renovation, restoration, elevations..2011
We are now used to our typically twisty stairs in France, even though as yet we have no hand rails !
In the usual local Languedocciene style, both sets of stairs in the house turn through 90 degrees as they rise into the salon and tulip room doorways on the first & second floors.
This is fine for the first floor, but access into the terrace room is a different story ( see earlier post “enjoy our luxurious guest suite”).
This side of the house was tacked on from the barn next door sometime in the last century and a doorway was simply punched through the thick stone spine wall and a couple of concrete steps set into the thickness of the wall itself.
Both staircases and the little entrance hall would have been constructed on site from terrazzo. This is a mixture of marble & granite chips set into either cement or resin and gives a very hardwearing and solid finish and is easy to clean.
Terrazzo floors very common in South of France due to summer heat.
We decide to keep the first set of stairs as the original finish, as it is both practical by the front door and the typically French blue green and amber & black chips look great once cleaned up.
We consider casting new stairs to second floor ” in situ” and finishing in a similar fashion, but then we decide we would prefer wood here and we will clad the existing stairs-constructing a mini landing and also change the shape of the stairs each side of terrace room doorway to make access safer.
Nothing in our stock of recycled and vintage wood is suitable and the oak I would like is astronomically priced for our modest project. We find a good 2cm thick, close grained wood of unknown origin in one of the local timber shops and we spend the whole day carefully cutting newspaper patterns, following the eccentric curve of the walls, for each individual step and working out how best to access the terrace room, whilst keeping the look visually cohesive. We cut, sand and lay out each new step and they look great and we spend some time admiring our undoubted genius idea and arguing about whether we will have a light or dark waxed finish. All steps are then carefully numbered and stacked in the cave.
Bearing in mind previous experience of work in one area undoing much of the hard work in another space, we will NOT be assembling the new staircase until ALL upstairs work & decoration is done!
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