Monday 11 February 2013

Cottage restoration – What you need to know

Cottages can be well-preserved capsules of centuries gone by, with a chocolate box cottage remaining one of the ultimate rural idylls.

Restoring a ramshackle English country cottage is a labour of love for many would-be country dwellers, and can require oodles of time, research, and (invariably) money.

Here are just a few pointers for those looking to breathe life back into a traditional cottage:

Carry out thorough research

Looking at an area’s local history will help you to gain an understanding of how your cottage looked in its heyday, including details of local styles and building materials.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings runs a number of courses, such as the Old House Eco Course, designed to outline how you can make your period property energy-efficient, while maintaining the character of the building through techniques such as timber window draught sealing.

The Vernacular Architecture Group also produces newsletters, a journal and has two conferences per year.

If your cottage is within a conservation area or is a listed building, you will also need to speak to your local authority about the changes you can and can’t make.

Source reclaimed materials where possible

Restoring reclaimed materials wherever possible will not only help you to ensure that your newly restored home is in keeping with the period in which it was originally built, but may also help to keep costs down.

Placing a small ad in a local paper or antiques magazine could be a good starting point for finding reclaimed materials, as is asking builders to keep an eye out for any suitable items or sourcing old window glass from skips.

Buy antique furnishings

While it’s important to ensure that the overall structure of your home is in keeping with your home’s period style, the right antique furniture can also help to accurately revive a cottage’s past.

Join a regional furniture society to gain an insight into Britain’s regional furniture-making traditions. You may also want to consider enrolling on a furniture-making course, such as those that offer you the chance to make your own Windsor chair.