In restoring Thomas Grove, we set ourselves the challenge of adding as little new material to the building as we could, using as many reclaimed building materials and old furniture as possible throughout the project. For example the kitchens incorporate old school laboratory worktops, refurbished original 1970s hand made kitchen units by the local joiner and a glazed cabinet found in the barn. Most of the furniture is either restored or reupholstered vintage and antique pieces, while ironmongery and fittings are either salvaged or hand forged in black iron with a beeswax finish. Where we have had to replace floors we have salvaged antique floorboards and where we have used new timber in the project it is FSC certified. We used lime plaster to repair the old partitions, although most of the interior walls we left with their original timber lath, plaster and limewash.
We have installed very high levels of insulation in the roofs and timber floors, double glazed and draught sealed the majority of the windows and, in addition to conventional central heating, have put in three highly efficient Scandinavian wood burning stoves which are great fun to use and can happily heat the house and cottage on their own once burning at full output (we prefer the bedrooms a little cooler than downstairs).
The building is lit mostly by high quality, warm LED light bulbs with dimmer switches in the living and dining rooms, and some warm compact fluorescent bulbs. The lights use a fraction of the energy of conventional tungsten lamps, and we use a Green Tariff electricity supplier. We avoided solvent-based coatings wherever possible, using instead a combination of claypaint and very low VOC natural water-based emulsions and varnishes throughout the project, complimenting the existing limewash surfaces. Beeswax is used on most of the furniture and timber floors, with some rooms left as untreated oak boards.