Our Little Piece of France

June 10, 2013

Le Menil Scelleur

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Friends! I have some big news: We bought a house today. A little French cottage! We can hardly believe it!!

It might not feel like big news if you’ve been following along. Because we first saw this house last August (so long ago!), and we’ve been under contract since February. The house has been uninhabited for decades and has mostly been used as a barn, so there were some questions about whether or not the house could be legally inhabited again.

But — hooray! — the questions have been resolved. And we became the official property owners today.

Now the hard work begins. We start with a phone call to the electric company to visit the property and install a meter. And then we go from there! When we hatched this plan, we assumed we could quickly buy a house and spend our last year here renovating. Hah! Reality check: We leave in a month, and if we manage to get electricity installed and roof repaired before we move, we’ll consider that a triumph. : ) We keep thinking we’re crazy to take on a project like this, but we LOVE that it will keep us connected to the area in such a real way.

Today, during the closing, as we signed the official papers, the previous owners gave us the photo at top. It’s our house circa 1900 (compare it to this photo). And it’s actually a postcard, with an address label on the back. When I saw the little family, I started to cry. What a treasure to be able to picture the people who lived in this place oh so long ago. (And the collar and cut on the son’s jacket — it’s so French! It just does me in.)

Tell me: Does this project make you gasp with terror at the amount of work (and frustration) ahead for us? Or gasp with inspiration at what it might become? Maybe some of both? I’d love to hear your renovation stories!

P.S. — I detailed more about what it will take to redo this property here. And you can see more images here, here and here, if you’re curious.

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{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ginger J. June 10, 2013 at 11:09 am

Oh hurray! Congratulations! I’d send you salt and bread and a broom, but I think spackle, nails, and sheetrock might be more appropriate! I hope you find happy days, history, and hope in your new cottage–plus lots of stories!


2 stephanie kraus June 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm

lucky you– would die for a cottage in france no matter the shape! Congrats!!


3 Misty June 10, 2013 at 11:13 am

YAY! Congrats!
Renovations scare me but, excite me too! We are renovating our basement to rent it out as an apt and raise money for an adoption. :) So, they can be daunting but, exciting!


4 Lisette Wolter-McKinley June 10, 2013 at 11:14 am

Congrats! What an epic adventure you are about to embark on.


5 Karen P. June 10, 2013 at 11:34 am

Congratulations! And that photo is amazing.


6 kim June 10, 2013 at 11:36 am

What a daring adventure ~ inspiring for sure! It is through hard work and frustrations that life’s greatest joys and beauties are found. Also, what a gift to have the photo. My first thought was, “They look so French. Love.”
Cheers to you, Blairs!


7 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:06 am

I agree! French style is so distinctive. Even 100 years ago.


8 Angela June 10, 2013 at 11:40 am

Have you read Bon Courage?! I’m guessing you have, and you know what you are getting yourself into! So excited for you guys. If you plan to rent it out in the future, sign me up! :)


9 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:07 am

Actually, I’ve never even heard of it. I’ve read A Year in Provence (it’s wonderful!), and now I’m excited to add this to my reading list. Thanks for the recommendation!


10 Linda K June 10, 2013 at 11:49 am

This is wonderful, exciting news! It would, indeed, be a daunting undertaking for me, but I don’t get the impression that the Blair Family is daunted by very much. And how lovely to have an anchor in the country/region you have come to love. Good luck.


11 eka gobel June 10, 2013 at 11:53 am

Yay! Congrats! can-t wait to follow the step by step renovation days :)
This is a very hard challenge, coz for me this house is too spooky. However i’m sure you can make it a home sweet home like always! :)


12 Marianne June 10, 2013 at 11:54 am

So jealous! I would love to be in your shoes! Best wishes!


13 hpsauce June 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

That photo is giving me goosebumps!


14 Valerie J. June 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm

This picture is so precious! I know you know that already. It is a beautiful gift.


15 Jeanne June 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Kind of sad that french properties go to strangers but this is life ! Congrats anyway !


16 Ceci Bean June 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Oh, wow, so exciting! I can’t wait to see more of the inside.

That picture is so special. My mother-in-law is in the process of purchasing her grandfather’s lake cabin that has been out of the family for 50+ years. She brought pictures of her parents standing in front of it to share with the current owners. It’s such a cool thing to feel connected to the history of your home.


17 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:09 am

Wow! How wonderful to bring the cabin back into the family.


18 Amy Hackworth June 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Hearing that you cried when you saw that photo made me a little teary, too. Isn’t it great to think about how we connect to people we don’t know through our shared spaces? I think it’s really beautiful. Congratulations to you!! I can’t wait to watch as things unfold!


19 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:11 am

I love the connection so much. And of course I keep wondering about their lives. How old they were when they died. What their days were like.

So fascinating to me!


20 Gayle Markow June 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I bought an 85 year old cottage in San Francisco fifteen years ago, and now it is 101 years old. Nothing in comparison to places in France, but a little bit old for here. It was a Major Renovation. I had a technically very competent contractor, but he wasn’t very nice, and as I was doing it alone, I ended up crying a lot. But now I have the most beautiful treasure of a home. So I’m really glad I had the good fortune to buy it and renovate.
I’m really happy for you guys, and inspired. I know there will be problems, but with the whole family involved, as yours in, and loving France as you do, I know you’ll have a mega-great time with this project, overcome the difficulties, and end up with the joyful French home your family will enjoy for many decades! Yay!!!


21 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:11 am

“I had a technically very competent contractor, but he wasn’t very nice, and as I was doing it alone, I ended up crying a lot.”

I can already imagine this for myself. And we don’t even have a contractor in place yet. : )


22 Rachel Schindler June 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm

So, so, happy for you and your family…and lucky for us, we will get to follow along on the renovation.


23 Anna June 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Congratulations! I’m so excited for you! To be honest, I love the idea of doing a renovation for a special piece of property. I have my eye on a farmhouse that has been for sale for years and nobody wants it. But. I’m sure that it could be an absolute treasure and I’m just bidding my time!


24 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:12 am

I hope your patience rewards you, Anna! Sounds like a wonderful project.


25 Kellee | FreeTime, Ltd. June 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm

It makes me gasp with envy! (Is that a thing? Gasping with envy?)

Congratulations! What an awesome project and adventure. Yes, sure to be challenging and frustrating at times, but I can’t imaging that it won’t be entirely worth it x1000. How great for you and your family for years to come!

…and of course I’m looking forward to living vicariously through the photos sure to come. :)


26 NKing June 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Congratulations! I’m sure this will be a special place for you and your family. Looking forward to seeing what you bring to it! Best of luck!


27 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag June 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Oh my goodness, how exciting! If you haven’t read ‘A Year in Provence’ by Peter Mayle yet….oh you must. It will make you laugh and cringe (mostly laugh), reading about what it was like getting their french house renovated. One of my favorite books in the whole wide world!


28 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:13 am

Yes! One of my favorites about France.


29 Rachel Eastin June 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Wow! Congratulations! You’re pretty amazing! I’m so excited for you and your children and knowing you’ll all have a French cottage the rest of your life.


30 Meg June 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm

How wonderful and daunting at the same time! Its great that you will keep a solid and continuing connection with this region even after leaving. Can’t wait to hear all about your project of restoring it!


31 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:15 am

That’s exactly how we feel, Meg. Our stay here could have become a little blip in our family history, but instead it will be part of continuing narrative. Knowing we’ll return here for vacations — or perhaps even move back someday — will also be encouragement for our kids to keep up their French.


32 kelly harp June 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm

sooooooo excited for you! what another fabulous adventure, right?! i say gasp with excitement today! you know you’ll be gasping with horror some other time in the reno process, but oh well! you only live once & why not make it a crazy, dreamy adventure?!!!


33 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:15 am

“you only live once & why not make it a crazy, dreamy adventure?!!!”

I love that, Kelly!


34 christina @ homemade ocean June 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Ohhhhh CONGRATS! How exciting, you own a real piece of history :)


35 Ann June 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Formidable! Can’t wait to see its transformation. I love the photo the previous owners gave you! I absolutely love stuff like that. I found an old dairy bill in our kitchen wall while tearing it out years ago. I’ve been meaning to frame it for the kitchen wall. Is that a thatch roof!?


36 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:17 am

Yes! It looks to be thatched roof. The current roof is not thatched, but I still like it.


37 cath June 10, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Bravo! Félicitations! Rénover est génial car tu peux transformer la maison comme tu veux, et faire un album avant-après!
Cependant, cela représente beaucoup de travail, de découragement parfois, et de temps. (de l’argent aussi si tu n’as pas le temps!) Nous en sommes à la 2ème maison que nous rénovons, cela va beaucoup moins vite que la première, mais parce que maintenant nous avons 2 enfants et que nous travaillons à plein temps tous les deux + travaillons aussi à la maison.
Alors, bonne chance dans cette belle aventure, et j’espère que les enfants n’oublieront pas le français! Bises des Alpes.


38 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:17 am

Merci, Cath !


39 dervla @ The Curator June 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm

yay I’m so excited for you guys, and looking forward to following along with your renovation journey.


40 Jodi June 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Terrifying yes! Renovations across the sea, oh my! But amazing, even more yes! It will be such a wonderful thing to have when all is said and done, being able to have something of your own.


41 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:19 am

Right. The across the sea thing is definitely going to prove challenging. The upside: we’re hiring our local friend, Caroline, to help us keep the project moving along even when we’re out of town. It will be a wonderful way to stay in close contact with her.


42 Cammie June 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm

It’s a daunting task, but one I would LOVE to undertake. Congrats to your and your family!


43 Tricia Whitworth June 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I think it’s FANTASTIC that you are doing this! I’ve read several memoirs of people moving to France and redoing a house (all kinds of crazy things happen during the process naturally). It makes me so happy to think of you still tied to France somehow (sorry, I know you’re a real family living your real lives but I WANT this for you like I had some power). :)

The photo is lovely. We are all connected in this universe, across the years.


44 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:20 am

“sorry, I know you’re a real family living your real lives but I WANT this for you like I had some power”

Hah! That made me grin like crazy, Tricia. And I love how we’re all connected, too.


45 Fleur June 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Have you ever watched the show “Grand Designs” with Kevin McCloud? Lot’s of inspiration there. It’s all about respecting the history of the building I think. Keeping it authentic to it’s past and roots.

Do you plan to move back to France one day?
All the best with your wonderful task ahead.


46 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:21 am

I haven’t seen that show, but I’m glad for the recommendation. Thank you, Fleur!


47 Dale Coykendall June 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Many congratulations, sure to be a huge project but so worth it to have your own place in such an amazing place.All the best


48 Heidi June 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm

This is so exciting! I love that you got that old photo too – that is such a treasure! We are actually in the process of buying a small house in France too right now, in the upper Loire Valley. It is also going to need a LOT of renovations and a partially new roof! I’m sure we’re in over our heads, but it’s a bucket list dream so we’re going for it. :-) Congratulations to you!


49 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:22 am

How exciting, Heidi! We’re just an hour or so from you. When I run into frustrations with the project, I’ll remind myself I’m not alone. : )


50 Gia June 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Congratulations Blair family! What an inspiration and such a sweet bit of history from the sellers. I can’t wait to see the Olive Us episode of kids doing renovations.
When I was a kid my single mother kept us housed for a while by moving into Victorians needing renovation and doing the work of restoration with the help of us four kids. The number of summers I spent painting, re-tiling and rebuilding are some of my favorite childhood memories.
I’ve always dreamed of buying a ruin in Italy, where my family is from, and restoring it to a little but of space our family can enjoy for generations to come.
Happy new home/project! I can’t wait to follow along and see all the amazing design ideas I’m sure you have in mind.


51 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:24 am

What wonderful childhood memories, Gia! I love that. And I wish you your very own ruin in Italy!


52 PARIS BEE kids blog June 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Congratulations!!!! Looking forward to following the renovations of the house!! What a great project!!

xoxo PARIS BEE kids blog


53 vpfarming June 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Congratulations! This is so neat. A couple years ago we bought a farm in rural Michigan (without knowing really anything about farming) – but it’s always sort of felt like cheating as it was more or less turn-key.

The dream is to someday resuscitate an old farm somewhere far away. We’ll need to practice up our craft first, but the added complexity of farming and renovating in a foreign culture/language gets my blood pumping.

Can’t wait to see how your project goes!


54 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:25 am

Even turn-key farming sounds intimidating to me! How neat for your family.


55 Cathy Hunter June 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Your French cottage has been on my mind these last few days. I’m glad to have my questions answered; only I wish you had time to accomplish more before you leave so we could see the possibilities become reality sooner. You undoubtedly wish the same. Congratulations!


56 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:26 am

So true! I wish the same. But it will be fun to make progress — even if it’s baby steps.


57 Christy June 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Love it! I have been looking into doing that too for my family but am a little scared. We are in the states yet and also have 6 children. But seeing you start this next chapter in you story makes me think we can do it too. Thank you for your inspiration and you family is so beautiful. Best of luck with everything.


58 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:27 am

Thank you for the well wishes, Christy! And yes, it IS scary. Sometimes terrifying. But we’ve learned that scary doesn’t mean it’s bad, and often means it’s worth it!


59 MeGo June 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Mazel tov!

Is it just me or does that boy with the nice jacket look a bit like your Ralph? For a moment I thought you guys had made some historic recreation old timey photo.

Congratulations! I look forward to reading about the renovation progress.


60 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:29 am

I was looking for similarities between the two as well. I think they might share a similar stance.


61 Adrienne Conner June 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Congratulations! If there is one family who can pull it off, it’s the Blair’s! Looking forward to all of the progress as I know you’ll keep us updated!


62 Lindsay June 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Congratulations! It will be fun to watch you create a special place for your family. All the best!


63 Emily June 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm

What a special thing for your family!! And won’t it be neat years and years from now when someone sees a picture of your family there and has the same rush of emotions? History and documenting moments is just so dang special!


64 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:29 am

I hadn’t thought of that, Emily! How lovely!


65 Brigitte June 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Gasp,with envy, but then tempered with reality of the scope of the job.


66 Jennifer James June 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Congrats! It’s definitely going to be a lot of work, but anything really worth it, is!


67 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:36 am

Too true, Jennifer!


68 Becca June 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Congrats! What a big fun thing for your amazing family!

And that photo is priceless!


69 Kathy Ayers June 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Congrats over and over! That is so very exciting! I am jealous! I have so enjoyed the years spent cyber “stalking” you. The kids will be so French when they come back here, especially the younger ones! Whew….


70 Jeanne June 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Oh how exciting! I know I’d be overwhelmed for sure, but it is a dream! (doesn’t even have to be in France for me though)


71 Emily Marie June 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Oh I’m so excited for you!!! Of course it’ll be so much work, but I think it’s wondreful to be able to stay connected to this area that you now love. :) Sending lots of “smooth renovation” wishes your way!


72 Khali June 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Congratulations Gabrielle and Ben! I’m already looking forward to the updates on the renovation.


73 woolf June 10, 2013 at 10:05 pm

gasp. yes. it does frighten me a little.
i’ve been doing up my place (a terraced house) for three years now. hard work done by contractors, all the rest by moi. ouch!
but this house looks the part, as does the picture…
i wish you strength and courage.
and france, he? i have no idea where you are from (sorry, i’m not a regular reader – so hi!), but of course france will be france.
meaning, c’est FANTASTIQUE!


74 Caddy June 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm

CONGRATULATIONS! I’m so happy for you all. I’ve so enjoyed reading your stories about life in France. The project sounds both exciting and daunting. Wishing you the best of luck and looking forward to hearing updates, renovations stories and before and after shots. :D


75 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay June 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm

The second I saw the picture I got goosebumps. Then I read that you cried and I got choked up.

Nothing but inspiration in my mind.

I so look forward to seeing it unfold.

May it be just the sort of nest you wish for.


76 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay June 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Perhaps you could recreate the photo with your family stepping in. A few more people- but it would be lovely.


77 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:35 am

Wouldn’t that be neat, Pamela! We’re thinking the same thing.


78 Jennifer F. - American Mom in Bordeaux June 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Wow – Congratulations!! I look forward to reading how the renovations progress – this is France! We too have come to learn how slow things move – everyone just takes their time. Good luck and congrats again!


79 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:34 am

Too true! No matter what timeline we come up with, I’m sure it will end up happening far slower. : )


80 Elise June 10, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Warm congratulations! I am so excited for you and your family!


81 Yvonne June 10, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Felicitations! What a wonderful project – can’t wait to hear all about it – having fixed up several homes (though none without electricity!) I can say it is SO rewarding – so happy for you!


82 Béa June 11, 2013 at 1:26 am

Excellent! Exciting! Félicitations! It screams potential!
The house in the forest in our home region in France and that we have been completely smitten by for years is still not for sale (one of the heirs doesn’t want to sell) so no big renovation for us. one day….
Can’t wait to follow yours meanwhile!


83 Béa June 11, 2013 at 1:27 am

oh, and since you mentioned the roof; are you going for a thatch roof? maybe later down the line…


84 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:32 am

We haven’t been considering a thatched roof, and in fact, didn’t know until the closing meeting that historically the home even had a thatched roof. But wouldn’t that be neat?

For now, I think we’ll simply repair the existing roof. Which will be plenty exciting for me.


85 Hiskia June 11, 2013 at 3:11 am

Wow, congrats!! What a beauty!
We’re building a new house here in the Swiss Jura. So no charming cottage for us, but the same stress and work that will never seem to stop ;-)
What works for me is: take everything one step at a time and accept that it will not be perfect overnight.
Bon courage!!


86 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:31 am

That sounds like very good advice, Hiskia! I need to have it tattooed to my forehead. : )


87 Design Mom June 11, 2013 at 5:00 am

Thank you all for the enthusiastic comments. What a treat to wake up to so many kind words!


88 Natalie June 11, 2013 at 5:21 am

Congratulations! What a marvelous adventure. If anyone, any family, can make that cottage a little slice of heaven with love and hard work it’s you and yours!


89 Maria June 11, 2013 at 5:45 am

We seem to love renovating… We are on our second home that we’ve been redoing for 2 years now. (It’s actually called a French Chataeu style house, but in the US) and its stressful but having the vision is the most important thing. As the project starts to come together the stress melts and the joy of seeing your vision become real is the best pay off. With your situation, on the hard days I’d remind myself that what you are doing will create long lasting memories for your family for generations to come. It’s amazing, congrats!!! Can’t wait to watch the transformation!


90 Grace@ Sense and Simplicity June 11, 2013 at 7:07 am

Congratulations. What an exciting adventure. I would love to know how big the building is and if you are planning on adding on or just keeping it small and bunking in when you visit. I love that it is close to the friends you have made while you were there and places you feel connected with. I would love to do something similar – it’s on my bucket list. Oh, and that photo is the best. I just got goosebumps when I saw it. I could see a larger version of it printed on a canvas and hung with pride in the new cottage when it is finished. One of the features I love the best is that funny little corner on the doorway to the right where the stone was left rounded – my eye is drawn to it every time.


91 Julia-life on churchill June 11, 2013 at 7:24 am

oh my goodness, so excited for you guys!! Will you do renovations long distance? Will you rent it out when you are away? (I’ve always loved the idea of owning a vacation rental/2nd home). congratulations!


92 Sheila Kaminski June 11, 2013 at 8:22 am

I saw a re-do of an old barn on the COCOCOZY website today that is a must see for some great ideas for the French house. The bunk room alone is fab!


93 Barchbo June 11, 2013 at 8:22 am

How exciting! I cannot wait to see the process unfold!


94 Gea June 11, 2013 at 11:41 am

Congratulations for finally owning the house, patience is a must here in France when buying a property. Very moving the old postcard!
We live about an hour from you in Basse Normandie and have just started on the renovation of our third farmhouse (a bit like yours). It is so rewarding to be able to bring a piece of history back to life ! We simply love granite!
I saw your house has an old breadoven on the side, do you also have an old granite fireplace inside?
If you ever need any help or want to know about our experiences, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can see some before and after pictures of the holiday cottage we renovated on our website http://www.espritdubocage.com , sorry still only in French and Dutch. You can find photo’s of the renovation on the Dutch version only under the title Actueel.
Good luck and enjoy!


95 Anneliese June 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I’m so excited for you! Sounds like a dream come true, and it will force a physical connection–something to look forward to. My advice is to make it as low-maintenance as possible. I’m sure you will come up with great design solutions, but I have to tell you we became responsible for my in-laws home, which is literally around the corner, but it has been full of surprises and headaches despite having someone stay there for a week every other month. They just come when a home isn’t occupied full time. Can’t wait to see how you plan for and solve those kinds of problems. I know you will do it brilliantly.


96 Rosa @ FLUTTER FLUTTER June 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm

I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! The beauty of being a designer and having vision is that you can envision the future of that adorable little home. So excited for you and your family Gabrielle!


97 Katy @ All Sorts of Pretty June 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Oh my goodness, you and Jordan both, just a day apart! That must be a good sign :) Congrats!!


98 teresa June 12, 2013 at 8:59 am

Sweet happy Day….I hope you are just doing the Happy Dance…I know I would be.
I would find it hard to concentrate … when you get back to the states…my mind would be forever drawing up plans for the cottage.
Enjoy and good luck in your adventure!


99 Lauren June 12, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Congratulations! I have always wanted to own a piece of history. When we were house hunting in Virginia I fell in love with an 1822 plantation house.

Even better, my husband was just offered a job in London, and I am looking for a place on Sabbatical Homes. I found a medieval home, “built in 1107, with additions in 1336 and 1665. ” It’s too far from work, but can you imagine?!


100 Justin Hackworth June 13, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I love that you now have this photograph. I just don’t think it would feel the same if you found a CD that had a bunch of pictures of the house. There’s something beautiful and wonderful about holding a tangible image. And artifact. An actual piece of history. That’s why, as a photographer, I focus on selling prints, not a CD of images. As time rolls on, some things stay the same.


101 Dee Wilcox June 14, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Wow, that is so exciting! I can’t imagine doing a trans-atlantic renovation, though. That intimidates me to the core, but good for you! And the payoff will be well worth it, I’m sure. Not too long from now, you’ll have a home away from home in France. Sounds lovely. :)


102 Rose June 14, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Congratulations! Amazing. Poetic.


103 Alexandra June 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Hi Gaby,
I’ve been reading your posts for the last 3 years and in my dreams I hoped that one day I’ll be’ part of your “living with kids” section :). But halas, it will take a while apparently.
I live in the outskirts of Verona, Italy together with my husband and 2 sons and last year we have signed a pre-contract for an old house that is on the towncity’s maps since the 18th century. So big rennovation needed.
Because of the economic colapse in Italy, we have asked the owner for a 1-year delay for paying for the house because we needed a loan from the bank. Fortunately we got the loan and bought the house on February. Since then we contacted 3 contractors to get their offers and are still waiting to start the works.
I’m sorry if I sound pesimistic, but Europe works at a different rythm than US. I talked to my cousin in the US, who’s friends bought a house somewhere in Georgia last summer, teared it down, rebuilt a new one and since this spring they live there.
Europe is nice for the history, for having a relaxed kind of living, for sipping your cappuccino in an old piazza in a summer morning, but when it comes to building/rennovating an house I wish I could live somewhere else.
Good luck rennovating your beautiful house and please keep me a spot in your “Living with Kids” posts :).


104 rose June 17, 2013 at 2:02 am

Congrats!!! What a great project! You are absolutely right to start with the roof. That’s what we did…we are renovating an early 17th century townhouse in nearby Bayeux. You can read about it here: http://www.rockrosewine.com.
Again, it’s wonderful that you are doing this. What a great way to keep ties with a beautiful region. Cheers!


105 Marti June 17, 2013 at 11:36 am

I feel houses have souls and when someone takes on a project like yours and breathes life back into a house it is nothing short of a wonderful miracle. I think your project looks like a tremendous challenge and that you will do a terrific job! Good luck.


106 Rene June 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Congrats! It looks lovely!


107 Susan June 21, 2013 at 9:38 am

Congratulations! This is wonderful. Can’t wait to see more pictures on how you will decorate this charming cottage!


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