It occurred to me that I haven’t updated on the renovation process for a while. As with many projects, you take a huge leap forward, and then revelling in the new transformed state of things, it goes onto the back-burner, although really it isn’t finished at all. Such is the case with the master bedroom which I started a year ago and is now starting to cry for attention again. Here is the bedroom before the last owner, an elderly gentleman in his 90’s moved out.
It’s not normal that I would seek to put my bedroom in front of those of the kids, but an unhappy chapter of events made it happen that way. Days before our moving date, on visiting the now empty house, it was immediately obvious that the house was filthy, and a quick run over with a hoover just wasn’t going to do the job. A fabulous friend of mine offered (in, I suppose, a momentary absence of sense) to help me wash the carpets with a hired machine. A back-breaking day of intense labour later, after several buckets of black water had been thrown out, the carpets were altgether a different colour, if smelling suspiciously of drying sheep!
That should have been the end of the story; only it wasn’t. By the day of arrival of all our furniture, a full week later, one carpet had stubbornly refused to dry and smelt so strongly that nothing short of leaving the door closed, and the windows wide open (it was december), night and day, protected the rest of the house from its awful stench. My bed was erected in the sitting-room, and stayed there for three months!
Then one day in march, I woke with a spring in my step and decided that that would be the day that the carpet would be ripped up and thrown out. So imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the darn thing had been stuck down to the floorboards with a powerful glue.
Once the carpet was disposed of, the little old man in the ‘Bricolage’, (Do it yourself shop) recommended a glue solvant called ‘decapant’ and I set to work with a a paintbrush, spatula and the windows open as far as possible to let out the noxious fumes. A couple of days later I had finished the job, but left a few more before hiring a floor-sander (ponceuse) in case the friction of the sanding belt sparked the highly inflammable solvant residue!The sanding machine took a little getting used to, and I was thwarted early on by the fact that the sander had a miniscule cable of about half a metre, and clearly I should have an earthed extension cable (rallonge) to make the distance across the room in question to the power source. I might add that since the power supply to the house was not itself earthed, it was unsuprising that I didn’t actually have the appropriate cable, nor was I sure what good it would do, but was left to waste valuable hire time making a second journey to the bricolage.By the end of the evening, the main area of the room was transformed, and buzzing with the success of the day, heard myself eagerly agreeing with the hire company to hiring the ‘edge-sander’ to complete the job the next day when I took the drum sander back to them.
However, not all things carry on the way they are planned. Somewhere around 3am I woke with a pounding headache, and as the hours marched their way towards dawn, it occurred to me that I had succombed to the flu. Somehow I made it through the next day clinging onto a rather headstrong ‘edge-sander’, until finally, about the middle of the afternoon, I was no longer capable. The sander and I collapsed in a heap halfway across the ‘en-suite’ floor. The floor remains in the same state to this day, but thankfully I am back in one piece!
After the floor, the dismanteling of the corner cupboard, the filling of holes and the wallpapering of the walls was ease itself, although I did contend with a minor moment of anxiety and a bruise of two as my hand-sander exploded while I was at the top of the ladder smoothing down the uneven plasterwork, and I consequently went flying. I know, hand-sanders are not appropriate for plaster dust, the monsieur at the bricolage gave me quite a lecture on the subject…..after the event. My greatest find was a little ‘morceau’ of wall-paper with handpainted little birds on it. It was so pretty I wished there had been more of it to make a feature, but sadly it was so brittle that it fell apart in my hands.
Now, a few months on we have curtains, a pretty toile called ‘Charente Birds’, a little daringly in black and ‘white’. Our bed waits to be re-upholstered (whenever will I find the time!) and came from a ‘chateau sale’, my chair from the Rouen Puces (antiques fair) and upholstered by me before we moved (which was a very good idea in the circumstances considering the hefty list of things to do now we are in the house) and our wardrobe (photo to be added later) came from a wonderful organisation called Emmaus. Emmaus takes house-clearence furniture and sells it on using the unemployed and homeless as staff to create a profit and get those same people off benefits and back into employment. There are many great bargains to be found there, especially if you know what you are looking for.
Now I’m just waiting for the motivation to tackle the windows, and I know that they will be time-consuming and unpleasant, before finally finishing the final small area of electrical wiring and the skirings.
As for the half finished floor in the ‘en-suite’? Well the bath leaked into the sittingroom a few days ago, so it looks like that project is now on the urgent list, and it may be done sooner than we think!
Thank you for this post, it made me feel so much better about all our unfinished jobs! Somehow there just never seems to be enough time! I know all about old carpets; Roddy bought the house without me and I didn’t see it until we had paid and got the keys. I remember walking in, downstairs needed lots of work, a new kitchen etc etc., but it was bearable and then I went upstairs, stinky almost black carpets, horrid walls, and I just reeled in horror, what had we bought! Before we moved in the carpets came up and we’re all replaced, it was the best thing we did in the house!!! It’s fabulous, I love it here, but there will always be things to do. Bought two wonderful armoires for our gite at Emmaus, as you say, if you know what you are looking for and really look there are some fabulous bargains. Love your chair, off to a Brocante on Sunday and really hope to find something like that. Hope you might make it to the coast down here this summer, would love you to come and visit, I think we would have many good conversations and a lot of fun, we have much in common! Susan x
Sometimes I look at my house and wonder how on earth I am going to repair it! After decades with no heating, the walls, which are all painted with gloss paint, have started to peel., repainting is no longer just a question of a roller and paint, but flaking away endless mm thick curling areas of paint, sanding the edges smooth, and filling before applying a fresh coat. I laughed when you said that Roddy bought the house without you, for us, I bought the house without my husband. I have no-one o blame but myself! I would love to pass by your little area of heaven, a couple of normandy bottles of cider at the offing….though I agree, somehow I don’t think we’ll need any help lubricating the conversation…….! Until then, Miranda x
Miranda, your walls sound like a nightmare, fortunately we didn’t have that problem, the house had been heated! But trust me we have plenty of ongoing problems! The joys of living with old houses or not depending on my frame of mind!!!
I managed to do a lot of scratching and sanding at the weekend. I do hate doing it and geting all the dust in my hair. It seems to get everywhere – but the result is quite a transformation, even though it’s not yet finished. Somehow I find that finally pulling the rotting paint off the cracks has shown me that the cracks aren’t actually as bad as I thought they were, and not damp either. It’s reassuring to know that the house isn’t going to fall down yet – well not tonight anyway!!
Hello Miranda, I have been having trouble getting my comments accepted so I’ll keep it brief in case of rejection. Funny that Susan’s husband bought without her, you bought without your husband and neither my husband nor I had seen what we were buying. We are a special breed aren’t we!
I think we are Catherine, perhaps we all secretly love a challenge, and what better than moving somewhere we haven’t even seen!!
Ohhh I love those floors!!