Nicholas and myself live in a wonderful little cottage in the heart of Wales. We purchased it around 10 years ago and have recently completed renovations. It has taken a long time, longer than expected, but these things always do! It feels wonderful for everything to be completed now and if I wrote about everything that we did during the last 10 years of the renovations, this page would be extremely long! So I will keep it more of an overview and hope you enjoy reading and viewing the photos.
Our cottage is around 350 years old, or so we think. Records and maps of our area don’t really go back far enough, however we know that the cottage has undergone quite a few changes in its lifetime. It was most probably thatched at the start of its life and it more than likely only had the two windows on the ground floor. We can see that the roof was raised, possibly in the early 1800's from studying the stonework inside.
We have a large inglenook fireplace. The tell-tail sign from outside, that a house or cottage has an inglenook, is the space between the gable end and the first window. As you can see from viewing the photo below there is a wider gap between the end wall and the window. We aren’t certain that the inglenook we have today is original to the cottage, it may have been added in at a later date, perhaps mid 1800's. It may have previously had a 'wickerwork fire hood' which was a basket hood above what would have been an open fire, forming a chimney above the fireplace. We also know that the cottage had a crog loft as there are ladder holes still present on the large oak beam in the living room.
Although there are some beautiful and stunning features left for us to ponder about in the 21st century, there are more questions than we have answers to about it's history. We guess there always will be. Whatever it was like in its original form, we feel we have bought it back from a tired cottage to a very happy and loved cottage. Now everything is complete, it not only looks better, but it feels so much better too. We feel the cottage has breathed a sigh of relief.
The photo below shows part of the inglenook fireplace and one of the large oak beams running the width of the cottage. The wood burning stove is centred in the fireplace and although we do have modern central heating, there is nothing like a log fire to keep the cottage alive. It is the heart of the cottage. We light it most evenings apart from the mid summer months. In the winter we often have it running for most of the day.
The last of the renovations in 2017 was the biggest, which saw the ground floor in the kitchen and living room taken up and a reclaimed slate floor laid. Our cottage is built on bedrock and so we don’t have any foundations like modern houses. Over the years, previous owners of our cottage have cemented and tanked the walls inside and out, in the hope of sorting the damp issues. Sadly it made the issues worse. So we employed professional builders who were experienced in renovating old cottages to work with us in putting the issues right. Drainage around the outside of the cottage was done which helped enormously and all of the cement render and tanking was removed inside.
We wanted the floor to feel as though it had always been here, as there was a high probability there was slate floor here at one stage. We also know the floor was cobbled in its lifetime as we have found evidence of it when renovating, which would have looked amazing.
The view below looks through the hallway into the kitchen. We wanted to leave the Victorian floor tiles in the hallway as they are very much part of the history of the house. There are a number of houses around us with similar floors in their entrance way so it was important feature to keep. Obviously it wouldn’t have been the original floor, but it is still a part of the cottages history. The wooden panelling which you can see in the living room was revealed which is most probably early 1900's. Left hand wall was lime rendered and the right hand wall was lime pointed. We also wanted to decorate the living room with very natural furniture. Our coffee table is around 20 years old and one of our favourite pieces so that had to stay but we bought a new rug, lamp and sofa to match our old leather chair. We wanted to create a comfortable homely feel with a good mix of contemporary and old.
It has taken a long time to get our kitchen where it is today. When we moved in, the fireplace was blocked up and filled in. We had a wonderful stonemason take out the old blocked up parts to reveal the wonderful slope to the back of the original fireplace. He then repaired it and inserted the lintel which came from an old school in our next village so it continues the history of the area. We removed all of the cement render and tanking from the walls and lime rendered it and of course did the floor at the same time as the living room. We pulled down the old artex in between the joists on the ceiling which had been coming down in little bits for years. It was very satisfying to see it all go! Our carpenter very cleverly replaced it with ply board and beading to match the hallway.
In the ten years we have lived here we have put up with a back door and French windows in the living room that were old internal doors. They were single glazed, draughty and leaky. Previous occupants installed them, we aren’t sure if they even knew they were internal doors when they put them in. The patio doors were even on back to front so leaked water when it rained. Nicholas turned them around as a temporary measure but we knew they would need to be replaced. We had to wait until we embarked on what would be the biggest section of the renovations which was in 2017. It is now so lovely to have solid wood, wind proof, leak proof and almost sound proof doors! It's sheer luxury. They are painted French Grey and are engineered oak so should last us a lifetime. We hope that everything we have done to the cottage will have secured the cottages history and preserved it for the next generation who live here.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our cottage. If you ware interested in seeing what the garden is like, head on over to see our Cottage Garden pics. You can also see our Art Studio in the garden too!
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