One of my dearest friends came to visit last week. She had been to our house numerous times before the renovation, so she already had the ‘before photos’ etched in her head.
Along with the hallway, the two downstairs bedrooms are the only original rooms in the house, they are almost 100 years old.
When my friend saw these two rooms last week she said: “Wow! These rooms look stunning! But… wait… you haven’t really done anything to them, have you? Why do they look so beautiful?”
In a way she’s right. These two rooms where the only rooms that didn’t require any structural changes. The four walls remained the same. But we certainly made a few changes to spruce them up!
I wanted to ensure these rooms remained true to their original style, but I also wanted them to feel new and luxurious.
So we set about restoring them to their former glory by doing these 10 things:
1. Installing a Ceiling Rose and Ceiling Trim
The ceilings in these rooms are really high – 3.3m in fact. This is rare, so I wanted to make them a real feature. From the outset I really wanted pressed-metal ceilings, however the labour required to install them and the price of the actual tin was too expensive. So we went with the cheaper option, and I’m so thrilled we did as the ceilings look beautiful.
We bought plaster ceiling roses for each room from Silver Cornices. FYI, plaster is really cheap. We used the ones on the left for the bedrooms – they were only $59 each. The ones of the right were used in the hallway.
Next, we installed what they call “Strips.” These act like a border around the ceiling and also frame the ceiling rose beautifully. They are also made of plaster, and you can buy straight lengths and corners. I chose curved corners (you can see them on the right in the photo above).
2. Smoothing the Walls
These old walls were cracked and uneven, they were even crumbling in places. The builders used a product called Smooth Coat which you can buy from Bunnings. Essentially you spread it over the wall, filing in all the cracks. Then sand it lightly and it’s ready to paint over. This process is called ‘skimming”. I can’t believe what a difference this made to the rooms – the walls look brand new!
3. Painting the Walls
A new coat of paint can make the world of difference. I went with a beautiful neutral colour called ‘Buff It’ from Dulux. Since the rooms are quite small (only about 3m x 3m) I didn’t want the walls to be too dark and therefore close the room in. So I went with half-strength and it came up a treat.
4. Installing Skirting Boards
These rooms originally had mismatched timber skirting boards, all different heights. So we took them off and installed news ones. Skirting boards are under-rated in my opinion. They’re something you don’t necessarily notice when you walk into a room, but that extra trimming around the floor makes a room feel finished.
5. Installing Architraves
For those unfamiliar with all these terms, architraves are the timber trimmings around windows and doors. Again, something you don’t necessarily notice but you certainly notice if there are NOT there. As you can see I went with quite decorative architraves as they match that older period of our home.
6. Installing Cornices
I love cornices, they are often the first thing I notice when I want into a room – quite unusual I suspect. I chose what’s called an “Egg and Dart” cornice due to it’s pattern. It dates back to the Roman times and can be found in many traditional homes. Since these rooms are only small, I couldn’t get something too big as it would encroach on too much ceiling space.
7. Installing Carpet
This was one of our biggest and most discussed decisions in the whole house. These rooms have original floorboards that were nearly 100 years old. I love all things old and even though the floorboards were really knocked around, we loved them. However it soon became evident that the boards were so worn that there was actually nothing left to sand. This meant we couldn’t restore them to their former glory.
After much debate, we decided to carpet over them for three reasons:
- The rooms are south facing so are very cold in winter, carpet would warm them up.
- The floorboards were too worn and air was coming up through them.
- The boards didn’t look great anymore and couldn’t be restored.
- I think that carpet is more comfortable underfoot for bedrooms, than boards.
8. Adding New Light Fittings
I spent months trying to find the perfect light fittings for these rooms. I wanted something special to hang in the middle of these gorgeous ceiling roses, but I wanted something a little more modern as I didn’t want the rooms to look like they belonged in my Grandma’s house!
These gorgeous copper pendants came from Beacon Lighting and retail for about $330. Fairly steep for lights, but they were perfect so I had to snap them up. Look at the pretty pattern they make on the ceiling.
9. Installing a Window Sill
Originally these windows had no architraves or window sills, so they looked rather plain. It’s amazing how a simple window sill can turn a plain window into a pretty picture frame. Since all windows are different sizes, this is something you have to custom build. But it’s worth it!
10. Painting the Trimmings with Acrylic Paint
Acylic paint is so hard to paint with as it dries very quickly and can’t be removed. But when you get it right, it looks fantastic! We painted all the trimmings – architraves, skirting boards, window sills and doors in a gloss white. It really brightens the room and makes everything look of the highest quality.
Well there you have it. If only we had smell-a-puter, then you could smell the glorious new-paint and new-carpet smell. Heavenly!