Is This A Plan?

This last couple of weeks it’s been on the soggy side working out in the garden. And yet I’ve been hankering after a project. Something big.

Whilst the weather is glorious how easy is it to forget about all the things that need doing on the house. Especially when it’s an old house and almost everything is chicken and egg. Take any small to medium sized job and there is usually a gargantuan one that really should be tackled first. A much needed makeover of the sitting room? Undoubtedly doomed to failure unless the fireplace is sorted out. And that involves rebuilding a chimney. You get the drift.

Enough is enough. If I’ve taken anything out of the last month or so it is that life is short. We need to get on. Starting early next year I hope we can kick off some of the big stuff. The chimney for sure and, while the scaffolding is up, some work to the thatch on the roof. But perhaps there is one room that is relatively self-contained. And so, baaa-rring the unforeseen intrusion of that flock of sheep, we’ve thrown ourselves full on into renovating the study.

Working on an old building is always unpredictable, that’s what makes it so exciting. Already there have been surprises..


Good ones..



When the hateful orange carpet came up this is what we found. These boards are a full 12 inches wide. Although some will need replacing.


And bad..





Of course there will still be the garden, when weather allows, but maybe a few new stories to regale you with on the coldest days to come. After all, when did anything round here ever go exactly according to plan?




As well as the usual posts on the blog you can now find all the latest rusty duck ‘Breaking News’ on Twitter too. Just click on the Twitter logo in the footer section at the very bottom of this page. It would be great to see you there!


2018-04-25T10:06:34+00:00November 18th, 2014|Tags: |


  1. Sue November 18, 2014 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    One job always leads to two, or three or four or even more. I know the feeling oh so well.

    Those boards are beautiful, they more than make up for the wall …. well almost 😉

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      I’ve been scouring the internet for most of the afternoon trying to find more. Apparently they are like hens teeth now.

  2. Amy at love made my home November 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    The boards are wonderful!!! I hope that you can renovate them and they will be beautiful. You are so right that one little thing often either leads to or requires the prior work on something big. We had that this summer, to sort out our drainage we had to do loads of massive jobs, even though the drainage was actually in a way the smallest of them all!! It sounds as though it is going to be a busy time for the ducks, but well worth it in the end! How did you get on with those chairs? Are you using them yet? xx

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      Ha ha!!!! The chairs are in exactly the same half constructed state as when you last saw them. They’ve been a victim of the good summer too. At least they are a talking point for visitors. Back on the list for this year. I won’t be bored.

  3. Em November 18, 2014 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    How is your damp? Do you have issues? I can’t remember. You have issues enough obviously but I was just wondering. Love those boards. What might be under other carpets I wonder…..x

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      No real damp issues that I know of, just a few spots in cupboards which shouldn’t have been built against an external wall. Extra ventilation (leaving doors ajar) has sorted it. Touch wood..

  4. Cumbrian November 18, 2014 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    love the old boards, but what’s the bottom pic of?

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      It’s a cob wall with a crack in it. Not unusual really, cob (earth and straw) absorbs moisture in the winter and evaporates it in the summer so it does tend to move. The problem here is that it’s been hidden under wood chip paper for years and therefore hasn’t been properly maintained. We can fill it with a lime mix. Hopefully..

  5. Mise November 18, 2014 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Interiors! How utterly delightful. I’m looking forward to the study progress. There will be at least one small cushion, right?

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm - Reply

      In your honour Mise, there will be a cushion. Possibly a window seat and a table runner too? Co-ordinating, naturally.

  6. Joanne November 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Oooooh I love the floor! My house is feeling much like that at the moment, a simple stair/landing carpet replacement has been put off until the railings & bannisters have been replaced, which can’t be done until a new bath can be fitted upstairs. I wish it was dry enough to take solace in the garden.

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      You and me both, the garden is far less stressful. We just have to keep telling ourselves, over and over, It Will Be Worth It.

  7. Cathy November 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Ahhh, we had lots of walls like that – doesn’t look damp though : ) but we didn’t have nice floorboards 🙁 Enjoy the adventure!

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      No, it doesn’t seem damp. I suspect this is the only room that has the nice floorboards and a bit of a conundrum really as they’re in the newest part of the old house. Newest in the relative sense, possibly still hundreds of years old.

  8. Janet/PlantalisciousJ November 18, 2014 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Oh dear, yes, even on a relatively modern house things always wind up being more complicated than you expected. And I hate that perennial interdependency thing. We have an “interesting” challenge with how we insulate our dormers. It is giving me palpitations!! Good luck with the study, wonderful to have discovered those floorboards, hope they aren’t toon drafty!

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      There are a lot of gaps between the floorboards. The old way would have been to hammer slivers of wood in between them. That is what I want to try first. Good luck with the dormers. That does seem a challenge.

  9. Jennifer November 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    I’m sorry about the walls, but it might be a relatively easy fix if it’s not water damage. Those floors, though – wow! I’m seriously envious. What a fabulous find.

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      I couldn’t believe the floor, the colour and width of the boards are stunning. I just hope we can find replacements for the couple of bits that are missing. Then it will be lots of elbow grease to bring them back to their former glory. A labour of love.

  10. Alison November 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Good luck on your home renovations. I hope there are more pleasant surprises in store.

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks Alison, I hope so too. Although I expect it will continue to be something of a mixed bag.

  11. islandthreads November 18, 2014 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    yes it’s a good plan Jessica, I have decided to concentrate on things inside and not wake up every morning wondering if ‘I will get into the garden today’, I bought some wall paper when on the mainland for my living room which I plan to redecorate this winter, I’ve also started sewing again, I am feeling better for concentrating on other things instead of wishing I could garden,
    nice floor boards, not so with the wall, I hope it’s just the plaster and nothing more serious, life is short and I have found as we get older life gets shorter, I learnt a lesson when I moved out of a rented house 14 years after moving in and the ‘temporary’ floor covering in the bedrooms was still there, the first thing I did when we moved into the new home was get floor coverings we liked and wanted in all the rooms, it didn’t happen that quickly in this house due to all the interior construction work needing doing, good luck with the plan and work, Frances

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      It’s a quagmire out there now. Previous years it’s stayed like this until Spring. Devon clay has as much to answer for as the rain. But I live in hope, maybe a dry couple of weeks will see me back outside. It looks like just plaster. With a building this old it pays to disturb as little as possible so we’ll just remove the loose stuff and fill.

  12. Freda November 18, 2014 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    The chain involved in jobs needing done is almost as bad as that chain when you are trying to buy a house. We’re clearing the loft for insulation (at least two thirds of the stuff is NOT going back up there!) but I do love having my own house….Good luck, your good humour will see you through!

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      Lofts do tend to attract clutter. I have to say clearing out my study prior to stripping it out was very therapeutic. I have some before pictures.. you will be appalled. But it will make the after pictures look so much better whatever the outcome!

  13. Dorothy @ The Nature of Things November 18, 2014 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    We are in the middle of our own project at the moment – renovating the open public areas of the house (living room, dining room, kitchen, and den). It’s currently at the messy stage, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and, with any luck, it won’t be an oncoming train! Good luck with your project.

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Oh crikey, now that is a big project! No shutting the door on that. It’s the collateral damage that I find the most frustrating. Bits of the study seem to have found themselves in every other room in the house. And my desk is now the dining room table.

  14. Jacqueline November 18, 2014 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    The up’s and down’s of living in an old house ……. we have been there, done that and doing that !!!! Although is challenging, worrying and hard work, it sure is worth it in the end.
    LOVE those wide floorboards Jessica …… I have floorboard envy !!!! XXXX

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      It is worth it, this is not our first old house so it must be! I hope I can find more of those boards. There may be some miles travelled in the quest.

  15. linda November 18, 2014 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica….
    Oh Boy! renovations! The floor is beautiful…hope you can find something to fit…
    Oh…I am so excited….can’t wait to see more!
    We are freezing here….damn Polar Vortex! But…10*c next week!!! YAY!
    Enjoy your week…
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      It was 10C here today… and I was still freezing! All things are relative I suppose. I hope the polar vortex swings back off to where it came from. I’m sure the bears need it more than us.

  16. Mark and Gaz November 18, 2014 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    House renovation, how exciting!! Yes it will be stressful, it will be tiring, and there will be frustrations along the way but you know deep down it will all be worth it. Those wide floorboards looks gorgeous btw!

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      Many years ago, in another house, we spent Christmas corralled in one room plus the kitchen. Should we have wished we could have shimmied from the sitting room to the outside through the ex-bottom half of a wall. Birds flew in and there were icicles hanging from the radiators. This will be a breeze!

  17. wherethejourneytakesme November 18, 2014 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica – I covet your floorboards – ours will be ripped out next week but they were not old and beautiful like yours. I recognised the cracked plaster effect too – we certainly have plenty of that.

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      You will get it all back Viv, and it will be better. At least you don’t have to live in it, or camp out in the garden, whilst it is being done. I certainly look forward to seeing it all come together again.

  18. Sarah November 18, 2014 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    I look forward to watching your progress over the winter months. The wall looks familiar we have come across some like that over the years! Sarah x

    • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sarah. Our predecessors covered virtually every wall, and even some ceilings, in this place with wood chip. It’s not been as bad to get off as we thought, but now I think we know why it’s there. The making good is going to take a lot of work.

  19. Charlie@Seattle Trekker November 18, 2014 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    I love texture, color, and line so I really enjoyed your images.

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks Charlie. I’m considering painting the walls with distemper, it gives a lovely chalky touchy feely texture. Not as textured as they are at the moment of course.. but nice!

  20. Donna@GardensEyeView November 19, 2014 at 12:34 am - Reply

    Maybe I will eventually get on Twitter. And we are contemplating a few plans here as well inside and out. Good luck as it looks like quite a project.

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      Good luck with your projects too. They can be so disruptive but worth it in the end. Hope you’re not snowed in!

  21. Sue@GLAllotments November 19, 2014 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Good luck – we have some indoor work planned at my sister’s. We did all out downstairs and hall/landing and stairs last yinter

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm - Reply

      That’s a huge job Sue, but a nice one to get out of the way for a few years. It’s good to be working indoors over the winter, it feels productive and there’s less temptation to be in the garden!

  22. Linda P. November 19, 2014 at 11:37 am - Reply

    All the best with the interior renovations. I’m looking forward to seeing the different stages and end result in due course.

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda. The trouble with these projects is that they start off self contained and then the scope starts to creep..

  23. paxton3 November 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Score with the floorboards! We have the painters in the first week of December. And we are proposing to sand and lime the living room floors before Xmas. The big job for us is the kitchen. One for the new year maybe. There are plans for the garden too, involving a cabin for when Sam is not living here full time anymore. I thought that you might like to know that the palm is staying, but it’s having a bit of a haircut.
    I love seeing a work in progress. Look forward to seeing regular updates.
    Leanne xx

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Crikey Leanne, I’m glad I’m not the only one with ambitious plans. I have a sneaky suspicion we’re not going to be up straight again for Christmas. Hey ho, T-shirt etc. Glad to hear about the palm. A haircut sounds a good compromise. I’m so envious that you’ve got it at all, a bit too far inland here sadly.

  24. Cathy November 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Most definitely a plan! How nice to read this … and your visitors’ comments … and to realise that I’m not the only one in the world who can’t seem to get on because of a ‘chain reaction’. We’ve done so little in three years – and there’s so much to do. Don’t want to waste money on (now expensive!) paint, when … and so it goes on. Consequently everything just carries on looking awful. Most worrying is the 16th century rising damp in the living room. In spite of the fact that my builder friend (working on insulation) has assured me it never goes up more than 1 m, it’s already well above that and my pencil mark shows it’s risen this summer! I can only dream about kitchens, sigh. Those floorboards are absolutely superb aren’t they? Wish I could rip something up and find a treat for a change! Good luck … sounds great.

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      Perhaps the damp is from another source, like a leaking down pipe or something? That would be easier to fix too if it is. We lifted one of the floorboards today and sadly they’re not as impressive as they look, certainly not heavy enough to be a hardwood. But we now have a short length that we can drag around the reclaim yards and hopefully find a match for whatever it is.

  25. angiesgardendiaries November 19, 2014 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    My kind of plan! I really do envy you the fact you have an old property and all the excitement, drama and hassle that goes along with it Jessica. It would be my life’s dream to have a project such as you are both undertaking. Maybe one day, I can but dream!
    Floor boards are going to be great I do hope you are able to source the amount you need to replace the damaged ones. Will be looking forward to future posts.

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      Don’t underestimate the hassle. Everything takes much longer than it would on a modern building, and tends to be a lot more expensive. Thankfully with the number of cob buildings in Devon there are a couple of good materials suppliers. We’re also thinking of going on a lime plastering course to reduce some of the cost. Hopefully one or other of us will turn out to be good at it. And it won’t be me if it needs patience. Watch this space!

  26. Vera November 19, 2014 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    It is good to have projects to help one get through the winter! This is what I keep telling myself as we plod on with our renovations!

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:30 pm - Reply

      Vera, you’re well ahead of me. But I’d need that Rayburn plumbed in. Warm tootsies after a day of hard graft is a must!!

  27. wherefivevalleysmeet November 19, 2014 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    Thinking about a project, and then getting round to doing something about it is the worse part. Once the ball starts rolling and there is no turning back it can become quite exciting.

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      There is always a point when you dearly wish you’d never started it though. When things are still being taken apart and the mess is at its worst. I think I’m at that point..

  28. finlaygray November 19, 2014 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    Plans are wonderful during winter they keep us going don’t they?
    So exciting

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      If the plans all come to fruition it will definitely be exciting. So much to do to get there that’s the trouble.

  29. AnnetteM November 20, 2014 at 7:54 am - Reply

    My goodness – looks like you have enough to keep you busy until the Spring – and probably beyond. My parents once totally renovated a thatched poor house in the south of England, living in a caravan in the garden for part of the time. I had left home by then, but I think I was still scarred by it and now tend to prefer newer houses. I am a bit jealous, though, of the wonderful satisfaction it must give you when a project is completed.

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      When we were looking for this place it was with a view to doing a project. This one is liveable in, but a lot that we looked at were definitely of the caravan in the garden sort. It needs a tougher person than me to do that. I remember one house in particular that had just one tap in the whole place (cold) and still had an outside privy.

  30. Jo November 20, 2014 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Good luck with it, I hope it all goes according to plan for you. You sound as though you like these sort of challenges but it’s definitely not my thing, I nearly had a nervous breakdown when we had the house extended and there were no unforseen problems.

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      It does get stressful. Doing up an old house is one of those things you laugh about after the event!

  31. frayed at the edge November 20, 2014 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    I was going to redecorate my studio this year, and paint all the furniture with chalk paint, so it would all be smart and gorgeous and organised …… then we bought the flat and that was the end of those plans!! Hope you can track down some more of those wonderful floorboards.

    • Jessica November 20, 2014 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      You can do the studio and furniture in stages in due course, the flat was an opportunity not to miss.

  32. Brian Skeys November 21, 2014 at 5:50 am - Reply

    Good luck with the renovations. This is the right time of year for indoor work, although the garden still has a magnetic pull especially when the sun shines.
    We had a new utility room built last year, I really should get round to tiling the walls this winter!

    • Jessica November 21, 2014 at 8:04 am - Reply

      Hi Brian and welcome to rusty duck.
      You’re right about the garden. What I need here is a respite from rain. If I put a foot on the soil right now I create a hole several inches deep that rapidly fills with water. Good luck with the tiling!

I'd love to hear from you..