When I first viewed our house in 2018, I was on my own, it was pouring with rain, dark, wintry – and it didn’t look appealing. The first thing that struck me was that the original windows had been replaced with upvc ones probably around 20 years previously, and they looked tired and scruffy. Inside, it was clear that they were definitely past their sell by date. Realistically, I knew that we would never be able to afford to replace all of these windows with wooden ones, which would be the dream, but if we could just change the dominant bay window at the front, it was going to make a huge difference to the look of the house. Wood isn’t for everyone, because it needs upkeep and maintenance, but personally I don’t think you can beat it.
Anyone who has read my past blog posts will know that our first attempt at getting the window replaced was a disaster. I won’t go into it all again (let’s just say – cowboy builder/conman). After about a year of searching, our luck changed when we were recommended a local joiner, Sam Oliver, who had worked on my cousin’s home. Sam, it turns out, is a proper craftsman, and someone who rightly takes pride in his work. His quote fitted our budget (we did get some astronomically high quotes as well. Wooden windows are not cheap but that’s not surprising now I know how much work goes into them).
I knew that I wanted our house to look more cottagy, more like it had when it was built in 1910, I suppose. I lurked around town taking photos of other people’s windows in similar houses to ours. When I found The One, I sent Sam the picture and he worked from that, producing detailed plans and measurements.
Work began at the end of September 2019, and we were sent updates from the workshop.
Finally, fitting week came. We were also having the plastic fascias replaced with wooden ones, the porch roof lined with tongue and groove and a new black drainpipe, again more consistent with the age of the house. Sam worked his socks off for a week. It was remarked on by everyone who walked past, just how much time he took to get it all looking just-so. I’m still getting comments nearly four months later.
We had planned to have the wall directly below the windows rendered, as the newer brickwork really jarred (I don’t like the look of the front wall either but that’s a project for another year). After another one of my fact finding missions walking through town staring at other people’s houses, it struck me that it would be much cheaper and easier to paint the brickwork white instead. Plus, we were having our window fitted in early October, and it was pointed out to me that it is not a good idea to have rendering done in the colder months as it doesn’t bond properly. I was too impatient to wait until spring, so a £20 tin of white exterior paint it was. Job done.
Then came the faffing – putting the olive trees back and planting up the old chimney pot that I’d bought for the front garden. I also have plans to grow a clematis over that front wall, maybe a purple Jackmontii.
Inside the house, it was time to decide between blinds or shutters. I dithered, got quotes for both, dithered a bit more and finally we decided to go for what we really, really wanted: wooden half shutters. A neighbour invited me to have a look at hers, and I chose the same supplier, Rutland Shutters. It was an eight week wait for the shutters to be made, but again, well worth it.
Here they are from the inside. Half shutters let in plenty of light, and you can still see the lovely criss cross details of the windows.
Next on the renovation list is our front door. We did have one put in by the cowboy builder, but it’s thin, unsealed, unfinished – and the wind whips through the gaps that the carpenter left after he literally threw it on and ran. Sam is now making one for us, similar to this one that I spotted in my town. Again, we have chosen to go for wood, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like!