Watching Plaster Dry


Meet Clooney.

He wasn’t expensive. I just saw him in a seaside gift shop window and he made me smile. He will have pride of place in the bedroom when it’s finally done.


Bedroom 032 Wm


Previously, on rusty duck




The plasterers have finished their work, to exactly the timetable they’d been aiming for, leaving us with skimmed walls and a consistent surface throughout. The room feels so much bigger and brighter already. It’s now just a case of waiting for the plaster to fully dry out and when it does the lid will be coming off the paint tin faster than you can say “Was it really that dark on the colour chart?”

But watching and waiting doesn’t have to be a passive thing. Ooooh no, plenty more work needed to be done.




The fireplace has received its re-pointing and been fitted with a nice bit of slate in the hearth.

Yes, it’s level. It’s the floor that slopes. The precise positioning of the slate provided the subject of considerable debate. After an evening of much pacing and agonising we agreed on two things. That another glass of Pinot might possibly be in order and that we should sleep on it.Β  Not the hearth obviously, but the inherent dilemma. In the end I was persuaded that the slab should be level even if it does look all wrong. The builders’ suggestion that any object placed upon it might otherwise take to sliding downhill did, in the end, prove compelling.


Bedroom 007 Wm


But haven’t we come a long way?




Mike, for his part, has been replacing floorboards.

Sometime in recent history part of the floor was altered. It wasn’t the greatest job. The boards were covered in thick carpet back then so little time had been spent on achieving a quality finish. Once again we set off around the reclamation yards and by pure luck found some floorboards that had arrived in stock that very same day. They’d come off the delivery truck still peppered with the nails that had originally held them down. The owner of the yard taught Mike how to ‘de-nail’ the professional way, with minimal damage to the top surface of the board, and between them they dealt with something like 14 separate boards. As it turned out they were perfect. An almost exact match for those already on the floor.




Enter the ‘lawnmower’, the floor sander, to remove the old blue paint and restore the floor back to the original wood.

You know me, I’d have been in there for an action shot given half a chance. But sadly cameras don’t take kindly to that sort of dust, photographic opportunities strictly verboten until the job was done. The plan is to lime the floor then treat with a clear matt wax, to get the aged effect we achieved in the study.




The little doorway through into the bathroom beyond has been stripped of its thick cream paint.


Bedroom 016 Wm


A few short weeks ago




How many different off-whites can there be? Three more match pots to go..




pin it?


2017-10-26T10:37:46+00:00October 11th, 2016|Tags: |


  1. croftgarden October 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    What a transformation you must be delighted, ample reward for all the hard work and perserverence. Renovating an old property is not for the faint hearted.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      I worked out the other day that if we continue at the present rate the house will take six more years. By which time, of course, the first room we tackled will be ten years old…

  2. Jayne Hill October 11, 2016 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Looking utterly gorgeous, sit down, give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back and look at what you’ve achieved with another glass of Pinot . . . yes, that slate hearth did need to be level πŸ™‚

    and believe me, watching plaster dry is far, far preferable to watching it literally hurl itself from the wall onto which it was meant to be bonded when you have the temerity to remove a little bit of wallpaper . . .

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Re your last point.. that is exactly why all the plastering was needed in the first place. Wood chip paper has a lot to answer for. It should have been banned!

  3. Jessica October 11, 2016 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Karen said:
    Wow, what a lot of work! But that bedroom is going to be so gorgeous when it’s finished. And I can see why you bought that goose. Such a cheerful thing. Made me smile too.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      Apologies Karen, your comment ended up attached to a photo for some reason, so I’ve quoted it back here.
      The goose is lovely. Once I saw it I couldn’t leave it behind somehow!

  4. kate@barnhouse October 11, 2016 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Beautiful work, all the hard work is so worthwhile when you end up with a fab room like this. Well done both. Clooney is the perfect compliment to the array of colours in the fireplace’s stonework.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Clooney will fit in perfectly. It’s turning into quite a marathon project is this one. We’ve both just about had enough of it now. Still, painting starts in the next couple of days. Home straight I do hope!

  5. bitaboutbritain October 11, 2016 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Coming on a treat, I’d say. I get breathless just thinking about it. Hi, Clooney, me old duck!

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 7:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks Mike. Each room is such a monumental project here. I remember when we could decorate a room in a week. Those were the days!

  6. Elaine October 11, 2016 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    Pleased to say that your blog loaded really quickly this time- usually I have time to go and make a cup of tea :). Your room is looking very smart now – these things take time to get right – it will be looking like a show home in no time at all.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      I’m glad to hear the blog is faster. It was one of the things that really annoyed me about the previous set up. Our broadband is so very slow though, it was difficult to know how much was the blog and how much just us!

  7. Amy at love made my home October 11, 2016 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Looking really great!

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 7:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks Amy.

  8. Brenda October 11, 2016 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Clooney is very nice, but it is the fireplace that makes me smile. Wouldn’t you love to know where those stones came from, who puzzled them into place and what he (I assume) was thinking about as he did it? And the slate hearth looks fantastic–something needs to be level, right?

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      In all likelihood the stones came out of the garden. I am still digging them up to this day.. literally. Today I planted three shrubs but first had to displace at least half a dozen of those stones. It is humbling to think that I’m doing the same as someone would have done hundreds of years ago.

  9. Tahoe girl October 11, 2016 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    Wow, it has really come a long way and is beautiful. So much work, but it certainly is lovely.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks. Exposing the old fireplace has really transformed the room.

  10. Linda aka Crafty Gardener October 11, 2016 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    The progress is so evident once you compare before and after photos. Amazing job, it will be finished soon.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      I do hope it will be finished soon. There are a couple of big things left to do which are causing us some angst.

  11. Kris P October 11, 2016 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    A friend of mine went through the same challenge in trying to find the right white paint. It all looks great, Jessica, and Clooney will be a handsome addition to the space.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Paint is certainly turning into a problem. It has to be breathable, which reduces the options somewhat. We’re torn between two, a warm off white or a grey which is lighter, more reflective, but a cooler colour. Given that it tends to be a dark room it’s probably going to be the latter.

  12. Susan Garrett October 11, 2016 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    You certainly have cp,me a long way but I bet waiting for the plaster to dry is so frustrating. I do think you made the right decision re the slatthings sitting on top would look wonky otherwise.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      You’re right about the slate. It’s just that to the eye it’s the floor that looks level and the hearth that looks wonky!

  13. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener October 11, 2016 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    It is looking SO good. I love the slate in the firebox.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks Erin. With the addition of a few candles the fireplace should look good.

  14. Denise October 11, 2016 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    My goodness! Isn’t it looking marvellous?! And 7 shades of white? Tell me then – when it comes to the walls, how many shades of grey?(??? ?)

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      Fewer than you’d think as we have to use a breathable paint over the lime plaster. If it were only lime then I’d still have all the lovely Farrow and Ball distemper or limewash colours to choose from. As it is we have to use something else and my options are limited. Looking like it’s going to be grey though.. πŸ™‚

  15. smallsunnygarden October 11, 2016 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    It’s a lot of fabulous now, Jessica! The whole look is so much more consistent. And I love that door; did it come with the house or is it another reclamation yard find?

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      It came with the house. It must have been fitted a while ago too because we now can’t remove it.. it’s a fixture. Awkward because it would have been a lot easier to sand it horizontal!

  16. germac4 October 11, 2016 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Wow the room is transformed … I love the fireplace. Just as well you have the ‘ before’ photos … for years to come. Love Clooney too. Perhaps a doz favourite Pinots are in order.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      I missed a trick because I forgot the ‘before’ photos while we still had furniture in the room. We had someone in to help us move it and on the day it all got a bit rushed. By the time I remembered half the furniture had already been moved. I am kicking myself now because that comparison would have been quite something.

  17. Caro October 11, 2016 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Aha, I had a feeling it wasn’t just gardening happening .. and now I’m curious – what will go in the other non-window alcove, and is there a chimney in the fireplace or is it sealed off? Love the stripped bathroom door as well and, trust me, you would not have wanted to be in the room when the sander was in action. I’ve done a couple of floors myself and it’s a labour of love. Next instalment asap please!

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      We’re (hopefully) having a tall chest of drawers made to fit the alcove, with a bit of space all around it to allow the walls to breathe. It’s such a dead space otherwise, might as well find a use for it. The chimney is sealed off at the top. It could be turned back into a working fireplace again, not sure I can be bothered with all the hassle for a bedroom. I really just wanted it to remain as a feature.

  18. pbmgarden October 12, 2016 at 2:22 am - Reply

    Clooney looks very fine. Your progress is wonderful. Must be thrilling to see the difference you’ve made. susie

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks Susie. It is certainly different! I just want it to be finished now. Still a way to go though.

  19. Archie The Wonder Dog October 12, 2016 at 10:56 am - Reply

    It looks amazing and I bet you’re itching to have it finished so you can move back in. Good luck choosing the paint! (And welcome, Clooney, you’re very handsome!)

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      Clooney is indeed very handsome πŸ™‚
      Thanks Archie.

  20. Pauline October 12, 2016 at 11:14 am - Reply

    What a transformation! You must be so pleased with the result. Clooney is going to look very much at home in his new room, he’s gorgeous!

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks Pauline. We’re very pleased with how it’s turning out, just not so much with the work and time involved! Only six rooms to go.. πŸ™

  21. derrickjknight October 12, 2016 at 11:24 am - Reply

    What a marvellous transformation already

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      It was a room very much in need of a makeover. Just wish I’d remembered to take proper ‘befores’!

  22. Backlane Notebook October 12, 2016 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Brilliant. Do you keep opening the door to take a look? I do having sold an old wardrobe and replaced it in a spare room with a bamboo ladder. I put three padded coat hangers on it for guests to hang clothes and the room looks so cool without a heavy, dark and useless piece of furniture.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      Oh, that’s a brilliant idea! Perfect for a guest room. I keep looking at how spacious the bedroom looks now and how much it will close in again when we start to put things back. Wardrobes are the worst, they take up a ridiculous amount of space.

  23. Caroline October 12, 2016 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Wow it look fabulous! What a transformation, you must be so pleased

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks Caroline. Yes, very pleased so far. Perhaps I shouldn’t say ‘home straight’ for fear of tempting fate..

  24. Christina October 12, 2016 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    You’ve been doing all that AND rebuilding your blog – Jessica you’re amazing!

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      Rebuilding the blog was the easy bit! Plenty of gardening done too, Mike gets the credit for the decorating hard graft.

  25. FlowerAlley October 12, 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    I started following you with roof-thatching, now you are plastering. This is so interesting.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      It’s why I started the blog really, to document the process of restoring an old house and retrieving a wilderness of a garden. It does mean delving into traditional crafts and I hoped others might find it interesting too. I’m so glad you do!

  26. annie_h October 12, 2016 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Looking fabulous Jessica, You’ve certainly made a transformation. Bet you can’t wait for it all to be finished.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      Last sentence.. understatement of the year! Thanks Annie.

  27. Virginia October 12, 2016 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Love the duck, amazed by the decoration, vote for the Pinot! You two make a wonderful team.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      I have been trying to be good and restrict the Pinot to weekends, but such a move does seem to be incompatible with renovating.
      Hope you’re having a great time in England.. are you still here? Can’t believe how lucky you’ve been with the weather. I’ve been out some part of every day trying to get all the planting done while I can.

  28. frayedattheedge October 12, 2016 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    If you get that much done when I am on holiday, I will need to go away more often!!

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      NOoooo.. you can’t. I need a rest! Actually I need a holiday. Mike needs one even more.
      Welcome back. Hope you had a wonderful time.

      • frayedattheedge October 13, 2016 at 6:44 pm - Reply

        We had a fabulous time, and if you want to get away from it all and be thoroughly lazy, then I can recommend Carvoiero!

        • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 10:07 pm - Reply

          Sounds absolute bliss!

  29. snowbird October 12, 2016 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    What a difference! It looks so pretty, I do love the fireplace and that lovely little door. You’ll soon be back in there. I’m hoping I have plastered walls again soon….xxx

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      It feels so good when the plaster goes back on. Sort of normal.. Hang in there!

  30. Wendy October 12, 2016 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    It is all looking wonderful. I do love all the curving walls. I love Clooney, too.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 9:08 pm - Reply

      You know what I’m like with geese, can’t resist them! Thanks Wendy.

  31. Marian St.Clair October 12, 2016 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    What progress! I love the bones of your old house…it’s amazing to see what’s under the plaster. It makes me think of those stones being placed long ago and all the effort it must have taken to make a cozy home. Restoring such a place must give you immense satisfaction. Clooney has found a good home. Perfect, in fact, for a pair who enjoys feathering the nest.

    • Jessica October 12, 2016 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      We have it so easy these days. With no heat in that room at the moment it really brings home just how difficult it must have been hundreds of years ago. And then imagine somewhere the size of Cothay, trying to keep it warm with just open fires.

  32. tuinatelier Herman & vermeulen October 12, 2016 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    It looks very beautiful! Well done!

    • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Thank you and welcome!

  33. Indie October 12, 2016 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    Wow, looking good! I love that hearth. That’s quite an undertaking to redo a historic house like that!

    • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      The house has had a lot of quite unsympathetic ‘improvements’ over the years. It’s stripping it back to the bare bones and restoring it that takes the work and all the time. And even then budget restrictions mean we can’t do everything, like replace the plastic windows. We will get there, but at six months per room it really is a labour of love.

  34. Linda from Each Little World October 13, 2016 at 12:11 am - Reply

    You are the only blogger who can write about plaster and I will read it. Looks lovely. And your previous post reminds me why I’ve never switched blog servers.

    • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      Plastering is done for this year, thank goodness! And only switch blog servers if you have to..

  35. Beth @ PlantPostings October 13, 2016 at 4:33 am - Reply

    I love your place–it has so much character. Clooney will be a nice addition to it. I need to be better about splurging on art and decorative objects that make my heart sing. I also need to be better about discarding old art and decorative objects that no longer make my heart sing. πŸ˜‰ Wouldn’t that be an interesting business model? A decorative object swap shop?!

    • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      I agree, it’s so hard to part with objects that were once loved. But our tastes change and everybody’s tastes are different. And how much easier would it be if we could find another loving home?

  36. wherefivevalleysmeet October 13, 2016 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Clooney is lovely and will look stunning in your beautiful new room – bet you can’t wait to move in now.

    • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      Just a bit!

  37. Edinburgh Garden Diary October 13, 2016 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    It’s looking just wonderful, Jessica. What a transformation. Agree with the builder that the hearth needs to be level. It’s lovely that it doesn’t match the angle of the floor… If you wanted everything straight you’d have bought a new build. I’d be interested to know how you’ve left the chimney, ie how you are going to stop draughts going up and bits and bobs coming down? We have an unused but open chimney in both our bedrooms, down which the weather flings all sorts of insults. Am considering a chimney sheep or one of those balloons, but am concerned the debris will collect on top of it and then one day all come down at once in a nasty rush of slurry if the sheep/balloon ever fails or gets removed. Not sure what other options are out there and would be interested to learn what you’ve decided upon.

    • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      The chimney was sealed at the top before we moved in. In a previous house we had completely open chimneys and I looked at chimney balloons, with the same concerns. In the end, mostly because we did have open fires occasionally, we decided to leave them open and let the weather take its toll. I watched hail come down some nights. But the worst was when a jackdaw got down through the chimney and set off the burglar alarm. The police got called and it was all very embarrassing, but not as hard as getting the jackdaw out!

  38. Seagull Suzie October 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Oh it’s looking so beautiful Jessica and your new purchase will sit perfectly. You have tremendous patience.

    • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks. I’m probably the most impatient person you know. I just try to keep focused on the end result and as long as we’re moving forward, even at snails pace, that’s OK.

  39. justjilluk October 13, 2016 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Definitely the grey. Clooney would like it too

    • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Paint is bought, no going back. It’s the grey, bottom right.

  40. Henriet from Holland October 13, 2016 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Wishing you sweet dreams in that beautiful room! But… hey Clooney, is that TootToot sound now coming from inside the house???

    • Jessica October 14, 2016 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      Clooney had better not even think about it, outside is bad enough. The Toot Toot bird is still going strong!

  41. CherryPie October 15, 2016 at 12:28 am - Reply

    It is looking fabulous, so light and airy. What a transformation πŸ™‚

    • Jessica October 15, 2016 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. Selecting the paint has been quite difficult, finding something that keeps the light and airy feel but is softer than brilliant white. It remains to be seen whether we achieve it!

  42. hb October 15, 2016 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    You are doing such a beautiful job. What sort of wax will you use on the floor? I do my mesquite front doors with a marine hull wax.

    • Jessica October 16, 2016 at 12:04 am - Reply

      The liming agent comes in a wax itself but needs something over the top to protect it. I just use ordinary clear floor wax. Liming wax isn’t really recommended for floors but with the extra protection it’s held up well in the study where I tried it first.
      Your front doors sound gorgeous. I love the smell of wood that has been freshly waxed.

  43. Cathy October 17, 2016 at 9:14 am - Reply

    I love these posts of yours Jessica – they almost make me wish we we were back in the middle of our own renovations… Happy Days!

    • Jessica October 17, 2016 at 8:38 pm - Reply


  44. Natalie October 22, 2016 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    What an amazing home you have. And such a beautiful restoration!

    • Jessica October 23, 2016 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks. It’s taking a long, long time. But I hope it will all be worth it in the end.

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