Since the last time I posted about our house renovation project, there have been a few things my parents progressed with. We have now floors on all levels! (insert clapping and sounds of cheers here)
It’s been a long time coming, as it’s a lot of work and needed a lot of coordination such as not to suddenly find yourself having to rip it all up again cause the concrete foundation for the new separation wall hadn’t been laid or new beams needed adding below the floor for the structural integrity of the house.
I’ve seen partly how a floor can change the feeling of a room. It’s been all open for such a long time and it is very odd to see how the house might actually look like when you can’t see the roof anymore from the cellar. So seeing photos of the final floor, where the living room will be, is such a motivation. I am sure more for my parents, than for me. It also means they can soon start with the roof… No pressure.
Aside from the wonderful wooden planks to be walked on without fear of ending up one level lower, we also now have a new entry door. The new hole for it hasn’t been built yet, but we’ve got a door to go wherever it needs to. It also cost us a lot less than what we’ve looked into, which I am so happy about. It is definitely worth looking into summer sales, if the quality matches what you’re looking for. With this door, we do need to add our own handles and door knocker, in fact, I can’t wait to browse around to find some nice unique, maybe even antique ones.
For the past few days, my mum has also been working on finishing the last bit of the wall, which, on your own, is quite the task. Each stone weighs 8 kilos times however many you need and you have to obviously get them from A to B. Then you need to mix 35kg bags of mortar every 6 brick stones or so (a lot of it ends up in a slurping move between said stones and existing wall). And then try that in 35°C plus heat.
Also some kudos to Hagen, who carried all the mortar bags from way below to the upper deck where they were needed. I sometimes think they have secret powers, or eat way too much spinach.
A couple of weeks ago, amongst all the travel preparations and house renovation organisation, I took a break and spent almost the entire day trying out drawing with ink and bamboo pens.
The bamboo pens were hand carved by Kate Moby from bamboo grown by herself and came in three different sizes. I first came across her about 4 years ago and fell in love with her owl and her style and have since purchased many other animals to give them a home. Though I never really thought about trying to draw with bamboo pens and ink myself.
After evolving my own style last year, I wanted to try something new to break out of the minimalist shell, so I thought, why not this, with even more colour and unconventional combinations. I didn’t quite know what the effect would be drawing with bamboo pens, instead of let’s say brushes and ink, or how easy/difficult it would be to draw since the pens only hold so much ink at a time. I’d like to think that I got into my own style quite quickly (only took me a load of watermelons and different types of paper) but I’d like to try out different ways of using ink, either less diluted or even more diluted.
I am not quite sure what my fascination with birds is, but for some reason I keep coming back to them. I guess I like how versatile they can be in terms of expressions and characters they can take on in a drawing or photo.
I am chuffed with how the ‘I’iwi (Scarlet Honeycreeper from Hawai’i) turned out.
The camel was a bit more of a challenge. I drew a camel before, but I think it was lacking character. I am happier with these two and also the colour combinations I tried out, though this one is a cheeky, tricky animal that needs a bit more practice capturing.
I know, I know. I just posted an update about our house renovation progress (all about getting new beams and what to do with the original ones). But as I have been in the south of France for longer than usual, there is more that has happened in the house that I’d like to document and share.
It is not an awful lot. After all, it’s only been a week and it is hot and the beach calls us from time to time. If you watched last week’s video or read the post, we (a.k.a not me, I don’t have that kind of upper body strength) inserted new beams (in French they’re called bastaing). After inserting new beams where the future second bedroom will be, Hagen was then able to add rafters (in French chevrons, if that helps) on which he then screwed wooden planks, which serve as the basis for the floor. In case anyone is interested, the sizes used for the chevron (rafter) is 63mm x 75mm, for the wooden planks is 25mm x 150mm and the wood is spruce.
Since the house and our neighbour’s used to be one house and the separation wall is too thin, we built a wall from the ground up for a proper separation and also structural support. The wall has not yet been built all the way to the top, as we have floors missing and it is simply easier, if you can stand on something whilst mixing mortar and piling bricks on top of one another.
In order to continue building the wall on the second floor, my mum and I built a concrete foundation first made from a gravel, cement and sand mixture enforced with iron rods. Since my mum is much better at making a wall straight, I was tasked to mix the mortar in a bucket almost the size of a bathtub. I think I am getting better and better getting the mixture right quicker, not to thick and not too thin.
We’re also getting to a stage where we need to figure out what entrance door and windows we want. Unfortunately, none of the originals are in a good condition to keep, so everything has to be replaced. Experiencing the quality of doors and windows when renovating other houses, we realised that it would be better to get the windows in Germany or maybe from a Polish vendor conforming to German quality standards. It’s a bit annoying, but you can definitely tell that they last longer, need less maintenance and are just generally easier to handle in hot weather conditions. For the entrance door, we found a company in Perpignan called Verdié that make nice and new doors with good quality.
I spontaneously decided to fly to the south of France for a couple of weeks before our big travels. It wasn’t necessarily to work on our house and continue with the renovations, but more a mix of helping in my parents’ garden cause it still needs a lot of work, to go to the beach and get accustomed to scorching heat and sun (though London isn’t lacking in that department at the moment) and maybe, maybe, work a little on the house or do research to take some decisions.
As it turns out, we are working a bit on the house because my parents’ plan changed a little after their recent vacation to the UK. So, the last couple of days we’ve been adding new beams to help support the future floors, walls and staircase. Some of the original beams are a bit rotten, need cleaning and treating but we can’t take them out as they are shared across the neighbouring house.
So I didn’t actually do much with the beams that you can see in the video below. It was mostly my expert team of two who handled the heavy lifting and clusters of dusts. I was happily cleaning iron beams in the cellar. That entailed me filing off loose rust, handling a very heavy and large ladder back and forth (it’s all about that core!) and painting it with an anti-rust treatment. They all look very neat and shiny now.
Last week we continued our adventure of renovating our house in the south of France. Not to worry, there hasn’t been a standstill since last time we were there – my parents have done A LOT!
As we’re going on another adventure in a few months, there was a lot of planning this time around. My husband and I already spent a couple of hours drawing up our ideas but it’s nothing like being in the space that’s being transformed to see if it actually makes sense.
We talked types of flooring, thickness of said flooring and how it could fit all together (pro tip: best is if the different materials reach the same thickness on the same floor, otherwise you get weird transitions and such. We’re still working on that!), sockets and light switches, types of light switches for the staircase, doors and windows and more flooring.
I also continued plastering the wall, but had to unfortunately leave it to the trained professional after one day cause my wrist wasn’t willing anymore. Instead I helped out here and there, did some weightlifting in the form of beams and floor boards and fixed an extension cord.
I have to say, once the floors are starting to be there, it all seems a bit more like a home. I can’t wait until all the walls are in and I can paint the bathroom.
Last Monday, there was a small flea market were everyone empties their attics and tries to circulate mostly strange things by selling them to other people in the village. It just so happened that we found the first frame for our living room wall. Maybe my mum is gonna paint me something. On that note, I think she needs to paint more than one painting for our house according to the video below. (Thanks ma!)
Side note, I did the video entirely on my iPad to test how I’d get on during travels. It took forever and I have still a few things to figure out.