If you've been following us for a while, you'll know that in Feb 2021 we purchased a wee building for Ingrained Inc - The Smiddy. It is going to become the workshop for our woodworking dreams. In this blog I'll be taking you behind the scenes and on the journey with us as we breathe new life into this rustic gem.
We absolutely fell in love with The Smiddy as soon as we walked through the doors (we look at it everyday as it's very close to our house) We had never been inside but always wanted to see inside (the windows weren't much help looking inside) On an off chance encounter we managed to flag down the owners and had a look about.
It was amazing! A total Tardis. It looks so small on the outside but just opens up as soon as you step through the door.
However we knew it needed a lot of work! But we had to have it. Thankfully the owners were willing to sell and after a few months it was ours! (HOORAY)
**The Smiddy's Humble Beginnings:**
We aren't sure how old it is but know it was an old blacksmiths workshop. The deeds are written in ye olde English and are signed in the date 1922, A captain purchases all the lands and farms and workshops in the area, and this is the first time it comes up in any legal documents. But It would have been built even before this date!
**Discovering Hidden Treasures:**
We started off gutting the place, we uncovered three chimneys and the back wall had chains in them - probably for chaining up livestock (horses etc... for re shoeing) And there was all sorts of metal work poking out of the walls to hang things on too.
The previous owner was a joiner by trade and used the Smiddy as a workshop. I think he wasn't a fan of getting rid of things as it was a treasure trove of oddities.
Amidst the rubble and decay, we uncovered discarded paint cans (about 50!) oil drums, a treasure chest, and old tools and machinery. That's where we found Doris, a 35 year old pillar drill which I'm still using today! She helps me with my tealight holders, and wooden wildflower vases.
But first we needed to gut the place before we could get any woodworking done, as the place has been left discarded for so long.
**The Renovation Odyssey:**
We wanted to get the doors and windows replaced first to start getting the place weatherproof, as they were in dire need of replacement. However we soon found out that we needed to get the floor in to get a level for the doors.
The back part of the Smiddy was essentially a bog, the floor was lower than the road outside which had let a lot of water in. Especially with the doors being so rotten at the bottom. The floor was big railway sleepers on top of mud, which had partially rotted. So squelched when you walked on them 😬.
So we decided to have a polished concrete the floor to make it easier for cleaning, a foundation for what is level and plumb and for moving things about with ease.
Here are the stages of the floor.
Once the floor was in, the doors and windows could finally be done. The doors were an odd size, had to be custom fitted - the widest that our joiner Kyle has ever fitted / measured! All the windows were different sizes too. So the building kept Kyle on his toes! (sorry Kyle!)
This is the back of the building and the transformation is WILD!
One of the first things we did after this was fix the slates at the front of the building, as the roof was very leaky. Very noticeable in the winter time!
The change is absolutely mind blowing!
Internally it still needed work, we had to run cables over from the house to get electric so that was the next job to do.
The Smiddy had not been connected to mains electricity ever; it was always run on a generator. Obviously with running machines to make things we needed a reliable electricity source. So we wanted to get that sorted as soon as the building was watertight. Which meant we had to get one of the walls repointed so we could place the switch board and meters on.
That wall is so beautiful! I can’t believe how beautiful It ended up looking. Obviously the rest of the walls need doing as a lot of the mortar is very crumbly! It’s on the very long list of things to do.
The roof in the back of the building was the last job we've completed to date. The back roof was made of asbestos so not an easy task to remove. It was replaced with a black sheet metal roof with some skylights in which brings an amazing amount of light through to the back of the building. As apart from the two windows in the back there wasn’t much light at all, and with the mezzanine there the top was always very dark.
**A Marathon, Not a Sprint:**
As my husband always says, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” we are taking our time doing up the Smiddy bit by bit. There is still a lot to do to get it to where we want it. The Smiddy is a long-term investment in our woodworking goals. We're committed to making it sustainable and preserving its legacy for generations to come. It's a journey filled with challenges, especially as nothing is plum, level or ever goes according to plan. But that is what makes me love it even more!
The Smiddy, once a blacksmith's refuge, is now our creative sanctuary. It's a place where history meets craftsmanship, and where the slow living of the countryside inspires our work. Follow along as we continue to breathe life into this old soul, turning it into our happy place.
To be continued...