This is so funny….(naughty word alert on the video clip- it doesn’t bother me but hey-ho)

I’m bald…et je suis gentil–I’m putting it nicely. The full version: I’m bald, fat, and old. Nevertheless, every Tuesday morning I stop at Giorgio’s hair salon and take my seat in the chair. (I’m pretty sure that Giorgio is actually Georges, as his French is both Parisian and quite hip. A demen, he says to […]

via Go left, then right: faire la bise — Zipf’s Law

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Episode 146- Another retrospective- French house dining room- working with a narrow space

kitchen-dining-area-after-demolitionI am trying to remind myself that progress is being made at the village house, as well as giving newer followers the heads up on what we have actually achieved to date en France.

The photo –left- is not exactly a “before” photo as sadly we did not immortalise this view for posterity till after we took down the 1950’s wooden wall (with insets of blue glass?”)  that ran across from the old chimney on the right over to the left hand wall. Anway, this is the closest we have to “before” (1) here.

Depending on which immobilier’s listing one read, this room was either the dining room or the third bedroom. Right off the kitchen. Note the radiator  (left) sited right by the window!house-dining-room-ceiling-steels-in

Then the sainted JM took off the roof –right(2)- and put in the steels that had to be cut into the thick stone walls at each side to support the new roof terrace. Then our only plasterboard ceiling was put up.

This led to a slight reduction in ceiling height, but. trust me, it was worth it.

Below left-(3)


Close to the finish line here now, we have the penultimate stage-Below right-(4)








This is a bright east facing room with  a large window, but note that it’s considerably brighter now, even though we have two dark grey painted and waxed walls. By taking the ceiling’s broken white paint down the walls by 1.5 inches and taking that dramatic grey right around the corner & along the side wall we have blurred the visual perception of how disproportionately narrow this area is- Bottom right (5)img_20160728_180004c

Laying the new white/grey finish wooden floor crossways has underlined these changes too & works with the ceiling to reflect all available light.

Sorry about quality of photos, some camera, some phone, the first so old it was actually developed manually!

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Wood is Good- The wood rescue diary

img_20160625_110003“Whether made into a wooden pillow or table,
wood with excellent fine grain is a guarantee of splendid poems,
and the composition of perfect documents.
~Liú Shèng (d. 113 BC), “Ode to Fine-Grained Wood,” quoted in Beyond the Screen: Chinese Furniture of the 16th and 17th centuries by Nancy Berliner, 1996


We love wood. These days I spend more time polishing it for other people, but it’s still therapeutic, and good exercise also (take note you foot/ankle/leg injuring blog-buddies; you know who you are)…..albeit only effective on the upper body.

Two tables have come to us recently with wonderful veneer (flamed and banded  mahogany and walnut) but in a terrible state. img_20160625_105904img_20160923_121614









The aprons and legs are cheap softwood with no merit so we painted these with a clear conscience. The tops are subject to our special treatment.

All varnish and stain is taken off with the damaged surface finish . Then we clear wax and polish up to ten times. Such a lovely, soft finish. Very tactile. Showcases the grain and natural colour.

You all know that I am partial to hugging and stroking inanimate objects, but I have observed that even unromantic, no-nonsense,  practical men drift past these and have to touch them. img_20160923_122138

I rest my case.


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French interiors- four alternatives to white walls







Celebrating interesting old walls in small spaces. Above left-above right and rightb19fdd7f0166d030880809f12b089eab

Or,if you have the space & the ceiling height-below-why not celebrate those cracks too?                                      french-country-house-furniture-upholstered-furniture-wall-colors


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Episode 145 part 2- Reflections on restoration, renovation and reconstruction in France

img_20160728_133127Our shopping lists in France rarely have any of the usual domestic requirements such as food on them. It’s more likely to be stuff for the house .

I have no idea why I spelt “filler” with three “ls” . Maybe it’s a reflection of how much of this powdered plaster stuff I actually use? probably a ton to date!

Incidentally, the giant crack I filled in the salon eight years ago has not moved one jot; so I wish poshbird and anyone else with one (or two) of those in their maison the same outcome.

The first, second, third, fourth and seventh items on the list above are in my writing; fifth & sixth by Trevor. Any Graphologists out there are welcome to interpret.

Back to the subject in hand. I’ve been thinking what defines the terms we use to express what we are doing Chez Nous. All those below apply to varying degree.

Though I would say that we are restoring, technically you might disagree because the house was never a domestic dwelling till the 19th century; although it’s bones as junk store and animal shelters and the spine wall bit over one of the village wells are probably 14th or 15th Century. I am not about to recreate a stable or a midden or live like medieval serfs!

img_20160729_114250.jpglime plaster





                                                                    RENOVATION- to restore to good condition; make new or as if new again, to repair.

“ to reinvigorate, refresh, renew ”

RESTORATION- the act or process of repairing the  features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by removing features from other periods in its history and the reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period

“ to repair, revive, re-establish”

RECONSTRUCTION – the re-creation of a missing building or element in new, appropriate materials.

“ to recreate, replicate, re-instate”

As I have said many times on this blog, picking a period to restore to when the house has such a chequered history is tough. It’s been a bit organic.

Whatever label we hang our projects on, let’s do it from the heart and truly celebrate the soul of these places. We are but brief custodians.  So let’s leave them better than we found them.

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Episode 145- A retrospective. Renovation, restoration and reconstruction in the Aude

20150318_151317I think it’s time to look back and take stock.

Quite a few new folk have started following this  epic saga of ours and must be wondering what kind of blog they have stumbled onto here.

Some art, some antiques, some textiles,  some history, some musings on French life and culture, some good days, some bad days; having given you all a glimpse of the contents of my head  I want to take you all back to where this journey began.

It began with this house.

Neglected and empty for years, before that it was rented out and before that the last family who owned it had a very, very sad story.

Bits of 20th century building work tacked around an old stone shell; it called to us “Rescue Me, Now!” I truly believe that if we had not come along to Campagne that day and put our money down, this house would never have been lived in again and would have fallen slowly into rack  & ruin like so many of these old French village houses. 

Our friends & neighbours thought we were crazy, why buy this ugly, incoherent patchwork  building? Why? because I am a sucker for the lost and the lonely. I have that crusading spirit that makes me believe that I can pull anything  back from the brink and fix it. This house has a soul, and I want to polish that up and make it shine.

With Trevor, who could also sense the possibilities of this place, who thought we could change the spaces to suit our needs and wants and make the place work as a great house for the first time in it’s long history, we took a deep breath and jumped right in. We took a punt. A big gamble. A risk.

That’s what this blog is about. Stay with us and see what happens next.

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The Wednesday One- Selfie with Footstool

img_20160913_185335It’s been a Trying Week and it’s only Wednesday!

I won’t tempt cruel fate by postulating that the only way is up, but I really need a boost today.

So. we picked up a repro mahogany demi-lune table for a makeover and found a great new source, Nathan, who buys and sells all sorts of stuff.

He had this absolute gem tucked away unwanted & unloved on a high shelf at the back of his warehouse.

We have been looking for a foot stool/ spare seat for the salon at the French village house and I never expected to find something so perfect. Wonderful woolwork on canvas (Berlin work if we are being technical) Doubles as a work/sewing box. Lined in silk satin (only slightly shredded) with a padded pincushion.Little ball feet.

I could easily sell it for mega-bucks, so rare, so pretty.  Business head would turn this into a profit,  but I NEED this. I really, really do.

img_20160913_185359img_20160913_185744Pretty clean and good on the sides with a little  fraying I can fix and , hopefully, the grubby top will steam-clean up. Even Trev NEARLY likes it!!

I have been hugging it, mostly. If you understand that, then you understand me.

Don’t zoom in, you’ll regret it.







Trust me…..

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