15 Mar Advice and tips for panelling in period properties
As a specialist in Georgian Interiors, we have had the pleasure of working with some of the UK’s leading craftsmen on design projects for clients of Etons of Bath. One of the areas that we really love working on is panelling in period properties. From Jacobean Oak to painted Georgian, there is no doubt that period panelling is a significant component in giving a Victorian or Georgian house its charm and character.
Four companies that can be found in my little black book for period panelling are Ankh, Artichoke, Arttus and Hallidays – all of whom have shared examples of their work, insider tips and advice on restoring existing period panelling, painting previously exposed wood panelling and installing new panelling to a historic/period property.
How to restore existing period panelling?
The best approach to maintaining period panelling is to avoid disturbing any sound areas and simply look to restoring or, if needed replace any broken panels and framework first. A professional easily achieves this, as they can match the exact period mouldings and panel profiles. We can also mix up unique stains; waxes and finishing products to colour match the repaired or new wood to existing panelling.
TOP TIP – ARTTUS
If all the wood panelling simply looks “tired” then a good clean with some methylated spirits, working in the direction of the grain and making sure you get into all the corners and mouldings, will clean the surface dirt and remove off old waxes but still leave the patina and original colour. Simple but effective! HALLIDAYS advise;
- It is essential to use an expert when it comes to panelling as done incorrectly the modern wood can move in a different way to the existing panelling – leaving you with large gaps, twisted panels and wonky mouldings!
- Reproduction of architraves, carvings and wooden mouldings will need to be done by hand as modern machines do not have an ‘eye’ for design. The result leaves you with awkward corners where carvings do not meet properly.
- It is important that the team you use are experienced in matching woods carefully for behavioural characteristics, and are also confident that they can achieve an exact colour and finish match – make sure that you see samples of the finished timber to compare to your own scheme before you start.
Advice for painting previously exposed wood panelling:
Hallidays advise that it is crucial to research the period of the property carefully to ascertain suitable colours. Whoever you choose to hire should be able to advise you on this, or you can employ a colour specialist such as Edward Bulmer or Patrick Baty. Don’t be afraid of colour! Once you start researching you’ll be astonished at the breadth and depth of colours that have traditionally been used throughout the ages in our homes.
It is important to make sure you have cleaned and prepared the surface including the mouldings that can easily get gummed up with dirt over the years.
TOP TIP – Often, at Arttus we will paint the panelling but leave the dado rail or a door surround as polished oak, this creates a rich contrast in colour and materials that looks truly stunning.
Guide to installing new panelling to a historic/period property
Hallidays advise that it is crucial that the designer you choose to go with is highly experienced for a list of reasons
- So they can successfully interpret the right design for the period of the house.
- They are able to suggest solutions to the seamless integration of modern technologies and conveniences, such as concealed storage, hidden entertainment systems or secret doorways.
- in scaling and developing the right proportions. Historic properties often have unusually sized doors, windows, chimney breasts that will need to be carefully blended into the design so as not to be noticeable once finished.
- In selecting the right timber and finish for the period of the house – there is a huge array of possible options, but the authenticity of the finished project will rely on it blending into the fabric of the property.
An essential thing to remember is that if you wish to hang a cherished painting as a focal point above a mantelpiece, then do make sure that the designer knows this. This is so they can size the panels accordingly!
If you want to really make a statement hand carved details can look stunning. Arttus design truly bespoke panelled rooms which are made in Somerset and often incorporate particular carving decoration that is unique to the client.
The key to success with panelling is whether or not you can tell if it has been aged. Authenticity is, and always will be the ultimate goal – if a certain period look is required the panelling should look like it has always been there. Sadly, you cannot buy authenticity in a can. However, Artichoke’s period finishing team have the balance of a good attention to detail, experience and alchemy to create furniture that look truly original. The process implemented by Artichoke often starts by chemically altering the structure of the timber by exposing it to ammonium hydroxide. This reacts with the tannins in the oak to darken it and bring out the grain pattern. Once the base colour has been reached, a variety of materials such as lime and pumice can be introduced, along with rudimentary tools such as chains to dent the surface of the timber
Finally, for those that cannot install wooden panelling in their property but want to achieve a similar effect, try Shufflebotham’s wide width trompe l’eoil Benjamin XL wallpaper. RRP £138 per panel (2.5m x 1m) – available in 3 colourways (mid grey, light grey and clay) The image shows the mid grey colourway
For more information about integrating period panelling into your project, please get in touch.