UNDER CONSTRUCTION

We’re moving!

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We’ve done tons of new renovation work and now the (web)site is under construction too. See you soon!

BONNE SURPRISE, MAUVAISE SURPRISE

Discovering our pinewood floors.

pine floors

When we first purchased Our Tour, every inch of the floor was covered with a yucky grey linoleum. At the time we were able to lift it back just enough to see what was underneath: pinewood floors. However, it wasn’t until now that we knew the exact condition of the floors as we kept the linoleum in place during the whole year-long phase of demolition work. It was glued down pretty tight and was doing such a good job protecting the floors underneath.

Now that the entire demolition and drywall stages are done, we finally tore back that yucky grey linoleum and surprise! While some of the floors are in great condition, others not so much.

The good:

The floors in the living room and master bedroom are very nice. Also, the hearth has some nice vintage tile and wood detail in front of the fireplace. The wood stove will be placed here soon!

The great:

The wood in the upstairs hall is in excellent condition. And the floor in our daughter’s room is a most beautiful chevron-esque pattern that comes to an X in the middle of the room. Here it is after sanding:

pine chevron floor

We are doing a big no-no when it comes to sanding the floors. Normally the floors should be treated and finished right after sanding, but since we are doing so many things at once we have several major constraints: 1. We recieved some excellent advice that we should sand the floors before painting the drywall and now we understand why. It IS a big dusty mess! 2. We still have the space between the ceiling joists on the main living floors to fill in with plaster “Map”. Sanding afterwards would have caused that new ceiling work to shake quite a bit.  And since that job will be a mess and we still have the ceiling beams to treat, we wanted to sand first but finish later. Maybe we’re not doing everything in the correct order, but at least it feels like it’s coming together.

sanding pine floor

To sand the floors we rented a ponceuse à parquet and then a smaller bordureuse for the edges and corners. My husband said that the bordureuse was actually much more strenuous to use than the larger ponceuse.

We didn’t do much prep work and just kinda went for it (us bad). There are a couple of skid marks but nothing major we can’t fix as we still need to sand quite a bit by hand to get into the dipped spaces the machine couldn’t get to without sanding too much off.

And now the bad. This. The floor in the kitchen area is completely unsalvageable. Not even worth trying. So we’re going to install a new floor here using pinewood planks. Oh well, can’t win them all.

sanding wood floor

A very comprehensive link:

A DRY POST

Exciting stuff.

drywall between beams

Ah drywall, what could be more exciting? Well, everything…

We are however very pleased with our decision to drywall the bedrooms’ walls. We’ve more or less created an insulative seal on the entire floor leaving only one space (where the staircase will go) as an accent wall in exposed stone. Even without any operating heat, this whole story (2 bedrooms/1 bath) is quite warm. It has also helped cut off the street noise (not that there was a lot to begin with anyway!).

Aesthetically the beams look quite nice with the drywall between them. The only drawback has been that we’ve lost some surface space as the insulation + drywall takes about 12 centimeters in from the original stone wall. Otherwise we’re happy with the outcome and will definitely be thankful during the long cold Norman winters.

Now that the drywall is complete, it’s time to sand! I’ve been on this tâche ingrate for the last week. The ceiling is the worst! I don’t have much to say about it except that I’ve been using 240 grit sandpaper which is maybe even too fine (I read 150 is OK). Here I am sitting on the job while looking oh so stylish in my vintage Gaz de France t-shirt (there’s a joke in there somewhere).

sanding by hand

Helpful links:
Related posts about walls and stuff:

exposed stone EXPOSED STONE WALLS

wood WOOD ON WALLS

Republic of Fritz Hansen MOULDED WOOD WALLS

WORKING RETHINKING PLASTER

floor plan DIY FLOOR PLANS

cuisine-aurelie-mathigot EXPOSED BEAMS AND JOISTS

ceiling EXPOSED JOISTS, OR JUST THE BEAMS?

THE ROAD WE’RE ON

 Reflecting on almost 2 years of renovation work.

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“Our Tour” doesn’t just represent a change of address, it represents a whole changement de vie.

The adventure started 3 years ago when we toyed with the idea of buying a small second residence in Normandy. My husband is from the region and we wanted to be closer to family and near the sea. But the more time we spent in Normandy, the more we realized that we didn’t want a second residence. We wanted a new home and the new life that came with it.

We visited some beautiful properties, though most were either too expensive or too much work. In the beginning we were looking for something easier, which is ironic considering the huge project we later embarked on.

Then there was the one that got away. A nice little home with not a lot of interior work and an already amazing garden. We tried to close that deal for a whole summer before having it slip through or fingers for reasons we didn’t understand. C’est la vie. It wasn’t meant to be.

6 months later we found “our Tour”. The price was more than right and in our enthusiasm for the potential we saw all around, we decided to make it the project of a lifetime. My husband often tells me “we’re never doing this again”. And that’s OK, because at least we got to do it once.

Left: Living room after full demolition and repointing | Right: The tower stairwell

And so we started working. But before things got better, they got worse. A lot worse. If you’ve ever done demolition work you know what I mean. It seemed like we were just destroying stuff for over a year and that the livability of the house kept getting further and further away.

So much left to do. Everything left to do. Still no plumbing, no heat… This year we’ll tackle it all. At the same time we’ll try to unlock some of the mysteries of our Tour: Who were the original inhabitants and how did they relate to the history of Bayeux?

 
Left: Cathedral de Notre Dame, Bayeux | Right: Inscriptions found in our stairwell

We did, however, manage to make it the bare slate we wanted and needed it to be in order to uncover any trouble spots hidden by more recent renovation work. We wanted the house to breathe, to insure its basic structure, and to give it a new life starting from its “bones”. Once those bones were exposed we were able to solidify them and a second stage of really making it a livable home is now in full swing.

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So, this is the road we’re on and there’s no turning back. It’s not easy, but there’s no where else I want to be.

MOVING ALONG

New windows, insulation and plumbing in our very old stone home.

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We’ve taken a giant leap forward in the quest of making our 17th century house a 21st century home!

Because the last thing we want is to freeze our bums off at bedtime, we’ve opted to install modern insulation just on the floor that houses the bedrooms. On the walls we’ve installed a laine de verre (fiberglass) insulation which is pretty commonly used in renovation work here in Normandy. The stone walls can still breath with this kind of insulation and is pretty mold resistant. On the ceilings it’s a laine de roche (stone wool) which is a more ecologically correct insulation. It’s much thicker, fire resistant, and does a great job soundproofing and keeping in the heat. It’s also a lot more expensive.

The new windows have also been installed. In the beginning we wanted to get all the windows custom-made, but this proved to be out of our price range. Sometimes you just have to make choices like that. So we opted for new wood windows that aren’t perfectly shaped for the spaces (because NOTHING in this house is straight), but the artisan has been great at filling in the spaces with limestone cement.

We also chose not to get the pane dividers and opted for the one solid glass pane look. It’s amazing how much bigger the openings look now with this choice. The windows are pre-painted white, but they won’t stay like that. We’ll paint them charcoal at a later date.

And in some really super exciting news, we had some beginning plumbing work done! We’ll soon be able to retire that outhouse! The tubing goes from the bottom floor all the way up to the attic where someday we’ll put in a guest bathroom. We’ll build some sort of casing to hide it on the main floor which will remain in all apparent stone.

Interesting links:

CRACKS & ROTTEN WOOD

Trouble shooting before drywall.

While we’re leaving the main living floor in apparent stone, the floor with the bedrooms is getting modern insulation and drywall. New windows are going up soon too.

To prepare for this we’ve had to fix and solidify some things beforehand like this giant crack above. We’ve been using a sable à batir for such repairs.

While we haven’t had too many mauvaises surprises, we did discover that one of the supporting beams was rotting inside the wall. We fixed it in a similar manner that beau père had replaced an entire support beam; with a series of 2×4 wood planks and super long screws.

Related articles:

cuisine-aurelie-mathigot EXPOSED BEAMS AND JOISTS