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Goodbye the "dernier cri" of vivid orange walls of the corridor! (was it the fashion statement of the 50s?). Farewell to the psychedelically patterned kitchen floor! Adieu to the grey paint on the antique tomettes!

For the past few weeks our house has seen an almost constant procession of "artisans", who were assessing, evaluating, and bidding on various parts of our renovation project.

Our rooms were slowly being emptied of personal possessions, as we were storing them in boxes, and putting the boxes away in the workshop and a garage.

Empty rooms! Ready for the big renovation

This phase was necessary, and since I was on pins and needles to finally have this project started, I had to remind myself how essential it is and important for the work that is being done - choosing the right "entreprise" for each part of the project, the right "artisans" with the sensitivity to work on old houses as ours.

My little dog walked behind me with a concerned look on her face - "are we moving again?" her worried brown eyes seemed to be asking, as I pack more boxes and carry them out. No, my little Mandy, but it will be a crazy time for all of us, and I am sorry about it.

I was absent on Instagram and on this blog, my mind and time were occupied with planning, responding to emails, and making decisions, decisions, and more decisions. At times I thought that my head couldn't be spinning any faster!

To decompress I was weeding the garden. I always thought that weeding is one of the best meditation practices. As a bonus you get a patch of your garden free of weeds, and a satisfaction of unloading your brain. So I was doing a lot of it. I also managed to plant some vegetables, so now we have our own zucchini, lots of basil and other herbs, and there is hope for tomatoes as well. But I digress.

The trill of our own garden grown radishes

A friend commented that my old house project seems romantic (especially because she is now watching "The Durrells in Corfu"). There is a romantic side to our life in rural France, and I do have a romantic soul. But there is also a realistic side to all of this. Everyone who lived through a project like this one knows what I am talking about.

On the eve of the start of the "travaux" all the rooms are denuded of mostly everything. We chose to stay in the house, so we live in one bedroom, and we have the use of the only bathroom in the house, right next to the kitchen. Once another bedroom is finished, as well as a bathroom, we will move. This nomadic process in our own house will continue for a few months. But after that there is a promise of comfort.

It is not my "first rodeo" of renovations, but I want it to be the last. After that I want to live in peace and quiet, grow my garden, "surround myself in beauty" paraphrasing Elsie de Wolfe.

Antique tomette floors will be repaired

So what is this about bringing the old back, and taking out the new? Exactly what I said in the first paragraph. I want to bring back the old charm of this place, give it a chance to shine anew. Retain the patina, scrape away the unnecessary embellishments.

We are reusing what we can, and what makes sense. We are repurposing all the old doors throughout the house, and while virtually all the walls need to be repainted, some older elements will remain untouched. The oakwood stairs will not be redone, we want to see all the traces of the past. It goes without saying that the old beams will remain uncovered, and the original tomettes on many floors will stay - in a couple of cases it is necessary to have the paint removed, and reset the wobbly tiles.

We will uncover the beautiful stonework, and keep the old sinks and washbasins even if they have stains. So lucky that the old door to a bedroom can become a door to a closet, as it has the original handmade glass with the gorgeous unevenness you don't see anymore. So lovely that we are able to keep all the porcelain and mahogany door knobs from the end of 19th century.

Real stone, fake stone...

The amazing oak doors in the salon and salle a manger will be sanded and reinstalled, while the doors to a very tall cabinet will be come the kitchen doors.

The contemporary textured wallpaper painted beige, beige, and more beige, with some aggressive turquoise will be stripped and calmer colors will be applied. The new materials will be more in tune with the age and style of the house.

In my imagination I am hoping for uncovering some marvelous architectural details in this house, but I don't kid myself - if we find something amazing below the layers of plasterboard, it will be a cause for celebration. I know people find old tiles, old floor, beneath layers of modernity. If it happens I will dance!

In the meantime on this last day of relative calm before the crew starts ripping down the layers of plasterboard and taking our rubble, I am sitting quietly and writing this blog post, but when you read it it we will be a few days into the project, running a bit frantic, or not, maybe waiting things out patiently.

To be continued...

xoxo Joanna

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