As we have said before, we weren’t going to do the attic so early on in our restoration project, but we changed our mind – ha!
When we first saw the house it was one of the rooms that immediately hit us as having real charm and beauty – the kind of the space you really want to spend time in.
It’s a beautiful room; two gables, sculpted plaster chimney breast, the main roof beams are exposed and it even has an original rack of pegs. This was the servants main living room, and although it’s up in the eves of the house it is flooded with light from its east and south facing windows.
Here’s what it looked like in it’s original neglected state. Cracked plaster, lots of bodged plaster repairs (120 years of them), layers of peeling wallpaper, cobwebs, lots of powdery distemper paint, no electrics (we had just had them chased in before this photo) and no heat (it now has a radiator).
We decided not to get the room re-plastered, but instead to retain it’s character and keep the feel of a proper old attic – after all there’s no point living in an old house if you eradicate all traces of age. Having filled all the major cracks, caulked the gaps and plastered over some areas where the plaster had spalled, we then set about starting to decorate.
The room was painted in several different coats of distemper which was a real problem. No matter how much you scrape and sand it, it still coats the walls with dust – and paint won’t stick to dust.
Jonathan at Hicks and Weatherburn suggested we try Zinsser All Coat – all in one sealer and primer. Jonathan then tinted the All Coat to the same colour as the emulsion we were going to use. It worked a treat, it’s like glue, instantly binding the distemper dust to the walls and when dry, ready for a couple of coats of matt emulsion. We then used a 25% tint of the emulsion colour in eggshell for the woodwork (It’s very handy having a local paint maker who can do all this tinting for you.) Keeping the colour palette simple and neutral really brings out the shapes and form of the room.
To finish we put up some some great lights from Dowsing and Reynolds; Steel lamp shades with surface mounted twisted flex held in place with porcelain cable guides. We first came across porcelain cable guides in Italy where they get used to run lights round old buildings without damaging walls by attaching flex to timber beams – they also look great. Because we have exposed timber beams running along the apex of the roof and gables they are the perfect solution to getting new lights into our attic without chasing into plaster and making more mess. They are really easy to install, you simply make a gap/loop in the twisted flex and pop the flex over the guide which you have screwed to the roof. Just use a cup hook to actually hang the light from.
Now we just need to get the carpet fitted which is booked in for next week, and at some point sort out the windows so that they open again!
Here’s a few more shots. The first is from the stairwell looking in. The lights are on in second two shots which does make the room look more yellow than it actually is!