Appartement de Roses et de Vignes
Renovation of the Apartment
I thought some people might find it interesting to see what kind of work had to be done to the property to make it into a gite. My husband was diagnosed with a chronic illness at this time and was, periodically, extremely ill and hospitalised. There were two years when we did no work at all and other times when we worked, in his words, glacially slowly. We enjoy the work though, it is challenging and creative, and we worked when we could.
We commenced work in what is to be the bedroom. At 20 square metres this is a huge room and we are going to furnish it accordingly, using the wonderful, but large, antique furniture that comes from chateaux. It will be quite some time before we are hanging curtains though.
My first job was to scrape all the crepi off the walls. Crepi, in case you have never encountered it, is lethal and, at one time, it was a la mode to crepi all walls in old houses. We used to put it on ceilings in the 1950s and called it Artex. First the walls were plastered properly and then crepi was added, another sort of plaster, but the finish was made to ensure it stood out in little spikes all over the wall. Very unfriendly. We found that, with a wallpaper steam stripper, I could loosen the crepi and then scrape it off - extremely labour intensive but the walls underneath were very good so will require only a skim coat of plaster.
Whilst I battled with the crepi my husband re-wired - he also put in plumbing as we are going to add a sink to the bedroom. This will be mounted on a marble topped wash hand basin. I was pulled from the crepi job to make a hole for the sink waste pipe through the wall of what will be the lounge to what will be the kitchen - the wall was two feet deep - it took days
The old fireplace has horrible brown stains so we are going to have to cover this with bricks and plaster as otherwise the stains would come back through just plaster.
The rooms have huge beams, but they are plastered over - we have had a look at one and it is perfect, so they will be revealed and stained.
We have started collecting furniture and fabrics of the era:
A beautiful, antique armoire & chaise longue for the bedroom, some antique curtains with a very elegant design - these are for the lounge
The bedroom fireplace wall has now had blocks added and, as you can, see, some excellent plastering is under way.
The plastering continues, interspersed with days of wiring and plumbing, all essential but they don't show up much in photos. The three beams in the bedroom have been revealed, now they need a light sand and then a stain.
On the wall to the left of the window you can see a hole, this is for the air conditioning pipe - it took quite a while to get through that wall, it's half a metre thick and made of ordinary stone and river stones, the latter are extremely hard.
In the bedroom, the plastering of the walls is finished and the ceilings have been insulated and plaster boarded between the beams, next they will be skimmed.
The plumbing has been completed and we are ready to fit the sink which will stand on an antique wash hand stand - have to buy the sink first though!
The beams need a light sanding before I finish them by coating with a mixture of Linseed Oil and White Spirit, this sinks into the old wood and gives it a good sheen and protection whilst also keeping the original colour. The air conditioner has been bought and we are just waiting for the professional to fit it. The double glazed windows have been picked up from Leroy Merlin in Perpignan and are ready to be fitted.
In what will be the lounge, there was a very low doorway to the kitchen/dining room this has now been made higher and the beam taken out and will be replaced by a concrete lintel. I have plans for the beam!
Today I bought a gorgeous antique walnut wood bed - this will have pride of place in the bedroom together with a ciel de lit - this is a French wall hanging that gives an effect that is even more elegant than a four poster.
I have stripped the ancient doors with a hot air stripper, work I don't recommend in this climate, the doors will then be stained and varnished. Here is shown one in the process of being stripped and 'one I did earlier'.
The clim (aircon) has now been installed so we can work in the cool - bliss.