Here is an update of what we have been getting up to over the last 4 weeks – we have been doing some cottage and studio renovations and took plenty of photos along the way for all of our cleints to see!
We have worked from our cottage studio now for the last four years. We made it a very comfortable working environment and had done quite a lot of work to improve it. Eventually though, we knew that more drastic renovations would be needed. The problem was that we were losing heat through the ceilings in the top of the cottage as fast as we could heat the rooms, not very cost effective through long cold Welsh winters. The sloping sides of the ceiling were very cold to the touch and it was pretty obvious that there was no insulation between the ceiling and the slates on the roof. You can see from the photo below our upstairs rooms are pretty much in the roof of the cottage.
We talked to a builder and were given the choice of keeping the current ceiling and insulating and re-plaster boarding on the inside, or take down the ceiling and putting up a new one with insulation behind. Adding an additional ceiling would mean losing some head height and the extra weight on the roof structure could have possibly caused problems. So a brand new plaster board ceiling and insulation was the way to go. It was also the most expensive, messy and time consuming option! The builder had been able to slot us between two jobs as they said it would only take 6 to 8 days. So our first job was to move out all of our belongings. We had already planned to expand and get a packing studio for the garden and this was the perfect time as it gave us extra storage space. Nick took a few days to put the base in and the shed arrived on the Friday (20 x 14 foot – a big one!) and then we had two days to move everything out. Its amazing how many things you have when you start traipsing up and down the garden. We will be taking photos of the packing studio when its all arranged in there and landscaped outside!
So then started the 8 days of work. This is a photo of the studio before they started…..
Nick and I were ‘the builders helpers’ for the first few days and I managed to get to help bashing down the false plasterboard wall in the studio. It was so much fun. I had been itching to pull it down for so long, we just knew there would be the stone chimney breast behind and we weren’t disappointed. The plasterboard was covering the stone, but the stone was about a foot back from the plasterboard so it has gained us a lot of extra space. There was also a tiny boxed in cupboard which you can see on the left, when all this was pulled out there was at least a foot extra all around the recess too.
In the photo below you can see me (on the left) helping to knock the plasterboard to reveal layers of lime washed stone behind. Many years ago they would lime wash cottages, which made a lot of sense as it enabled the stone to breath. They also used lime mortar which is a mix of lime, sand and animal hair, usually cows and horses hair to bind it together. This would have been put on our walls a good 200 or so years ago if not more. These days builders use concrete render to cover everything up which isn’t good for them.
So once the plasterboard was taken down we used special tools to rake out the old lime mortar and cleaned off the years of lime wash and got it back to the bare stone. You can also see the slates on the roof, it was very cold here at this point.. luckily we didn’t have to live here while the work was done. You can just about see me in my woolly hat cleaning the stones.
The photo below still shows things in a bit of a mess but at this stage we could really see things coming together and we were starting to point the chimney. We used lime mortar, but without the animal hair. It took us three long days to clean and point all of the stone here and in the recess and I am just starting to point the chimney below.
Next came the skimming of the celings, which the builders did fantastically. We asked them to heighten the ceilings in the studio as there wasnt really anything above so we now have full height in here which helps with the feel of space. The builders insulated and rendered the top part of the chimney breast as you can see in the photo below.
We actually did underestimate how long it would take to paint the studio and the bedroom, we wanted to move back in as soon as we could to start work. So these two rooms were the priority. We thought it would take 3 days to paint…it took 6 – gasp! We finally got all the furniture back in, after the electrician had been to give us extra sockets everywhere and also to box in some pipes so everything looked tidy. Nick re-varnished the floor and once that was dry we moved everything in as soon as we could.
and……this is what the studio looks like today!
if you would like to see more photos of our studio and a lovely one of Tom in his new bed, scroll down to the bottom of this page here – The New Studio Pics >>