover as we embark on our DIY projects?  If you are interested in seeing more 1930's interiors, you might like this post that features authentic 1930's decoration and furnishings at a museum.

What is your favourite feature of a 1930's house?  Do you like the style??

14 comments:

  1. We live in a (rented) 1930's house that has been sadly redone in the 1970's too. They have blocked off two the original doorways, turned the larder into a under stairs cupboard, knocked the downstairs through into one big room and built a hideous stone fireplace! We have no original features left inside the house and sadly the most terrible mould problem as the owner refuses to have cavity wall insulation.

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    1. We too have a stone fireplace of hideous proportions!! It's going at some point, want to get a nice wood burner in there, which isn't very '30s but we're being practical! I am sorry you're having such a mould problem, we're having some issues too with damp and condensation and mildew, but on reading specialist stuff for insulating period properties, sometimes modern 'fixes' can actually end up making things worse. It depends on what type of 'ties' are used in a cavity wall - earlier 'ties', from perhaps the 1920s and earlier were essentially bridges made of brick or something, which meant that the walls weren't really cavity at all, more like solid construction in how they can draw moisture in. Later ties, such as metal ones, were a lot more common in the 1930s (and started to deteriorate in the 1980s, which is why you sometimes see 1930s houses with little patches all over the outside wall, it means they've had their wall ties replaced!). But if you've had chimneys blocked up, then it basically does the same thing - draws moisture in from outside. So it's a whole can of worms, and we've got a lot to learn before we get it all sorted! Anyway, that's probably a whole other post dedicated to insulating period homes, what a treat to look forward to! x

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  2. What an elegantly beautiful home. I love each and every element of it that you shared here, especially the stained glass windows. We don't have the same widespread number of 1930s houses (let alone ones that look anything like this classic British style) here in Canada, so it's tricky for me to say what design features are my fave first hand. From an armchair standpoint though, I've long felt drawn towards the classic decor shapes (such as round windows) and hard wood floors.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. That's sweet of you to say. You may not have the number of 1930s homes we have, but North American homes have their own unique charm, which we Brits love! And your new-builds are so much more attractive than ours, that's a whole other story.

      The wood floor was one of the things I fell in love with, it's just dreamy!

      P x

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  3. Your home looks beautiful, you're done a wonderful job on it so far. Loved your cd shelving too x

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    1. Thanks Gem, the OH can't get enough praise for the 'shelves that nearly killed him' as they shall forever be known!
      P x

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  4. Aaah, so nice to have original features - though I bet there are 60s/70s fans who'd kill for that avocado suite!

    I think I have some information somewhere on (British) 1930s interior colour schemes, if you'd like me to dig it out...

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    1. Ooo yes please Mim!! I've seen some really garish ones in pictures before. xx

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  5. This sounds just lik the house we are buying - some baaaad things happened in the 1970s. Including our dark blue bathroom and stone fireplace. Can't wait to move in and start searching for original features.

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  6. Are you sure the panelled ceilings are not asbestos? We have the same ones in our 1935 built house and an asbestos survey has come back saying they are asbestos cement boards.

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    1. It was one of our first thoughts - but on reading the '1930s House' book and doing lots more online research, I'm 99% certain they're fibreboard. They're produced in long panels (asbestos ones are a slightly different size/shape), they're papered over (this was done with fibreboard) and they are fairly soft - asbestos is very hard. The only definitive way would be to get a test but we are not disturbing them anytime soon so they're perfectly safe for the time being. From the pictures I've seen of asbestos cement boards, the panels look a little different as do the 'crossbars' - do you have a picture of yours?? Thanks for your input!

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  7. Our boards are very hard and the survey guys did say that anything soft was not asbestos cement so you are probably fine. It just threw me that your ceiling looks so similar to ours. Here is a picture of our ceiling:
    http://juergs.com/photos/picture.php?/7434/category/268
    The folder shows our house on completion day less than a month ago. There is lots of work to do but we love our 1930's house. Thanks for sharing the pictures of your house - it is great to see all the original features!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing that pic - I can see now why you thought ours were the same, gosh they look similar don't they? I will be sure in future to make sure we test each individual board for hardness before doing any DIY, just to doublecheck that one hasn't been replaced with asbestos along the way. Best of luck with your house renovation - please pop back with a link to 'before and after' pics if you can! And check back on this blog before Christmas to see our living room redecoration, we're taking out a '70s wall and opening up the original '30s fireplace to put a woodburner in, plus getting some '80s artexing skimmed over, and hopefully restoring the parquet floor. Lots to do! Thanks again x

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  8. Will definitely post before and after pics and check yours out too. I have your page bookmarked now! Thanks, Nutan.

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