When I first set eyes on the run down, neglected and frankly horrible house I now call home, I never ever imagined that so many years later, I would still be working on it!
It was a chilly day in February, sleet fell making everything look rather drab and bedraggled, a bit like how I felt as I traipsed round a small town in France looking for a hot meal when everything seemed to be closed against the weather.
I’d ended up looking at a few houses just for something to do before going back to London after a day trip to buy wine in Calais. And in a bizarre twist of fate, I’d fallen head over heels for one of them and bought it! It was very cheap, needed heaps of work “a money pit” my dad said. But, there was something about it that pulled at my heart strings.
14 years later it’s pulled at my purse strings too I can tell you. But, it looks nothing like it did (at least not on the inside). It’s been worth the hard slog. And its been a rollercoaster ride of an adventure, one that I wrote about in my book My Good Life in France: In pursuit of the Rural Dream. So many people who read the book said that they’d like to see photos. So for you, here are some before and after photos of my little French farmhouse.
The house the house as it is now, not quite finished (top photo), we’re working on shutters and making it look pretty! This is the house as it was, the day I bought it:
The sitting room before. It was a dingy room, the orange wood panelled walls sucked any light out of the room, it was freezing cold and not at all pleasant:
and the sitting room after, full of my bits and pieces, I’m definitely not a minimalist style person:
The Kitchen the day I first saw it. That’s my dad announcing that the walls were damp, the wood had wood worm, dry rot and damp rot! “This house is not fit to live in” he said.
and after, as you can see, we added a small extension where the window was:
The dining room before (and yes I’m wondering what I saw in this place too). I remember when we entered the house and came into this room, my feet squelched on the floor because it was damp. The walls were a horrible mix of concrete block and chalk blocks but I thought the beams were lovely!
and after, it’s now the first room you enter when you come into the house. This is where neighbours come in for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. On cold days we light the wood fire and chill!
We did all the building work ourselves. We did courses and YouTube tutorials and much was by trial and error. We salvaged wood and made cupboards from scratch. We toiled on the house day and often night. Someone asked me if I’d do it again. I’d have to think about it a bit. It’s been mostly fun and awful at times. Things have gone wrong, still do go wrong. We’ve had burst pipes and broken fingers, we’ve argued over the decor, we’ve worked in the freezing cold when our fingers turned blue but we had to get things done. We’ve laughed a lot, we’ve learned a lot and we’re still learning (and laughing). And yes, I’d do it all again at the drop of a hat!
If you want to know more, you can get my book My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream on Amazon UK, Amazon US in fact Amazon everywhere, it’s also in good book shops and online outlets such as Barnes and Noble it’s also an audio book and in big print!