First French Pied à Terre. Part One -Doing it on a Budget!

It’s been a while since the last post and looking back I think we have neglected to show you some of the work we have carried out since arriving ‘en France’.

Our personal renovation road has been bumpy and somewhat labourious at times but, that said, we have enjoyed every moment and would not change a thing  - well, perhaps just the far too rustic salvaged oak kitchen Island we made, or the cupboards made from old chip board wine glass chests that we found at a vide grenier, or the…….oh, you get the drift. My point is that renovating a property is a massive learning curve and we all make mistakes at one point or another, its just all part of the learning process, anyone who tells you otherwise is telling porkies!

Luckily we have been able to hone our skills and experience in the field of home renovations here in France over the past 6 years, in short we have probably encountered most of the problems we are ever likely to when tackling a caved-in roof, a dodgy stone exterior wall, a complicated planning application or a difficult artisan. We know the pitfalls, “been there, done that”, “got the t-shirt”, again ‘got’ and ‘drift’ spring to mind.

Anyway here are a few photos we took of our ‘pied à terre’ tinsey house we bought when we first moved over here. I’m calling this ‘Part One’ as our current renovation project will be blogged about soon and therefore entitled Part Two.

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In the beginning………….

first house3


Outside wall pointed and two reclaimed exterior doors added


first house 17


Fixing the damp walls

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Dirt floors throughout……..

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old walls…….

first house septic tank


Small muddy garden…..with NO SEPTIC TANK!!!!! (things just went into the ditch before we arrived, aarrgghhh, the horror!) We had to figure out how we could put a drainage tank into a plot of land the size of a postage stamp….happy days!

first house 22


We started the bathroom and decided to keep it minimal ( mainly due to budget than taste ) However, we had been on a trip to Lisbon a few weeks earlier and got inspiration from the beautiful painted cermaic tiles which line the inside and outside walls of the buildings in the city. Here are a few photos I took to give you the jist……..

first house tile inspration

first house tiles lisbon

first house tile inspiration


Of course, at first,  we tried to source some authentic portugese hand painted tiles to put in our bathroom, however, soon realising that this was completely out of our budget at the time we luckily found some rather pretty ones in Gedimat which did the job in the end!

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A good compromise, simple, chic and affordable.

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We sourced some ancienne hexagonal tomettes at a Brocante in Vézelay from a cool couple from Tonnerre and laid them throughout the ground floor of the house. This was , of course, after spending a frantic morning trying to level out a delivery of tonnes of cement and small stones before it all dried into a massive solid lump in our would be kitchen!

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Near to completion, our small garden is taking shape here after the installation of the septic tank and the  copious amounts of mud have disappeared.

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Then the wild flowers I planted bloomed in June, bliss.

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Zacs nursery on its way to being finished.

first house nursery


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Not finished, but good enough for our first Franglaise house party, Whoaaaa Yeaahh!

Oh, one more thing……Our home made salvaged Oak window boxes turned out great!

first house gardne



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