At the beginning of 2009 we bought a detached stone house in the corner of an historic South Somerset village. The house had been on the market for a while and was advertised as “requiring some modernisation”, which was a bit of an understatement as very little had changed inside since the 70s.
As you can see, the exterior was also in need of our help – crying out to be saved from the clutches of Mother Nature who was having a bit of a bad hair day, especially in the front garden. Here, years of ivy growth had not only smothered the outside but had also invaded the bedrooms, after forcing its way in through the sash windows. As if this wasn’t bad enough, a fir tree planted just a few metres (I’ll try to continue being metric, but I make no promises!) from the front of the house had grown to the point where its branches brushed against the windows. It all had to go.
In the time-honoured tradition, the ivy stems were cut through, near ground level, and then left in place to allow the aerial roots to wither. This makes it much easier to remove and, more importantly, greatly reduces the chance of damage to the masonry and pointing when the ivy is finally taken down. In the meantime, a saw was taken to the fir tree and light entered the front room for the first time in years.
With the ivy and fir tree out of the way at last, we could finally assess the condition of the front wall. The structural survey had read “Extensive ivy growth prevented full inspection of this elevation” which had worried me a little. My fears proved unfounded though as, with the exception of some re-pointing needed to a couple of arch lintels, the front of the house was in excellent shape; a real miracle considering the amount of time the ivy must have been tugging at it. The roof too was in excellent condition, due to being re-felted and re-slated just a few years earlier, so our attention could now be focused on the inside.
This is how the house looks today. The new porch, front door and four out of the five windows have been painted in Lichen exterior eggshell from Farrow & Ball.
You’ll be seeing the windows and door again, in a little more detail. Actually, the beautiful oak front door has a very interesting provenance. No clues yet though – you’ll have to wait!
The renovation of the sash windows has to be one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and will be featured in one of several ‘How to…’ features planned for the site.
At this point though, I’m heading indoors to make a start describing the renovation, room by room, starting with the kitchen. Whilst I’m catching up, you’ll find some before and after shots of some of the rooms – just go to the top menu, click on No.29 – Room by Room and select Kitchen, Dining Room or Hall from the drop down list. See you inside!