We read frequently about the conservation of historic buildings (graded in the UK 1, 2* or 2). Much time, energy and money is used to care and nurture them to ensure that they are here for generations to come.

However, unless they are very special, the interiors of these buildings can often be neglected and are something of a Cinderella in the conservation industry. While the interior is not on the public stage like the exterior, it is the interior's viability that may hold the key to the future of the building as a whole. The treatment of the interior may determine the use of the building by the people who actually use it, whether it is privately, commercially or publicly owned.

Kate passionately believes that the surroundings in which we work, rest or play affect us minutely and at a subtle level. The aim in all her work is to help clients create and nurture the special atmosphere that every old building has, paying close heed and respect to its past but at the same time taking advantage of 21st century technology and comforts.

Some key points to be considered in an interiors conservation project

  • What are they made of?
  • Are they in good enough condition to be exposed?
  • Do they need repair or just some gentle treatment?
  • Or can they simply be left alone?

  • Careful attention needs to be paid to the condition of the plasterwork and to the paint, wallpaper, fabric walling and panelling that may be applied on top of it.
  • Old lime plaster is precious as it is sympathetic to the breathability and any subtle movement in a building. It should only be replaced if beyond repair.

Decorative plasterwork  
  • Which repair technique is suitable for areas of damaged plaster?
  • Should any inappropriate additions to the original be removed?
  • Do you match to the existing, pick out decoration or improve by picking out decoration on cornices that are so gummed up with paint that they have lost all definition?
  • Or do you leave as is?

  • As these are a key element and focal point of a room, they need particular attention.
  • Is the existing one suitable?
  • Is a replacement needed and if so, should it be an original antique or a reproduction?
  • The period style should be appropriate and it should be appropriate for the status of the house and room.
  • Are accessories such as grates, hearths and fire-irons needed?

  • How will daylight affect the atmosphere and the fabric of the room?
  • How does the client want to use the room and what is the mood that the client would like to create?
  • How will the room look at night?

  • What type of technology to use?
  • Where is the best place to run plumbing, and electrical lighting and wiring in a property where none was used originally?
  • How should radiators be positioned?
  • Can underfloor heating be used?
  • What level of lighting is required?
  • How can a security system be added sympathetically?