So, having renovated the downstairs of my gorgeous little Grade 2 listed cottage, it was time to tackle the 1st floor. The cottage had been split into 2 bedrooms and an upstairs bathroom that hadn’t seen a new bathroom suite since the ‘70’s! Combined with some rotten windows, some rather tatty carpets and some cracked walls, I knew this wasn’t going to be as bad as the ground floor, but it was still going to throw up some challenges.
Not a huge amount to say - as it is only a staircase! But…. it needed to be a little more interesting than just a dark, steep staircase to the first floor, so, I gave it a little makeover. Having a dog, it was only sensible to go for a striped, hardwearing carpet in the hallway, separated by brass carpet runners and with the steps painted white. In terms of the walls, I decided to use this large area as a place for a montage of photographs and art.
Oh my gosh! The bathroom! What a mess! When I looked around the property, I hadn’t really paid attention to the bathroom. I just thought naively ‘I’ll rip that out and start again’! How I was wrong!
When these cottages were built back in the 1800’s they didn’t have bathrooms (I still had the outside toilet from the 60’s in the garden!) so this one was created in the eaves of the house. Unfortunately, this also meant that they hadn’t moved the overflow pipe from the roof that went through the building! I had a lovely old wooden panel bath, a push button operated toilet, no shower and various pipes along the ceiling. Combined with some dubious pipe boxing-in and an old mouldy vinyl floor… this was going to be hard work!
First things first, I ripped out the old bathroom suite, old water pipes and flooring, including a trip to the dump with the old bath in the back of my VW Golf (it’s amazing how big the boot is). Then I stripped all the old lining paper from the ceiling and got this re-plastered to a nice smooth finish. At this point it was a bare shell and the gym washroom was now my temporary bathroom!
I like a shower, but with the wall being a stud wall, sadly I couldn’t fit a lovely big supersonic jungle rain shower. The work around this was to get a shower that feeds from the same water flow as the bath pipes, hide the pipes in the stud wall cavity and then fit a pump under the bath to power the water pressure. I found that you can get some really good shower units for poor water pressure at a reasonable price online. Only one problem - the taps were located underneath the window rather than where the stud wall was. Only thing for it was to shorten the pipes and direct them back to the wall end.
Next the bath suite. I managed to source a new toilet, sink and bath from eBay for about £150! The guy who was selling it was a builder and was fitting a new suite to what already looked like it was brand new - so I nabbed the lot!
I decided that due to the space being relatively small, I would just make it a nice clean white bathroom. I used white bevel edged metro tiles on all the walls and grey wood effect tiles for the floor. Tiling it all myself was hard work, especially as my tile cutter broke on the first day - so the rest was done by hand!
Once we had added the water resistant chandelier and painted the ceiling, boxing and the waste pipe I think I managed to achieve a bathroom that is bright, clean and modern.
BEDROOMS 1 & 2
Luckily, the bedrooms weren’t quite as bad as the bathroom. Bedroom 1 was a lovely sized room, but had lining paper and a brown old carpet, as well as a slightly rotten window frame. This was to be my main bedroom and so I wanted it to be cosy, relaxed and along the lines of the country style I was trying to achieve.
Although I am not a massive fan of green as a colour generally, I absolutely love Farrow and Ball’s Card Room green. It is relatively dark, but not oppressive, it also has a very slight hint of grey. It also dries really chalky and matt which I think is just the nicest finish for a bedroom.
As the walls weren’t in too bad condition, we just focussed on stripping the lining paper and re-plastering this room. I then set about painting the ceiling in Dulux Timeless and all the wood in Farrow and Ball Eggshell in James White. James White is a slightly creamier white, but it complements and sets off the green really well.
I replaced the carpet with a cream, thick wool hard wearing carpet from Tapi Carpets and also used this in Bedroom 2 for unity.
I introduced my lovely metal frame Feather and Black bed and some wood bedside tables from Laura Ashley and a vintage chest unit that have a really chunky country feel to them.
I love this bedroom, it really feels like my little place to get away and snuggle down.
Bedroom 2 was a very small room and it had damp! :( So, firstly we set about removing the lining paper and then coating the walls with watered down PVC glue to try and dry out some of the damp areas. Luckily, it seemed the damp was from an old burst pipe that had been fixed, which was lucky as I really didn’t fancy having to knock out parts of wall to access it! The PVC did the trick and I then filled the movement cracks with filler and sanded the entire area.
Again, I wanted to create a cosy, inviting environment that guests could stay in. Again, I went for a colour that I wouldn’t normally use. I saw some pinterest pictures of bedrooms painted in Farrow and Ball Dix Blue and thought I would try it. It is a nice sky blue colour with a touch of teal and would compliment the Butterfly Bedspread that I had for that room.
In order to create a little more interest, I used the butterfly theme and took inspiration from Angel Strawbridge of Escape to the Chateau fame and created my own butterflies to stick to the wall and look as though they were ‘flying’ up the back wall. The chest of drawers and the bedside cabinet were washed with white paint to make them slightly distressed (I hate the term ‘Shabby Chic’!) and fit perfectly into the remaining space.
When I say ‘garden’ that might be a bit of an exaggeration! I had a piece of lawn at the front of the property where I planted a climbing rose up the front of the house, but the back was really a courtyard consisting of a Grade 2 listed out building. It had a mound of grass and old pebbled area with one pot, a fallen down fence and an old brick pavement.
After finishing the house, I wanted to make the outdoor space a relaxing area that I could sit in the sun and treat myself to a glass of wine or 2! Unfortunately, the existing layout just wasn’t working for me unless I wanted to sit next to a couple of rubbish bins!
I decided that I was going to use the theme of the pebble side and create an easily maintained garden that could display pot plants but also have a private are for seating. To achieve this, the grass had to go!
Unfortunately with the grassy area being a mound, this also meant levelling this area! First the grass turfed up, then about a tonne of earth was moved from the back courtyard to my newly made flower bed in the front garden. I then set about building an area to contain the pebbles and bamboo a screen between the bins and my courtyard.
I ordered a tonne of pebbles from Wickes and decided to paint the fencing, broken old seat and some of the trellis in a light blue to add some colour to the scheme. I drapped the existing Clematis through the bamboo, added some pots, hanging baskets and outdoor furniture and created that chilled outdoor space that I was in need of.
Overall, it took me about a year to really complete everything and even then I felt as though there was more to do but you have to halt yourself at one point or another otherwise you will literally be bankrupt!
I hope this has inspired you too.
Every house is a home and every home should be a reflection of you.
It takes some hard graft and a lot of patience but in the end it really is so satisfying!