Bringing Character Back To Our 1930’s Home

1930s Home Picture Rail

When we were house-hunting back in 2013, our requirements were few but fundamental. 3 bedrooms, a 1930’s house or older, and within 30 minutes of Central London door-to-door to be convenient for both work and social life. Even though it’s now been 3 and a half years since we moved in to our home (which does tick all the boxes), we count ourselves extremely happy every day to have found it.

That said, it’s not been without issues and it felt like we spent the first year just treading water. Dealing with damp, illegal electrics, draughts. You name it, the issues kept on coming. Little by little though we’ve started tackling updates and home improvements one by one and although our progress is fairly slow by most people’s standards, we’re trying to do a thorough and sympathetic job in reclaiming the character of our beautiful period home.

The latest project I’m tackling is reinstating picture rails in our rooms. We don’t have the highest ceilings like grand Edwardian properties, but the rooms are light and spacious and the ceilings are a fairly good height. And therein lies the conundrum – dado rails in some rooms, picture rails in others. Nothing in some rooms, coving in others. When someone explained to me that dado rails were typically found in dining rooms to protect walls from chairs, and picture rails in public areas to show off art, that made sense. But none of our rooms reflect that and as is often the case with older houses, someone will have ripped out a lot of character features at some point and left none.

We always have a couple of rooms that we’re working on simultaneously and at the moment it’s our third bedroom which is getting most of the attention. It’s currently the guest room with a sofa bed and lovely bay window overlooking the back garden. We’ve replaced the flooring so far and had some cupboards built into the alcoves but before decorating I decided to re-add the picture rails so it matches the fourth bedroom and looks more finished.

Needless to say of course, I don’t trust myself to take care of this relatively simple fix and we found the fabulous Freeborn Carpentry via Instagram who came and popped them up in a jiffy. What a difference it’s made. It’s made the room instantly look more full of personality and as though they were always there.

The best news of all? It’s prompted me to spontaneously start painting the room too and with some leftover Valspar paint in Silver Thistle Down from our bedroom makeover at Easter, it’s taking on such a relaxed and peaceful tranquility. We still don’t really know what the eventual final purpose of this space will be once we turn our second bedroom into a proper guest room. But since that’s still a long way from happening, this is a worthy replacement and hopefully in a few weeks there will be a little bit more of a reveal to show you.

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  1. Innocent Charms ChatsKara
    November 1, 2017 / 12:00 pm

    I love a picture rail, so lovely to see them being reinstalled. Are you actually going to put things on them ?

  2. November 1, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    I live in a Victorian semi but unfortunately without picture rails. I would like to instal some too. Looking forward to seeing your reveal.

  3. November 1, 2017 / 1:32 pm

    We are installing picture rails back into all our rooms as we renovate. I think it gives the house a more cohesive look and is a relatively easy job to do (and as an added bonus you can use picture hooks throughout and not nail into your wall!) #homeetc

    • Lins
      November 9, 2017 / 10:09 pm

      Yes I totally agree! Although it never actually occurred to me to use the picture rails until I saw someone else using them, how silly am I! X

  4. Meera
    November 1, 2017 / 2:14 pm

    Great idea to reinstate the picture rails, the room looks so much better with them! And that pale grey paint colour is so pretty!

  5. November 1, 2017 / 4:56 pm

    They look so good back where they are supposed to be. Gorgeous calm grey tone too. x

  6. November 1, 2017 / 5:01 pm

    You know how much I love a good picture rail. I think we’ve discussed it at length on insta 😉 but it really has transformed your room. It looks brilliant!

  7. verymeinteriors
    November 1, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    I’m actually a big fan of picture rails, maybe because our 1960′ house has no character whatsoever and having picture rails in the rooms makes the house feel cosier in a way (I don’t know if that’s even possible, maybe it’s just my wishful thinking 🙂 )

    • Lins
      November 9, 2017 / 10:08 pm

      I think you’re very right, there’s definitely something around character which also means cosy to me. Thanks so much for stopping by and joining in with HomeEtc X

  8. November 1, 2017 / 6:45 pm

    Next on your ‘to do’ list is choosing lovely new pictures & prints to hang!

  9. November 1, 2017 / 6:55 pm

    My aunt has picture rails in her reception rooms and I think they are lovely. They are such a subtle feature but really do make a room. #homeetc

  10. November 1, 2017 / 8:36 pm

    Im very eagerly watching your insta stories for this room makeover – really lovng the picture rails

    • Lins
      November 2, 2017 / 4:15 pm

      Aw thank you lovely! I need to get my blogging done in the evenings so I can free up weekend time to carry on. We need more hours in the day right?! X

  11. November 1, 2017 / 11:37 pm

    I love the picture rails and the room is already looking great – all that late night painting is definitely paying off!

    • Lins
      November 2, 2017 / 4:15 pm

      Hehe it is isn’t it? If only I had your determination to keep going!! X

  12. November 6, 2017 / 10:01 am

    We also live in a 1930s semi and I got to be honest it wasn’t love at first sight for me. I’ve learned to love it though and all the updates we have done in the past have been so worth it. I like the size of the rooms, how much light flows in and how the garden is a decent size (although small compared to our area). The to do list is never ending though but I guess it’s the same with any house you buy 😛 Xx

    • Lins
      November 6, 2017 / 8:32 pm

      I totally agree Pia, it’s funny how a place can grow on you isn’t it? We were really looking to stay in Forest Hill, the part of London we were renting in before we bought this place but now we know how lucky we are to have been forced to a move a little further round and get so much more for our money Xx

  13. Cat
    February 6, 2018 / 10:50 pm

    Love it! WE are also doing up our 1930s and reinstating picture rails. Only one room has them remaining. What is the name of the picture rail profile in the photo above? It’s the exact match of the one in our third bedroom and I want to match it elsewhere. Thanks so much Cat

    • Lins
      February 13, 2018 / 11:50 am

      I love reinstating the period features where we can! I’m afraid I don’t know the name however, the carpenter who came just matched it to one we already had in place I’m afraid. Good luck with the hunt! X

  14. lindsay Craig
    July 1, 2020 / 2:40 pm

    Could you please tell me the name of your picture rail as we’ve just moved wardrobes in our 1938 bedroom and the picture rail is missing and we’d like to put it back. I am struggling to find a match. Also where did you buy it from?
    Many thanks.

    • Lins
      July 2, 2020 / 10:15 am

      HI Lindsay thank you so much for your message! Unfortunately I don’t know because we had a carpenter do it for us and he sourced it and fitted it I’m afraid. I’m sure he would have just gone to a timber merchants so it matched with the one we do have in another room upstairs, maybe somewhere like Travis Perkins. Sorry I can’t be more help x

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