Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We did it!

It felt something like a dream walking into our house with our bags and baby, knowing that we were coming home for the first time. But after that, it was surprisingly normal. It was our house - the house we fell in love with almost 4 years ago; the house of which we know every square inch. No ghosts popped out at us. No fretful memories of the years of grime disturbed us. Everything seemed the same as it had always been, except much, much better. And that's when I realized that we had done it. Even though we restored the house from top to bottom, we managed to keep house's original character perfectly intact, while eliminating the creepiness.

This was a major goal of ours from the very beginning. During our house-search, we saw many beautiful old places with horrible modern "improvements." Plastic window frames, glass-enclosed terraces, exposed stone where there should have been paint, eye-watering paint jobs where there should have been stone. We decided that we wanted a house that would look almost exactly as it might have in whatever era it was built. Of course, we modernized it with things like double-glazed windows and insulation, but we tried hard to impress upon the workers that we did not want anything that would change the house's inherent character. (And believe me, it was a struggle. You wouldn't believe some of the things that they wanted to do in the name of modernity and convenience.)

So, walking into the house, it felt great to realize that even with all its shiny new doors, windows and walls, it still was a Really Old House.

That said, it was also a Really Dusty House. We hadn't been in the door five minutes before Lil'Dawg was covered from head to toe in dust. Seriously. Just like we'd rolled him in it. I didn't even bother to take off my coat (though I could have! The house was warm!) before picked up a broom and got to work. All that day, we swept, mopped and scrubbed, but when we left the house the next day it was still dusty. I guess it will take a couple of months of repeated scrubbings for the house to realize that it is, finally, clean.

When we weren't cleaning, we were shopping. We didn't have any chairs and after a full day of cleaning, the idea of flopping on the hard floor didn't seem appealing. So we went to a store to find a table and chair set. We were envisioning buying a lovely wrought-iron set; one we could put in the garden when the weather turned nice, and upon which a simple white table cloth and wine glasses would look appropriate. What we ended up with was a ungodly plastic set in dark green. We threw a colorful tablecloth over it, but it didn't help much. The contrast between our beautiful handmade wood floors and the unnaturally-colored, mass-produced, green plastic chairs was just too striking. They will have a short tenure.

That night, we dined on the same meal we have eaten in our little village for the past 3+years: avocado, tomato and Boursin cheese on baguettes. (If you've never had Boursin cheese, you must, as it is more addictive than crack. It is ridiculous that with all the wonderful cheeses that exist in France we always turn to Boursin in times of need, but we do. I don't know what they put in it...it's possible it's not even cheese. But man, it's tasty!) We had wanted to have something more memorable, seeing as it was the first time we'd eaten inside the house, but in the end it was appropriate: our fabulous Lacanche stove will arrive in early December so we won't be needing to eat cold sandwiches any more. Bring on the boeuf bourguignon!

Sleeping there that night was... interesting. We were on an air mattress that was not too comfortable and reeked of plastic. But the thing that took us most aback about sleeping there was the noise. Not from passing motorcycles or drunken revelers, which we're accustomed to from living in Paris, but from the village church . Church bells! Church bells! Every hour on the hour! We go from dead silence...silence so heavy it weighs on your ears...to bong! bong! bong! bong!

Now, I specifically recall asking someone about this before we bought the house. Maybe it was the agent. Maybe it was our neighbor, Red. And we were told that the bonging stops around 10pm, starting again around 7 am. But no, it does not! Why doesn't anyone stop this?? I can understand how one might need the clock to ring in times gone past, before clocks stopped being luxury items, but come on! Even the oldest, gnarliest farmer must have a ditigal clock now! That the bell keeps ringing, even though there's no need for it, seems very French to me. The bell rings all night because it has always rang all night, and even if no one likes it, no one can - or should - stop it either. Dawg now wants to be a member of our village's council to campaign against the all-night ringing of the bell.

To be honest, though, the bell didn't wake Lil'Dawg, and the only reason I noticed it was because: 1) I was tossing and turning on the uncomfortable air mattress and so was awake anyway, and 2) I was annoyed that we had been Lied To!

Okay - enough chitchat. I know you want to see pix. But first, I want to shout out to architects #1 and #2 , who are getting married this Friday. Herzlichen Gluckwunsch zur Hochzeit, my dear friends! And thank you for helping to make our house such a pleasurable place to be!

And on to the pictures.... (These are just a taste; I'm putting together a full set on shutterfly).

Living Room





Library










Kitchen








Guest Room






Guest bathroom





Lil'Dawg's room






Master Bathroom







Master Bedroom











Ready to go home....



Outdoor Shots:

Our beautiful View




The Yard


Our Wonderful, Really Old House

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! It's beautiful!
May your patience and perserverence be rewarded with many wonderful memories that your new really old house holds in the months and years ahead. lil dawg looks like he's in charge already!

many blessings
sbz

Jane Plane said...

Oh, what a wonder! It really does look beautiful - and it's amazing that you saw this finished product in your mind's eye so many years ago.

Lil Dawg crashed out on the floor is hilarious, too.

Laura Resurrectors said...

If you're ever visiting the heartland of the U.S. and want to trade houses for awhile, please let us know.

Anonymous said...

Place looks fab! Can't wait until you are ready for guests!! (Hint, hint.)

Best of luck,

Charlie (Viva Brooklyn!)