Saturday, 19 April 2014

Return to the French Folly

Well first off a confession. Its been over 6 months since my last blog and during this time I have totally failed to keep my postings up to date. In my defence I have been working in the UK and only getting home every 2 weeks. With time spent with my family so precious, the blogging (but not all the renovation) has slipped.

We are currently working on the Salon and its starting to come together:

The ceiling is done; I hung a metal frame off the floor above and the plaster board is screwed to the rails. This gives a nice flat ceiling and allows you to adjust the height to your liking. The plaster board is them scribed around the beams. For information the beams have been cleaned up. Chipping off any worm eaten wood with a sharp axe then wire brushing to get all the loose material off prior to treating with wood preserver. This I may say is a really sh**ty job. If you ever think of doing this DONT; pay a man with a sand blaster and have done with is too short. When you suggest this course of action to your wife and she gets all stroppy about the cost then either hand her the axe and the wire brush or go ahead and call the sand blaster in anyway. For the love of God save yourself the pain and two whole days of your short ass life.

Walls are using 75mm metal stud partition. This means you can space the wall off the stone giving an air gap and allow for 75mm insulation meaning you avoid the hot cold interface with the plaster board. This will reduce the possibility of condensation and mold further down the line; its more expensive but then you save on heating and hopefully it should last a lot longer than just battens and plaster board.

Julia has been pointing, and is doing a cracking job.
Tomorrow I'm doing the pipework transition from the main flow and return upstairs down the walls to the two rads in the salon. After that I can finish the plaster board on the walls.

Monday, 26 August 2013


Here it is, the almost finished window:

It may not look like much but putting holes in stone walls is hard

Lintel in 300 year old oak recycled from the upstairs fireplace

And the facade with all the windows in place (-) Libby's balcony; a project for next summer.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The end of the summer - catchup

Well its been a great summer, but blogging has has taken a bit of a hit, so here is a bit of a catchup of the events of the last few weeks / months....

In no particular order:

Libby's bedroom: now finished but as it was a week or two ago..

The new attic

Holding it all up

Kitchen toys

Solid oak with a beech top, all hand made by yours truly (except the beech top which I bought as a piece of worktop counter).

The working kitchen

Raw materials

To finished product

Window seat complete with cupboard, all in brown oak.

For information: Brown oak as sold by the saw mill up the road is exactly the same species and grade as French white oak. The only difference is the soil in which it grows. The soil gives it the dark brown streaks. Practically though its about one hundred euros a cubic metre cheaper than white oak and so as far as I'm concerned that makes it "rustic chic".


And finally, making the window for the bathroom. Originally this was on the list for the builders to do but was one of the things we dropped on the grounds of cost (or rather the cost was fine and reasonable, we just didn't have the cash). Nine years on I've finally got a "round to-it". The window itself is now actually finished now but as its dark outside and I don't as yet  have pictures; its going to have to wait till the next post to see the lintel and window installed

Well, that's just a taste of what I've been doing!

On one last slightly (that means VERY) boring note. The granite lintel I had was a bit too long and so needed a bit of cutting. This may sound easy and the principal is simple; Score all the way round with an angle grinder, then hammer evenly along the line with a cold chisel until it splits. If the lintel is 10" square as this is, it's a big old piece of granite and will take some hammering. Added to this when I cut this it was 36 deg and full sun on the back of the house. I knew it was hot when my safety glasses filled up with water (sweat) and I had to empty them so I could see again. But eventually it did split, and right down the line: Result

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Shaker Style

Nearly finished

Overview of the Kitchen units. To recap: the carcasses are all standard stuff but the doors and face frames are handmade using reclaimed oak. A lot of work, but I think worthwhile.

See the chicken hiding 

I've made the edge of the worktops an oak strip so it can take a few knocks

And on the other counters

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

More Door

Get it!

Interestingly or not, having worked out the spacing for the hinges they all appear to be imperial.
Maybe the hinges were designed in America? Although these here are about 20 years old, donated by my sister from when they had their kitchen done when their house was built. The hinges themselves are made in Austria. I suspect if you buy them now they are all made in China! Still that's progress. Considering they have sat in a bag in their attic for 20 years they look like new. Thanks Sis.

Because I've fitted face frames to the cupboards, you need to space the hinges off the carcass. I'm sure you can get special hinges for the job, but when I last looked in a certain well known UK diy store they had the same hinges, but with a plastic spacer. I don't have the spacer so a block of wood will do just fine.

Now I've worked out all the spacing the rest should be an "easy gig"

Monday, 20 May 2013

Kitchen progress

Well I may not have posted but I have been busy. The kitchen fitting is underway but I have to say I have cheated a little in that I have used commercial kitchen carcasses. To make up for this I've been making the doors and drawer fronts and just to make it extra difficult I've hand turned all the knobs for the doors and drawers.

Door and drawers are all oak. I've gone with a contrast for the doors, using reclaimed old oak (150 years +) for the door center panels

For the back and side fascia panels I've used a combination of oak and MDF; routed to look like paneling. Now I know I could have used solid wood for the paneling, but pine is going to warp and twist and oak is overkill for something I'm going to paint anyway, so as it is I'm comfortable with using MDF (just this once).

So I've done one row of units, next is more of the same, to do the corner L on the other side of the room.

Hey we even have a modern fridge now, wonders will never cease!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

A day out - The Chateau Carrouges

One of the great pleasures of living in Normandie is having places like this on your doorstep

Started in the 14th century as a fortified castle and then added to up to the 17th century. 

Surrounded by a fantastic moat

And with a fab courtyard

Kitchens to die for

And somewhere to entertain


and look out over the gardens

Even a quiet place to read

Unusually constructed from brick. This staircase was restored in the 1960's

A great place to spend and afternoon. If your ever in France look it up.