#3 - Shabby Chic Guest House Celebrates Local Treasures

So to the final chapter in this short DIY renovation series, the story of how the eclectic shabby style came together in the Orchard Cottage guest house. This final part was by far the most fun of the stages, being all about the finishing touches and pulling the whole look together. Over the duration of the renovation, about four months in total I revelled in the days I had to wait for plaster or paint to dry so took to scouting through second hand shops. Little squeals of joy would escape as I spotted items on my wish list to furnish the Cottage. Imagination is a prerequisite on these trips, looking beyond the present colour, condition and coverings to visualize how, with a little re-work each piece could find a new home and be loved once more.

Pinterest is without doubt a genius platform for exactly this kind of project. I remember people going mad for it a couple of years prior and out of curiosity I logged on a created an account, but I didn't get it. My account remained pretty much untouched until finally, when I was desperate for some escape from the Monday to Friday job monster, I logged on and it clicked, a plethora of inspiration on every topic under the sun, a place of dream building, a true escape portal! But it wasn't until the renovation started that I really discovered the creative ingenuity of many and it further fuelled the DIY spirit in me (you can check out the Down the Road Pinterest boards here).

I'm not a fan of curtains, well more specifically drapes, apart from being pretty expensive they tend to be quite bland, never really adding anything special, so I try to avoid standard looking drapes at all costs. I definitely would not consider myself a talented seamstress so part of my brief was to find ideas that took minimal detailing on a sewing machine. There's also something I really enjoy about an exposed look, so a lot of the window treatments in the Cottage show you exactly what they are. A length of dowel resting on a couple of coat hooks with alligator-type clips attached to rings that connect the fabric, for example. A mixture of light, eclectic fabrics make up each curtain and wherever I could getaway with not sewing a raw edge, I went with it.

I even fostered a fascination for what I call the 'widget section' of hardware stores and emporiums, where the shelves are full of compartments that contain every shape and size of bolt, screw, hook and fixture. I realise each of these has a specific purpose in the building and construction world but I started looking at these in a new light - could this work as a curtain tie back? What about this thing for connecting this to that? I can really see how those incredible artists manage to take it to the next level and conceive something extraordinary and beautiful from what others perceive as boring old hardware.
Mostly experimental, the curtains certainly are not your triple-backed, thermal lined, super durable type, sure but they provide privacy where needed, adding to the shabby-chic character, and where privacy is not an issue, there simply aren't any.

The bathroom often gets special mention and recently we've even had a number of our men guests showing a particular interest in the styling, details have obviously caught their eye and they want to know more. The window opens straight on to the large veranda so creating privacy with some interest was the goal. Different door knobs were attached to a roughly painted timber board, then we looped burlap ties through holes in the top of the fabric and tied them on to the knobs. When not fully down, the curtain is just swept to one side over a small coat hook. I also added some opaque window covering on the bottom few panes to increase privacy while not affecting the light.
An old wooden ladder that we found discarded on the property was cleaned up and repurposed to use as storage for towels, a pedestal basin was rescued from the building recyclers and a lovely vintage domed 'boudoir chair' was an early find at a local second hand dealer. It's pretty and functional adding a little luxury amongst the whitewashed and distressed floorboards.
When it came to the screen door on the shower over bath, I was inspired by the many different ways people have used old windows. In fact I've realised I definitely have a thing for lovely old windows and I'm sure if we had more storage I'd probably pick them up like little stray puppies, dusting them off only to wonder what to do with them next!

So we were lucky again to pick up one of just the right proportions. When I told others of our idea there were a few raised eyebrows for sure and I think we were even a bit skeptical whether it would really work or last long term. But, attached with a couple of large old-school solid hinges it's definitely functional and gives the character I was looking for. Guests often make a point of complimenting the rustic simplicity and how it all "really just works".

One of the final phases was fun with cushion covers, I went with a similar brief, trying to avoid too many fine details, particular when it came to the cushion cover closures. I ended up using an 'envelope style' for a lot of them so avoiding the need for buttons or zips. But on the odd ones I've attached buttons and created a little tie to loop over rather than a button hole. I used lots of different fabrics and added a 'cutesy' factor with ruffled pieces of fabric and lace, again embracing those raw edges wherever it worked. Once more, it was all very experimental and I guess I'm even a bit surprised at the success rate of the finished collection.
The idea has always been to make a space that is super comfortable but also a place that takes you on a bit of a journey. I love that pretty much every part of the Cottage holds a little story with most items being lovingly gathered from somewhere on the property, from second hand dealers or op shops and then reinvented. It has ended up perfectly representing our theme of celebrating all things local and is a pretty cool advertisement for what treasure can be found 'Down the Road'. We look forward to adding bits and pieces along the way and contributing to the chapters.


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