Monday, 31 October 2016

Renovation Project - Antique french dresser (it's heavier than you think!)

Renovation Project - Antique french dresser (it's heavier than you think!)

We were still not happy with the ceiling in this room, but when we went shopping yesterday (I know we did a big shop for everything we needed the other day, but we had forgotten some things so had to go again) we saw some wall paper on special offer, this is a fibre glass wall paper, specifically for old walls. We bought a roll and fitted it last night.
I have never liked wallpapered ceilings but it has made such a difference and it will help with insulation
We had bought a large wooden unit months ago that did not fit in the living room, (or anywhere else, a big tip here is to actually measure your rooms and walls before buying big items of furniture!) so we are going to put it in the dining room. The unit is currently in the garage, the unit that took 3 delivery men to put in the garage, the unit that John expects us to carry into the dining room!
We remove the top, and then John utters his immortal words, you’ll be fine, stop being a wuss!
We manage to carry it across the garden and into the dining room, well sort of carry it; it was more a case of lift and shuffle a few steps, put it down and lift again. My arms are dying, it is so heavy. Once in, it looks enormous. And because of the boxing in, it cannot be pushed against the wall.
We look at it in different ways, but it will not fit anywhere else. John makes the decision to cut one of the back legs off and reposition it, this way it will be over the boxing in and right up to the wall. It also gets a coating of wood worm treatment just to be on the safe side.
The dining table is added and we now have a new room, the only thing missing is the lights, we had bought some wall lights, but as we are not using the old wall lights in the bedroom, we look at these and they fit perfectly with this room. (the ones on the right on top of the dresser)
There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel now, which is good as we leave for Portugal in a couple of days!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Renovation project - How to make a cottage kitchen

Renovation project - How to make a cottage kitchen 
The bad day is over and done with, it is a new morning and the sun is shining. It’s time to start a fresh.
The next job now that the floors are all laid is to make a little kitchen corner for the little house. John will be making this from scratch.
He got the waste and taps fitted yesterday so everything is ready.
The plug sockets are installed, and the wood laid out for the cupboards. He is going to make one large cupboard; we have the size ready, which is actually the piece of left over work top. This is perfect as it goes from the corner in the room and finishes with just enough space to fit the fridge, we could not have got a more perfect size had we measured it.
The cupboard is put together and slotted in place, the work top is added and John cuts out the hole for the sink.
Renovation project - How to make an easy and inexpensive corner kitchen

Renovation project - How to make an easy and inexpensive corner kitchen
Luckily this all goes smoothly. The doors are made from floorboards, but there are an odd number, this means 2 doors will be 4 boards wide and one door will be 3 boards wide. We try to decide the best way of using them, but each way looks a bit odd.
Renovation project - How to make an easy and inexpensive corner kitchen

Renovation project - How to make an easy and inexpensive corner kitchen
I leave John to it and continue with cleaning the new tile floor.

When I go in with a brew, he has it sussed. There will only be 2 doors. A board has been added to each side and one will be attached in the middle. This looks perfect and with our antique looking door handles the little kitchen is complete.
Renovation project - How to make an easy and inexpensive corner kitchen

Renovation project - How to make an easy and inexpensive corner kitchen

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Renovation project - A bad day in France (I've had enough)

Renovation project - A bad day in France (I've had enough)
picture courtesy of
This morning it is time to paint the new dining room, this is a job I will be doing as John continues on the little house.
The walls are not good in this room and the ceiling is worse, John has worked on them, but they are a bit patchy, I scrap off the old paint.
John starts me off with the knocking in (this is where you do your edges and corners), and I do the same thing, but somehow it is wrong, he shows me again and leaves me to it.
He comes back and I am not quick enough and I am using too much paint, I am getting quite pissed off now.
He shows me how to do a thin coat with the roller, this is a roller on a stick, John can roller from top to bottom in one stoke, I cannot, the stick is too big and the roller is to heavy, but I continue, yet again, I am doing it wrong.
He is in such a bad mood and the atmosphere is awful. It isn’t helping that the plumbing job he is doing keeps going wrong.
We don’t row but the sniping is terrible, I feel like crap, John doesn’t feel any better and the day continues in this vein.
At this point I start to feel quite lonely, yes I have some good friends here, but they are at work or are joint friends, so I can’t ring them and moan about John.
Sometimes there will be days like this, they are just bad days, but you are far from your family, so they seem to be far worse. The day does not improve, the work continues, but at this moment I feel that I have had enough.
I think with all the ill health and things that have gone wrong this year, we both actually need a proper break, it is only a few weeks before we go on holiday, but we had wanted to be finished before we left, that will not happen. But, so what, it will be here when we get back, the holiday is a definite priority and luckily it is all booked and paid for. Portugal here we come!
When you are doing a project like this it is not all sunshine and rose gardens, some days will be bad, some days you will both feel like crap, but you get over these days, you support each other and allow each other to have bad days, you recognise them for what they are, bad days, nothing more nothing less.

A night with a bottle of wine and a good film and roaring fire, apologies all round and it is time to go to bed and get up for a new day, which will hopefully be back to normal. If you expect these days once in a while, your life will be much easier.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Renovation project - How to build a utility room

Renovation project - How to build a utility room
We have done another big shop and hopefully have all the supplies we need to finish; we have the wooden batons to make the utility room, which goes up in no time, we had already bought the door.
The studding goes up (wooden frame), we had worried if this would take too much from the room, but it is surprising how big this room actually is.
Renovation project - How to build a utility room

Renovation project - How to build a utility room
The utility will be such a bonus as this will hide the electric meters, the hot water tank and the washing machine, there will also be enough room for a dryer.When measuring the dimensions, be sure to allow enough room to work on all the equipment in the room, for example if you need to get too the hot water tank or fix the washer, or require workable access to the consumer unit
That night as I do my washing, I close the door behind me, why I do this I have no idea as there aren’t actually any walls there yet!
Renovation project - How to build a utility room
The plaster board goes up and the joints are filled and sanded. As the walls have not been fully skimmed with plaster, just the joints, John was not able to use the metal bead for the corners, instead he has added a wooden corner trim. (which seems to be the norm in France)
This room is finished in no time, it just needs a coat of paint

Renovation project - How to build a utility room

Friday, 21 October 2016

Renovation project - I'm not well

Renovation project - I'm not well

Picture courtesy of

I have not been on top form for a few months, not really ill, just very tired and a few little niggles and the complete inability to regulate my body temperature. I have always felt the cold, but now my favourite place in the house is usually in the freezer. You will often find me with my head in there and John holding bags of frozen veg on my back trying to cool me down.
I have been on Google and so far have self diagnosed, a brain tumour, cancer, diabetes and some very exotic diseases, so I decide to see the doctor, just for a check up.
I spend about 40 minutes with the GP, it is very hard to describe what is actually wrong as I am not quite sure, but he gives me a prescription for what I assume is every blood test going, the nurse arrives at the house to take the blood and the results will be with me in a couple of days.
They arrive on Friday so I make an appointment to see the GP on Monday.
When I go into see him, he asks why I am there as he telephoned and left a message on Friday to let me know that all of my results were clear, because he didn’t want me to worry over the weekend. Can you imagine a doctor doing this anywhere else?
But now we don’t know why I feel the way I do, maybe it is because I have lost weight, or maybe it might be the menopause (I have the symptoms, and this would explain my new found love affair with the freezer).
He suggests I see a gynaecologist.
I e-mail the gynaecologist consultant for an appointment. Yes I e-mail the consultant directly! And what is more amazing is she replies with an appointment.
I still can’t believe how good the health service is here in France.
I sit and chat with her for some time and she gives a thorough examination, it appears that I am definitely hitting the menopause, oh what joy, but at least now I know why I am suddenly so hot all night and getting even less sleep than I used to,
But at least I don’t have all the killer diseases that Google diagnosed, always a silver lining!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Renovation project - A bedroom transformation

Renovation project - A bedroom transformation
As John continues with the electrics and plumbing in the little house, I make a start on the new floor, this consists of me, once again on my hands and knees scrubbing a wooden floor with wire wool, this seems to be the story of my life during our projects.

But the floor is ready and a coat of stain and varnish added. It will require one more coat, and after that wow, what a result.

The new bed is made and put in the room, This is exactly what it needs
The bedroom is finished and we are so happy with it.
Here are some before and after photos, the photos are in almost the exact same places, this is when even we see how far we have come

Monday, 17 October 2016

Renovation project - Recycled window frames

Renovation project - Recycled window frames

We were not quite sure what to do with the windows in the little house John has always liked the old windows, but I prefer the idea of new velux with blinds.
The dilemma is that there is actually nothing wrong with the windows, and to install velux, will involve applying for planning permission and a further cost that we do not need.
John spends some time thinking about them and then comes up with an idea; he can box in the surrounds and make shutters.
He uses some of the old wooden slats (we are so glad we kept these, as we have used them for all sorts) never throw away anything until you have completely finished your project, it is amazing what can be recycled.
And of course recycling what you already have can save you so much money, to replace with velux would’ve cost approx 500 Euros and the final result would not have looked any better
He boxes in the window edges and they look pretty good, we don’t need the shutters until we are ready to use the room.
The little house is one step closer.
Renovation project - Recycled window frames
this is what it looked like before and here is the after photo
Renovation project - Recycled window frames

Renovation project - Recycled window frames

Renovation project - Recycled window frames

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Renovation project - Why you shouldn't walk under ladders!

Renovation project - Why you shouldn't walk under ladders!
Now John is feeling better it is full steam ahead, we are going on holiday in a few weeks and want to be as finished as possible before we leave.
So we are going to paint the bedroom in the little house, this is a job that is made difficult by the beams, we love the vaulted ceiling and the beams that are on show, but it does make decorating far more difficult. John has stained all the beams and we have to paint very carefully around them.
I am cutting in around the edges and John is doing the ceiling, now here is a big tip for anybody sharing the decorating, DO NOT cut in underneath where the other person is painting, you know that old superstition about walking under a ladder? Well I now know why it is considered unlucky, it is nothing to do with luck, it is because, the other person may suddenly become clumsy and knock the paint pot off the top off the ladder, if you are underneath, as I was, the paint pot will land on you!
The shock of having a big tub of paint suddenly land on you is, quite simply shocking, John just looked and said he could see it in slow motion but couldn’t stop it, (hmmm....)
My painting is cut short as I strip off the now white clothes and go for a shower.

Not quite what I expected, but after the initial shock, and shocking language, it was quite funny. And the room does look good.
Renovation project - painting a vaulted ceiling