Through the keyhole of a 1850s cottage near Tetbury
PUBLISHED: 14:53 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:53 23 July 2018
The small, dark rooms of this 1850s cottage near Tetbury were completely reconfigured to open up the space
Pat and Jake Williams, with their two small daughters Rose (8) and May (13), have always liked the idea of open-plan living.
So when they found an 1850s cottage near Tetbury they asked architect Gareth Hughes for advice. “It had lots of small dark rooms which is not at all what we wanted,” says Jake. “But Gareth recommended we buy it and later we had permission to extend it and reconfigure the internal layout.”
The cottage was also very dated – “Very 1970s,” says Jake. “The previous owners had been there for 42 years. And the garden was a jungle.”
“But the location is great as it’s on the edge of the village, really quiet and we often see foxes and pheasants,” says Pat. “At the same time it’s really easy to get to other places.”
The family had been renting a place in Tetbury and, when faced with all the work their new home needed, they stayed where they were for another year. “It was going to be virtually uninhabitable,” says Jake.
“In 1906 – to go by the date stone in the master bedroom – previous owners had added a two-storey extension,” says Pat. “But it wasn’t a great use of the space and didn’t really flow in our opinion. Also we wanted a much more open-plan design for the cottage. Plus it also needed completely rewiring, replastering and replumbing so that meant gutting it back to the stonework.”
One of the biggest jobs was to raise the roof so that they could move the whole of the front wall to the left of the front door forward by two metres. This was to create more space in the small sitting room. They also had to partly re-roof so they took some of the original tiles at the back of the house to use at the front. Then they bought reclaimed tiles for the back.
“They don’t quite match but they will eventually with weathering,” says Jake. Then two storm porches were built over the front and back doors by Chris Elliott of Elliott Brothers of Tetbury.
Downstairs the builders knocked down a number of walls, removing a larder room in the process, to create a large bright and airy kitchen-sitting room with separate dining room. They also turned an existing downstairs cloakroom into a utility room and created a new w.c. next to it.
Then they took out the old staircase and put in a new one made of oak in a different position. New matching oak flooring was laid throughout. “We wanted to save money by buying unfinished oak boards and staining them ourselves,” says Jake. “But in the end we had to ask a company to finish the job for us.”
Upstairs a corridor was taking up too much room and the bedrooms were too small so they redesigned the layout, adding an en suite shower room to the existing single bathroom.
”We installed underfloor heating in the bathroom and shower room,” says Jake. “We have a gas combi-boiler for the central heating and hot water. However as there’s no gas supply to our cottage we’ve had to bury a huge tank for propane gas in the front garden.”
One bonus was the house came with a cellar which the couple had damp-proofed. “It’s made a lovely wine-store,” says Jake.
The couple then chose Woodchester Cabinet Makers to design, make and fit their new kitchen which consists of Shaker-style cabinetry painted in Ammonite by Farrow & Ball with worktops of Nero Africa Impala Antique granite from the Bristol Marble & Granite Company.
The company did such a good job the couple asked them to then make various cabinets and bookcases downstairs as well as their new oak dining room table.
Then Chris Elliott made a cupboard under the stairs, cleverly designed so that everyone’s coats slide out easily on hangers without any hunting in the darkness for the right peg. Chris made all the bathroom cupboards too, including for the downstairs w.c.
To keep things cosy the couple installed a woodburner in the lounge area of the open-plan kitchen and raised the lintel of an old fireplace in the sitting room. It is round this fireplace that they have exposed the stonework up the chimney breast to the ceiling. “All the walls are plastered but we felt exposing the chimney breast gives it character,” says Pat.
As for the jungle-like garden, the couple have worked hard on it. “We inherited some nice mature trees and have now created a wildflower meadow at the end of the garden which has fruit trees, wildflowers and a hedgehog house (currently uninhabited),” says Jake. “We’ll keep the lawn area as this is great for the girls to play on and we’ve finished the patio.”
And Pat finishes, “We love our home now because it gives us the open-plan feeling we’ve always liked; it allows us all to be together, even if we are each doing our own thing.”
The Elephant Bathroom Company - 01666 824888
Elliott Brothers - 01666 505110
Lakeland - 015394 88100
Woodchester Cabinet Makers - 01453 835580