Fool for France


This is what I bought. Pick a pet peeve, any pet peeve. Dated curtains, absolutely needed because of the single-pane windows which leaked. Surface-mount wiring. Wallpaper, could be worse but not to my taste. And is that dirty fitted carpet on the floor? Eew. But the room also had those huge windows and pretty molding. Proportions are difficult to photograph but this room, like every room in this house, is beautifully proportioned.


So here the room is now, magically transformed into a very classy storage unit — right inside the door, too! We didn’t have to remove a fireplace as there never was one. We did remove the whole floor, not just the carpet. Somewhere in the archives is a photo of this room with caution tape over the door because stepping inside would have taken you directly to the cave. Beneath the carpet was rotted wood, so off that went, to be replaced by beams, concrete, heating tubes and a stone finish floor. The painting, a view from her house in the Drôme Provençal, is by my friend Sharon Romero. I may have the biggest collection of her paintings in the world, except maybe her mom’s house.


The curtains are gone, sorry. We insulated the walls, which allowed us to bury a whole lot of plumbing and wiring. Thanks to this space-age super-thin insulation that I have so often raved about, we saved the original molding and the rosette, seen below. I love a good rosette.

15 Replies to “Living Room/Salon”

    1. For me they are right at the edge. I like the color and the general vibe. They were in good shape — I think they may never have opened those shutters. For all I know, one of my workers took them for his own use and it would be easy to see why. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I don’t yet know what I want, but not those.

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  1. MMMmmmm, can one live with surface wiring/plumbing pipes.?? I promise you, that one is as contentious as the open shelves debate.
    Some think it’s quintessentially French & quirky. I’ll be honest, we are losing most of ours .

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    1. All that stuff, exposed, it just sucks. If you wouldn’t want it in the house wherever you came from, why would you want it here? And when French friends come by they never ever ask what happened to the wires. Do you see exposed wires on Maison France 5? Okay, I’ll stop.

      It’s what happens when you buy a house that was built before electricity. Sure you could rip into the walls every time you want to put in an electrical outlet but come on, get real. That’s part of the reason I was looking for a house that needed everything. I figured I’d do all the utilities once and bury the evidence in the insulated walls. If visitors think French and quirky, I want them to think of the exposed beams or oversized windows — something nice.

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  2. Your house is going to be fabulous but the wiring oh no! Curtains leave them till you know exactly what you want and don’t compromise even if you have to wait….But what a project. A am full of admiration and a tad jealous.x

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    1. Now I see your point on the curtains. At the time all I could think was no, not three meters of peach velvet. Not heavy, dated old lady stuff — have you noticed how “old lady” somehow always seems to be at least ten years older than you are now? It was a crazy time in my life, crazy enough that taking on a project like this seemed sane. I wanted a clean slate. That’s basically what it came down to. Not every decision was a good one.

      So I have no curtains. I have shutters, or will when they are refurbished. Fortunately I also have no one with a good view through the windows.

      Thank you for your encouragement. I love the house but now that I am unpacking and settling in I do find myself wondering what I was thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mother is 93 and does not consider herself old yet – a lesson to us all. And yes the parameters change as we get older and I think our generation is lucky in that way. We all make mistakes especially at home but we need to forgive ourselves sometimes and forgive fashion too. Sometimes things are right at that very moment and a month down the line are so wrong…carry on, loving the blogs

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  3. We hope we will be able to channel our wiring in – when we can actually get to that stage. But please tell me more about this super-thin insulation as our house could really benefit from it (although having a roof put on has already helped quite a lot!)

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    1. I will ask Stuart for a brand name. If you want to do a little research, you may be able to find it at one of the usual places. It has heavy foil on one side, maybe both. Between are layers that don’t look all that special but really do the job. A couple-cm thick insulation — thinner than the plasterboard that covers it — works as well as normal 6-inch thick stuff. It was designed for use on rockets, then probably dumbed down a bit for home use.

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