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Restoration Pt II

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

Discussing tassel curtains for low doorways, using chalk-based paint on furniture and treasures under the lawn

One of the most complicated things about restoring any property is to plan carefully the order in which things are to be done. Having spent hours discussing it, we have the windows being installed at the earliest opportunity, which is in January, followed by the builder and then the electrician. Although January is a long way away, there is plenty to be getting on with. The windows have to go in before the garden wakes up in March, so everything in really revolving around the plants.

Tassel curtain

The bathroom door frame is part of the old out building and is only about 5ft 9 high. It was necessary to design something to draw attention to the nut cracking hazard.

The middle lengths hang a few inches lower than the door and far enough away from it that you will knock the wool before making contact with the wood. I specifically designed the colours so the bright, hot orange and reds, (usually associated with danger), hang in the centre, with blues and greens falling to the floor on one side and purples and maroons on the other. Below left you can see just how low the door frame is (just above the picture frame on the right) compared to a normal door height!

This design idea stems from a similar curtain from Iran. These tassels have three, not one point where they are bound. I added the feature of hand painted decorative beads in the centre, whereby the hanging thread runs through the hole in the centre. This curtain has been hanging for a week and it has been affective, practical and very pretty.

Chalk-based paint

Although all of our furniture matches the time period of the cottage some of it needs a bit of a spruce-up, especially when you consider some of it was in my bedroom when I was a teenager 35 years ago!! All of my bedroom furniture is heavy pine with a dark varnish and with so much of it in one room, I decided to brighten and lighten it all up a little. Having researched chalk paint I decided to adapt the trendy 'shabby chic' style, by combining painted with natural wood panels with the top decorated with the room's wallpaper samples and matching decorative knobs.

Once I got the hang of chalk based paint, it was very easy and quick to use. I found the tin needed a really good shake as it's important it is properly mixed. When it sounds like really thick soup, it is ready to use. The furniture needed a wipe down with white spirit, then straight on with the paint. I applied it quite thickly but made the error of going back over it when it was partly dry. As the paint surface was disturbed it formed little balls which luckily mostly brushed off once it was dry. Chalk paint should only need one coat, but I found a few patchy bits which I went over.

With sanded draw fronts set against the 'butterscotch' colour chalk based paint I decided to take the colours from the wall paper and make decorative draw pull handles. I used very big knobs having the theory that I really wanted them to stand out against the natural wood.

I used Farrow and Ball paint colours:

Indian Yellow

Green Smoke

Book Room Red

which are the green, mustard and terracotta of the wallpaper. I added pressed dried daisies from the garden and stamped a lace effect over the top. With all of the furniture now a very matt mushroom sort of colour, the bedroom seems much bigger. Having very low ceilings and dark furniture made the room almost cave like, but with just a lick of paint on all of the furniture, it has transformed into a crisp, sunny-bright room. Once finished I sealed the chalk based paint with a lacquer by the same company, ensuring the very flat, matt of the paint wasn't lost under a high gloss varnish.

Under the lawn

As we are waiting for January when all the big work will start, I have been cutting new flower beds for winter bulbs. The lawn had visits from moles last winter and so it is as lumpy as it can be. We really didn't want to re-lay the lawn and so chose to cut away the damaged areas instead.

So glad we did! We have found no end of 2 inch thick square terracotta tiles and lots of old Victorian bricks, all of which will get repurposed. We did some research and it turns out they are locally made tiles and were the original kitchen floor. We will use some for the log fire hearth and the rest possibly for the hall or bathroom floors.

When I initially started thinking about various projects I knew that organised planning would reduce the chaos of house decoration and refurbishment. Now that all of the main bedroom is done less the wallpapering, I have moved onto the next project. Once the bedroom window has been done and the walls painted and papered, this room will be finished. We will have somewhere pretty to retire to after long hours of making and building. With such a big project, it would be easy to become resentful of all the work as I dare say there are going to be some stressful days ahead and plenty of "why are we doing this!", but having a finished bedroom will hopefully invigerate a new zest to get the whole house finished. I hope!

I have a huge collection of bunny and hare cards and lots of unused wooden picture frames. I plan to paint all the frames and hang all them all together to fill a plain painted wall in the kitchen. Our kitchen and bathroom are modern extensions to the old cottage and so I have chosen to decorate them in more of a bohemian, steampunk style and therefore still keeping within the boundaries of the Victorian period, though stretching it to it's very extremes. Whilst the old part of the house will be mainly wheat and barley colours accented with olive green and terracotta, the kitchen will be full of contrasting bohemian colours set against a grey hare wallpaper. On the right is our front door that arrived today from English Salvage, which will lead into the kitchen. It is a period door from the same era as the cottage with it's original leaded windows. It needs a little repair work which I will research for myself. Failing that it will have to be restored by a professional. On the advice of the builder, the front path up to this door will be dark grey slate squares, with a curving narrow path cut through them. This inlay will be filled with brightly painted and varnished small cobble stones. Until we had chosen a front door it was hard to envisage this front path.

This week has been quite exhausting with contractors. We had the chimney sweep do his annual brushing. After talking to him, we have decided not to open the kitchen chimney. Having two log fires so close to each other could have caused the carbon dioxide from one fire being drawn through the house to the other fire. There were many other issues making the job too troublesome to continue with. I will instead create a lantern display in the hearth. The cement people came and laid a huge slab of concrete. It was impressive seeing the cement truck squeeze down the drive. The electricity folk came to look at a window frame as the mains wire runs through it, and the window folk cannot install new windows until this cable has been moved. We now have to dig a 3 ft hole in the front garden so the cable can be changed. The shed people came today and worked in the most horrific weather to erect the workshop. Bless them they were soaked, the extension lead blew a fuse and all while the garden slowly filled with rain water! Whilst the rain was at it's heaviest a huge lorry delivered the front door, stood upright on a palette,.

So, from giving old furniture new life, being ankle deep in cement truck mud and adding to an already long list of jobs, it has been a busy week, but dealt with a bit at a time everything becomes managable!


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