All Posts · French Life · Renovation work · The farm · Writing and Illustrating

Little studio

With September almost upon us and most mornings a little damp from the cool night and rumbling thunder most days, French outdoor renovation days are drawing to a close. The intense heat in August as literally blown away with the stiff breezes and jumpers are actually being wrestled out of the back of the cupboard. How changeable weather can be!

The last few weeks have been mad with the purchase of eight naked neck [French Cou-Nous] and eight Guinea-Fowl [French Pintades] chicks. It will be at least a month before they can go into the new large coop, and another five before they can meet the roosters, so in the meantime they have ousted my two white jumbo Pekin ducks who have temporarily moved into the old chicken coop. They seem resigned to the change of home, as they were when the geese moved into their forest run, but I feel guilty and really need to get everyone in the right place by end October when the heavy rains start.

The large coop is making very slow progress. We have a nasty court case with a local window firm looming up and causing us stress but we have been making progress on the land clearance and my little studio that sits within the front garden of the farm house.

Pintades. Noisy little guys. Like vultures. And I am falling in love with them already.
Heff and Penquin. Why can’t we get into our house!!!!
The new coop. Or would Noah be proud? It seems to be getting larger.

Whatever property we have bought, it always seems in France to come with a small stone barn, or chicken house. In our case a renovated one with a new roof and tiled floor. The gutters are a bit suspect and the side window sill needs redesigning as the rain comes in, normal for all our windows at the moment.

I had intended to do all my future writing projects at the factory in town, along with the fabric projects and painting, but looking after the poultry and gardens of two hectares has made me rethink a little. Much of my writing takes its inspiration from the birds here anyway, the countryside and farming. It made sense to set up in the little house, where I could grab any time during the day to work on projects as I felt inspired. The atelier was also a bit cramped, trying to get a quart of retro furniture into a pint pot of factory floor space.

I wanted to repaint the lime stucco front with an old fashion green I had found back in UK by Cuprinol, in Olive, as French paint is so expensive. The shutters would be restored with an oil based paint that I could get from my local depot. This is a brilliant thick substance that smells like paint from my childhood, before the water based paints took over. It’s a little heady but covers wood, metal, you name it. Its called Opi. The colour range is limited though.

I love bright yellows and turquoises but couldn’t get the shade in the paint I wanted. I found a pale blue and as the old door was almost the same, it would save a few coats. I wanted the bright splashes of colour to come from the trellis and plants that I would add later. I also had light chalky blue Cuprinol for the picket fence and needed to tie all the colours together. For the main farm I had picked up in the UK a soft stone colour for the stucco and a forest green for the shutters.   That left me with a few tins of soft green and light blue, enough for this little building. I have realized that it makes far more sense financially working with what you have or can readily find, than bankrupting yourself with ideals and dream decorating schemes. As my husband says – can you see it from the sky? With the brocantes throwing up all sorts of styles, being creative is the measure of the day and actually its good working outside your comfort zone. I can’t have yellow, so I have to rethink. On the local forums we hear a lot of tales of renovations that have financially overrun, or even never achieved completion. The French dream can turn nightmare but it just doesn’t have to. If you reign in your temptation gene and just get on with the practical and move on, you can finish the project. One month down the line, you’re onto another room and no one will ever realize your shade of cream wasn’t anything but what they see.

My ancient handle find. With a little tinkering it fitted. And what a huge key! I must tie a big ribbon on it.

The lime stucco was sprayed on. It’s a quick coating instead of a full pointing. I don’t like it very much, but it’s unrealistic to remove it. It’s hardened to a cheese grater finish and I have the injury to confirm. I fell off the ladder and my elbow saved my head…but the skin came off and it’s got a bit infected. It also means I can’t use a roller, the surface is so rough and the paint is no good thinned. I tried that but it didn’t really save time. A little every day in the morning before the midday sun comes up and I am almost done on one side. The shutters are almost complete and yesterday the old brocante handle we found, was fitted.

The main farmhouse has the same stucco. God knows I will need a lifetime to paint that if I can’t get a paint spray to work. Luckily the previous own had a few design ideas up his sleeve and added a few decorative areas of brick and stone to break up the monotony of the stucco. He completed one half and we are going to do the same with the other – uncovering some areas of stone and using old bricks for new window openings. The little studio also has brick details and at some point we will connect the two buildings with a walkway.

I have to complete the windows next. The large front ones need a complete refurb and the top window a new sill. The outside will then be complete and I can start inside. The roof needs insulating and the stairs new treads. The floor is tiled already and there is a very sweet little old-fashioned fire inside that hopefully will work. I found two large oak desks for downstairs and rugs bought already. The rest is simply painting and sewing.

Having a dedicated writing space is a dream for me. Having spent over thirty years sharing desks, offices and corners of kitchen tables I will feel very spoilt. I want this to be a haven. I just get the feeling though that as two dogs, six cats and one very naughty chicken called Pickle will be dropping by, it might not be so quiet after all.



I got a matching pair for just €180. A little wax and maybe some chalk paint to add some pop of colour.
When my friend came last year, her daughter’s and I drew geese and birds. Fun time before the shut downs of Covid-19.

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