Friday, 30 November 2012

Ma Petite Maison

Those of you who know me will know that last year, emboldened by my achievement of transforming the allotment, and seeking a new challenge, I (somewhat naively I must confess) embarked on a new project. I made mention of this project that was eroding my time in some of my previous posts. This is the Restoration / Renovation project of La Petite Maison!

From last summer the majority of my time has been spent at La Petite Maison, stripping walls; knocking down walls; putting up new walls; insulating; painting windows - in fact just about anything that is required in renovating an old house. The most difficult task however must be that of keeping the peace between those much appreciated of all - the men-folk involved in the project, ensuring that all the male egos remain intact. It is also a case of convincing them that "Yes of course they are right" whilst engineering the situation so that what I know to be right is actually what happens. In other words it is necessary to persuade them that what I want done is actually their idea. Admittedly at times this role of peace-keeper has contributed a great deal to the stresses of the project.

Anyway let me introduce you to La Petite Maison. Now please don't be expecting a quaint gate lodge or rambling old country cottage. (If only!)

La Petite Maison is a 1950s bungalow, which upon first inspection needed merely updating and a small single storey extension added to bring it bang up-to-date. Oh Boy! Was I wrong! Maybe it was that my plans were ambitious considering that we planned to do everything ourselves with the help of a few friends and relatives who were tradesmen, or maybe it was that I was just labouring under a misapprehension.

Sorry, I am digressing again - back to La Petite Maison. So we have a 1950s bungalow with three bedrooms, one the size of a broom cupboard, a not very large kitchen, a miniscule bathroom and a reasonably sized reception room. A rather unattractive detached garage and fairly decent sized secluded gardens with high hedges and mature trees accompanied the bungalow.

However upon viewing the property I saw beyond the out-dated decor and as the evening sun shone brightly through the front door and windows, lighting up the hall and front rooms I detected a charming feel to the house. Just as when I first viewed the allotment, in my mind's eye I could visualise how this little house could be transformed. A cross between a French and an English country cottage perhaps?

The realisation of what I was taking on hit me as I handed over the deposit and I wondered if the congratulatory tone of the Estate Agent when I collected the keys was not down to me securing the sale, but was in actual fact sheer relief that the property had sold and was no longer on their books. As I walked out of the Estate Agents clutching the keys with their plastic green key tag, the deed was done and there was no way back - there was nothing else for it, but to launch ourselves wholeheartedly into getting the project started. 

The grand plan was as follows;
  1. Change the front bedroom into the lounge and the existing lounge into the master bedroom.
  2. The connecting door between the existing lounge and the kitchen was to be boarded up and the wall between the broom cupboard sized bedroom and the existing kitchen knocked down. This new room would become a second bedroom with an en-suite.
  3. A new kitchen and lounge/dining room would built in an extension onto the existing room that was the back bedroom.
  4. The wall between the existing bathroom and broom cupbard bedroom would be knocked down and moved over thus creating a better sized bathroom.
  5. The roof space would be converted to become my Creative Space, with one end studded off to create a little room which would house the boiler, fuse box and act as a walk in wardrobe.
  6. Outside the ugly garage will eventually disappear and although there is the potential to build a better one, I intend to put up a summer house / workshop instead - all very vintagely styled of course, surrounded by Hollyhocks, herbs, sweet scented Roses, Jasmine and Honeysuckle.
So that was where it all started and was the beginning of what is turning out to be a protracted and far from straight forward project. I can't offer you the before and after photos, as firstly we are not yet at the stage, and secondly I am still having problems with my blog space allocation, but I would love it if you will join me on the journey and as the work progresses I shall keep you updated on developments.

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