Camping In The Dining Room


Bedroom 001 Wm


It’s a while since we did any proper work on the house.

They’re always such humongous jobs that it’s tempting just to put them off. And so we have. But waking up in our bedroom was depressing me more and more. The woodchip paper, stretched across hollows in the plaster and bent inelegantly around corners where it was never designed to go. The ‘temporary’ flatpack brown wardrobes, rebuilt three times already, held together with scrappy bits of wood and screwed to the wall to keep them standing.. a gap of several inches under one side of their run on account of the slope in the floor. The inherited built in cupboards, constructed directly against the cob external walls making them inherently damp. We had to leave the doors constantly open to increase ventilation and give us any chance of using them at all.


Bedroom 003 Wm


But there are mysteries here too which make the job more exciting. Can you pick out the slightly raised area under the woodchip paper above? It’s the beam at the top of a boarded up fireplace. The fireplace will never be used in anger again, not even in the very coldest of winters, because it’s been shut off within the chimney. But could it be stripped back and made into a feature to add more character to the room?

And that’s not all. For the opening shot of the post I was pointing the camera into a little used corner, a small part of my fabric stash quietly gathering dust. Just behind the rolls and partly blocked by a wardrobe there is a door. It only leads to the bathroom but the low height gives a clue as to its age. At a smidgen over 5′ tall even I would have to bend quite considerably to get through it. There’s also some simple carving on the lower part of the frame. Hidden under goodness knows how many layers of faded gloss paint.


Bedroom 002 Wm


Yesterday we cleared out the room ready for the off. There is no ‘guest’ bedroom here, the other upstairs rooms have been commandeered as ‘his’ and ‘hers’ studies. So yet again we are in disarray. The dining table has been squashed into the sitting room and the wardrobes reconstructed, for the fourth and last time, where the table used to be. Across the other side of the dining room, the headboard of the bed now rests hard up against the big black hole of the inglenook fireplace. A place where even spiders fear to tread.

But the biggest treat of all was left to this morning. At 6.30 a.m. precisely I awoke not in my bed but pinned to the ceiling by some unknown force. At least that’s what it felt like for a second or two. The noise, certainly, could have been mistaken for a rocket taking off. Where is Tim Peake when you need him huh? When I retired to bed late last night, after a glass or two of restorative Pinot, I maybe didn’t have full cognisance of where my head now lay. Three feet or maybe even less from the oil fired central heating boiler, that’s where. Doh.

With the benefit of the early awakening I have been playing around with CAD. Mike bought the cheap and cheerful Computer Aided Design software for me to use when we were planning the kitchen and it’s proved invaluable. Even if it does have some quirks. There is no recognition of the need for beams and sloping ceilings so improvisation is key. I have got around both problems by constructing large 3D structures using the freeform tool and then ‘elevating’ and effectively sticking them to the ceiling to get something that looks reasonably right. Even that is not straightforward because for some strange reason every time I make a change to the plan the sloping ceiling crashes to the floor and I have to perform the levitation thing all over again. Does this happen to Sir Norman Foster do you think? Nope, thought not.


Bedroom Plan 001 Wm


Version 1


There is no good time for decorating projects. When we did my study, last winter, short daylight hours were against us plus the length of time needed for the lime plaster to dry. Now, in summer, time has to be divided between this project and the garden which is once again out of control. The borders have increasingly become dominated by weeds thanks to the recent heavy rain. I have taken on too much and blogging time is getting squeezed. I hope you will follow along with the latest adventure, I do so value your support for rusty duck. If you have a blog, I have been and will still be catching up on your news whenever there’s a spare moment, there are just not enough hours in the day. Please bear with me during the next few frenetic weeks.



2017-10-27T09:20:46+00:00June 23rd, 2016|Tags: |


  1. Christina June 23, 2016 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Good luck! and I hope you don’t encounter any major problems, fingers crossed.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      The walls underneath the woodchip are terrible. Looks like a lot of plastering to do..

  2. Backlane Notebook June 23, 2016 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Oh how I love a home improvement project – I even enjoy the chaos because it adds to the intense pleasure that is provoked by finishing. CAD is beyond me and I’m rather glad that it came later than my design careers but you’ve managed a very lovely image. Since I’m only thinking about a decorating job here yours in the meantime will do nicely. I shall watch with fascination as it all progresses.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      This CAD package really is cheap and cheerful and as such came with no instructions whatsoever. Very trial and error. Fun though when there’s a rare eureka moment. I’m already wishing I was just watching someone else’s project.

  3. kate@barnhouse June 23, 2016 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    How wonderful and how very exciting to be engrossed in a significant home improvement project. Looking at your fabulous CAD image I guess you’d like a real, working fireplace … how hard would it be to reopen the chimney? Bedroom feature fireplaces are nice but truly they are not quite the same as ones you can use (we have them and, for whatever reason, I regret that they don’t ‘work’).

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      The number of fireplace choices in the package is rather limited. This one was the closest and sadly I can’t find a way to remove the flames! The chimney could quite possibly be opened up but I’m still not sure the fireplace would ever get used. I’d just like to give the room that extra bit of character really. It would have to be very cold to justify lugging wood right through the house. Maybe that’s just being lazy.

      • Henriet from Holland June 25, 2016 at 4:39 pm - Reply

        It looks to me like you will just have to put a huge artistic dry flower arrangement, preferably orange, in your projected fireplace. CAD is sooo imperative. I remember designing our kitchen and the refrigerator just kept on jumping to a particular spot where I really didn’t want it – until I discovered that the programme insisted on a socket nearby….

        • Jessica June 26, 2016 at 11:48 pm - Reply

          Goodness, your software package sounds a great deal more sophisticated than mine! But they are such useful tools. Putting things like lamps in the plan prompts me to think about where the power sockets should be.

  4. Pauline June 23, 2016 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    You are going to have a fabulous bedroom, but take your time over it! Old houses are wonderful when you start peeling back the layers, I wish they could talk, what a tale they would tell!

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      It looks like it’ll be taking a lot of time! Sometimes the secrets give themselves up, with a bit of detective work. That’s the fun bit!

  5. Anna June 23, 2016 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Hope all goes well Jessica.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks Anna. It’s looking a bit scary at the moment but possibly no worse than the study and Mike made a great job of that.

  6. New Moons For Old June 23, 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Hi, Jessica.
    You might recall (although there’s no reason why you possibly should or could) that it was your study project which first drew me into the wonderful world of Rusty Duck, and I will certainly keep checking in to see how the bedroom project goes. I really do sympathise with your issues over fitting everything in, in the time available: the sudden growth spurt in the gardens and countryside due to the rain is quite terrifying, and unexpected pressures also mean I am suffering a case of bloggus interruptus, too.
    I’m sure I speak for many many of your followers when I say we’re not going anywhere!
    Good luck with the bedroom project and keep us posted.
    P.S. I’m v. impressed with your fabric stash!

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      The growth spurt has been incredible and as usual it’s the weeds that have benefited the most. Keeping up is a full time job in itself. Still, no rain would probably be worse.

  7. Colleen June 23, 2016 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    I know *exactly* what you mean about depressing views on waking. Our bedroom still bears scars from a leak a couple of years back, similar dodgy wallpapering and tired colours. Along with a failed boiler stuffed cellar, and window repairs, it all points to some serious decluttering and 3D Tetris planning. And, yes, there’s always some garden to do too. Good luck with the work -I’m sure you’ll be rewarded.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      It’s non stop isn’t it, this house maintenance thing. There’s always something needs doing. Take care of yourself Colleen, especially in the cellar!

  8. snowbird June 23, 2016 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Oh, good luck with it, it will be interesting to see what’s underneath. I’ve just decorated the study and kitchen, the new curtains still haven’t arrived so the kitchen is very bare. It’s lovely to have it all clean and fresh again, you will enjoy that part!xxx

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      I will definitely enjoy that part! We broke into the fireplace today. I’d never have been able to get over the curiosity if we hadn’t.. but as usual it just reveals a lot more work. πŸ™

      • snowbird June 25, 2016 at 1:16 am - Reply

        Oh…get that too! One job always leads to another…it will be lovely to have that fireplace open in the bedroom, you will be able to put candles or lights in it…or just have it as a lovely

        • Jessica June 26, 2016 at 11:27 pm - Reply

          Sadly at some point in the past all the fireplace stonework was painted black! It will be a long job to get it all off but worth it if successful.

  9. Denise June 23, 2016 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Hanging on in there with you, my friend – hanging on in there!

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      I’m already wondering why we started. And it’s only Day 1..

  10. vera June 23, 2016 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Wishing you oodles of energy and patience as you set to work on the room. It will be gorgeous when it is finished.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Oh I do hope so. It will certainly need every ounce of energy and patience.

  11. Virginia June 23, 2016 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    How exciting! I’m going to love following this! I live in a 20 year old home, and there are few in the whole country that date much before 1900… so “real restorations” are very exciting! However, I’m also feeling for you – living through the grind and dust, not to mention unforeseen $$$$ expenses must be wearing. Shoulders back Jessica, you’ve made such a wonderful job of the rest of the work, this will be worth the pain.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      I will draw on your confidence Virginia, thank you!

  12. Kris Peterson June 23, 2016 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    Old houses present challenges I’d never have envisioned. I’m impressed by your first design and look forward to your updates. I couldn’t help thinking this project would make a really good DIY project for TV (but then you’d have to share your dining room space with a TV crew!).

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      There was a series here called Grand Designs where a camera crew followed people undertaking restorations or fantastical new builds. It was somewhat addictive mostly I suspect because the projects never went entirely to plan and almost always overbudget.

  13. Amy at love made my home June 23, 2016 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Wow, a big job, but I am sure it will be fantastic when it is done! Hope that the boiler doesn’t keep waking you up with a shock!

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:37 pm - Reply

      Hopefully I’m getting used to the boiler. The problem now is that the dining room is much lighter than the bedroom (bigger windows). Also not conducive to early morning sleep.

  14. Mark and Gaz June 23, 2016 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    I’m liking the potential look you’re trying to achieve πŸ™‚ I’m sure it will turn out well and fab!

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks. I want it to be quite minimalist, just the structure of the building providing the character. That’s proving challenging with all the storage space we need.

  15. jannaschreier June 23, 2016 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Your house reminds me so much of the seventeenth century home we sold in 2013. I still love that era. In fact we’re off to view a thatched-roof house on Saturday. Looking forward to seeing the ‘after’ photos. Good luck!

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks. Look forward to hearing all about your house hunting. This is the second thatched cottage we’ve had and I love them too. But as you know they can mean an awful lot of work. Choose wisely!

  16. Beth @ PlantPostings June 24, 2016 at 4:05 am - Reply

    Oh gosh, these projects have a way of taking over one’s life, don’t they? It looks like you have it under control, though. Life has been crazy hectic for me lately, too. Sometimes we simply have to take care of other things. Good luck! Keep us posted!

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      I wish I had your faith re everything under control! Take care Beth, it isn’t much fun when you’re constantly rushing around.

  17. CJ June 24, 2016 at 6:01 am - Reply

    Ooh, exciting, I shall enjoy watching your progress. I know exactly what you mean about the weeds, my allotment is disappearing under them. CJ xx

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      And as soon as I clear them, they’re getting ready to come back. I swear they creep up the second my back is turned.

  18. Island Threads June 24, 2016 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Jessica your virtual bedroom looks so nice, I hope the making of it goes smoothly, it has been raining here this week and I have been telling myself to get on with the kitchen decorating, perhaps I should take your lead but this morning I feel the need for something more relaxing, best wishes with your redecoration, Frances

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      And for yours Frances, if you start it. The trouble is, once you’ve started it, there’s no choice but to keep going. Especially when you’ve created several holes in the wall, as we have done today.

  19. Caro June 24, 2016 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Intriguing! I’m amazed you’ve not wanted to peel back the woodchip before now, I’d just have to know what architectural treasures might be waiting! Wishing you a smooth project this time, I’ll be following with great interest. In the garden, I find an hour after a (very) long day at work keeps things manageable (just) but, as you rightly point out, the blog suffers as do comments elsewhere. Sounds like you deserve your Pinot!

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      I think I need to join one of those wine clubs that offer a discount if you buy in bulk. I’ve been wanting to peel back the woodchip since the day we moved in. The trouble is more often than not it reveals a can of worms. In some places it was put on in a double layer to hide the cracks.

  20. Sigrun June 24, 2016 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Oh yes, the garden is out of controll, we had too much rain. You are an artist, I’m not able to do such a Collage on my computer! I think, you create a wonderful room.


    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      Too much rain all over Europe, we are in the same boat. Or at least we were until today.. πŸ™

  21. derrickjknight June 24, 2016 at 11:42 am - Reply

    That CAD looks useful

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      When I used it for the kitchen I was quite impressed how realistic the image turned out to be, when compared to the actual result.

  22. Jo June 24, 2016 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Wishing you lots of luck. There’s no way I could take on such a huge project, my stress levels would be through the roof, but I admire those who do. I’m sure it will all be worth it, it will look absolutely fantastic once it’s all done.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      I’m with you on the stress levels. It’s only the prospect of a sparkling new room that keeps me going. Have a fabulous holiday.

  23. Sarah June 24, 2016 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Good luck with your decorating hope it all goes smoothly. Your 3D version looks fantastic! Sarah x

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sarah. It will just be a case of plodding on with it. Plenty of time to tweak the drawing and remind myself of how it might look… eventually!

  24. justjilluk June 24, 2016 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Awesome. What fun.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      Yes. No. πŸ˜‰

  25. Sue Garrett June 24, 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    I look forward to watching things develop. Exciting if busy times.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      It gets to the stage where you just want it done. Reached that stage. Day 1.

  26. Wendy June 24, 2016 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Hope it all goes well – good luck! Old properties always have challenges, don’t they, with sloping and uneven walls, but I love their character all the same.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      In a way they are more forgiving for the decorator, nothing needs to be straight or perfect. I think we may be adding a bit more character. But I love it too.

  27. Rick Nelson June 24, 2016 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Inundated with weeds myself at the moment rd, I am afraid any work on the house has to take second place for a month or two.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 10:28 pm - Reply

      They really have taken off, I can’t keep up with them. I wish I didn’t have quite so much bare earth!

  28. Brian Skeys June 24, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Wood chip is usually used to hide a multitude of sins, terrible stuff. Good luck with the paint brush.

    • Jessica June 24, 2016 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      It certainly did here! Thanks Brian. When we get to the paint brush stage the worst will be over.

  29. bittster June 24, 2016 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    I think this weekend will be filled with indoor labour here since the outdoors are forecast to be miserably hot. I far prefer the outdoor work.
    Glad to hear you’re starting on the next big thing, it all sounds so exciting and promising but then loses the romance for me when you mention damp cupboards. I don’t think I would like damp cupboards πŸ™‚ It will be so beautiful when finished. I’m sure you can’t wait!

    • Jessica June 26, 2016 at 11:18 pm - Reply

      The damp cupboards will be the next things to rip out. The stained 80s carpet has already gone. Just need to keep going now because I definitely can’t wait!

  30. sustainablemum June 25, 2016 at 8:06 am - Reply

    A big, but not doubt exciting project! Make sure you have plenty more bottles of Pinot to hand!

    • Jessica June 26, 2016 at 11:28 pm - Reply

      I think they will be needed πŸ™

  31. germac4 June 25, 2016 at 11:22 am - Reply

    I loved the work you did to your study…so I look forward to following the bedroom project.

    • Jessica June 26, 2016 at 11:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gerrie. The bedroom is about twice the size, but hopefully there will be less of a learning curve this time.

  32. Jo June 25, 2016 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    How exciting! Another project. My bedroom was always last on the list but we’ve never got round to decorating. I have plans though – I do have plans x

    • Jessica June 26, 2016 at 11:39 pm - Reply

      Always good to have plans, then you can be ready to strike at the first opportunity.

  33. pollymacleod June 25, 2016 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Good luck Jessica. I know old houses can have lots of problems but it is exciting. In a previous home of mine I uncovered a lovely old fireplace in a bedroom. I like the CAD design.

    • Jessica June 26, 2016 at 11:43 pm - Reply

      It’s the uncovering I enjoy the most. You can learn so much about a house that way.

  34. Jackie June 26, 2016 at 7:28 am - Reply

    All the best Jessica, look forward to seeing the end result.

    • Jessica June 26, 2016 at 11:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jackie. It may take a while!

  35. Cathy June 26, 2016 at 7:57 am - Reply

    I do so enjoy reading about your renovations and improvements – and how exciting it will be to uncover the beam and fireplace! Sadly though you have niggled my conscience as we got new bedroom furniture and moved our bed against a different wall last summer, exposing various gaps in the wallpaper. I know I struggle to find wallpaper I like, but perhaps I ought to start looking more seriously…

    • Jessica June 27, 2016 at 12:08 am - Reply

      With all the uneven walls here wallpaper was never going to look very good. All the more reason to think that it was there to cover something up. Which indeed it was. Mike has a lot of filling to do.

  36. Julieanne June 27, 2016 at 10:35 am - Reply

    You don’t do anything by halves do you Jessica. Still, I can understand wanting to wake up in a lovely room without torn wallpaper etc. Short-term pain for long term gain and all that. As for the weeds, the current lot will stop new ones coming up as they are taking all the space. Humm, ok, not sure that theory will hold…. The CAD design look lovely.

    • Jessica June 27, 2016 at 11:33 pm - Reply

      I like your thinking re the weeds and it’s certainly true. Having cleared a large area of thistles almost as tall as me I’m now seeing thousands of small seedlings growing up to take their place. Back out with the hoe then..

  37. frayed at the edge June 27, 2016 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Such fun!!

    • Jessica June 27, 2016 at 11:43 pm - Reply

      More wallpaper scraping tomorrow, not fun.. !

      • frayed at the edge June 28, 2016 at 8:36 am - Reply

        I can remember scraping woodchip off old walls when we lived in a cottage in Cambridgeshire …….. it came off an inch at a time, sometimes taking bits of the old plaster with it – never again!!

        • Jessica June 29, 2016 at 10:41 am - Reply

          It’s truly dreadful stuff. We (royal we) will be re-skimming every wall. And part of the ceiling. πŸ™

  38. bitaboutbritain June 28, 2016 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Hey – good for you. Can’t beat a good project – particularly when it’s done. Impressed at your use of CAD – last time I did something like this I tried using Excel..!

    • Jessica June 29, 2016 at 10:43 am - Reply

      It’s taken me a long time to work out how to use it. No manual! And every time I manage to figure it out there’s an upgrade. But it’s worth the bother, it really does make you think about what needs to go where.

  39. Caroline June 28, 2016 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    I started reading about the time you were finishing off your office and so enjoyed watching it take shape. Looking forward to seeing your bedroom refit and what wonderful sectrets you uncover under those layers of paint and paper!

    • Jessica June 29, 2016 at 10:49 am - Reply

      Thanks Caroline. The stripping back has been interesting, but every stage just seems to bring about more work. It’s dreary and raining here this morning and with the white paper mostly stripped off, plus holes in the walls everywhere, it feels more like a cave!

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