Le Grand Salon!
I’m here! In my lovely French home – and you know what? It is really lovely. Could be warmer but with fires in all the rooms and extra blankets for the boys (and cashmere bed socks for me!) we can snuggle down.
And today when the pompiers came round for their annual donation (in return for which you get a calendar full of fire warden activities – recovery position anyone?) we were able to invite them in for the first time since we moved here. They decreed our salon ‘tres jolie’ and although it’s not finished yet I thought you might like to see some pics.
And if you don’t mind I’ll get back to playing Mastermind, listening to Plan B (and explaining to Sebastian why it’s Ok for HIM to use the F word?) and drinking red wine from our cubivin!! Oh and waiting for Uncle Richard and Stuey to arrive!!
Fake Christmas tree (for emergencies such as these – you try finding a tree on December 27th)
Drop down lights from graham and green, sofa ikea ektorp
Chandelier for 1 euro (need a bigger one but this will do for now)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My dressing room/spare bedroom
Ready for the arrival of my god-daughter! Bed Ikea and towels from Matalan!
Letting the rain in….
Paint is Earthbourne Bandstand (leftover from dining Room) Tiles are from Topps Tiles and called Henley
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.
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?
Book em danno
So blog lovers, its time for a recap. We are now three Christmases into our French Home project and each year the tree gets bigger. This year we have plans for a Poseidon Adventure style tree that we’ll tip upside down at midnight and climb up the middle like Shelley Winters and Gene Hackman (younger blog readers – ask your parents!)
But what’s really going on with the house? How do we feel about it now? Now that the days of peeing in a bucket and not showering for days are over has it been worth it?
Truthfully the jury is still out. Sometimes when we’re in France and we’re cycling around in the sunshine it seems totally worth it. And just the idea that we actually OWN a lovely big house in France is so bonkers it makes me happy. But there are lots of days when I would like a)the money we’ve sunk into this project and b)the opportunity to visit other places. When friends regale us with tales of luxury resorts where they stick their kids in clubs where they learn to water ski or do macrame workshops I wonder if that’s what I should be doing. And it also means that I never truly relax. Like never. I work five days a week, I do housework at home in England in a house we’re renovating and as I live with three men/boys it is never clean. I barely keep on top of the kids increasingly busy lives and then when I go on holiday I’m cooking and cleaning there. We have no nannies to help with childcare (Peter and I do it all ourselves around our jobs), I have no parents nearby to babysit or do emergency pick ups and then I go on holiday where aside from the Landauers coming in to clean (and its about time to note that this is the beginning of our eventual breakdown in relations with the Landauers… more on this in a further blog) I’m then running a household of guests and families in France. In short – I’m exhausted. Brutally. Every fibre of my being is spent and emotionally it has started to take a toll.
But is this the fault of the house in France? Would a two week sunshine break alleviate all the above? If we lived in a wipe clean tiny new house in London would I still find week old pants under a bed and have to pick them up and move them to an overbulging wash basket? And if we had a nanny to give my children nutritious meals that involved some sort of green vegetable would Sebastian still refer to everyone he meets as ‘poo poo head’?
Can I really ‘blame’ my french house for all of the above? Who knows? So perhaps this is a good opportunity to really focus on the stuff that is great about having a house in France – especially as it is now fully habitable and we have in a sense realised ‘our dream’. The sense of achievement in that is second to none. Just the idea that you could go from this
Is such a major achievement I am metaphorically patting myself and Peter on the back on a daily basis. And I think, importantly as you grow older and your marriage becomes more mundane (sorry Pete but you know, I mean this with affection!) you need something that binds the two of you. For some that’s playing tennis together, for us, it’s talking about our French house. Planning our next bit of the project, sitting opposite each other at the dining table on our respective lap tops, me googling designer furniture sites, him sourcing broken tractor parts on eBay! And I am convinced that this sense of joint achievement and the fact that when we are in France we are able to experience a sense of actually living in a foreign country as opposed to ‘just visiting’ is a truly worthwhile experience. Sitting in our kitchen playing scrabble as a massive fire burns is a very gratifying feeling.
You just don’t get that if you’ve just done two weeks in Santorini do you?