While last week’s blog was a summary of things we had achieved in 2021, it mentioned that we had a number of projects planned for this year. The first, and probably the largest, is a refurbishment of Granary similar to that we undertook in Priory in 2020.
Granary is one of our 2 family gîtes. When we arrived in 2015 we did some significant work including ripping out and replacing everything in the en-suite shower room; ripping out and replacing everything in the kitchen; removing significant amounts of rotten lambris in the master bedroom; stripping out old carpeting in the living area and bedrooms; dividing the large attic bedroom into 2 to create a double and a twin; and lots and lots (and lots) of painting. This is the kitchen before our initial changes:
What we didn’t have time (or the money) to do, was totally renovating the family bathroom (although we did some tiling to improve it) or re-wiring the property. While the wiring was never dangerous, it had been done a number of years before our arrival by a ‘DIY-er’ rather than a professional sparky. A little like Priory previously, there weren’t sufficient sockets in the house for modern life and the light switches weren’t always in sensible places as you enter a room.
The renovation of Priory has made it such a better gîte, so we thought now would be a good time to do the same to Granary although, thankfully, there won’t be any structural work required.
A significant part of the work will be rewiring and, having spoken to the electrician we are using, we agreed it would be easier to remove the kitchen rather than expect them to work around it while installed. This is a little disappointing as we only installed it in 2015 and we think it is an excellent kitchen, but it makes a lot of sense and will, hopefully make the re-wiring quicker and easier. We have therefore, taken the opportunity to upgrade the oven to a wider, better, unit and have manged to find exactly the same oven we bought for Priory in 2020 – at an even better price!
In an ideal world we would be able to re-use the existing kitchen units and re-instal them when the work is complete although we would need to make a couple of amends and buy some new doors etc. Sadly, the range we used has been discontinued (just after we managed to buy the units for Priory) and it isn’t possible to get any new items in the same style. This has meant we have needed to start over, but we have big plans for a(nother) fabulous kitchen which we ordered in the week. This one has to go:
Thankfully, we have managed to sell the old kitchen to a couple who live relatively locally and, having dismantled it during the week, they came and took it away in their trailer yesterday – a sad moment!
We have also made good use of the amazing island unit we had in Granary. It was gifted to us by some very good friends when we moved here. They had had it made for their kitchen when they lived in Southsea and had christened it ‘Fantasy Island’. It had been the centre of many happy memories as we had stood around it frequently during many amazing evenings at their house.
Sadly, they were unable to use it when they moved house and it had sat looking forlorn in their shed, so they kindly gifted it to us. When I had given it some TLC, it looked great in Granary and now it looks great in our kitchen. It has also meant David could remove a piece of furniture he really didn’t like (which is now being put to good use in my garage) and to re-position a number of kitchen units that were screwed together to form an island but now look so much better against the wall. Genuinely reuse, repurpose, recycle!
We weren’t sad to see the back of the bathroom items. There was no way anyone would want to buy that and it is destined for the déchetterie next week.
The problem with doing anything like this sort of project is the risk of ‘mission creep’! One of the things we know we needed to do was remove the ceiling in the family bathroom so we could access the drain for the en-suite shower and replace it. We knew the drain had been damaged some time ago and was being held together, successfully but temporarily, by silicone ever since. We have always wanted to replace it but could only do this from below unless we were prepared to remove the entire shower tray.
However, having removed the ceiling, we found there had evidently been another leak at some point in the distant past as a couple of the floorboards above had rotted to almost nothing. Thankfully, they had just retained enough integrity so as our guests hadn’t put their feet though the floor!
Now is our opportunity to replace these and make sure the floor remains solid but, to do so, it seems we may need to remove the shower tray (and possibly all of the sanitary ware) in the en-suite! We should however, be able to reuse all of this as we expect it to come out easily without causing damage – with the possible exception of the shower tray.
The plan, although it may be ambitious, is to have the renovation complete for Easter. We’ll see. Especially, as during the week we received a late notice (48 hr) request for 3 nights in Priory at the weekend. Great for us but it did mean our focus had to shift from stripping Granary to prepping Priory which was still decorated for Christmas and needed a full clean. This took both of us the best part of 2 days to complete – one just taking down the decorations and making sure they were all boxed away and clear of the games room so it was available for use!
We also still like to get out and about in the region and do our weekly walk with the dogs. David has put together a ‘Social Media Marketing Plan’ for us to highlight all the fantastic things to do nearby throughout the year. This has the advantage that we have to go and do these things ourselves to get lots of images and video to use and today we did one of our very local walks, able to be done from the gîtes, and took a flask of hot chocolate to an amazing vantage point from where you can see for miles and miles – or would if it were a slightly clearer day!
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Unfortunately, our sparky can’t start his major work for another week or so, so I will continue to do all the preparation needed and, I am afraid this might also involve another of those ‘mission creep’ tasks – I’ll let you know next week.