Period Drama, how to add drama to your period interiors Part 1

I’m delighted to be able to tell you that The Farmhouse is about to be featured in February’s Period Living Magazine, which will be on sale from the end of December if you fancy grabbing a copy. The good people over at Period Living were very taken with what they have described as the ‘Period drama’ of the Farmhouse interiors. So in response to their lovely article I decided I would run a full ‘drama series’ of posts all about how to add drama to your period interior. In Part 1 I’m going to look at what defines drama in an interior and I am sharing with you the basic elements I use to create it.

It’s that feeling you get when you discover an image of a jaw dropping interior. The best interiors are never safe, they maybe striking or effortlessly elegant but they are always dramatic, they incite emotions within us that make our hearts sing, in other words they possess the wow factor!

Character homes in particular already possess a drama by nature of their age and history and so offer the perfect backdrop to achieve the most amazing results. I am passionate about what can be done with a wonderful timeworn space, the possibilities are endless….

So many homeowners are fearful of getting it wrong and believe, incorrectly, that the more dramatic touches won’t work in their homes. I understand that fear, I remember feeling it when I first started out as the ‘serial renovator’ I have since become. Creating bold and dramatic interiors is all about breaking the rules, yes even the ones they teach you in design school! So after much experimentation, many leaps of faith and a lot of practice, I can confirm that a touch of drama most certainly will work and with amazing results!

Dramatic touches will work in any interior..

All you need is a little faith, confidence and encouragement which I am here to give. So rather than allowing this apprehension and fear to rein in your design ideas and aspirations, which will end in the disappointment of missed opportunity, let go and start to really inject some of your spirit into your home. Add your layer of the story to it’s character..

Open your mind, forget the rules and express yourself…


‘Your furniture and accessories will POP against a bold backdrop’

Be bold with your colour and pattern choices.

  • Colour – Bold doesn’t have to be bright or garish, just being bold enough to choose the colour you really want rather than a diluted lighter version is all it takes. I like to use one strong but soft paint colour on all of the walls, paintwork and ceilings as a backdrop and then usually just one other colour or varying shades of that colour that will ‘pop’ against it, this maybe by way of soft furnishings and/or accessories it’s a great way to show off all of the wonderful things you are going to put inside.
  • Pattern – Against this solid backdrop of colour you can now also add bold pattern by the way of rugs, window treatments, accessories or maybe an amazing piece of art or mural.


  • Wallpaper –  feature walls are fine, despite the bad press they have received, the important thing is to make sure they are deliberate and serving a purpose in your scheme, if you are doing a ‘feature wall’ simply because you don’t have the courage to cover all of the walls or more than one of the walls, it will rarely give you the impact you are looking for and will look like you’ve lost the courage.

“The reason feature walls don’t often work is that they look as if the courage was lost to do all of the walls!”

source Port Wood Studio



Never underestimate the importance of scale it can do amazing things to your scheme.

  • Small objects on top of big furniture get lost, so make sure to add extra large pieces to balance. Tall vases and large stone busts, for example work well, then fill in with smaller items. TOP TIP Add tall vases with even taller flowers for great dramatic effect.

source Ellie Cashman

  • Large scale wallpaper can have a fabulous effect even in small rooms like this downstairs loo, it’s a myth that you can’t put large prints in small rooms and the downstairs loo is a great place to have fun with this to be sure your guests get the full drama tour!
  • Lights are the best way of adding some powerful wow factor whether that be via an oversized chandelier hung low or an extra large shade or table lamp.
  • Oversized art or mirrors make a great statement, fabulous for reflecting that wonderful chandelier you’ve just hung!

source Abigail Ahern

‘The key is contrasting periods, styles, fabrics and finishes’

Mix, mix, mix, nothing appears more boring than when everything looks much like everything else! The contrasting of periods, styles, fabrics and finishes is the key to adding interest and charm.

  • Mix periods and styles don’t stick religiously to one. For example for my lighting at the farmhouse, I have mixed empire and crystal chandeliers, industrial copper, wicker and moroccan and thats just the lighting! I have rugs from Morocco, victorian oak and midcentury modern furniture rubbing along with modern country.
  • contrast fabrics and finishes, rough with smooth, rustic with the luxurious, linen and velvet, wool and silk.

  • Contrast the masculine with the feminine, as in the image above where a gorgeous feminine chandelier has been matched with masculine library nook.
  • Mix metallics – forget the old rule of sticking to one metal, mix them up TOP TIP be sure to make of an even mix so they all blend, one silver item in amongst a sea of gold will stand out like a sore thumb!


‘No interior is complete without a touch of something unexpected, it’s what gives it ‘edge’!’

Its the thing that creates the talking point in a room, the ‘edge’ the thing that says YOU it’s your personality stamp.

  • Something humorous – nothing quite relaxes the mood like a touch of  humour, whether it be an amusing piece of art or quirky hat or glasses added to a bust. Use your imagination and sense of humour to add subtle touches.
  • A touch of the quirky – paint old furniture in contemporary colours or mix furniture in unusual ways.


  • Hang art in an unusual way
  • Display unusual collections.

So there are the basic elements I use to create wow and drama in my interiors. The important thing to remember is  to be committed, you must approach the whole thing in a very fearless way, no half measures! Working on these key elements will produce the vivid, emotional and striking interest required to create the drama in your period interior. What do you think? how will you be adding drama to your interior? I’d love to know how you will be dramatic? why not share your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.

In the rest of the series I will be taking each of the elements and looking at them in more detail, giving examples and sharing some good product sources. In Part 2 we will look at being bold when choosing colour, sign up to my post list below to receive this and the rest of the series.


I’m committed to my design mentoring, I want to educate and inspire you to create stunning interiors. I would love for you to be part of my small but growing community where I hope to soon be starting a Facebook group. Here I can answer your design questions and the community can share ideas and tips. If you want me to let you know when this is happening, as well as receiving regular interior inspiration, tips  and ‘how to’s’ delivered directly to your mailbox, be sure to subscribe below, I’d hate you to miss anything!


If you need more personalised help and/or advice hop over to here for more information on how my workshops and design mentoring sessions or full service interior design can help you achieve your interior aspirations.

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