The last time I posted about the renovation works at our little place, the house was in uproar and we were tip-toeing through piles of debris and dust as our plans were turned into reality. The airbed in front of the fire proved to be a comfortable place to sleep and certainly very cosy, whilst chaos reigned around us.
It’s always the case with building work that it feels like it will never end and that you will never rid the house of the last bits of rubble and dust that seem to hide in every possible nook and cranny, but sat here now, it’s hard to remember what the upstairs was like before we started as the work has been done so well, it looks like it has always been this way.
As I mentioned before, we certainly fell on our feet with the builder, plumber and electrician who did the work for us… they all got on with what needed to be done, working through any niggles that occurred without breaking stride. It was amusing to hear what appeared to be heated discussions taking place, only to realise they were each talking to themselves about the work they were doing at that particular moment in time.
Any concerns we had about the building process quickly disappeared as they turned up early each day, had a brief chat over a coffee and continued their work until late in the afternoon.
The rooms quickly took shape and we soon started to get a real sense of how the new layout would feel as the partition walls went up, with their quirky angles to make them fit around the existing windows.
All of a sudden, we had a corridor and separate bedrooms, the big curtain was gone and at long last it was safe to walk up the stairs, no longer at risk of falling off the edge in the night.
The new bathrooms started to take shape too, fitting neatly into space that had previously been taken by the original 2 large bedrooms. We had designed it with a small en-suite for our room and a second family shower-room for the 2 other bedrooms – so for the first time we could look forward to having bathrooms with doors and even showers that worked and had doors or screens that didn’t collapse as soon as you tried to pull them closed.
Andy had been busy tiling the enclosures and the shower trays and new sanitaryware had been fitted so we could see what everything would look like now it was in place and any worries we may have had were unfounded as everything looked great.
This though meant that we needed to fit the shower screens and so on one (particularly wet) Sunday afternoon, Andy and I carried them upstairs and started on the task of installing them. The first thing I have to say here is that a 90cm sheet of glass, which is 8mm thick is really, really, heavy and the sight of us trying to manoeuvre it up 2 flights of stairs, through sharp turns and finally into the bedroom was something that you would have expected to see in a particularly hilarious episode of The Chuckle Brothers … Happily we managed to get the screens into the rooms without any disasters, although the fear of it slipping or (even worse) smashing stopped us from seeing the funny side of our antics for quite a while afterwards.
The afternoon passed in a blur as we shifted the screens into place and secured them, with what seemed like hours of holding our breath as we pushed them gently, but firmly into their new homes, working in fear of hearing a sickening crack.
We needn’t have worried though, and after 6 hours of work that could have tested many relationships to the limit, we finally stood back to admire the screens in place, one even fitted with a very smart rolling door and finally collapsed in front of the fire with a bottle of wine and a board of bread and cheese.
Over the next weeks the rooms were finished and the old doors that Pascal (our friend and ébeniste) had refurbished for us were finally hung on their wonderful ‘Moustache’ hinges with the antique locks and catches we had found at the local Brocante markets giving the whole of the upstairs an instant and rather wonderful character.
Pascal had also made us a couple of new doors to match the ones that we had sourced and they also easily fitted into place and looked as if they had always been there too.
Since then Andy has spent a rather manic week sanding all the walls and ceilings and painting the 3 new bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, which now look rather wonderful (a far cry from the rather vibrant ‘Lavender’ tones that used to be there)…..
……….so we have started to find ‘new’ bits to just finish them off.
Needless to say the local Recyclerie and Brocantes have proved to be a great source of furniture and decorative pieces to pop into the rooms.
A beautiful old Chest now sits where the sink used to be in the old bathroom, topped with this rather pretty mirror that we found at Carpentras….
And an old door we found has been used as a perfect headboard, hiding the otherwise unattractive wooden slats of the bed-head that was there before.
The furniture in one room is now all painted and decorated with a traditional Provencal ‘Bluet’ (Cornflower) design form a book lent to me by a neighbour…..
And slowly but surely the little finds are transforming the new rooms into comfortable spaces that look as if they have always been that way.
As we had hoped, our little place in Provence is feeling much more like a home than a base for holidays now, which is just as it should be….
Now though our thoughts have turned to the next big project for this Autumn, converting the ‘buanderie’ into a new kitchen and opening it out onto the terrace. If we thought the work upstairs had caused upheaval it will be nothing to the chaos that will be caused when the openings are made from the house into the new space and then the new kitchen to the terrace.
I have a feeling that this will be a time when we’ll have to abandon the house to the builder and let him work his magic as even with all our experience of living in renovations whilst they are being done, we can’t see how we will be able to live on-site with the extent of the work that will need to be done.
At the moment though, we will just enjoy a summer of being able to shut the door on the bedroom each night and finally relax in a space protected by more than a simple curtain and even enjoy the simple pleasure of taking a shower without having to sing loudly to warn everyone else you’re in there!