Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Living in a wonky cottage

I think I have mentioned before that we live in a crumbly old cottage:

 (I can't dwell on this photo because the gaps between some of the stones freak me out, like the Big Bad Wolf could huff and puff and blow my house down.  Gulp.)

I love this little house.  I may have said before but it's actually a pair of very small cottages which were knocked through to make one house about 25 years ago.  One of the cottages that makes up our house is Grade II Listed, the other is not. The house, as a whole, is on a slope so although we have just two bedrooms we kind of have five floors/levels sometimes with just one room on a floor.

The house has bags of character; exposed stone walls in places, wooden beams everywhere, an inglenook fireplace and a vaulted ceiling. We bought this house because we love these quirky features.  I also love the sense of history here.  The deeds and other papers for the house were sent to us in a huge box and it was fascinating to read through some of them - we learned that the house, many years ago, was sold by auction at the local pub.  That amuses me.  I like to imagine a pickled old man, possibly a farm-hand, who staggered slowly home after what was meant to be a quiet drink in the pub before his tea.  He gets to the front door, cap in hand, scratching his head and greeting his wife... "you bought what??" she yells... Ha!

So old places are generally, to me, great.  Very occasionally they are not so great.  The walls in our house are mostly covered with artex which I'm not all that keen on but can't face the huge expense and disruption to have it removed.  Now that summer appears to be on its way out, and the temperature has dropped, the house is freezing.  I put the heating on for a short burst the other day (I know!) and we now have to light a fire if we spend any time at all in the living room.  We have to work really hard to keep mice at bay, especially at this time of year, and the conservatory roof has developed a leak.

The thing that I'm struggling with at the moment, though, is the wonkiness of the place.  (Is wonkiness even a word?)   The walls are uneven.  The floors are not level.  The ceilings aren't level either.  Nothing in this house looks straight.  Mostly I live with, and love, this fact but it has has been further highlighted today by the delivery of a lovely new dresser for the dining room (yep, the revamp has only just begun and the first piece of furniture has been delivered, slightly earlier than anticipated!).  We've popped it in the corner, where it will live post-revamp, and it fits perfectly (hurray!) but it looks so wonky:

See!  The floor slopes horribly.  I suspect the ceiling isn't ever so level either.   I just don't quite know how to straighten it up properly.  If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear from you - perhaps you have a similar issue at your own place?

I'm sorry for the slightly too 'real' rough and ready photo of the dresser and messy dining room.  We're selling all of our existing dark wood furniture on eBay so the room looks like a store room right now.

I know we all like to dream and swoon over other people's photos on our blogs and I can promise some prettier photos later in the week, if you'll bear with me.  My utility china collection is building nicely and I made a few fab purchases at local charity and antique shops over the weekend so I'll leave you with a taster of what's to come:

The husband couldn't understand why we need an old jam spoon, pickle fork and bread fork:  men really are from Mars.  ;-)




  1. Don't worry about the photos, I too worry that mine are no where near as good as some of the ones I see on other peoples blogs but I don't think anyone minds (hopefully).
    I seem to have missed the one where you reveal your lovely old cottage and now have complete and utter cottage envy!
    Nelly xxx

  2. I have cottage envy too! I love old places and the histories that lie behind them. I love character and quirkiness in a home. My idea of house hell would be a brand new house with beige interior and next furniture throughout! I guess with every house though, you have to take the rough with the smooth. Your makeover will look gorgeous and embrace the wonkiness, especially when you have some utility china to go in it! he he!

    Have a super day!

    Vanessa xxx

    p.s Is it really wrong to have pickle fork envy?!!!!!! ha ha

  3. jealous me... hmmm just a bit!!..oh i love your wonky cottage!! although the bit about the mice would freak me out im bad enough with woodlice!
    our house is a bit on the wonky side.. anything that the hubby puts up looks like a slide but its the walls.. i think once you stick your stuff on the dresser and if you are displaying things on the top of it you wont even notice!

  4. Your house is so cute lovely one.
    I love sloping floors, very Leaning Tower of Pisa!!!
    Don't EVER apologise for photos, this is your blog. If anyone decides to read it, fair enough, it's a bonus but it's your gorgeous diary of your life.
    Whatwill you do with your pickle fork then? Scoff Branstons' in a pure, decadent fashion???
    I for one blimming LOVE your photos.
    Will see what I can do re that necklace ;-)
    x x x x

  5. Sister! Oh yes you are!!!! You should SEE the floor in my spare room. It's so wonky we had to take the castors off the bed because it would drift into the window (which leaks).

    I grew up in a cottage where at 5ft 6 I could stand in bare feet and place my palm flat on the ceilings. Everything was wonky there. My parents solution was to do one of the following:

    If it was a dresser that things would roll off they'd prop it up at one end so the surface was level. Furniture held up by old fabric bound books looks so cute.

    If it was a wardrobe that looked odd next to the slopey ceiling they'd prop it up so it looked ok but the clothes would hang at a slight angle.

    If there was nothing that could be done Mum would pop ornaments in varying heights to camouflage. ie a tall vase in the lower slope.

    Sometimes the wonk would be celebrated, gotta love a bit of wonk! I love a bit of wonk. And creak. Love the creaks in this home of mine.

    Mice. Yes. (Whispers) I have frequent visitors. I live in the middle of farm land and the little field mice sneak in when it's cold. It's a battle of wits sometimes. At least there's only one at a time not an infestation. I'm grateful for that!

    Silver cutlery. Utility china. I gotta show you my small collection. Honestly. Separated at birth except you got the good looks!


  6. ps. Do get that mortar sorted out though. My mum remortared the whole of the side of our family home on a step ladder!!! Cost nothing. Took three weeks. Solved a whole host of issues from mice to damp to drafts....

    Had to have a bit of the Seaside house remortared last year. It's Grade 2 listed but we had no trouble with the planners.

    pps. Have dresser envy.

    ppps Have dresser envy.

    pppps Have dresser envy.

  7. SQUEAL I LOVE your spoon and forks, OMG LOVE them I tell you, just a tad in love with your home too, and your dresser. I watch Escape to the Country to get my fix of wonky, cute cottages and the countryside as well.
    Nothing wrong with your photo's.
    x Sandi

  8. Its is sooo adorable, that love-nest of yours!! I wonder if you would stay warmer with those gaps filled in? You can get squirty stuff that turns into insulating foam, might help? x

  9. Great post! Your house is awesome! Just prop that dresser up on one end and start decorating it. Looks like fun to me!

  10. Our last house had a bit of wonk due to mining subsidence. Luckily my dad did the woodwork so it was more eye pleasing than level if that makes sense as all the levels were out. Like Lynne says, bits of wood to level the dresser out/up? We did this with a book case, we used thin strips of wood and then planed them underneath.

    Oh and don't mention the mice!

  11. Beautiful! Just fabulous! Ours was once three farm labourers cottages which were knocked together. We keep seeing cracks appearing and the floors are decidedly wonky but if it's survived 250 years I'm sure it's okay.
    I love your cutlery. x

  12. How wonderful to live in such an old and interesting place!

  13. I live in a two hundred year old Cotswold stone cottage and like you I was overwhelmed with old cottage love. Like Cuckoo, we've got fabric bound books under the two of the bed legs. Mr decided he wanted to read one not so long ago so have now employed a red house brick. Thank goodness for extra large bed throws. Lots of spiders, cats keep the mice at bay, and bats in the roof. I love my home and there's no where better when the weather is freezing and the rains lashing and me and mr are snug as bugs with the burner roaring. Loving your silver ware.

    Melanie xx

  14. Tcha! Men!!?
    I was going to suggest cute books under one end of the dresser like Cuckoo!
    That dresser is lush, though and once you have a room full of loveliness, you won't focus on the leeetle things but on your one room of gorgeousness.

  15. How did I miss this post..!? No idea!

    Oh wow.. I do Love that dresser, it's gorgeous. I think the lighter furniture will look just lovely in your sweet old cottage.

    I much prefer houses with a bit of character, we're renting here at the moment for the next two years due to Ray's work and then after that we plan to settle down somewhere. I'd really love a place with a character, not a new-build that looks the same as thousands of other homes..

    Don't ever apologise about your photo's.
    Obviously people love looking at nice pretty photo's, but I find it fascinating when I get to see a little snippet of someone else's 'real' home life..!

    Ashley xxx

  16. Hi Nicki. Thanks for signing up to the swap. I'm so glad you joined! Do you check your blog emails? I've sent you a few emails recently but received no reply. It could just be that you don't want to reply, of course, and that's fine but I was just wondering. I've shared some TV recommnedations with you. Thanks again. Lynda x

  17. Hooray for wonkiness! Celebrate the wonk, that's what I say...
    Very excited about seeing the dresser 'reveal' (oh yes, I know there will be one!) am hoping for copious amounts of utilityware. Utilityware ROCKS!
    Emily x

  18. love your wonky cottage<3 ,and your dresser that looks wonky in your wonky cottage,haha it looks fab as does your lovely blog,that isnt wonky at all ,I am now following
    .....X Manda X.....

  19. agree with all the rest love your wonkiness go on enjoy it x loving the dresser i so need want one have so much to display and the room just need to find one in a reasonable cheap bracket you should link your furniture your selling on here in your post you may get more if not already sold?? x sarah

  20. You have a lovely cottage. The wonky bits are what make it unique. Our beams here are wonky and some Czech friends of my bloke Roman wanted us to cover the entire roof over because of them. Madness!
    Men don't get it. Roman sighs every time I mention cushions.
    Dresser envy! Like your little lamp too. xxx

  21. How did I miss this post?

    I think your house looks gorgeous!! I'd love a house with character like yours (we have a 1970's semi, I love it for it's biggish rooms, quiet location and nice garden but I would love a Georgian rectory!!)

    I think the dresser will look all the more charming because it's a bit wonky.

    Love, love, love the cutlery!!

    S x

  22. Only mouse houses the same - built in the 1600s ...wonky too. Ours seems to go down a floor for each room and originally was 3 cottages.
    Love your house xx