The sitting room shutters

Harp Cottage is said to date from 1672, which makes it a 17th Century cottage. It’s heavy on history – three centuries of it. How do you respect that history whilst also living a modern contemporary lifestyle?

One of the things we wanted to do when we moved into the cottage was to leave it as if it had never been touched, as if when we moved out, the bones of the cottage would tell it’s story. Whilst at the same time we needed to not be a slave to the history, we needed a modern house to live in, we are part of it’s history too.

The whole of the cottage needed attention, the windows were falling apart and yes, the wind did blow through them and they didn’t have shutters then.

We both don’t like curtains per say, they can look amazing and can be the right thing in the right window or door but in a small cottage we wanted clean lines. To start with we had to live with the very drafty windows. No heating in the early days and no wood burner in the sitting room, instead there was a Georgian open fireplace that did not warm the room and it turned out it was a ticking time bomb (I will explain in another post!).

So the answer was shutters. We had a pair of typical Georgian panelled shutters made and although they were beautiful they were simply too grand for our humble cottage. But they worked and we were warmer! When could finally afford to, we commissioned new windows and therefore needed new shutters. We still wanted them to be contemporary to the house, so we looked at other Georgian shutters and realised plank ones made perfect sense. Less grand and more in keeping with a cottage. We had had the windows made bespoke by a local carpenter – he also made our beautiful kitchen worktops. He was the obvious person for the job. He raised his eyebrow when we presented him with reclaimed Georgian tongue and groove doors (from English Salvage in Leominster) and asked him to make them into shutters. He returned with beautifully made shutters and he hadn’t made them look perfect. He ‘got’ that we wanted them to look like they’d always been there and so left the nail marks etc visible. He also made the window sills for the three downstairs windows at the front of the cottage from wood we found in our house in France. We like the idea that part of our history was part of the cottage’s history. Lots of the cottage had been built using repurposed materials we were just following the ethos!

We painted the shutters in the sitting room the same colour as the walls and the rest of the woodwork. The plan was to do the same in the hallway but they looked amazing as they were. I’m a great believer in leaving things to be and breathe. Not our usual colour scheme but a lovely ochre colour that also showed the history of the doors they’d once been before being repurposed into our shutters!