Transforming a run down 17th Century build is no easy task, but Kate from @myoldpub has achieved a result that appears effortlessly stylish. Steeped in history with each room now boasting a beautiful interior, we were drawn in by the stunning beamed bathroom featuring out favourite Ava Pendant. The reality of a project like this comes with its challenges, so we caught up with Kate to uncover what it takes to take on a mammoth refurb like this one and how you can turn a rickety, stale old pub into a gorgeous period home.
Please introduce yourself and tell us how you came to be ‘myoldpub’.
My name is Kate and I bought a 17th century pub three years ago. It was converted to a home in the 1970s/80s but unfortunately it had been quite badly damaged by tenants before I bought it. It was in a sorry state and desperately needed some love. Over the last three years I have been trying to bring it back to life.
We can’t help but be curious about the day jobs of the accounts we follow, have you always been interested in décor and design?
I work with historic buildings/places that are in a poor state of repair and generally on the Heritage at Risk register, finding new uses for them, securing funding and coordinating their regeneration. I am very lucky, I get to work with some fantastic clients and amazing buildings! I have a background in design and worked as a masterplanner/urban designer at an architects in London for a few years, so always had a real passion for design and decor.
We should start with why you chose to pick this property to renovate. What made you fall in love with this location in particular?
Having said I didn’t want a project because it is too much like work, I fell in love with this place the first time I walked through the door and saw the ridiculously over sized fire place! Honestly, it was within seconds of walking through the door I knew it was the one for me. I think it was the fact that it so needed some love from someone and that underneath the dirt and smell it obviously had a nice feeling to it!
Your beautiful home was a working pub up until the 1980s, but originally having been built in the 17th century it’s clear that its very bones are steeped in history. Many of our customers will appreciate that renovating older builder can present unusual challenges when renovating. How much work was there to do when you first moved in?
A lot! Nothing structural, but just every single room was damaged in some way, it really needed a lot of love. It had been neglected by tenants and the damage was throughout. The smell was so bad when I viewed, the owners actually agreed to let me have the worst carpets removed and the place fumigated before I completed the sale. The first five weeks were spent with no electrics, then six months of scaffold to fix; windows that were about to fall out, chimneys, missing tiles, damaged bricks and since then it’s been constant DIY and some professional help. I really do like to get stuck in and have a go at everything! It’s definitely been blood, sweat and tears but I’m slowly getting rid of the interior waterfalls, house guests (rats!) and giving this place some love.
How long have you been living at the property now? And were there any surprises uncovered when renovations began?
I’ve been here for three years now. Lots of surprises along the way, probably the most interesting find has been the witch marks and other ritual markings on the beams which has been rather exciting.
Please do tell us more about the striking beams that run through the house!
They are rather wonky aren’t they! I’m lucky that through my work I have a friend who is a building archaeologist and when I first moved in he was kind enough to spend a day going around the building with me and trying to piece the history together. We came to the conclusion, fairly quickly, that not a single one of the beams is in its original location. In fact, he thought given the woodworm damaged to them, they were possibly from an old barn or previously stored outside for a long period of time before they were used to build the house in the mid 17th century.
There is one beam that is particularly amazing, he thought it might be as early as the 14th century and has holes in it where mullions and shutters would have been prior to glass being used! It definitely isn’t in its original location, but fascinating nonetheless.
What do you think is the key to perfecting a period project? Did you keep the heritage of the building in mind?
Good question! I’m not sure I know what is key to perfecting a period project, but personally I really want to let the historic fabric of the building do the talking. I think there can be a temptation to overly restore old buildings and therefore I like to keep things a little rustic (or at least that’s what I tell myself when a bit of DIY isn’t quite as perfect as I would like it to be!). I think you probably have to be quite flexible and fairly laid back. Things will take longer than you anticipate and you may need to tackle things in a different way to how your first envisaged.
We were thrilled to spot some details from our Bletchley range in your dreamy bathroom, as well as our popular Ava Bathroom Pendant Light. Of course we feel our products are a wonderful fit for your home, but what made you choose us?
I love your products, there is such a good range to choose from, which is particularly helpful when your rooms or spaces aren’t a conventional shape and size! What I particularly like is that the products are always beautifully proportioned and balanced, which means they don’t overwhelm spaces. They are also very good quality and show great craftmanship. The other thing that is important to me is that you are a local company and I can fairly easily visit your showroom.
Naturally we love using Instagram because it introduces us to fascinating people with splendid homes like yours, but it can sometimes feel oversaturated with decor ideas! Do you feel that using the app has influenced your approach to styling a home?
Oh goodness, it can be overwhelming can’t it? I also find it so hard because I love lots of different styles, from minimalist to mid century…makes it impossible to settle on a style! However, what I’ve realised is that I need to work with the house I have in front of me, not try and squeeze a style in that just doesn’t work with the architecture. I do use the app constantly for design ideas and inspiration. It’s such a useful resource and people are just so helpful! I do find though that there are a few key accounts that I go back to time and time again. The other thing that has been a really lovely surprise, is how helpful people are, it really has saved me a great deal of time and money by being able to discuss things with other people on Instagram.
There is a lot of focus is put on your interior design (and rightly so) but we also very much besotted with the outside. Do you have big plans for the garden?
Thank you! Sorting out the garden was the first lockdown project. It had obviously been planted up by someone who really knew what they were doing about 20-30 years ago. But sadly, it was full of rubbish and was very overgrown when I moved in. The brambles were about five metres tall and most of the walls were covered in ivy, so much so I didn’t know they were there!
This year the plants have really started to mature which is lovely to see, its still an evolving project, but the main work is now done. At some point, I would love to create an open fronted oak framed garden building at the rear of the garden. The idea would be that it provides a bit more outdoor storage and a place for sitting with some cover…but that’s a few years off yet.
What rooms are you currently working on in the house?
I am currently working on finishing the utility room, which has a major overhaul and the downstairs loo! It is a small space that needs to work quite hard, but just reorganising it has made such a difference to its useability. That will be the last major bit of work to do on the house, although I’m sure there will be more surprises!
A few quick-fire questions…
What is your top tip for making a house a home?
I have learnt to try and not rush things (I am naturally impatient so this is hard), only buy things you love or have a special meaning to them.
Can you describe your personal style in three words?
That is so difficult, but I hope it is natural, cosy and timeless.
We have to ask…what’s your favourite Jim Lawrence product?
Has to be the Ava Glass Pendant, it’s so delicate and beautifully proportioned.
Is the Old Pub your forever home?
I am not sure! Can’t see myself moving any time soon, but never say never.
If you too are inspired by Kate’s home, follow her ongoing refurb journey at @myoldpub on Instagram. To stay up to date with Jim Lawrence, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Browse our website to see all of our hand forged and finished lighting and homeware.
GET THE LOOK