Thursday, February 2, 2012

Architecture is sexy, not scary.

[Old & New: Dining room fire place with combustion heating]

It's Thursday and lately I've been excited by Thursdays.

You see, Restoration Man is on the Lifestyle Channel on Thursday nights, and it's my new favourite show on television. Now, I don't watch a lot of TV because I am incredibly picky about what interests me and it's not very often that a TV series comes along that I look forward to watching each and every week.

[Old & New: Antique lock on the door and new copper light switches in the dining room]

I'll tell you why I like this series so much, and it's not simply because George Clarke is eye candy. It's because this is a series about simple, everyday people taking on the momentous and humbling task of renovating and restoring old buildings - buildings that are, in some cases, more than 500 years old. Everything from churches to castle towers, barns, coach inns and windmills. 

Restoration Man is a series about saving heritage buildings from ruin by bringing them into the twenty-first century, which with all the bureaucracy that comes along with it, is no easy feat.

[Old & New: Every architrave and window frame in our house is original. Some of the windows even have the original panes of glass]

I have mentioned before that I am a firm believer that buildings need to be allowed to adapt and evolve to changing times and conditions in order for them to survive in the long term, and Restoration Man is a great example of how this is being achieved in the UK on a truly inspiring scale.

Buildings cannot be left stagnant to eventually fall into ruins. They need people who have the passion and motivation to be their custodians and ensure their survival for a further 100, 200, 500 years. Sometimes heritage listed buildings come with so many restrictive requirements that potential buyers are frightened by the prospect; heritage boards should be aiming to encourage people to purchase and maintain these properties for future generations, not make it such a daunting process that they run scared instead.

[New: Ceiling  and lights in dining room]

Our house is not heritage listed itself, however it is over 100 years old (almost ancient by South Australian standards) and lies within a local heritage zone, which comes with its own rules and regulations about frontage appearance and what can be visible from the street. We love our house. We purchased it because we wanted to be able to restore and preserve it whilst making it a livable, working home.

Most people don't buy old buildings to make them look new. There's something inherently cozy and endearing about period properties that makes them so appealing that rarely do purchasers come along with the intent to completely reinvent them. It is possible to bring an old world property into the new world with all modern amenities and comfort, yet retain the original features and period charm of the property that made is so appealing in the first place, people just have to be allowed to do it.

[Old & New: Original wooden ceilings and split-system reverse-cycle air con in living room]

I also thought this the perfect excuse to share some photos of our cozy little cottage, as I haven't really done so since we finished our renovation stint just before Xmas. Of course our restoration efforts are on a much smaller scale than anything you'd see on Restoration Man, but they are extending the life of our property nonetheless, and that is an incredibly rewarding achievement.


  1. Great post Sarah, your little cottage is looking fantastic!


  2. Hmm, you have me interested in this show now, I will check it out!


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