There’ll Be Dust You Say?

Bedroom 002 Wm

So. When we left the bedroom last time this is how it looked.


Mike has been laboriously stripping the woodchip paper off the walls. In places it was loose and he was ripping off feet of it at a time. But for the majority it’s been inch by inch. Soul destroying work. But there was one job in particular I was itching to do: that fireplace hidden behind the paper on the left hand wall.

A stout kick from Mike’s boot. Bit tougher than he thought. Enter the high tech cutting tool and the plasterboard came effortlessly away..


Bedroom 007 Wm


Black. Why did it have to be black?


It was paint too, unfortunately. Just like the beams.

It’s a devil of a job finding tradesmen down here. Most of the good ones are booked up for weeks. But just to prove that every cloud really does have a silver lining, last week it was raining. Not an unexpected turn of events in Devon, fortuitous nonetheless. Mike was concerned about some loose mortar underneath the main ceiling beam. We rang the chap who rebuilt the chimney for us last year, a bit of a flyer because his lead time is at least a month. But lo, he was working on an outside job and, given that conditions had just turned inclement, could he come round.. tomorrow? Whilst he was here I sought his opinion on the fireplace. “Aaah. Only one thing that’ll get that lot off. Sandblasting.”

Gulp. I’d been considering something along those lines for the ceiling beams in the downstairs rooms. That had been too far into the future to get the adrenaline flowing just yet and besides, it was somewhere we could most likely contain the mess. But hauling all the sandblasting kit through the house, up the stairs and somehow seal off this room? Nightmare. I peered again into the dark black hole. “Do you know anyone who does sandblasting?”

“Aye.” He gave us a name. “You’ll find his number on the internet.”

Mike gave the man a call. He got straight through. Turned out the sandblaster had been working on an outside job as well. And yes, it was still raining. Maybe he could come round.. tomorrow? Our fate was sealed.


Bedroom 009 Wm


10 o’clock he said.

Dustsheets. Check. Everything in the sitting room below corralled into the centre and very carefully covered up.

Masking tape. Check. Once man and his blaster were safely installed we would seal him in. Oh yes.

And oh, what a performance. The air, under pressure, required for sandblasting is generated by a compressor located in a trailer on the drive. A hose runs from that to a witches cauldron full of sand positioned, as it turned out, far too close to the vertical front face of the Precipitous Bank. A second hose then runs from the ‘cauldron’ along the path, up the side of the house and in through the bedroom window.

But there’s a problem. Of course there is. Was it ever thus. Each time Mr Sandblaster fires up his kit the cauldron blows a safety valve. Compressed air and sand explode in a swathe across the face of the bank. The ferns will never be the same again. A pressure adjustment is called for but as Mr S is by this time imprisoned courtesy of half a roll of masking tape the job falls to Mike, following instructions hollered at him via the open window. It took several attempts, Mike retreating hastily to a safe distance each time my poor ferns suffered another blast.

Optimum pressure eventually attained we stood outside to watch. Oh how I wish I’d taken the camera. Plumes of dust billowed from each of the three bedroom windows. Like a rocket on the launch pad just seconds from blast off. It took less than half an hour. Setting it all up in the first place had taken longer. The masking tape was ripped off the bedroom door and, cautiously, we stepped inside..


Bedroom 010 Wm


Picture taken after the clear up. Obviously. You can see Mike letting me loose with the DSLR with that cloud of dust still hanging in the air. But what a transformation. All it needs now is a nice bit of slate in the hearth and we’ll be in business.

There has been collateral damage. Much of the render on the chimney stack turned out to be weak and fell away. We’ve talked long and hard about removing it all and leaving the whole chimney stack exposed. But the stonework is rough. Compare it to the facing stone inside the fireplace, always intended to be seen. Re-rendering the rough stone is the way to go.

And having gone to all this trouble, what about the black ceiling beams in this room?


Bedroom 011 Wm


So much better

The original character is gradually returning, no?

There'll Be Dust You Say_

pin it?


2017-10-27T09:18:29+00:00July 10th, 2016|Tags: |


  1. Christina July 10, 2016 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Looks great, well done! I so enjoy reading your posts about reservations but I feel a little ashamed that perhaps I am becoming a little voyeuristic.

    • Jessica July 11, 2016 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      Writing about it is cathartic Christina. Regard it not as voyeurism but as supporting my sanity!

  2. Linda July 10, 2016 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    What a difference! The sacrifices an old house demands are serious and seemingly endless. The two of you deserve kudos once again. And the ferns will recover. Just walked through a fern forest atop sand dunes.

    • Jessica July 11, 2016 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      I have pruned off the worst of the fronds. It looks a bit odd but hopefully next year they will return as if nothing ever happened!

  3. Linda aka Crafty Gardener July 10, 2016 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    What luck getting the tradesmen to arrive the next day. There are certainly some things to thank the weather for. The fireplace looks amazing now.

    • Jessica July 11, 2016 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      I’m really pleased with the fireplace. I feared it would be a monstrosity and we’d end up boarding it back up. If we hadn’t been able to get it clean it most certainly would have been covered up again.

  4. CT July 10, 2016 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    I don’t envy you but it does look like it was worth the dust. I hope the ferns will forgive you :-).

    • Jessica July 11, 2016 at 8:52 pm - Reply

      Once we can get the walls back to a light colour again it will look fine. I hope.

  5. Tahoe girl July 10, 2016 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    What a job!!! How did you know there was a fireplace under the sheetrock??? will it actually work?? Love what you and your husband and the workmen are doing to your farmhouse!!!

    • Jessica July 11, 2016 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      If you look at the first picture you can just see the outline of the fireplace under the paper. It’s hard to spot but it is there. The chimney has been sealed off at the top. In theory that’s reversible but in practice I doubt we’d have an open fire in the bedroom so we’ll leave it as it is. We exposed it just to have the character feature back.

  6. Elaine July 10, 2016 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Talk about going back to the bare bones of the room – interesting to see what it looks like now everything is stripped bare. I sort of know what you’re going through. We are at the end of our chaos now, thank goodness. Can’t wait to see what the room looks like when you finally finish your renovations – if I live long enough ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jessica July 11, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      It does have the feeling of a long job about it doesn’t it! I’m determined it’ll be quicker than the study (eight months).

  7. Denise July 10, 2016 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Oh my GOODNESS! What excitement!!! Lucky to get the job done quickly, though – no time to think about it with the tradesfolk being able to come out immediately. No point in hanging around…just crack on! Marvellous progress!!

    • Jessica July 11, 2016 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      I only wish we could keep up this pace! I was disappointed at first that the fireplace stone is so dark but I’m coming round to rather liking it. A delightful shade of blue/grey. Could inspire a whole colour scheme maybe? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Marian St.Clair July 10, 2016 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    What a transformation! Lucky you there was so little time to worry. I wouldn’t have thought the room could be so altered this early in the process, but it already has a completely different ambience.

    • Jessica July 11, 2016 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      Absolutely. A much friendlier and cosier ambience.

  9. Vera July 10, 2016 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    I remember dust clouds so thick that we nearly choked, and that was room after room as we focussed on the downstairs of our house last year. I am now left with a chest infection which does not seem to want to budge, but it is a joy to see how the house has been transformed from its once ruinous state and I don’t regret one moment. Your room is going look lovely, and I am looking forward to seeing what your next step is.

    • Jessica July 11, 2016 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      The dust clouds are not over yet it seems but I love the transformation process too. And the satisfaction of returning the house to how it was meant to be. It feels a better place for it.

  10. annamadeit July 10, 2016 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    Wow – I’m sorry your ferns took a toll, but they will come back, I’m sure. I love the character rendered by the revealed stone and the beams. Well worth a little noise and dust, methinks! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:01 am - Reply

      Yes, I’m glad we did it although it was quite disruptive! Such a shame that both the fireplace and beams were covered up. Fashion has a lot to answer for.

  11. justjilluk July 10, 2016 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Mother Nature forced your hand – and the builders! What a great leap forwards. Such fun.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:05 am - Reply

      Your heart is always in your mouth when you embark on such things. We uncovered an inglenook fireplace in a previous house only to find it was unrestorable and had to be completely rebuilt.

  12. jannaschreier July 10, 2016 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    SO much better, but what an education for me. As I search RightMove I nonchalantly look at black beams thinking ‘how hard can it be to get them back to raw timber?’. Ah. I see. That hard. We are going to put an offer in on a house we saw yesterday. No black beams but it does have a boarded up fireplace. Hmmmm.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:19 am - Reply

      Oh, good luck with the offer. Look forward to hearing all about it. Sandblasting is not always the best way forward for beams. We did it as a bit of an experiment as the kit was already here for the fireplace. If the beams are at all wormy, as ours were (old worm!), it tends to damage the surface. But we’ve sanded them back a bit and they look much improved. When we tackle downstairs there are lower pressure methods that are supposedly kinder.

  13. smallsunnygarden July 10, 2016 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Wow – no time for a rethink or nerves, was there? ๐Ÿ˜‰ At least from here it’s easy to say the results are worth it!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:30 am - Reply

      The results are definitely worth it, even here under the dust!

  14. Freda July 10, 2016 at 8:34 pm - Reply


    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:31 am - Reply

      Worse to come..

  15. Wendy July 10, 2016 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    I know this mess – we had a sandblaster here to do the dining room in the spring. The beams look great but as for the dust it created – ugh! Your beams look transformed, too – so much better than the black and it certainly does bring the original character back. But I hope your poor ferns recover.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:40 am - Reply

      I really disliked the black beams. Especially when they are close together, the feel is so oppressive. I can’t wait to get our dining and sitting rooms cleaned up too.

  16. Sue Garrett July 10, 2016 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    So there is a ‘bright’ side to all this rain!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:42 am - Reply

      We have builders back in again, but because they too are busy it is only when it’s raining. I am torn between wanting the gardening time and getting the house done!

  17. CJ July 10, 2016 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Oh NICE. Really, really good. And how absolutely thrilling to have it all transformed so quickly. The word “blast” is very apt I think. I imagine the sandblaster has very smooth skin. I bet the dust got into every single room. I remember when we had a loft conversion it somehow did, despite closed doors. Very well worth it though, nice job. CJ xx

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:55 am - Reply

      The dust is getting everywhere. For the sandblasting we did manage to more or less contain it but with builders back it is getting worse again. I have draught excluders on every upstairs door. Could almost be winter!

  18. Mark and Gaz July 10, 2016 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    So much better stripped!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:56 am - Reply

      Much, much better.

  19. CherryPie July 11, 2016 at 1:25 am - Reply

    I am loving the new look ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:57 am - Reply

      It will be good when it’s freshly painted and the light comes back.

  20. Beth @ PlantPostings July 11, 2016 at 3:48 am - Reply

    Oh my, the character in your place is so very charming. You are working wonders!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 6:59 am - Reply

      Thanks Beth. It’s a slow process but it’s coming together.

  21. Kris Peterson July 11, 2016 at 4:29 am - Reply

    What a challenge you’ve taken on! It puts my husband’s concerns about the dust that would be created by taking out our tile floors (preparatory to laying wood floors throughout the entire house) into a whole new perspective. Maybe I need to raise that proposal again…

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 7:04 am - Reply

      Sanding the floor to get back to the natural boards is another job in the offing. It’s mucky work this renovation lark but usually worth it. I do like the sound of your wood floors although I imagine the tiles are nice and cool underfoot?

  22. bumbleandme July 11, 2016 at 7:46 am - Reply

    Jessica, it looks fantastic! Hoorah for the wet British summer! It does have its benefits after all. X

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 7:07 am - Reply

      In a limited set of circumstances, yes! It’s still keeping me out of the garden though ๐Ÿ™

  23. willow July 11, 2016 at 8:08 am - Reply

    I enjoy these posts, the room looks great. Apart from a few years at uni and after, I have always lived in “new” houses. I like the idea of restoring something older but perhaps I’ll just enjoy watching you!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 7:12 am - Reply

      I used to enjoy watching all those Grand Designs and similar programmes. They never quite get to the reality though, possibly because cameras and dust don’t really go together!

  24. Julieanne July 11, 2016 at 9:28 am - Reply

    That’s some serious work there. The stone in the fire place looks great. I hope your ferns recover.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 7:15 am - Reply

      I’m getting used to the stone. I would have preferred it to be lighter but can’t deny it’s a gorgeous colour.

  25. Anne Wheaton July 11, 2016 at 9:39 am - Reply

    I wonder how many generations will live in the house before they decide those beams should be painted black.
    Looking forward to seeing the finished room but enjoying watching the process of getting there.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 7:19 am - Reply

      Originally the beams could have been painted white (lime washed). That’s my plan B if the stripping downstairs doesn’t work. I hope we never return to black though!

  26. 1gus1 July 11, 2016 at 10:31 am - Reply

    My goodness, what a transformation. You must have nerves of steel and the patience of a saint to undertake these tasks.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 7:22 am - Reply

      I fail dismally on both counts. I just have a picture in my mind of how it’s going to look when it’s done and hang on to that for dear life!

  27. Backlane Notebook July 11, 2016 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Great progress and it looks gorgeous and for once Devon rain served you well.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 7:26 am - Reply

      Thanks. The rain has been getting me down as much as anyone. It’s nice when it pays off once in a while.

  28. derrickjknight July 11, 2016 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Wonderful effort well worth it

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 8:03 am - Reply

      Thanks Derrick. Now it’s wall sanding. The dust is never ending!

  29. Brenda July 11, 2016 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    It is a good thing you have a (very) well-developed sense of humor. That room is going to be lovely. It is interesting to see the vagaries of taste from generation to generation in these old houses–paint on, paint off, paint on, paint off! From old to new to old again.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 8:06 am - Reply

      That is what’s so fascinating about peeling back the layers of an old house. I just hope we stick with the natural look.. for many years to come!

  30. Jo July 11, 2016 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    It’s looking so much better already. The room looks brilliant with the fireplace opened up and the paint stripped from the beams. Congratulations on your four year blogiversary, I absolutely love the photo of the squirrel peeking in.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 8:09 am - Reply

      Thanks Jo. I can’t believe sometimes we’ve been doing this four years. And only on the third room! They’re all such huge jobs that’s the trouble.

  31. Caroline July 11, 2016 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    Oh wow those beams look amazing! And the fire place will make a lovely feature.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Thanks Caroline. We’ll need to decide what to do with it now. Some of those big floor standing candles perhaps.

  32. karen July 11, 2016 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    It looks so much better.

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 8:43 am - Reply

      Thanks Karen. It certainly does.

  33. Island Threads July 11, 2016 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    it looks great Jessica, now just for once aren’t you glad it was raining …………………… Frances

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 8:44 am - Reply

      Just this once!

  34. Caro July 11, 2016 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Last photo a very satisfying improvement with the cupboard gone and structural beams exposed. What next I wonder? It’s great to see it all happening through your blog and I’m very grateful to not be involved with all the dust. Sanding floorboards and having one wall repaired by having old plaster bashed off and new plaster applied was enough dust for me! Wishing you lots of stamina for the cleaning … Caro x

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 8:53 am - Reply

      Oh, you’re going to love the next post on this subject..
      When we get to the end of a big project it all looks wonderful and we forget the hardship. At least until we start the next one and then wonder (again) why we ever do it! This one may turn out to be the biggest job yet.

  35. Jennifer July 11, 2016 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Oh my. I know it wasn’t fun, but how much better does it look now? Wow, what an improvement. Home renovation is never fun, keep focused on the end product. That’s how I got through what had to be the most agonizing bathroom reno in the history of mankind. That, and alcohol. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 8:55 am - Reply

      That’s my strategy exactly. Wine consumption is growing too!

  36. Amy at love made my home July 11, 2016 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Great job! Such a good idea to get the beams done too, especially the ones which must have been painted or papered over because you couldn’t see them before!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 8:58 am - Reply

      They’d been plastered over. It’s crazy, in some rooms beams have been covered up and in others we’ve found black stripes painted to look like beams?

  37. Brian Skeys July 11, 2016 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    You are brave!!!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 9:00 am - Reply

      Or stupid?

  38. Pauline July 12, 2016 at 6:18 am - Reply

    I hope the dust has now settled and you are able to enjoy your new look, it looks fabulous!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 9:02 am - Reply

      Still plenty of dust to come unfortunately but I’m sure we’ll get there in the end. Thanks Pauline.

  39. Jill Anderson July 12, 2016 at 10:56 am - Reply

    That all looks so good, fabulous restoration, how lucky that everyone was ready to start work right away …… worth all the dust!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jill. It’s quite exciting, not knowing what you’ll find underneath paint and plasterboard!

  40. Sue July 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Wow!! Just how much better do those beams look now they’ve been blasted ๐Ÿ™‚ The fireplace is pretty good too ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      I’m looking at all the other black beams now with renewed determination!

  41. pollymacleod July 12, 2016 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    It was worth all the difficulties, the room is looking lovely even in this naked state. Wood chip has to be the worst invention ever, hard to believe it was all the rage at one time!

    • Jessica July 12, 2016 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      Woodchip was usually put up to hide cracks and uneven surfaces. It certainly covered no end of them here. But getting it off is an absolute nightmare! It almost inevitably means some replastering is required. Downstairs it’s even on the ceilings too ๐Ÿ™

  42. frayed at the edge July 13, 2016 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I think I might have laughed in places where I shouldn’t have ……. another entertaining tale of your renovations!

    • Jessica July 13, 2016 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      It’ll get worse before it gets better..

  43. snowbird July 13, 2016 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    Gosh, how lovely the beams and fireplace look now. Well worth any

    • Jessica July 14, 2016 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      I’m glad I saw them at this stage, before we took several steps back (of which more soon). It does give me hope that we can make something of this room when it is finally done.

  44. hb July 13, 2016 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    Amazing improvement all cleaned off. I must applaud you for your continuing efforts in restoring your home to a more authentic and beautiful state. It’s as great an achievement as a first-rate garden (only not as fun and far more expensive).

    if it is any comfort, here in our megacity of 15 million people, it’s a devil of a job finding a good tradesman, too.

    • Jessica July 14, 2016 at 8:27 pm - Reply

      We’re now doing rain dances because the plasterers, who’ve agreed to squeeze our job in despite little notice, are also working on outside jobs. And have we had rain this week? No. And what’s in the forecast? Not a drop.

  45. Cathy July 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Oh how exciting to see this transformation Jessica, although as Christina says we are but voyeurs – sandblasting or fireplace cleaning wasn’t a route we had to go down here although we do have beams covered in black paint (and natural ones in the loft)…

    • Jessica July 16, 2016 at 6:54 pm - Reply

      It’s an extremely messy job. I thought we had the room completely sealed but I’ve since discovered there was a gap around one of the radiator pipes, leading to a little pile of sand in the sitting room.. give it the slightest chance and it will get everywhere.

  46. ontheedgegardening July 15, 2016 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    That fireplace is amazing! That cloud did have a silver lining ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jessica July 16, 2016 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      I need a few more clouds now, sad to say. For plasterers.

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