Here are some photos of the rather drastic living room transformation after 8 months of renovation in our tiny provencal home. Tune in next week for the reveal!
The Orginal Room
The original (after we ripped a bit off the wall). That is a rather lot of wood.
Under the 2 layers of what the French call cache misère (that hideous wood panelling), there were several layers of wallpaper as well as tile! There’s a sink in the living room because this room originally served as both the living space and kitchen.
Slowly getting somewhere…
These tiles were a sod to remove (not to mention the wallpaper). Notice the blue ceiling hiding under the wood panelling. See more images from this stage: Demolition Part II.
The Stone Wall!
Here Robin started revealing the stones behind the plaster. The ladder is there because at this point it was our only access to upstairs. We had dismantled the previous staircase, located on the other side of the room (not shown), in order to patch up the ceiling.
Here, we’ve started to quickly re-point the stones in the back left corner as the blacksmith was anxious to get the stairs installed.
The Spiral Staircase
The original plan wasn’t to reveal all the stone in the room. However, we learned that the old wall rendering hiding the stones was cement based. This doesn’t allow the walls to breathe, therefore any natural moisture in the walls comes out in damp patches, thus ruining any later plaster or paint applied to the walls. This is a common problem in old houses but it can be remedied if you do things properly! We learned that the wall on the left, which we definitely didn’t plan on revealing, ended up being composed of beautiful large block stones that are used for chimneys here in France. We’re basically looking at the back of our neighbour’s chimney.
Redoing the Pointing
You may wonder why we’ve seemed to re-start the pointing process here. Robin did almost the entire back wall before a local stone mason specialising in old houses gave Robin the traditional recipe and technique for pointing. This recipe is a much different mix of lime mortar that includes small stones. It’s quite beautiful; so Robin, the perfectionist, decided to chip out all his hard work and start over! Now we know for next time. I’ll write more about this French way of doing things at a later date.
The only thing that we didn’t really foresee was replacing the floor in the living room. I was happy to live with the charming (?) slant towards the back of the house. However, Robin wanted to fix the rather large crack in the old tomette tiles running down the side of the room. On closer inspection, we found that the floor had little base and was basically lying directly on sand. As you can see above, it was the fetching ochre sand of this region. Despite the fact that the stairs were already in, Robin decided to do the floor properly. We had some help from local workmen to speed up the process.
We had taken up the red hexagonal tomette tiles that were original to the house. They couldn’t be saved and we didn’t have the funds to buy reclaimed antique tomettes. Therefore, we chose to use parefeuille tiles; these were originally used on the underside of roof tiles. They are beautiful. The slight variance in hue from tile to tile really gives the floor the antique style we were looking for.
Well, that’s all I’m going to show for now!
See the end result for this room of our renovation in Provence.
Also, check out the full before and after photos.