For most of us, when we think of the French country side – images of fields of sunflowers come to mind, thanks to Van Gogh and other painters. Or the wonderful smelling lavender, the famous export of this country- rolling hills dressed in the color that is relaxing to the eye. The simple stone houses are built to last, with large wood beams, and earth colored tile floors. Some of these homes watched King Louis lose his head in the Revolution. They witnessed the WW1 and the huge amount of lost lives. These homes watched in horror as Hitler rose to power, and crossed over into France with murder in their plans. How many glasses of wine were shared when the Allies came to free France? These homes have witnessed hundreds of years of history how wonderful, it must be to sit by the huge fireplace with loved ones at Christmas time.
Welcome to my next project – called ‘ma maison de campagne ‘ (my country house). So with all the books I purchased over the years- I felt, I had a small understanding of what the home is supposed to look like. I purchased these books over the years; it never crossed my mind – that I would need them to advise me on my own French home. All apts in Paris are small (unless you are very wealthy..of course), so we out grew our apt. We made our list of requirements; master bedroom must be on the first floor – for the every encroaching evil called age. I wanted a sit in kitchen, with a proper dining room. We needed a large room for Nic’s paintings, the smell of oils stays in the air for a few weeks when he paints …and it’s not a nice smell. This room had to be separate from the rest of the house due to smells. Also, the home had to be within 10 min to the Paris train station. And I needed some kind of yard for the dogs & me. Yes, this was a tough list because; most homes here are built on a Cape Cod floor plan, meaning the bedrooms are upstairs.
We finally found a house that offered what our list had. It is close to the train station to Paris (8 min ride). The home has a very large built in, garage/storage room that will be converted into Nic’s studio. The yard is big, in French terms), which is connected to a working farm. Looking out the windows – all I see is fields of green & yellow crops. The master bedroom is on the first floor with a door that opens onto a ground level terrace, overlooking the back garden. The old owner left her very large buffet/hutch in the dining room, which was a perfect match to Nic’s antique dining set.
It sounds perfect correct? … Well almost.. with everything – there are Pros’ & Cons’
The Kitchen Con..You can view … it’s a time capsule back to the 1960’s. With all the orange and green & brown in this house – I feel like listening to the Mama’s & the Papa’s.
There is not a room, which does not need work. It seems the owner, wanted to move to Provence, where it’s warmer. (to learn about classic French style ..I hope)
So welcome to my kitchen (la cuisine) .Here is a funny note for you Americans – French law requires the sellers (or landlords) to leave a sink and facet to call it a kitchen. They take the cabinets with them as they move! Is that funny?? So the first thing of course is to remove the wallpaper..even on the ceiling?? who was this guy?? a Michelangelo wanna be??
So lucky for me, I have made friends with the A- Team. Angela & Alan showed up to help us remove our dated wallpaper.
It was very messy of course – water everywhere, so the electric had to be turned off. Have no fear – Nic decided to sing for our radio silence..all 4 HOURS!!! The worst part..Yes it can get worse … it wasn’t even good tunes..some tune from childhood days … in French … ah !!
So we finished 5 hours later – and were happy to turn on real tunes that everyone can sing to ( Classic Beatles ), then we popped open some Champagne to toast our new home and we ate pizza for dinner ( classic combo) ..then some wine. then more wine .. only 7 more rooms to go !!
Keeping it groovy!!