What’s your style?

We’ve only really ‘finished’ the porch and cloakroom in the cottage so far (I say finished…. it’s not really. We still have filling and painting of the skirtings to do, the toilet to buy and fit, and then the drainage and water to connect up… but in terms of the work we need to do in the rest of the house, I class this as finished!) 

These two rooms make up the first extension we’ve added to the cottage, but they’re also the smallest rooms in the house and we still have a long way to go.

Even though we haven’t technically finished them, I have had some lovely comments from friends, family and colleagues about the style and high standard of finish I’m achieving in these rooms. A lot of people have asked how I’ve put this together- with reclaimed bits and pieces, upcycled furniture, bargains from EBay, Ikea, Homebase and B&Q along with some more extravagant lighting fixtures and the limestone flooring (this is where we chose to spend a bit more money.) I always feel terrible, because when asked this question I always give the extremely poor response of ” I don’t know” . I don’t want this to come across as cocky (don’t get me wrong I realise that some people may not like my style) but I truely and honestly don’t know how I make this look like it does.

Some people spend hours online, saving pins and working out how they can create that look in their home. I too look at Pinterest for inspiration sometimes, and I’m a sucker for any home related magazine (much to Mr D’s disgust!) but to be honest, as much as I like the images that I use as inspiration, that’s exactly what they are to me. I may see a double page spread that I love, and everything about it looks beautiful, a glossy magazine home, but at the same time, I never want to copy it because it’s not me. It’s not my style.

The truth is, I don’t know what my style is. I haven’t got a clue, and a lot of the time I feel so confused by that. I love lots of different styles, country, scandi, industrial and rustic. I do worry a lot of the time that when we’ve finished the building and restoration work and the time comes to decorate the rest of the house, it won’t flow through from room to room because I love such a mis match of styles.

But I’m a creative, and I have to trust that. I work with my hands everyday, and I love texture. I sculpt and animate everyday. I have a keen eye for detail and I know what looks good compositionally. I am surrounded by so many creative friends and colleagues within the studio where I work, and these people provide me with inspiration everyday. Whether it’s someone making a prop that I love for the film, the clothes that someone is wearing, or someone doing an upcycling project at lunch time, I’ve discovered that I’m inspired by so many things. 

Many people have a ‘look’ that they want to achieve in their home, but I don’t. I don’t even know what my ‘look’ is, and this does scare me a little. But I like that feeling. I like the feeling of the unknown, not knowing what it will turn into, not having a room planned. I like being able to collect things as I see them, and building on the room, rather than going to a well known company and buying all their furnishings so that the room is finished in one go. 

I just want it to be personal to us, and to reflect who we are. At the end of the day this is all I’m trying to achieve. Somewhere that we feel is our home, and no one else’s. It’s unique to us. It’s obviously a bonus that some people like it too, and I’m really pleased that my unknown, spontaneous mix of many different styles appeals to other people. I hope to provide those people with some inspiration along the way too!


Watching Paint Dry… Valspar exterior paint to be exact! 

Paint…. I love paint. I’m an artistic, creative person who loves colour, so when Valspar said they’d like to make me part of their paint club, I was over the moon! 

This means they have supplied me with enough paint, primer, and all the tools I need (from my local B&Q) to finish a project of my choice. It’s such a fantastic opportunity and I couldn’t wait to get started!

This is the project I chose to tackle with their paint! 

We are replacing all of the windows in the building with new accoya ones, and so it was an obvious decision for me to choose one of these to paint, as I have so many to do! Along with this window, I also wanted to make our original cottage door look a little more appealing. It’s blocked up on the inside, so is not in working order- but none the less an integral part of the cottage’s frontage and history.

As our cottage has a type of listing on it, we have to apply for planning to change anything externally. We had already had a smaller window made and sent as a sample to the council (to decide on the material, style and colour) which had been signed off. So we knew we were able to crack on. However, this does mean that we are only able to use the colours that comply with the Cotswolds Design Code externally. We went with Willow- a grey/green colour which is a specific BS (British Satandard) number.


I took this number along to my local B&Q, (along with my Valspar and B&Q vouchers!) where the staff spent quite a while looking for it on the Valspar system. We came to the conclusion that it wasn’t on the system, but the staff were very good and asked if I’d like to see a mix of the closest one they had. I obviously obliged, but unfortunately it was a very different colour to the BS colour I needed to comply. It’s worth saying that I had already had this colour mixed by a different company and painted our front door in it- so I knew what it should look like. The staff asked if I still had the tin, (which I did) and offered to colour match it for me next time I was in store.

Anyway, I took a swatch of the colour home to compare- but you can see the outcome here:

I went back to store with my old tin- which they colour matched for me brilliantly. (Both paints are on the swatch on the right) A big thank you to Alix and Cribbs Causway B&Q for being so friendly and helpful. 

Valspar had provided me with a voucher for not only the wood and metal trim (their external paint) but also a tintable primer, so they also matched that to my mixed colour in store to make sure I had the correct base colour.

My paint and supplies!

When I was ready to start work, I spent quite a while prepping the surface of the old door and the surround area (I didn’t have to do this with the window as it was new timber.) I needed to remove a little bit of render that was clinging on for dear life (it came off relitevely quickly with my hammer and bolster) and then got sanding and stripping the flaking paint.

I used numerous sandpapers in different grades to get a fine finish, and made sure both the window and door were dust free before priming.


Before I started, We took the window apart and had it layed out all over the house to make painting of the sash quicker and easier (anyone who had painted sashed before will sympathise with how long it takes!)

The Valspar tintable primer/undercoat I thought was great. It can be used on internal or external timber, and has low VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) which means it’s better for the environment in terms of pollution. I’ve used many primers/under coats that are solvent based which not only means I have to paint things of this scale outside (awkward when your garden resembles a building site and you’re knee deep in trench life) but also is really difficult to paint with as they tend to be very thick and sticky. 

This in comparison, seemed like a breeze. It was fine to paint with inside the house (no harsh chemical smells for us or the cats!) and just as easy to use outside. I did the first coat on the window inside, and the second outside… purely because it was a nice day and I wanted to enjoy the sun! 

The primer was a little stickier than normal external paint – but I always expect that from a primer or undercoat anyway. It gave great coverage on the new wood of the accoya window, and was pretty good on the old brown door too. 

As I said previously, this primer was matched to my top coat colour in store and was a very pale grey. This is meant to create the perfect base for your top coat shade of paint.

The drying time was brilliant, and it was touch dry in no time at all. On the tin it states one hour to touch dry- but in my case I’d say it was more 35-45mins. I left it another hour until sanding and re coating, and this seemed absolutely fine. A much better option to the solvent based primers and undercoats that take 4-6 hours before re coating, and a blessing when you’re on a tight renovation schedule!

Next up was the exciting part, applying the top coat of colour (after I’d sanded obviously!) I painted the first coat of colour before the window was fitted, so that I’d only have to do the second coat whilst it was in.

I’d been so intrigued to see how the colour would match up to the original batch we had mixed by a different brand for our front door, I couldn’t wait to get the colour on! 

When applying the first coat of colour, I thought it seemed seemed like a rather thin paint (for an external paint) so I expected it to need a few coats, but after one coat I was pleasantly surprised with the coverage. It seemed to go on quite light, but dried darker to the exact colour I needed. 

These are pretty great results for a first coat of colour! I don’t know if the tintable primer has helped give this finish, but I was really pleased with the result. Drying times with this wood and metal trim were really quick too. Again, it was dry within an hour and I could easily re coat after two. Once the first coat was dry, we added the glass in the window, sanded down once more and applied the second coat. 

And….. here we are! ( If you’re still with me then well done) I’ll put the before photo underneath as a direct comparison…

It looks pretty good right? 

In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say I found Valspar’s external paint fantastic. It was easy to paint with ( I was really impressed by the primer/undercoat especially) gave fantastic coverage and dried quickly. The colour match was brilliant, and you can’t tell at all that my front door is painted with a different paint. Both the tintable primer and the wood and metal trim were a pleasure to work with, and the finish is fantastic. It’s so lovely that I actually had people stopping to ask what paint I was using, and most actually thought it was a well known designer brand!

Thank you so much Valspar for providing me with all of the paint and materials to enable me to achieve this. 

I’ll definitely be using your paint for the rest of external woodwork (8 more new windows and a back door!) 

You can’t beat a ‘proper’ camera…

There’s something about a real camera that you just can’t beat.
Being in the film industry and a creative, I’ve always loved photography. It was only when my brother rang me for camera advice before he went on his honeymoon, that I realised I hadn’t actually picked up my digital SLR for ages.

Modern technology makes it so easy to ‘point and click’ now a days. Whether it’s phones, tablets, iPods?!  We always have an easily accessible device that we can pick up and shoot with. I don’t think I’ve taken any of my progress shots of this renovation on my camera, up until now.

Let me know what you think, but I can really see the difference. Although my phone now has a higher megapixel camera in it than my SLR, there’s a quality to it that you just can’t beat. What many people fail to realise is that it’s not the number of megapixels that necessarily matters, it’s how you use the camera. 

I have a beautiful canon digital SLR (bought for me by my parents years ago as a starter camera) and I absolutely love it. I just NEVER use it. It’s terrible! I have a good couple of lenses too- but I find I have to make a conscious effort to get everything out, and remember how to work a camera manually. When I do though, I remember exactly why I love it. 

No filters or adjustments on this photo. Just pure Canon goodness. I’ll definitely be making more of an effort to pick it up from now on! 

Where did March go?

Wow, Spring! Anyone living in an old property will know the thankful feeling when the weather (and therefore the house!) starts warming up. Everything becomes a little less damp, and a little less drafty. I’d love to be able to enjoy ourselves a little more than we are currently in the spring sunshine, but at the same time I do not want to face another winter in the cottage with no insulation or render on the house! 

We’ve been so busy this past month, that I haven’t had a spare minute to write about any goings on at the cottage until now, so I’m sorry about that.

March has been a busy one! We’ve plaster boarded, built a wall, insulated, screeded, sanded, pointed, painted, chiselled, raked, plastered started thinking about finer details (lighting, sockets, doors) and sanded some more! It doesn’t feel like we’ve achieved that much where we only have evenings and weekends, but when I list it like this it does actually sound like we’ve achieved quite a bit! I’ve just surprised myself! 

It’s a really exciting time for us here, as we’re coming to the point now where both the porch and cloakroom are starting to feel like rooms. The plaster really transforms it from a shell, into something resembling a livable space. We can now start thinking about moving on to other rooms (yay!) and we’re so proud of how we’ve built the extension (although obviously new) in keeping with the original character within the rest of the property.

We still have one wall to hardwall and plaster, as well as a final sanding of the beams before sealing them. We also have the stone flooring and underfloor heating to lay. I also got my lovely reclaimed door at the beginning of the month, which will hang on a sliding barn rail (see previous blog post) as our cloakroom door.

I’ve been working on repairing and restoring the original stone which will be exposed in the cloakroom, but I’m almost there and then I’ll be able to point it all in! We’ve been working with the same lime mortar that we used on the exterior of the property, so we know it’ll look great and suit the stone.

The week after next we have both booked off of work as ‘holiday’, so we’re looking forward to getting stuck in to more extreme renovation work again! 

To get water into the new extension, we need to pull our lounge flooring up and lay the pipes under the floor. This is fine, as we’d be pulling the floor up to lay a wet system and stone flooring anyway.

Whilst we’re disrupting the lounge by pulling the floor up to get water into these two rooms- we’ll also pull the ceilings down in there to get all the mucky stuff (and ridding of asbestos) done at the same time. We also have some masonry work and beams to sand in the lounge before we’re able to put the new stone flooring down in there – so that’ll keep us busy for a good while! 

The plan is to get the lounge into a livable state again, and as with the cloakroom/porch, furnish and decorate at a later date. It’s more important at this time of the year that we are able to concentrate on getting the second extension up, so that’s what we’ll be focusing on over the next month! 

In other news, our windows and doors are also on the way!
Here’s some photos from the past month for you to enjoy! 

I’ll attempt to blog a bit more from now on!  

Emma x

How the cloakroom looks currently- we have ceilings!!!
A section of the cleaned stone
First hit of plaster on doorway
Porch with re pointed and painted original brickwork
My reclaimed barn door! I love it! This will be a sliding door into the cloakroom
Starting clean up on the masonry
Freshly screeded floor
Fresh stack of accoya- our windows and doors!
Sliding barn door track for our cloakroom door
I found this old Victorian wash stand on eBay! I’m currently restoring it and it will stand in the cloakroom with a new basin and brass taps
Insulation in!


Over the last month, we’ve seen some big things happen here at the cottage. Although we’ve only really been able to work on it at the weekends, it seems to have started moving relatively quickly. 

We’ve managed to get the first extension watertight (hooray!) after installing our first window, finishing the roof tiles and the lead flashings. All that is left to do on the external structure of this extension is to fix the facia boards once we’ve painted them and install the guttering and render, yet the latter two will be completed once the rest of the cottage is ready for that stage too.

Internally, we’ve also pushed on in the extension. We’ve removed all the horrendous concrete render from the old external wall of the property, and exposed some lovely old stone and brickwork. After much deliberation, (and my head ruling my heart) we’ve decided not to do too much with this masonry work. As much as the traditionalist in me is screaming to repair it all and keep it exposed, there are two main factors that are going against this:

1.)  Both the stone and brick work is in such a poor state, that the majority of it would have to be cut out and replaced, before obviously pointing it all back in.

2.) These rooms will be our entrance porch, and a downstairs cloakroom/bootroom. As much as I feel first impressions are important (and I’m not just taking property here!) It would be a rather ridiculous amount of time, money and effort for the two smallest rooms in the house- which we will hardly ever be in. We also need storage space in the cloakroom/bootroom which would cover that wall anyway.

So with that in mind, we have decided to repoint (in lime of course!) any parts of the brickwork which clearly needs it, but instead of completely tidying it up and exposing it we will wash it in white. As I said, these are the two smallest places in the cottage, and therefore can seem very dark. Hopefully the white walls will bounce off some much needed extra light. We will also do the same with the stone in the cloakroom/bootroom- but as we are having storage along that wall you will only see the stone work above the cupboards, going past the beams and into the pitch of our high ceiling. We will be exposing much more stone throughout the house, so will have plenty to be getting on with.

In other internal work news, we’ve also boarded the ceiling, which looks great. It’s really starting to feel like a room.

Next steps (and the final ones in this extension for now!) are to render the walls and screed the floor. We’ll then need to build a doorway from the porch into the new room. 

We’re currently looking at having a sliding door to save space, and hopefully can find an old reclaimed door- similar to something like these

Today, we started sanding one of the oak beams, and it looks fantastic. We’ll be continuing to work on this when we can.

So, in the next few weeks, we should have the rendering and plastering done, floor screeded, beams sanded and be able to move on to the groundworks for the second extension! We’re now in the process of having all the windows and doors bespokely made, so we’ll have lots to do fitting glazing units and painting those soon. I’ll also be thinking about the finish of the rooms, and starting to think about the processes of the next extension and sourcing materials. 

Here’s some photos for you to enjoy!

Partly sanded beam showing the true colour, and a test for the white brickwork finish. Lots of repair work still needed, but hopefully when finished and butted up against Cotswolds stone flooring this will eventually look great!
Boarded ceiling, the first real sense of space
Internal view of new, hand made accoya window
Closer look of fitted window
Finishing the roof tiling and flashings
Thinking like render colour. I love the organic colour of our lime mortar up against our window colour- so an hoping for a render based on this!
Second extension plans. The whole gable end is coming out (chimney breast and all!) and we’ll be extending two storeys on this side. Lots of lovely roof lighting going in, and a light well in the kitchen.

Sledgehammer fun!

We’ve had a rather productive weekend here at the cottage.

Saturday was spent doing the exciting stuff- pulling down the existing ceiling and getting the sledgehammer out to completelely knock through the wall to the extension.

Porch ceiling down
Wall and ceiling down- knock through completed

As you can imagine, we then had a lot of clearing up to do!

The next step was to run the electrics, and this meant thinking about the type of lighting that we’d like, as well as where we’d like switches and sockets. After much deliberation, we managed to get a few of the cables run in before it got too late last night.

We’ve decided that we will sit up lighters on the beams in both rooms, shining up into the pitch above. A wall light in the porch (it’s only a small space) and I’m hoping to get something like this hanging in between the beams from the pitch in the extension..

Lighting ideas

We continued to run and tie the cables in on sunday. Once we’d done this, we spent the rest of the day thoroughly insulating the roof space.

Insulation started, and an example of the first fix of electrics installed
Emma insulating!

So the insulation is now complete and will hopefully keep much of the draft out from now on. The last few roof tiles will be delivered tomorrow, so hopefully we can get these on in the coming week.

We also got our first, tiniest window which will go in the extension this week, and it’s absolutely stunning.

First timber window

This has been bespokely made for us from Accoya wood. We still need to get the glazing unit made to fit, but now we have the measurements we can go ahead and contact the relevant people to do this. We’ll then have a meeting with the council and make sure theyare happy with the detailing and glazing, and also discuss the finish before going ahead with the rest of the windows.

We are going to do a few stained samples, and a few painted. We have a good idea of what colours we would like, so pop back soon to find out more.

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend!

A post long over due!

So, 2017! With it being the first day of the new year I thought it only fitting to write the post that I’ve been meaning to write for a while now, and look forward to what this year brings in terms of the build/renovation at our little stone cottage.

It’s all become very exciting recently, and we’re so proud of the work we’ve managed to get done so far. We’ve got to a great point with the first extension just before Christmas, getting it more or less water tight before we had to stop for the holiday. We were relying on materials to be delivered before Christmas, that still haven’t arrived, so we were forced to stop anyway until normal working hours resume.

I realise I haven’t posted any photos of the extension, so I’ll do a quick run through of various stages of the build, up to where we are currently.

 In my previous post in the summer, you will have seen that we had started digging out the bank to create the foundations for the extension. Because of the bank and the need to support it, our structural engineer drew up some plans for some reinforced steel foundations, and here they are. The rebar was made to order, and although it’s not clear from these photos, was angled to sit at three different depths. Once the rebar was in and the drainage, we could pour the foundations in and we’re ready to roll!

 We then started getting the supporting wall up, again with reinforced block work (you can see the rebar just coming out of the block work). This was very tricky as there is so much stone in the bank, and it actually collapsed on the block work at one point which nearly made our hearts stop. 

Supporting internal wall, tanked.
After tanking the supporting wall, Serafin then worked his little socks off even more and spent a couple of days in the pouring rain getting the block work up to ceiling height. To keep some character in the new extension, we had decided to add two oak beams, that would run the width of the house. This meant that they would run through both the cloakroom and the porch, and we would raise the ceiling into the pitch to gain complete exposure of the beams.

The beams were so large that it took a lot of help to lift them in (thanks guys!) but they are all settled in now and will look fantastic once sanded and treated.

 The guys worked so hard that day to not only get the beams in, but also cut the roof timbers. It was so exciting to see these going up, as we really started to get a good sense of the size and shape of the build. 

Now that these were up, we wanted to try and get watertight as soon as we could. Serafin continued building the block work up, felt and battened the roof, and then tiled as much as he could before running out of materials. 

So it shouldn’t be too long until the tile delivery arrives and we can finish the roof. It’s looking fantastic and I’m so proud of all the hard work Serafin has put in to get it to this point. 

Because of the Article 4 Declaration on the cottage, and the fact that none of the windows are standard sizes, our new windows for the whole house are being bespokely made to the approved plans. We will use this small one in the extension as a sample for the council to view and discuss the finish with them, before we give the go ahead for the larger windows and sashes.  We have received a photo this weekend of the progress, and this little one looks stunning.

Like I said, we will discuss the finish and glazing with the council, and once decided will work on the finish ourselves (whether painting or staining).

So I think that’s where we are currently.

The plan is to get the window in, run the electrics and get the internal walls boarded. At that point we will probably start the groundworks for the second extension, and will use this one as a temporary kitchen whilst we rip everything out of the other part of the house. We’ll get that up, knock through, and then do the internal work and finishes throughout at the same time. Easy right?

I’m sure that plan will change!

Doing this small extension has made us realise that although it will take us longer, (with us both working full time) we will do the larger one ourselves too. We can do it, and although we will be living in a building site for a while, it makes so much more sense financially. It’s also a great feeling to renovate, extend and create our home together with our own hands. 

Hopefully they’ll be many more updates this year!

Have a great 2017 everyone, look forward to speaking soon.

Serafin and Emma x