Where to start?

…let’s start in the cellar…

the cellar

Where does one start a restoration process? Where exactly lies the beginning and does one ever reach the end? It probably depends on who’s doing the job.

As for us, we are those kind of peope who first jump in and then we decide which style to swim. It has had it’s catastrophical results in the past, but it has also been the way to many discoveries and unforeseen adventures. So it is with restoring Coin Perdu. We jumped in at the deep side buying it and we jumped deep side in living in the barn(a story for another day) and now we are jumping smack in the middle in the restoration process. So far so good.

Decicion made and the first blows were felled in the cellar under the house. It is a dark and humid area, with solid rock in parts, water seeping through the rock and steep side of the the hill against which the house is built. Every sheep and goat and animal in search of shelter, slept there. That’s how it was in those days: the family living in the house above the animals in the cellar, close enough to hear any mischief or attacks on the animals at night – man and beast, with their individual smells and flavours and habits snuggly together. Life was about survival and not about convenience or rather, luxury. This wasn’t Versailles. It still isn’t.

This dark and dungy cellar is to become our open and sunny living space, with wide French doors and double volume windows opening onto a patio alongside the old Tilleul tree, overlooking the hills. A pergola and walnut tree will provide cool, green shade in the blistering summer months. This is our anticipation. But first, we have to deal with reality.


the cellar1

more rock

solid rock in the cellar

We spent three days working “down under”, clearing away the dirt and grime, while still discovering hidden “treasures: a wine barrel, a barrel top which became our outside table, small bits and pieces we turned into furniture for our living in the barn, preserved plums and peas, a snake, a toad and enough wood and twigs to start years of BBQ fires.

Shoveling away soil and chiseling away on the rocks made room for drainage. We measured levels, got out the plans, changed the plans, paused for coffee and cookies to recalculate heights and widths. I changed my mind about a door from there to a door here. We all stormed to and fro through the low entrance, knocking our heads into chanting mode, uttering some original vocabulary… We toiled on the bend all the time, for the beams are very low and very hard.  Hartman’s tall 1. 95 m commanded a hard hat after a while of which we only had one. Some strong language every now and then would be proof that on a hatless head somewhere, a bulge was growing.

…on the beat…

on the beat

…taking a break…

DSC_0091taking a break

We cleaned out the cellar and decided it was after all not the place to start renovating. Inside the house, knocking out the walls, is where it all needed to begin.

You might think three days were wasted. Not at all. The cellar was clean. The snake took a hike. The toad realized it was summer. It got us in renovation-thinking-mode. A team spirit was built, our heads got knocked into clarity and we were now ready for the work ahead.


5 responses

  1. annie

    June 7, 2009…Dear Ronell, I just discovered the welcomed birth of this new blog and am so excited to find it. I feel so lucky that all of us are going to be able to share this new adventure with you in this way. The photos and sketches and paintings put us right into your world– on some backaching days you must think, “Yeah, Annie, right… then pick up that hard hat and let’s get moving along in Our World!” I have you subscribed to my Reader so I won’t miss a moment.

    June 7, 2009 at 2:56 pm

  2. Thank you Annie…it is so nice to see you here too! Well…I have acquired more hard hats…one for you too now…or come to think of it…you can make the coffee!Hie hie!

    June 8, 2009 at 8:54 am

  3. A gorgeous spot! Such character and potential in the old stone building. What a daunting task you’ve set for yourself. I’m sure it will be exquisite when you are done. (BTW, my daughter is spending five weeks living in another old stone farmhouse near Nerac, learning about the cuisine of Gascony. Is that in the area where you live?)

    June 14, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    • Thanks for the visit !

      We are about 3 to 4 hours drive more north-east to the mountains from N�rac. She will be close to the sea in the west and we are closer to the Central massif mountain range in the east. What an experience she will have!

      June 15, 2009 at 4:45 pm

  4. Pingback: Breaking down the first walls. « Coin perdu, a mountain home

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