Project Dingle

Restoring an old cottage...

Category: windows

Opening The Dingle’s Eyes

It’s 5.30 am. All is dark. The moon is shining through the new windows, and I can see frost glowing on the cars.

And the room is warm.

Louder, for those in the back?

The room is warm.

Plus, we have actual light shining in.

Because we gave the cottage new eyes, and those eyes are double-glazed oak-framed beauties, and I can’t even articulate how delighted we are with our new windows!

But let’s start at the beginning, with the old windows.

They were not pretty. The frames were rotting, the single glazing rattled, and the fake lead strips blocked out a surprising amount of light. The secondary double-glazing inside helped a little, but it was super-ugly.

And none of the windows opened.

Except the tiny one in the Rayburn Room, which was covered by secondary glazing, so didn’t really open at all.

Why Oak?

We chose oak because we wanted it to last another 400 years, and look beautiful. And neither of us likes uPVC. At all. Especially not on an old cottage (even though some of the new wood-look uPVC is very good indeed – it’s still plastic, and that’s not us).

We knew the new windows would make a big difference; we weren’t expecting the difference to be quite so dramatic, inside and out. We’ve had lots and lots of lovely comments from the neighbours, who are glad to see some visible progress. As are we!

Window by Window

Let’s start with the tiny window on the side of the Rayburn Room, looking out towards the rosebushes. Here it was:

Tiny window in stone wall, ivy

The tiny window

It’s a bit of a mess, with a rotting frame and largely obscured by ivy and, as you can see, a long-dead plant on the windowsill.

This was the quickest and easiest window to replace and it looks fabulous inside and out:

New oak window in stone wall

Tiny window looking smart

New oak window from inside

Tiny window looking brighter inside

Next came the main window in the Rayburn Room, in the stone portion of the cottage.

Ratty old window

Before (pretty ugly, poor thing)…

Replacing it made an enormous difference:

Beautiful new oak window in stone wall

Isn’t it beautiful?

On the list next year is getting the stone portion of the house repointed and repaired, because in the past cement pointing has been used and it’s destroying the stonework. New windows have highlighted the other stuff that needs improving…

Next is the big window in the living room. One of them was broken because someone (us. it was us.) bounced a lump of concrete off it in the summer… here it is:

Old window...

Broken old window and shonky old bricks

And here’s the beautiful new window and new oak lintel above it. Which makes us feel a lot less like the wall might suddenly crumble.

New triple oak window with new oak lintel above

Ooh isn’t it glorious?

And here’s the inside:

Beautiful new window at night, with stunning oak work

Look at that scribing on the lintel!

On the left-hand side of the house, to the left of the porch, is a small window set into 18-inch solid stone walls. It didn’t let much light in, and that end of the long living room was perpetually gloomy. You can see from this photograph that the window opening used to be much larger; we don’t know why or when it was reduced. But we decided to open it up again.

Window, house name, and previous size visible.

Embiggening a window

You can see the newer stonework with the fresher paint. And yes, the house really is as wonky as it looks in this pic.

Here it is from the inside:

Small window, gloomy corner, lit by a lamp.

A gloomy corner

Ken Milloy and his trusty fellow wood-worker, Phil, knocked a whopping hole in the wall, gently removed the original stones (we’ll be reusing those when we build a new porch and new walls elsewhere), and we discovered this:

Original wooden frame buried in stone wall

That’s the original shutter frame!

Ken is pretty sure that’s part of the original frame (you can just see where it’s been chopped about on the right) – and that it was for shutters rather than windows. Glass was extremely expensive when this house was built, so it’s likely the cottage had shutters. But we don’t really know for sure.

That bottom piece of wood is the original windowsill and that is most definitely staying. It’ll be protected by the new piece of oak we’re putting inside as the new windowsill.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep the original frame in there; it’s too small. So it had to come out. However, it is staying on the property and we will reuse it as part of something else. We’re not sure what yet, but it will show up on this blog when we figure it out. Funnily enough, a chap from the USA wanted to buy it from us and turn it into a table! Sorry fella, it’s staying with us :)

Once again, Ken and Phil installed a new oak lintel outside – and discovered the main beams inside weren’t really being held up by anything. So there was a little extra structural oak work to do inside too. Once again, we’re a collapse-free zone.

Here’s the finished window:

New triple window in stone wall with new oak lintel

Another stunner

And just look how much light pours into that end of the room now!

New wider window lets in tons more light

Flooded with light

If you look closely at this image and the other big window, you’ll see the stunning scribing Ken did to make the new oak fit seamlessly with the old piece. It’s beautiful work and we do a little happy Snoopy dance every time we look at them.

Next is the windowsills. We’re getting 3-inch oak chunks, with wayney edges if we can, but straight-edged if not. They’ll fit perfectly under the new windows when we’ve chipped all the cement plaster out of the way.

Which has got us thinking about what to do with the rest of the living room… but that’s for a future instalment…

For now, here’s a little look at the new curtains. They’re not our forever curtains, but they’re certainly a vast improvement on the mismatched charity shop ones that have served us really well for the past few years…

Red and gold patterened curtains on night-time oak windows

Cosy and stylish!

Imagine how glorious it’s gonna look with the chunky oak windowsill… and how much warmer for the cat bums to sit on.

Whirlwind Dingle Update

Gosh. It’s suddenly November, and we seem to have not updated since… summer.

A lot has happened.

So, in brief…

The House Has Eyes

The windows are in. They may come out again, because I’m not entirely happy with how they’re fitting at the moment, and I’m certainly not chuffed with the expanding foam that’s in there. Evil stuff.

Painted in Celestial Blue from Little Greene Paint.

Painted in Celestial Blue from Little Greene Paint.

The plyboard is temporary, natch. And we really need to redo that ex-window in the stone part of the house, because it does not look good.

We’re now thinking we may go for oak for the rest of the windows, sell these ones, and replace them. Because obviously we’re not making this easy for ourselves…

Another Dingle Tragedy

Remember Nugget, our poory little rescue hen? She was sick, and we were giving her antibiotics every day. She was getting much better, much more lively, and was a clever little hen. Then a fox took her.

Vicky basically cried for a week.

Then there were four hens, who are all most fabulous: Granny Featherwax (the original and leader of the pack), Shirley (the other rescue hen), Big Betty (a Bluebell), and Mrs Pickles (a Cheshire blue, who Vicky trained to fly up onto your arm).

chicken sitting on my arm

Mrs Pickles has come home to roost

Floors…

We pulled up the scabby old carpet in the living room to find a roomful of quarry tiles. Sadly, they’re not all in beautiful condition, and there are two different types.

We’re probably going to put flagstones down in here.

Quarry tiles of variable quality

Quarry tiles of variable quality

The Garden…

We have been pretty busy in the garden, though. We got a good crop of vegetables, and more squash and pumpkin than any reasonable person could wish for.

More squash than you can shake a courgette at

More squash than you can shake a courgette at

Two of them became Hallowe’en pumpkins:

Meet Bob and RuPumpkin (we've been watching a lot of RuPaul's Drag Race)

Meet Bob and RuPumpkin (we’ve been watching a lot of RuPaul’s Drag Race)

And we’ve started preparing the Chicken Palace and new mower shed. The idea is, where the compost heap is at the moment was a big patch of wasteland, really. 15 feet of brambles and nettles at the end of the orchard, next to the field.

So we’ve cleared that lot out, started levelling it, and acquired 60 paving slabs. Some of those paving slabs will go to form the floor of the new mower shed and chicken feed shed. The chicken house will be attached, and raised off the ground leaving a few feet for the hens to mooch around beneath, then there’ll be a big permanent run that’s totally fox-proof.

Watch this space.

But for now, here’s the progress (we put Vicky’s niece Ella to work):

Child labour. Cheap and cheerful!

Child labour. Cheap and cheerful!

But perhaps most excitingly in the garden, we now have a greenhouse! Joe’s sister offered hers up to the first taker — and never one to pass up a bargain, we snapped it up.

We took down the shaky little shed next to the vegetable beds and levelled the land:

Shed. Mostly held together by clematis.

Shed. Mostly held together by clematis.

Clear and level, on the hottest day of the summer.

Clear and level, on the hottest day of the summer.

Then we lumped thousands of paving slabs up the hill and Vicky became the most irritating fussy person in the world: they had to be millimetre perfect… after Joe had finished chilling, there was further levelling.

A job well jobbed.

A job well jobbed.

Then up went the greenhouse. Hurrah! And we only broke two panes of glass in the whole transportation and erection process.

#winning

Greenhouse is ready for action

Greenhouse is ready for action

Then we filled it with chilli plants:

The future of many trips to buy soured cream...

The future of many trips to buy soured cream…

Compositions in Fibonacci…

And finally, Joe and the chickens inadvertently arranged themselves into a Fibonacci sequence. And Joe learned that, when presented with peanut butter, chickens give zero flips about manners:

Fibonacci chickens

Fibonacci chickens

What’s Next?

Today, we’ve been pondering attic electrics, looking at the neighbour’s amazing timber-framed extension, and planning the bathroom.

Skellington Floors

It’s been a while, but things are moving on. Fish has created a skeleton floor with the new oak beams — which are gorgeous — and new oak joists.

We were going to go for cheaper softwood joists and cover them, but Fish managed to find some green oak that was pretty much the same price, so we’re dead chuffed. They look great.

Oak beams and joists and a temporary platform

New oak beams and joists in the skeleton floor

In the process, Fish created Mount Dustmore:

A pile of sawdust fenced in with an offcut

Mount Dustmore

There’s space for a final joist once the holes in the wall are fixed:

Gap between joist and wall

Room for a little one

So that’s where we are for now. We’ve still not decided on a final floor plan — we need the architect for that — but the windows are hopefully going into the front of the cottage before the end of May. I’ve got some paint test pots from Little Greene, so I’m pretty impatient…

We’ve got no floors and big ‘oles in the wall

Crivens. Well, quite a lot of destruction has happened over the past week. And quite a lot of discussion, as we realised we really ought to have put more thought into details like windows.

But let’s start at the beginning. Fun on the scaffolding, because obviously if we have scaffolding outside the house it becomes an aerial playground for Vicky (and her giant clown feet):

Pole move on scaffold

Bustin’ a move

Anyway — the scaffolding went up, and so did the acroprops in the living room. To stop the house falling down when they took the old, not-substantial-enough beams out from the attic floor.

Acroprops in the living room

Holding the house up

Then things escalated real fast and suddenly we had no ceiling in the wonky room. And decided that we were going to leave part of the upstairs double-height, where the stairs go up to the attic, because it looks amazing. Proper “wow”.

No ceiling double-height room

That escalated fast…

And the final Big Thing: we have two big ‘oles in the front of the cottage:

No more winking...

No more winking…

I’m a little sad because the house is no longer winking at us. But the good thing is: we’ll have loads of light in the wonky room. Until now, it’s been a great big room with two tiny little windows — basically a big dark cave. We’re having two big windows at the front, and we don’t know what’s going to happen with the back yet.

But that led to a discussion about windows.

Originally, we wanted cottage windows with 6 panels, but Fish reckoned that wouldn’t let enough light in. He suggested duplex bars to fake it. I turned my nose up, because I don’t like faking things… but when I had a look at a load of pictures, cottage windows with little panels fit our Dingle best. And you can’t really tell the fake bars are fake. So… that’s what we’re going for.

They’re going to be hardwood we can paint.

Now to find some monkeytail fasteners and stays…

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