My new home is a project and a half: An older, 17th century stone cottage in need of a lot of TLC. It stood empty for about a year and had been seriously neglected prior to that. The cobwebs would have made Miss Haversham green with envy. It does have great potential, though, and I am busy renovating with a view to creating a quirky yet stylish living space and at the same time a healthy home.
One big attraction to the property in spite of it’s rundown state, is the fact that it predates the use of modern, building materials. I am a great lover of green low impact living and this enables me to keep my carbon footprint low and the amount of chemicals in the home to an absolute minimum by using eco-friendly organic lime based natural paint and plaster to repair and update. Auro natural paints, decorating and finishing products are fantastic and easy to order online, with fast delivery.
By using natural materials I aim to keep embedded energy values as low as possible. Stripped back style is one that really appeals to me, with elements of ‘industrial’ thrown in, and Country Living’s Special Edition Modern Rustic Magazine, Issue 2, has been one of my sources of inspiration.
Where to start? Using the Permaculture principles enabled me to come out of overwhelm and start to take some action. Principle 9, Small and Slow Solutions, was my starting point: moving in and making gradual changes would enable me to keep costs to a minimum as I had been living in rented accommodation while looking for a project. It didn’t take long to decide that the 80’s style gas fire needed to go, to be replaced by a traditional log burner.
With ‘Use edges and value the marginal’ (Principle 11) in mind, I shall not be treading the beaten path of built in kitchens and synthetic baths but shall be working around the features and restrictions of the space available and introducing elements of rustic chic and original! Always a believer in ‘use and value renewable resources’, my motto, I quickly inherited a pine kitchen dresser, shortly followed by the discovery of a pine glass fronted cabinet for my crockery in a second hand shop, which was almost a perfect match and a steal at £30! When replacing the stairs and bedroom floor, a small portion of the wood was usable, and was upcycled as risers on the new staircase, thus making it sit well alongside the new oak treads and look authentically as if it had always been there!
When I first discovered that my kitchen ceiling was damp and mildewed after the wet winter I was not in the best of spaces. On discussing the options with my roofer, I remembered the Permaculture Principle ‘Creatively Use and Respond to Change’, which led to the idea of removing the plasterboard permanently and opening the ceiling into the apex (the kitchen is an extension), adding two narrow skylights and some insulation at the same time. Watch this space, as I continue to ‘Observe and Interact’.
Have you got inspiring projects you have carried out on an older property that you would like to share? We love hearing your ideas.