In the beginning..

This is Wychwood Cottage near Charlbury in the Cotswolds. It was built in 1630 when Charles I was on the throne, and 387 years and 16 monarchs later, on 13th September 2017, became the first home of our own, and our first renovation project.

View from the garden on day 1

Floor plan

It is in a hamlet of 86 residents (not dissimilar to where we live now) and Wychwood Cottage is on a quiet no-through lane with no name leading down to a footpath to fields, woods and a river.

The project

We have three months to get as much of the work done as possible before we move in in mid-December.

The work will include:

  • putting in a joist to support the living room ceiling where an earlier wall (between the two original cottages) was removed in the mid-C20th without adequate support
  • Levelling two sloping bedroom floors
  • Damp proofing
  • New windows, including a missing lintel
  • New kitchen
  • Turning a disused doorway in the living room into a hatch with built-in cupboard underneath
  • Turning bedroom 4 into a family bathroom
  • Turning the current tiny shower room into an ensuite for bedroom 2
  • Replacing the top en suite
  • Lining the chimney and installing a wood burner
  • New boiler, hot water tank and radiators
  • Eventually converting part of the front garden for parking
  • Eventually converting half of the double garage into a home office


Living room

Two fireplaces as it was originally two cottages with bread oven


Bedroom 1 (the floor is 5” lower on the right than on the left)

Bedroom 2 (with a similarly sloping floor)

Bedroom 3This is a 1980s extension, the hole is the old outside window

Bedroom 4 (this will be a family bathroom)

Bedroom 5

En suite to bedroom 5

Current family bathroom (this will be an en suite)

Mural at bottom of stairs


Rear (added in the 1980s)

Side showing original lean-to kitchen


Week 2: Bedroom floors & en suite

The two sloping front bedroom floors were levelled by laying tapered joists on the floor and bolting them to the wall on the inside (low) end, before laying floorboards on top, creating a void that we could fill with insulation for heat and noise from downstairs.

Prepping bedroom 1: the exposed wall reveals the original lath and plaster construction.

On the first day the builders misunderstood the foreman’s instruction and raised the floor by 12”, making a huge step and a ceiling I could touch with the palm of my hand.

Rectified the next day

Finished floor with step into room

The solution to keeping the same door for a shorter doorway..

Moving the shower room door into the bedroom to make it an en suite, and reclaiming some bedroom from the old shower room. (Note the three unboarded floor panels to the right of the door. I didn’t and managed to put my whole left leg through one of these into the living room in the dark).

New en suite shower space