Pages

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Back to France and the "Why" of the Walls!

In answer to a question in a comment from Friko as to why the walls we tore down had ever been put up in the first place. (See It's All in a Day's Work.) It all goes back to the French couple who owned the house before we bought it. They had bought the place in the late 70's as a retirement home. The upstairs hand never been lived in. The house had been a two-room cottage. It must have been very very basic at the time.

The kitchen, separate toilet and bathroom and a small upstairs bedroom were added to the house at the time of the initial renovation -- right up to the property line of our neighbour. What had been an inglenook fireplace was made to hold a wood burning fireplace that also allowed heat to filter upstairs.

The couple must were not very tall. Madame could walk down the centre of the upstairs passageway without difficulty, while I had to scrunch up against the wall separating it from the two bedrooms. They needed this passage way to get to the other side of the first or second floor -- depending on which continent you live!!! 

Here is a floor plan of how it was when we first bought the house:


When we first looked at the house we were not at all happy with the upstairs. But we thought maybe it would be possible to 'fix' it with a little bit of ingenuity. In other words we had a 'plan':

Let's build a second staircase at the other end of the original cottage -- in the dining room. We were very lucky that our neighbour M. Estival, was not only a charpentier and and ebinieste -- he had also constructed the existing staircase as well as all of the other cabinets and windows and doors in the house! We approached him for a quote and discovered that his was by far the most reasonable compared to two others -- he also would build a mirror twin to the existing staircase and would build it of oak and would cut the hole in the ceiling -- all other quotes were for pine and for The Man to cut the hole. And we didn't have to pay him until the work was done and when we got back the following year was just fine with him! We left France in September, he built the staircase over the winter and  was finished when we came back to France the following June.

A floor plan of the ground floor of our house with the new staircase:

I've dreamed of being able to knock a large portal in the wall between the kitchen and dining room to open the whole thing up, but alas and alack once upon a time that wall was an exterior wall and knocking a hole would require the talents a stone mason and be more expensive than we would want to spend on a second home. Having access to the patio from every room in the house makes up for a lot!
I have been shocked to discover that in all the years since the second staircase was built, I have only taken one photograph and that just shows the corner of it! So here is a picture of the original:


And here is a reminder of how the bedroom was when I last saw it at the end of September. 


Since then  the electrics have been re-done (no more light hanging in the middle of the room) the walls have been papered and carpet has been laid. At the moment The Man is starting to build the Closet where the old wardrobe used to be. By the way, does anyone know where he can buy louvered doors -- either in the UK or in France?


20 comments:

  1. You're going to own a treasure when all your hard work is completed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's already a treasure of memories!

      Delete
  2. Leroymerlin might stock louvred doors, or LaPeyre. They both have websites.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that -- will be investigating both...

      Delete
  3. See if Bricodepot still have them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, Bricodepot doesn't seem to have any stores in our area...

      Delete
  4. I just put louvered doors into Google and lots of places popped up. Keep well Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's more difficult from the UK to source them in France. The Man doesn't have a computer down there so I'll have to do some further investigation when I get down there. But it's good to verify there are lots of choices. Thanks.

      Delete
  5. Louvres are easily made to order, Broad. Expsenive-ish, but easy for the one who has the machinery. I know such a man. Email me if you would like a quote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that, Tom. I may very well get back to you if we don't have any luck.

      Delete
  6. I enjoyed reading your diverse posts. It is an undertaking to remodel an older French house – my father did several and I always tried to stay away from him at the time…

    About your time at the US Embassy – what a difference with the French one. I went to renew my French passport and they did not even look in my purse. I did have a camera in it at the time and never thought a thing about it. They just asked my name and let me in.

    I enjoyed your trip to the Buddhist temple, but what type of Buddhism was it? Buddhism is like Christianity, there are many types. For example going into a Christian church – it could be Mormon, Catholic, Methodist, Charismatic, 7-Day Adventist, Lutheran, Anglican and many more, and they are all a bit different. Well, it is the same in Buddhism – they can be Mahayana, Theravada, Zen, Tantrayana, Shambhala Buddhism, Nichiren, Pure Land and many other. From your description I think it was a Tibetan Buddhist temple as they are more ornate than the others. I visited a non-denominational Buddhist temple in Kahaluu on Oahu Hawaii and it was almost bare on the inside with just one statue of the Buddha. So it does make a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you, Vagabonde. Fortunately, the remodelling of the house in France has been fairly limited in scope! And most of it has been done without my presence being required!

    According to the brochure I acquired at the Buddhist temple it is Kadampa Buddhism. "Kadampa Buddhism is a special tradition of Mahayana Buddhism founded by Atisha (982-1054 CE), an Indian Buddhist Master largely responsible for the reintroduction of Buddhism into Tibet in the eleventh century. 'Ka' refers to all Buddha's Sutra and Tantra teachings, and 'dam' refers to Atisha's special instructions called the 'Stages of the Path', or Lamrim in Tibetan."

    I think I would have been more comfortable with just one statue of the Buddha... Apparently, the Bronze Buddha in the temple I visited is the largest bronze statue of Buddha ever made in the West...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dear Broad, you and "The Man" are so handy with tools and with creative ways to make a structure into a home. I remember the postings you did about the house in England and all you did to it. Both of you have an "eye" that enables you to come up with these marvelous building plans. I'm impressed!!! Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My 'tool' lately has been the 'camera'! The Man, fortunately, has others at his disposal!

      Delete
  9. Finalement tu es «chez vous.» And the work is coming along nicely. I trust your "country estate" will be magnifique when you are finished.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I trust it will be 'magnifique' by the time I get there!!;-)

      Delete
  10. Yes, I echo the above. I know this is on its way to becoming a wonderful country home for you and your very capable hubby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must say, I am definitely looking forward to getting down there!

      Delete
  11. I love your restoration posts, Broad - they bring back so many memories of the way our French house has evolved and is still evolving. The extended bedroom looks very promising indeed. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Man tells me he is very pleased with the results and that he has finished!

      Delete

Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!