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My French Life: The end is in sight…

Not of the world I hasten to add, at least I hope not. No I mean our French farm house being renovated!

We have been renovating for several years and we are, I think, about 70% done on the interior so have been really pushing hard to get jobs completed before we start the last bit, the kitchen. The whole house is a mess as we move furniture around, paint, make curtains and complete the finishing touches to several rooms… but it’s nearly there.

We’ve done everything ourselves. Installed 37 new windows and 9 new exterior doors. Five buildings had to have completely new roofs. 12 rooms had bare earth floors and had to have concrete laid which we mixed and poured ourselves. Every single room has had to have inner walls built to improve the structure and make it safe (that’s 21 rooms). Countless beams have been cleaned and varnished and we installed two bathrooms and four sinks. It doesn’t sound that much when I say it but honestly, when I think back over the years just how much we’ve done I can hardly believe we’ve got here at all.

We only had a small budget and we have done absolutely everything ourselves. We learned everything from books or short trade courses, from putting in a wood fire and installing electricity to taking a beam out that was holding up the roof. I have to tell you I held my breath as the Other Half sawed the beam in half and we both prayed that the acro props would hold good. I’ve stood on top of the building holding up a gable end of the new roof, heart palpitating as I willed myself to be strong enough to take the weight of something twice as heavy as me.

We’ve recycled, re-used, scoured the internet for bargains, stored material years ahead of when we needed it if we got the right price and we have made almost all of the furniture ourselves. Cupboards, desks, bookshelves, wardrobes etc. Luckily the Other Half is a qualified carpenter and he loves to make stuff so I go through my interior design magazines and books and pick something I like and then he makes it.

It’s been an incredible journey of self-discovery for both of us. Renovating in France has been a challenge. He has learned all sorts of skills and has created a beautiful home that should stand for another few hundred years. I have discovered that I can be ordered about a lot! I’ve learned to use a chop saw and a jig saw. I know how to tile a bathroom. I can lay an oak floor and point walls with the best of them. I’ve discovered a love of the outdoors and a physical lifestyle which I never knew having always worked in an office.

This week we’ve suddenly realised – there are only two more rooms to do. The kitchen and the new extension we built on the back of the kitchen. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be finally finished in the house.

It doesn’t mean we’re finished completely.We have a few more outbuildings to work on, one needs a new roof, two need floors and they all need to be spruced up but not a lot. We want to build a garage and the garden which is huge needs heaps of work. The entire house needs rendering and at over 100 feet long that’s a big job. Shutters need to be made for all those windows we installed. We want to create a Roman-style courtyard and I want a greenhouse  and a summer house. These things will still be some years away but I feel like they’re in sight. And its a good feeling…

A bientôt
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