Keeping Your Property's Unique Design Features When Refurbishing

Keeping Your Property's Unique Design Features When Refurbishing

Keeping Your Property's Unique Design Features When Refurbishing

Your workplace is where you'll spend a lot of your waking hours, and therefore the design is just as important as your own home. Offices go through distinct trends, as does all interior design, and one of the current trends is for preserving period features. Many of the coolest companies work in converted lofts, warehouses, and historic factories, and these sorts of places have really interesting, vintage features. Nobody wants to cover the history of these fascinating buildings, so it's worth working with designers who can make the most of this look. Here are some things to consider when working with an older building, and how to combine retro and modern looks.

Exposed brick

Exposed brick walls are common in older, industrial style buildings, and they look amazing in converted office spaces. In the past, people might have plastered over exposed brick, but now it can look great as the focal point of a room or as a feature wall. Depending on the brick underneath you could go for a neat, contemporary look, or more of a rustic style. Exposed brick looks nice with sleek, metal fittings and other modern designs, providing an interesting contrast between styles.


Newer properties tend to have rather dull uPVC windows, but when you look at older buildings you'll often find really interesting features. Older buildings that have been turned into workplaces will often have oversized or bay windows, stained glass features, grid patterns, and other features that simply make them look so unique.

While these windows look spectacular, they unfortunately don't have the same heat retaining properties as new windows, and so they often need to be replaced. Luckily, there are modern windows that are made in a vintage style, so you can replace them with a similar style that works with the space. Just make sure you have the right planning permission, especially if it's a listed building. Large, vintage windows look amazing, and let in lots of natural light which cheers people up.

Vintage signs

Many old factories and warehouses have been converted into offices, it makes sense since manufacturing isn't the boom industry it once was. One thing that's often left behind are vintage signs painted on the building, and these can be an interesting feature to keep on. They keep the history of the building on display, and have a cool, industrial look that office owners tend to love.

Exposed ceilings

In the 70s and 80s, it was common for dropped ceilings to be installed, but the trend now is opening up these ceilings, making the space feel bigger. If you're having an office design and fit out, you might decide to have exposed beams and pipes, which can be painted or left their natural colour for an industrial look. High, exposed ceilings are great for hanging large, metal light fixtures, and preserve the look of older buildings, as you aren't plastering over interesting features.

Decorative touches

There are many lost crafts that are no longer practised when offices are built, and if you move into a converted office space you may find:

  • Mosaics
  • Stained glass
  • Carved stone
  • Wooden staircases 

It's therefore worth looking into having these things restored, rather than removed, and this helps you keep the period feel of the office. You can then use modern colours and contemporary furniture to create the right look around the workplace.


If you're renovating an older building, you might find some of the original light fixtures, and these can have that popular retro look that's so popular at the moment. From Bakelite switches to steel pendant lights, these items have really stood the test of time, and often just need cleaning up and rewiring by a professional so they can be used again. They are add a decorative touch to any workplace, and coordinate with modern furniture.


Large, square rooms can be rather boring, but many older properties have features such as cornicing and coving which break up the sharp corners. If you move into an older property to set up a workplace, then you might see cornicing used to make archways, to soften corners, or to frame certain areas. If it's starting to look old and tired, then it can easily be replaced, and these features look great in vintage style workplaces.

Sinks and fittings

Some older homes have been refitted into offices, and this means you might have older bathrooms or kitchen areas with period features. From deep butlers sinks for washing up, to built in bathroom vanities, these make modern kitchen bathrooms look dull by comparison, and so they're worth keeping hold of. You can then add modern plumbing, or get newer pipes installed, and this means you enjoy modern facilities that have a touch of the old fashioned about them.

Combining modern and new

If you have moved into a building that has period features, then the right designer will be able to bring the most out of them. They can preserve or even improve the look of existing features, and then add the right furniture and colour scheme to complement rather than overwhelm these original looks. Nobody wants to destroy features that have stood the test of time, but of course you still want the modern comforts and conveniences we are all used to. Therefore, it's important to strike a balance between old and new.

Many commercial properties around the UK have period features, from converted factories no longer used for manufacturing, to large houses that have been divided into office space. These properties make wonderful offices or creative workspaces, but first you have to put your own stamp on them, and the right designer can bring out the building's unique quirk, while also making a spectacular workplace with all the amenities you'll need. You spend a long time in your office, so when you move into a beautiful building, make sure it's got a look that you really love.

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