CONTINUING on from last month's article about our renovation and conversion of Le Cuvage in the Roannais, Rhône-Alpes, things have moved along rapidly, writes Brian Franklin.
Our French friends, Jean-François and Adeline, co-partners in this exciting joint project, have now moved into their part of Le Cuvage.
Their new home looked great.
Although each of the three dwellings, being created out of this original pressoir (wine-making barn) was individually planned and designed differently, the essential style and concept, led by our French architect, was consistently followed throughout each interior for a co-ordinated look.
Our friends stepped over their threshold and moved into their new home before us at the end of October 2005.
This was purposely staged to be completed first so that they could move from their current smaller home at the Pavillon de Chasse, in part of the original grounds and courtyard of the Chateau des Cresses.
Of course, unlike us at the time, Jean- François and Adeline lived in France, so it was essential that they moved in first.
A young couple with modern attitudes, their new home in Le Cuvage reflected an imaginative and contemporary flavour, with lacquer-sealed concrete floor throughout the ground floor, stunning red kitchen, and a generally 'fun' atmosphere about the place.
We were impressed with their interior treatment and the practicality of Jean-François who had completed much of the flooring, painting, and lighting installations himself. As I have said previously, he is a useful, hands-on guy, (I have to admit with some envy).
Anyway, in the meantime, whilst our friends moved in, we moved on.
Our two dwellings continued to move forward with all internal finishing – painting, flooring, lighting, bathrooms, kitchen fittings, stair railing.
Further interior and exterior features were completed, including an impressive entrance and hallway with a conservatory –style terrace to define the main doorway into the first, and larger of our two dwellings.
This was positioned carefully where the previous main entrance of the cuvage barn had been, and much of the original yellow, dressed stone surrounding the large opening was carefully retained, along with the local, red stone walling. These were important feature elements.
The framework of the conservatory structure was constructed of black aluminium with large glass panels, and angled roof-lights.
It was a good-sized, spacious area, with up to four metres in height.
And certainly created a statement as you approached the main doorway. As intended, the style of design also matched the black aluminium frames of the series of huge windows at the rear of the building.
So, as all these various finishing touches were finalised Le Cuvage was definitely becoming more than just the sum of its parts. It had atmosphere, and reflected much of our personal efforts, commitment, and financial investment. It was becoming a testament to successful collaboration and shared achievement by all involved.
And as all the interior and exterior aspects of the building reached fruition, our thoughts turned to the land around Le Cuvage.
We had to ensure that the time and effort spent on the building structure was, at least in some ways, reflected in it’s surrounding situation.
A start on the garden areas was essential. The sooner the better.
Basically, we started getting to grips with repairing the surrounding land after its seemingly cruel and dramatic disturbance by all the activities of our building contractors over the last 18 months.
However, before we could give the land some peace and bring back some overdue, natural tranquillity, we had to carve it about a bit more.
We had decided to install a swimming pool in the main garden at the front of Le Cuvage. Surely no dream house is complete without its private pool?
This meant, of course, more diggers, more earth removal, and more mess.
Better get it all over and done with in one go, we thought, and then give the land and gardens some desperately needed tender, loving, care.
After much assessment, and final choice of contractor, the work on the pool commenced with, once again, the big digger-boys arriving to do their stuff.
It was an interesting sub-project, and a completely new experience.
And, yet, again, the work was accomplished remarkably efficiently and professionally. In fact, within three weeks.
Our 15x10 metre swimming pool, along with its formed garden area ready for planting, looked great.
I could hardly wait for my first dip.
Tips when buying and renovating in France:
- Depending on the size of the renovation, and particu;arly if it is a holiday home, don’t bother buying and trucking loads of household items from the UK. It’s not worth it, and Its more expensive, and more hassle. Especially now with almost euro/pound parity.
- Make sure you plan as well as possible for the positioning of rooms, electrics, lighting, etc. You’re unlikely to ever get it perfectly right, but the more thought at early stages will prevent inconvenience later.
- If installing a swimming pool, make sure the position is the best that is possible in relation to your house, trees, sun and shadow. Cut any trees down around the pool area before work commences.
- Choose your swimming pool contractor well, preferably through recommendation, and have a pre-look at some of their previous installations.
- Develop a rough outline plan for your garden and terrace areas as much as possible, particularly regarding future usage and accessibility. It is all worthwhile in the long-run. Plant boundary hedges/trees as early as possible to maximise maturity growth time.
Discovering The Roannais in the Rhône-Alpes
Le Cuvage project turns into a grand design
It's a serious business building in the Rhône-Alpes
Topping-off a grand design of a building project
Adding the finishing touches to Le Cuvage
Brian and Lucy Franklin run the Pure France Now website which looks to highlight the delights and opportunities of The Roannais in the Rhône-Alpes region. They provide business event hosting, holiday rentals, property finding services and enjoy promoting the area to visitors.
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Sorry but that pool is never 15m by 10m - if it was it would look more square than rectangular. Counting the blocks and assuming they are about 50cm length I would say he should have said 10m by 5m. Still a lovely pool
Posted by: Mark Bennett | 20 July 2011 at 09:28
Well having been doing resturation in the south west for the last 15 years I have found that too much planning ruins a lot of the personality of a project.
Living on site
although tough, is like painting in oil.Apply paint,scrape off and add more;accidents that turn out better than anything you could ever planned.
Too much planning and still winding up with a 15 by 10 meter pool? More like a lake.But what the hell ,why not?
Posted by: RONALD FARALDO | 25 July 2011 at 11:17