My french house – before and after pics …

I think it’s a good idea to do a quick recap. Sometimes even I forget just how awful our French house was when we bought it. So this blog post is a simple before and after round up. No, you’re welcome.



Our kitchen on the day we moved in – nice huh?


Varde units from Ikea and crockery from my parents and local brocant markets.

Master bedroom


This was where we slept for about six months – the futon I bought in Australia when I was 24 and living there – its travelled to here via LA, Newcastle and London.


Mirror from ebay and light fitting was here originally! Wallpaper is Laura Ashley Josette.

Downstairs bathroom


er yuk!


Still one of my have makeovers. Walls Cornforth White from Farrow and Ball and bathroom from a local discount bathroom supplier. Extras from local Brocante.

Downstairs guest bedroom


This is actually ‘after’ quite a bit of cleaning up and painting. Don’t have a truly ‘before’ pic but you get the idea


Ta da! Bed from Ikea. Curtains made by me! Everything else brocante or local market.

Kids sitting room




The kids have a room of their own! Sofa was found in a skip and recovered with John Lewis fabric. Walls are Farrow and Ball Parma Grey.

Dining room


Can you see why we bought the place? nope, me either….


Because I knew it could look like THIS! Walls are Earhbourne Paints Bandstand. Lights from BHS and everything else from local brocante markets. Table from our friend Steve who has a great Brocante in Aignan.

Kids room


Again this is a mid way makeover pic – don’t have true befores. Our friend James’s stripped the wallpaper from the walls in here as it was too disgusting to even go in with it on apparently. Thanks James.


The boys chose the colour – its a Dulux red can’t remember the name. Bedding is Cath Kidston.

Small bedroom


My dressing room/spare bedroom


Ready for the arrival of my god-daughter! Bed Ikea and towels from Matalan!

Upstairs bathroom


Letting the rain in….


Paint is Earthbourne Bandstand (leftover from dining Room) Tiles are from Topps Tiles and called Henley

Grand Salon

Our 'rat run' home to lots of furry friends

Our ‘rat run’ home to lots of furry friends

Not yet finished but looking better right? Walls are Calamine by Farrow and Ball and lights are Graham and Green.

Not yet finished but looking better right? Walls are Calamine by Farrow and Ball and lights are Graham and Green.

So there you have it. We do also have a few ‘sub rooms’ which are small bedrooms attached to the other rooms which we’ve painted and thrown some beds in plus we have a very basic utility room. ANd then we have two of these…..


Attics – one day will be two VERY large bedrooms with ensuites!

But that’s definitely for another blog post. How do you think we’re doing so far?

How many bedrooms DO you have?


See it IS like a boutique hotel!

Now that the house was almost fully functioning (don’t get me wrong – there is A LOT still to do/finish and even when we do there are barns and woods and by then the house will need redecorating – the kitchen already looks like it could do with a lick of paint!) we had more guests putting in requests to come and stay.

I remember reading an article written by Daisy Waugh years ago about why they finally sold their house in France. It was because she got fed up with people using it like a hotel and having to spend all her holidays cooking and cleaning for other people. And I also remember thinking – well that will NEVER happen to me cos my friends are not annoying posh people like hers and I love them all. And I do. And in fact it feels really quiet chez White when there is just us there. And as the house got more furbished – it became much easier to have larger groups of people all at the same time. And in Easter 2013 we hosted our biggest house party to date.


A house big enough for 3 families! (just)

Many years earlier (too many to start counting but put it this way ER was the ‘hot new TV show’ at the time) I had shared a home in South West London with a group of total strangers I found via a thing called Loot. It was a listings newspaper that came out every week and people would place adverts in it for flat/house shares. These were the days before the internet when you actually called people up using a landline to arrange appointments to view. And so I went along, 21 years old and just out of Uni to look at a house on a street called Cavendish Rd in Balham. I ran into two people called Darren and Isobel on the way in who had just graduated from Cambridge and were looking for a place to move to in London. And that was that. We decided we sort of liked the look of each other and we sort of liked the house so we took it and moved in together. We found two others and our five bed house was full and the ‘Cavendish Rd’ gang were born. The later additions via moves, different shares etc included Dan, a fellow Cambridge Grad and Petra my now best friend and at the time, colleague of Darren. And those three years learning to be a grown up were some of the most fun of my life. Like Uni days but with a bit of disposable income. We lived mostly on a diet of Chardonnay and Covent Garden Soup Company soup. And we got promotions, changed career directions, fell in love (not with each other – phew) and because we had each other, it was OK that our boiler broke every winter. Or that the furniture in our big, ugly, rented house looked like people may have died on it years earlier. So, when, in 1996 I was offered a job in Australia, the decision to leave Cavendish Rd was made with a very heavy heart.


young and foolish

But, it was a promotion and it was AUSTRALIA! I had to go right? But as the Cavendish Rd crowd waved me through to departures at London’s Heathrow I sobbed into my passport and wondered if I’d made a terrible mistake.

But everyone’s lives moved on – the house share broke down and people graduated into smaller flats with working bathrooms. We all became proper grown ups. Darren even got married and before long everyone else did too. And then we had kids. Two each. And so that we didn’t lose touch with one another we arranged (and still do) every year to go away for a weekend somewhere with all our kids and we refer to it as the Cavendish Rd Weekend Away. Twenty adults and twenty kids.


OMG we had kids!!!


Darren leading the 20 strong Cavendish Rd gang today!

And somewhere in the midst of all of this, someone suggested that a Cav Rd sub group could come over to France for Easter. And so that’s what they did. There was a bit of overlap which meant Darren, Dan and I plus our partners and kids could sit in my kitchen in SW France and wonder if we could ever have imagined all those years ago that one day, twenty or so years hence, we’d still be friends. And our wives, husbands et al would be friends. And our kids would be friends. And we’d be friends with each other’s kids as they grow older and develop personalities of their own. And Dan’s daughter Suki taught Seb how to play backgammon. Then Seb taught Suki how to shout ‘poo poo head’ really loudly at your parents.


And Dan taught Peter and I how to play bridge and got really cross when we beat him and his wife Louisa (beginners luck)


And on Easter Sunday we had a feast that didn’t involve any Covent Garden Soup Company Soup at all. See. We HAVE become grown ups!


The epic Interview

My son blogged today too!!


Hi, so this week I interviewed an actor from two of the Doctor Who episodes. His name is Damian Samuels he played Arthur Lloyd(cool name!!) in The empty child and The doctor dances. Here is the interview

 What was it like in Doctor Who?
It’s always exciting getting an acting job, this felt like just another job at first, as Doctor Who hadn’t been on the televison for years and so there were very low expectations of what it might be like. It wasn’t until I was doing the table read ( The first readthrough of the script) with all the actors that I suddenly realised how amazing this could be. Christopher Ecclestone was incredible with Billie Piper and it was Captain Jacks first ever episode. It was all Steven Moffats first ever Doctor Who script so there was real excitement in the room and you felt like you were…

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Our perfect pink – finally!


Eeny, meeny

So for those joining now -hi! *waves

Here is where we are at. I had painted our Grand Salon in France a hideous, girly, darkish pink. It looked like a nine year old’s bedroom – all it needed were some Lelli Kelli shoes scattered on the floor. And so I had begun a search to find a pink I DID like. I was open and broad minded in this quest – from lilac to nudes to peaches – no shade of pink was denied its chance. See above!

As it turned out I fell back on my old friends at Farrow and Ball (don’t ask why I didn’t just do that in first place) and went for Calamine.


Calamine by Farrow and Ball

but the wall above remains in our London dining room and produces an interesting talking point for guests.
“So, which one are you going for,”
“None of them.”

And we set to work, reprinting the entire room. And then we added a wooden floor which came from Bricot Depot and some tall skirting boards which Peter plans to add to the rest of the house one day but he ran out of steam doing the Salon.

And I added two hanging lights I bought in the Graham and Green sale. I got Peter to replace the hanging wires with vintage style fabric covered cord bought on eBay. And we are currently in the process of recovering all these old chairs we’ve found in Vide Greniers.

The coloured chandelier has been moved around every room in the house and will be replaced in here too but we can never get rid of it as it hung in Peter’s dining room in Los Angeles where we first met. When we left LA, we left the chandelier with my LA dwelling Aunt Moira and it lived in her garage for about ten years until I decided I’d carry it back while visiting for work. It came on the flight as hand luggage much to the annoyance of other passengers. And now it’s in France. And Peter keeps optimistically hanging it in every room until I point out it ruins the ‘mood’ I had planned….. Maybe it could go here (current utility room!)….


One day in the future this will ACTUALLY become a pig sty

And as a gift for us all and our newly repainted Salon, Serge brought us an enormous plant which we added to our ‘reading corner’ and we have a long list of other things we would like to go in it. Mirrors, chairs, tables, bookcases – pretty much everything but at least I have painted walls in a colour I love. Phew.


Farrow and Ball Calamine walls


The Chandelier of love!


Serge’s plant and some French mags!