Friday, 4 February 2011

Introducing the First Attic Level

Current layout of 2nd floor
Now it's getting interesting. As a farmhouse, the attic levels were certainly used for practical storage, and there's plenty of evidence for this still. However, on the western side there is one room that was a bedroom, probably originally intended as such, as here the windows are relatively large (compared to the eastern gable) and, like the living room below, there are layers and layers of old paint on the walls. This room will remain pretty much as is, including the extremely low ceilings just about 2m high. The partition walls to the north and south, which are original half-timbered, will be opened up somewhat, to let light from the dormer window to the south, and roof window to the north (or at least we have applied to do so). It seems that most people with such low ceilings want to raise the height to modern standards, but we're happy enough to leave this as is, although it may seem a little claustrophobic. It makes sense, as if the ceiling is raised, it has a domino effect on the level above.

Existing bedroom in attic.

Top of the main stairs to 1st attic level.
The two landings/halls on this level continue to reflect the former division of the house into two halves. The current access up leads to a small landing, and a door to a further rustic staircase up the the next level. We plan on opening this up, again for light reasons, but more or less leaving the layout as is. The former hall on the Eastern side is already opened up. Here, it is clear from the floorboards where the former staircase from the level below originally came up. To the North of this hall, the second set of stairs to the next level up also remains, and on the northern side, the extension housing the current bathroom extends out through a hole in the original roof trusses. Until recently, a smoking cabinet was here(I almost kept it), as evidenced now by sooty stains on the woodwork and walls, and a metal plate on the ceiling to protect it. The plan here is to remove the stairs up to the next level, reintroduce a partition, and site the new bathroom in the northern half, with a decent sized window in a dormer gable construction (if permitted). To maintain access up to the next level on this side, a smaller, perhaps spiral staircase will be inserted in the southern end of the hall.

Former hallway, proposed site for new bathroom.

Door to old grain store.
The remaining two rooms on the eastern side are dark and full of character. Here, nothing has been touched for a long time, and the timbers and clay-based plaster are still exposed (see photo below). Three small windows look out onto the barn, and a fourth one is hidden behind an original partition wall to the south. This, and one of the others, no longer let in light, as the gable was clad in corrugated iron(?) sheets some time ago, leaving only two of the windows functioning. One of the window frames look original, and we'd like to keep that and reuse it elsewhere in the house. The large box (and it is pretty large, as it could not be taken down stairs when clearing out the house) is a flour box, divided into two compartments, one for wheat flour and the other for rye flour. There's still some in it. The smaller room to the north was a grain store. It's paved with clay tiles, just about visible through the door in the picture to the right, though not in a great state of repair. The plan here is to turn this into a bedroom, open the wattle and daub panels between the rooms and, like the bedroom on the other end of the house, remove the partition to the South to allow light in from the proposed dormer window. I would very much like to restore the tiles in some way, and they will probably have to be removed and reset in lime-based cement (I'm still learning the terms!). The major proposed change here is to partially open up the ceiling to form a gallery with the next level up. It's an idea we are applying for, but have yet to fully decide upon.

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