How I Made My New Home Look Old

By Natalie Woods - April 13, 2018

Our new-build farmhouse: the finished result.

Those of you who have followed me on Instagram for a while may be surprised to know that my home is actually a new build. Built in 1993, my house sits on a decommissioned farm where a beautiful (but dilapidated) Dutch barn once stood.

When Dug and I moved in in 2011, we immediately began making plans to add in period features – such as aged beams and reclaimed floorboards.

After saving and researching heavily for 3 years, we began the renovation project in 2014 and transformed every inch of our home.

We’ve always loved the house but even after renovating, it still couldn’t offer the two rustic barn features we had always wanted; a wood burner and a high ceiling.
 Our wood burning stove.

As the ‘ideas’ person, I wracked my brain trying to figure out how we could add these features. I researched tearing down the ceiling in the bedroom to expose some of the loft beams but I couldn’t get anyone to agree to do it.

Our architect explained that If we added a wood burner to our living room, the flue would run straight up through the middle of the bedroom (right where the bed is). For a while it seemed like these farmhouse features were out of reach.

The situation changed when I realised whilst designing our garden that we could easily build a double-height’ single-story, one room extension on the North side of the house. It sounds ridiculous but we just hadn’t thought to extend.

The build was plain sailing and we finished within 6 weeks however there were some real concerns at the beginning – when the space was pegged out, it looked tiny (it’s 25 Sqm). Once the fireplace was pegged, it looked even smaller. Thankfully, the height of the ceiling gives the space scale whilst the size ensures it remains cosy.

We were working to quite a tight budget of £45,000 (inc VAT) for everything. That meant I couldn’t have every rustic feature I wanted (like hand-made sash windows and shutters). We realised we would need to be creative and resourceful. 

How I added rustic farmhouse features on a budget

Wall and ceiling cladding 
I’ve long been a fan of Atlanta Bartlett’s ‘Pale and Interesting’ style and I loved the wood clad walls and ceilings featured throughout her book and home. Cladding our extension ceilings using pine turned out to be a very simple and inexpensive (£8 per Sqm from Wickes) way of adding texture and giving the room a rustic barn feel.
Ikea Ektorp sofa - the best design Ikea offers for a country farmhouse feel.

Whilst out shopping for the wood burning stove; we saw an advert for Woodwarm (the stove we set our hearts on). In the poster was a stove with wood cladding behind the fireplace. Inspired; I showed our builder and he added a back panel using reclaimed scaffolding boards.
Vintage printers block against our wood-clad wall panel made with reclaimed scaffolding boards.
I later found out (through the power of Instagram) that the picture was of Interior Designer; Paul Massey’s seaside cottage in Mousehole, Cornwall – ‘The Oyster Catcher’. I’ve been obsessed with the cottage and his incredible style ever since.

Antique flooring

I researched antique flooring on Pinterest (see my board here) and wide, long-length floorboards seemed to be the answer to creating scale in small spaces. We wanted to keep the same antique feel we’d created throughout the house so opted for Victorian Pitch Pine floorboards from the Reclaimed Flooring Company. Reclaimed flooring isn’t cheap but Victorian Pine is the most cost effective at £50 per square meter including sanding. 

Pitch pine is characteristically ‘orange’ tinged – a look I didn’t want. I successfully lifted the orange pigment using WOCA Denmarks’ white wood lye treatment.

pitch pine wood floor before WOCA wood lye treatment to remove the orange tint.
Victorian pitch pine wood floor after WOCA treatment
We couldn’t stretch our budget to antique beams so instead opted for treated soft wood from Coomers for £15 per beam. We sanded them ourselves.

I didn’t want to lose the industrial feel of a barn and the ceiling height of the extension finally enabled me to play with a more modern vintage look. I opted for Urban Cottage Industry’s Scorsese wall light and their wall hanging Disk Lamp (FYI – best customer service from these guys on multiple occasions).

I sourced the vintage French Café lamp from No 1 Lewes Antiques.

Window shutters
I really, really wanted handmade, New England style shutters but that wasn’t realistic on our budget. Instead I found some antique shutters at £50 for the set at the Garage in Petersfield. I just need to decide which colour to paint them and then they can be fitted (I’m thinking either Farrow and Ball’s ‘Skimming Stone’ or ‘Hardwick White’.

Vintage shutters sourced for £50. They were originally caked in paint. We've painstakingly removed most of it and plan to repaint and fit them soon. The mirror was bought to add scale.

We managed to keep the full set of original French shutters from No 1 Lewes Antiques that used to act as a draft excluder across our patio doors. They're now a decorative room divider between the extension and the dining room.
Our patio door used to be where these antique French shutters are. They were draft excluders. They now act as a room divider.

Wall and window colour

To achieve a pared back, rustic feel; I opted for muted Farrow and Ball tones throughout our home – The walls are painted in‘Skimming Stone’ and the windows are ‘Hardwick White’. The wood cladding is 'All White' and the external wood cladding is painted ‘Down Pipe’.

Wood burner

Our wood burner is from Wood Warm Stoves – a UK company that hand makes them in Devon. The York flagstone was free – sourced by our builder. 

Finishing touches

Now – I can squeeze my finances and a budget if I need to. I can literally get blood out of a stone.  But when it comes to French and Swedish antiques, my alter ego: ‘I-have-cash-to-chuck-around-Nat’ comes out in full force. I saved £2k of this tight budget back to spend on furniture. 90% went on antiques (or as my sister puts it: ‘old gold’). I added a French mirror from Three Angels Hove to add scale, an Armoire from Tallulah Fox Petersfield, Coffee Table, Black Velvet chair and Champagne crate from Haus Haslemere, cheese moulds from Goose Home and Garden, a Printers block from eBay, Indian carvings and pots from Igigi Hove and a painting from the Country Brocante Cotswolds' fair.

Cushions and rug from Cox and Cox help add to the 'rustic barn' feel

My 3-seat sofa is from the Ikea Ektorp range in ‘Blekinge White’ and the bamboo hanging chair is from Design Vintage, Chichester.

For Christmas 2017, I wrapped real Ivy round the beams. It hasn’t come down (and probably never will) and further adds to this rooms’ rustic feel.

Cushions are a mix of Cabbages and RosesCox and Cox and Ikea.

Let me know if you have any questions or share your ideas and comments in the comments section below. I’d love to know what you think.

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