Putting the magic back into the Bedroom Part One

So I have finally got around to writing the first post that is actually about the Revival of Rose Cottage; the renovation and decoration of the cottage bedroom and landing.

When we bought the cottage the upstairs had been divided into 2 bedrooms and a small landing, however, the second bedroom had a ceiling height so low, and was so small that it would only ever be suitable for a small child.

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The main bedroom before we moved in.

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Sink in main bedroom

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The second bedroom

There was no built-in storage anywhere, the previous owner had a clothes rail on the landing, with a curtain in front, and some very large handmade pine chests to store clothes. Our first task was to decide how to configure the space.

We realised that the partition between the landing and the second bedroom was relatively recent. I had also been doing some research on the history of the cottage and it confirmed that originally there would have been just one bedroom. We decided to remove the partition to create a large dressing area on the landing. Although technically we lost a bedroom, we knew that we would be creating another when we did the extension.

We had planned on waiting a full year before starting to undertake any work, partly to allow us to get a feel for the place and partly to save money,  but full of naive optimism, we decided to start tackling the upstairs. After all, it was only paint and carpet right? Ahhh ha ha ha! Yeah, right.

We started prepping the rooms. We removed the old chipboard partitions, and I started the job of stripping off all the old white gloss from the door frame, window frames and staircase, while Bugs went to work filling the cracks in the old lime plaster. It’s an absolute nightmare. Terribly fragile, it bows and is blown in many places. However, for us, it is such an integral part of the character of the cottage we are determined to retain it until it becomes impossible to patch. I made a wonderful discovery during the removal of the gloss paint which I have written about here.

The windows are a mixture of metal Crittal windows and timber. In an ideal world, I would have liked to have replaced all the bedroom windows at this stage, however we just didn’t have the money to do it at that time. It’s something we hope to do eventually, possibly in a few year at the same time as having the thatch replaced. In the meantime, I had the task of stripping, prepping and painting the old ones. I shall probably write a separate post about window restoration as it’s quite an involved process.

It took us well over a month just to prep these rooms ready for painting. Nothing is ever straight forward in an old property… just moving a radiator a foot to the left took a whole weekend. I tapped some blown paintwork on the gable wall and found all the paint was loose. It must have been decades of paint, it was that thick, and clearly the lime plaster and wall behind it couldn’t breathe. We ended up having to scrape the paint off the whole wall, which in turn left it so uneven, the only option was to skim it. A couple of YouTube tutorials and Bugs was then attempting his first ever lime plastering job!

The next stage was building the wardrobe. We went for very traditional ledged and braced doors and built it into the space in the eaves. No straight walls make Bugs an unhappy boy!

Finally we were ready to start painting but of course even that will never be straight forward! I will discuss our paint choices and furnishings in the next part.

Love

Kerrie

If Carling did historic finds…

While renovating the bedroom, I discovered something that I initially found cute, but not especially exciting.

Hidden under layers and layers of white gloss paint work, a small etching on the door frame caught my attention.

The bedroom door frame before stripping

I thought perhaps it was some teenage graffiti, or maybe a builders mark… it wasn’t until I posted a picture to Instagram that its true meaning became apparent. (Thank you Instagram community, where would I be without you!)

Daisy Wheel Hexafoil on Cottage Door Frame

What I had actually discovered was a Hexafoil, also known as an apotropaic mark or witches mark. I cannot tell you how excited this made me. This was a physical connection to the original owners of this cottage. A window on a persons beliefs and fears. It was a weirdly personal and emotional find.

These marks were pretty common up to the middle of the 18th century. The occupiers would carve them normally over openings, doorways, windows and chimneys, in order to prevent evil spirits from entering the home. This particular one is known as a daisy wheel hexafoil, it’s a continuous line with no breaks, supposedly to trap the spirit within the never ending lines. It would have been carved using a set of dividers, a bit like a school compass. Other types of apotropaic marks have a religious element, such as an interconnected VV, which represents Virgin Mary or Virgo Virginum, or a simple M for Mary.

Some witches marks are not so artistic. What some people may take as historic accidents, burn and scorch marks on the mantelpiece were often a symbolic gesture, to protect the house from fire.

At one time these would have been so common as to have caused no remark at all. However over time they would have been painted over or worn away, to the point where they are now, a most exciting find.

I also think I sleep a little better, knowing that 300 years ago someone made sure that the bedroom remains witch free!

For further information and images regarding apotropaic marks, Historic Englands Page is here.

Love Kerrie. x