Styling a period home for sale

Melbourne is full of gorgeous period-style houses, many of which have been extended to create spacious, modern living zones while still honouring the timelessness of the original part of the home.

Presenting a period residence for sale, whether it has already been restored or is still awaiting a keen renovator, provides sellers with unique challenges and opportunities to showcase its beauty and potential to buyers.

Here are a few tips for presenting a period home for sale.

Honour the house’s vintage and style

When preparing a period home for inspections, it’s important to work with the style and structural features unique to the heritage of the house. Ornate fireplaces, architraves, cornices and ceiling roses are selling points, and should never be covered in favour of presenting the house in a more modern light.

Remember that the types of buyers who will be interested in a period home will be looking for original features to be intact and on display.

It’s not a museum!

Just because the house is old and represents a piece of history to be valued, it doesn’t mean that rooms need to be furnished with heavy antiques of the same vintage of the house. Structural and decorative heritage features should be focal points, but they needn’t dictate the style of furniture and accessories you choose to dress the rooms.

The challenge of styling period homes lies here: to respect and showcase the home’s vintage and history and, at the same time, make it feel current and functional for modern living. When presenting period homes that have been extended, keep the original part of the house looking slightly more formal than the rooms that have been added, to differentiate them from the newer part of the house and celebrate their history.

Keep the extension modern

If a modern extension has been added to the home already, don’t try to make it look like a part of the original house by using antique furniture to dress it. It’s acceptable for the two parts of the house to look different, and the spaciousness and light made possible by the extension should be celebrated in the same way that the history and beauty of the original rooms are enjoyed.

The new part of the home should complement the old and, with the correct choice of furniture and decor, a sense of flow and connectedness can be created between the two zones. Extensions are often added to allow for easy family living and entertaining, and should be presented in this way to potential buyers.


When Zenza Interiors was enlisted to prepare this magnificent house for sale (pictured above), our stylists had the opportunity to dress a period home, and the results were breathtaking … as was the result on auction day. We worked closely with the vendor to create a consistent look for the home that still allowed each individual room to shine in its own right.

Using an eclectic, but very strategic, blend of traditional and modern furniture designs, we were able to really open the house up and show buyers how a beautifully restored heritage home can accommodate modern life, while still allowing the original ornate features to be the hero of each room. The vendor’s fabulous art collection provided focal points and pops of colour, while rugs, linen and furniture were kept to a neutral palette to allow the house to speak for itself on inspection days.

Article supplied by Melissa Gries, director of Zenza Interiors.

Photo: courtesy Gary Peer