Saturday, 27 August 2011

A matter of taste

Now I'm not saying good taste, necessarily, or bad taste either. Just taste, preference, what you like.

I didn't like this very much.

The fireplace opening had been reduced in size, and a new beam put in above it, not symmetrically either. Mind you, there isn't much that is symmetrical in this cottage, or straight, or parallel, or smooth or matching; that is part of its charm. The beautiful side stones remained on one side only.

The new beam stood out in contrast to the ancient ceiling beams:

And I wanted a mantel shelf. So Neil the carpenter made me one, simple, plain, not too big and overbearing, but enough to have candles on in the winter evenings, and flowers all the year round.

And it had to match the beams, so it had to be black. I'm pleased with it.

The stone wall round the fireplace will be covered in traditional lime render, with its gentle curves that follow the line of the stone, and leaving some stone still visible. (Photos will follow, probably in October!) This is very common round here - two friends have fireplaces part-rendered, and it softens the look without making it contemporary.

My fireplace would have been this size once, like this one next door:

The battered brass pan in my hearth, with its great big iron handle, belonged to my great-grandmother, Sophie. It wasn't for jam-making, but for washing. She, and later my grandmother, my beloved Bonma, Rachel, would stand it on the back of the range at night, filled with cold water, a little soft soap, and all the small white items, socks, bibs, vests and the like, worn by the children that day.

It would heat gently through the night, and in the morning would be brought to the boil for a while and rinsed through. Bright white washing was - and remains - a point of pride in our family to this day. (Except that the Lovely Son doesn't bother, and uses that ecological detergent that gives you a perfect politically-correct excuse for dismally-grey white t-shirts and sheets....) It can hold logs now, and harbour some of the cottage's many spiders.

So that's my fireplace. Not to everyone's taste, of course, but not everyone will be living with it; it will suit me and the spiders just fine.


Toffeeapple said...

It looks so much better with your personal belongings in view and I imagine it will look even softer after rendering. I would be uncomfortable looking at stone all the time.

mountainear said...

Lovely glimpse into your new house! The mantle shelf with your bits and pieces has softened the look already and a coat of lime render will make the room much less like living on the set of the Flintstones.

Lucille said...

That shelf brings the fireplace to life. It will look much softer when rendered.

annie hoff said...

It looks great and I'm sure will be much more in keeping with the original fireplace. The shelf looks as if it's always been there. My, you have been you want to come and help us build a garage?!

the veg artist said...

I once had a house that dated back to 1660. The builders uncovered an inglenook which was about the size of the one next door to you, but taller. It had a two tier bread oven on the right hand side as well. We put a stove in, and had the inside stones pointed, but the outside wall was rendered. Like you, I couldn't face looking at a stone wall. They can look lovely, but aren't for everyone!
There was a programme on Welsh BBC2 TV a while back, about old Welsh cottages, rhapsodising about restoring to how things had been. It quite annoyed me! In my gran's farm when I was a child, there was one cold water tap. The toilet was in a little shed that had been built over a stream at the bottom of a very slippery yard. The 'servants quarters' were reached by an old ladder, and stored grain sacks. The dairy was dank and dark. Yes, roses grew over the cowshed doors, and it was picturesque, but living standards move on. It's your house, and we all know that whatever you do to it will be beautiful, so render away!!!

Ann said...

just dropped by from another blog as you do and loved what I saw. Your fire place looks amazing, love the stonework and beams.
Photographs of yhour cats are just beautiful.
I will drop by again for another browse.
Happy weekend

Lyn said...

I like the fireplace, at least the whole thing hadn't been ripped out! The shelf just finishing it nicely.
the cats will love curling up in front of it in the winter, I'm sure!

judy in ky said...

The mantle shelf looks lovely with your touches added to it. You do have a talent for feathering a nest. I had to look up lime rendering... I hope you will show photos of that as well. You always amaze me; you've just moved to a new place and you have found a carpenter already. Your resources seem endless.

Mary ,East Coventry USA said...

It is lovely. And the tale of the battered,beloved bucket was lovely as well.
Thanks for a look-

Jinksy said...

That beam is almost crying out for some horse brasses, I think...

Susan said...

bonjour Team,

It is all fascinating ... we are on the edge of our monsterous 21" imac screen waiting with baited breath for each lovely new home report.

rock on !!
with love of course
les Gang

Dartford Warbler said...

The shelf makes it look much more homely Rachel. It`s good that you have seen successfully rendered cottage fireplaces and know that is what will suit your own taste. It will make the room seem brighter and lighter than the stonework does .Good luck with the "work in progress"!

Noelle said...

Beautiful Rachel and still very much envious (Please God forgive me!)!
Sophie? Bonma? (BonneMaman?) The language sounds very familiar...Am I correct?

Blessings and hugs to all,

P.S. Lovely son will notice one day...Push a nice clean sun dried towel under his nose...

Arthur Ransome said...

Well, my taste coincides with yours as I think the render much lovelier than all that stone. I do envy you your neat little shelf. My Ronnie (equivalent of Neil) has been putting massive shelves all over the place which I'm telling myself I'll get used to. Hhhmmn. The Irish Rayburn, mentioned yesterday, lived in a chimney which was supported by an actual ancient tree trunk, complete with bits of bark, that the previous owner had seen fit to spray silver! All a matter of taste as you say. What a lovely story about the washing of the children's smalls.

jabblog said...

It's looking more like 'you' every day.

Rattling On said...

I agree you have to have a mantel, what would you do at Christmas without one?! I boil all my whites, and quite a few other non-whites if they can stand it (tablecloths, towels and such). I hate dingy washing and When my washer was out of action once I used the stove top technique for 'smalls'.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Ancient beamed cottages need sensible treatment to make them livable in and comfortable today , otherwise they can be dark and the rooms small.
Your fireplace solution seems ideal and would definitely have been admired by any Tudor neighbours . That lime render looks good enough to eat !

Anonymous said...

Love your mantel shelf. I've got more or less the same arrangement with huge great original beam and it's frustrating not to be able to put things above. Thanks for the idea.

Sorry for the many comments. Having a bit of a catch up with you. You seem to have dropped off Bloglovin - I'll have to reinstate you.

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