Mixing Family Fun With Barn Blinging! Our Way of Making Things Temporarily Brighter and More Homely

As you will know if you follow my blog, we spent 6 weeks out in France last summer, staying in our barn, 'Tiny Tim', whilst managing the summer holiday lets and changeovers, keeping the place maintained and trying to fit in as many family hols days in-between as we possibly could!

As promised, here are some pictures of the little bits we got up to as a family to add that little bit of warmth and sunshine to our Tiny Tim! Starting with the making of our new kitchen splash backs, which we had lots of fun doing and are very proud of!! Pototo print kitchen splash backs - why not!?? I think we could be onto something here - let the new craze begin! :o) ...

BEFORE:

THE TOOLS:

LET THE FUN BEGIN!:

Amélie having fun making some kitchen wall art, freestyling with her special smiley tato!:

Chili Head! :oD:

HEY PRESTO!:

KITCHEN SINK SPLASH BACK:

ET VOILA!!

Would love to hear what you all think of our creations! :O)

People tend to be very intrigued about Tiny Tim and what it is like to camp out in him. During the summer - we love it! But it has taken some doing to get him to the water tight and cosy stage he is at, with further developments in store which time (and money) will one day allow us to do bit by bit, as and when we can.

Here is what he looks like now (pictures taken at night on arrival in the summer. May look a little drearier than he is in the flesh because of the light and some bits have since had a little face lift too!):

So far, we have re-concreted and levelled the floor (by hand and playing tag team with 2 wheelbarrows, running in all the plumbing works as we went ready for the ensuite showers we hope to install during the next decade or so! For now, the red and blue plastic pipes randomly sticking out of the floor are just decoration! ;o) We have chiselled every inch of wood likely to have woodworm in the roof (pretty much all of it then!), treated it and replaced the slats and tiles ourselves.

Our internal walls, as you can see, are made from curtains bought from the local charity shop - all of which hang from the steel rod structure supports which very handily run through each section where we have divided the barn into rooms!

As it stands, we have a working kitchen - that which was existing and we pulled out of the gite when we renewed the kitchen there (waste what want not - re-use, re-use, re-use!!!). We have a traditional roll top bath (one of my sprucing projects and best bargain buys at €150 + materials!), a luxury after a hard days work or in the colder temperatures when you need to warm your bones and probably the most open plan bathroom you can get, seeing as you can study the entire roof structure of our Tiny Tim's wing which is slowly becoming our French home! It just makes you feel so little! Not great however when guests turn up at the door unannounced! Although they can't see you from the door - it is a worry that they will just walk on through!

Scott installed a wood burner and chimney on one of his very cold March visits just after we moved back to UK. I think he literally hopped out of his van, felt how ridiculously cold the barn was and got straight on with installing the wood burner and building the chimney. Very cave man like!! Man need fire - man build fire! :oD

Being that there is currently no second floor in the barn, it can take a while to heat the big cavernous space that it is, but eventually it can get very cosy (with the essential extra layers of clothing a necessity and sitting as close as possible to the fire! :oD ). We have a very efficient and effective portable gas fire which we place in the middle of the barn to heat the bedrooms and I have been known sometimes to use our gas oven as an extra heater! ;o)

We do have another wood burner to install, but no chimney built as yet for it and no time to do it right now, but one day! We also have the roof inulation ready and raring to go, but at the moment, no tower high enough to reach the roof and again, no time allowed to do it any time soon!

Still having metal barn doors at the front (next thing to be replaced - double glazed doors also ready and waiting!), it is imperative that we ensure no draft is allowed through and no precious heat is allowed to escape!! We have all sorts of odds and ends that we have collected over time and which we routinely use as draft excluders and thick lined curtains which we pretty much nail to the wall to keep that heat in! We have already installed doors to the side and rear of the barn, so we use them to go in and out!

So, although it may seem bizarre to most that we have spent time painting a 'kitchen splash back' and began painting a wall - both things being temporary measures only and one day being replaced/done properly(!), the effect it has is priceless to us! When we walk into the kitchen now, we don't see grey slabs of concrete which were once put there to stop the cows eroding the walls, but a bright, zesty, vibrant, glossy and uplifting kitchen splash back which not only makes it feel more kitchen like, but holds special memories of fun family times. I am sure I will find a way to preserve them and somehow keep them as a part of our kitchen when we finally get round to doing it one day!

Until we have sold the cottage ('Dame Blanche') and have more time on our hands to be able to focus on the barn during our visits, we can only make do with what we have and make small adjustments here and there when time allows.

The little section of wall myself and summer began painting in the lounge, although it may not seem it from the photograph, has really brightened up the lounge area. I intend to continue it, but need a very high ladder to do so! One day, we will do a proper job of stripping back the old, loose render on the walls and re-pointing it - highlighting all its beautiful natural stone and features, but for now this works! I am the world's worst when it comes to sitting around doing nothing - it is just not within me - I have to be doing something productive or I feel like it is time wasted (unless of course I am on the beach on a sunny day - then it is a different story!). I spotted a bag of 'chaux' (lime render) in the barn, grabbed it, mixed it with water and a bit of sand to tone down the colour and hey presto - chaux paint!

BEFORE:

LET US AT IT!:

(I'd just like to point out that flip-flops aren't really appropriate attire when using chaux as it burns your skin! I have scars to prove it from when I pointed/rendered Dame Blanche's walls! It was very hot though, so I took the risk and was....careful! :o) )

I like working with chaux as it goes on dark and dries lighter so even when you have stopped, it continues to brighten.

Whilst I painted the chaux to the rendered walls, Summer got on with painting the concrete slab behind the wood burner in the lounge area in white matt emulsion. She did an amazing job!! We decided I'd do a final gloss coat to make it shine and reflect light and then I finished it off with a red rose stencil. Unfortunately, that evening whilst I was painting the rose, my aunty who had been suffering from a long term illness joined the stars to make the sky shine even brighter. These red roses now represent my aunty and will always stay in our barn in memory of her.

CHAUX DRIED AND CONCRETE SLAB PAINTED:

AUNTY SUE'S ROSES:

I made the stencil a few years ago when I gave Tiny Tim's external doors a colour boost! The effect the colour of his doors and the rose stencils had on the whole place was immense! He was truly smiling! Most satisfying bit of re-vamping I have ever done as the result didn't just affect Tim and bring out his personality (yes! buildings have personalities!), but it made everything around him smile and shine even brighter and brought together the house and barn. Driving down the driveway and seeing Tim now is an absolute delight, whereas before he could look a little grey and intimidating - especially if backed by a nasty grey sky like in the picture below! Couldn't scare a fly now and his facelift is standing the test of time very well! :oD

Okay, so this picture is really about my pretty bubba - couldn't not put it in! But she is set off beautifully by the shiny red door! ;o)

So, we have booked to go back at the end of the month to prepare the house and meet our new tenants, who will be staying for a few months, and maybe even more if they really like it!

Although I am already preparing myself for the cold bit we will have to go through at the start, I think we have decided to stay in the cottage to begin with, which is quicker to heat up as we will have the kids in tow. It'll mean Dame Blanche is warm and welcoming for her new occupants and we can get the barn warm at the same time, running the wood burner for a couple of days before we move in for the week!

Right, off to purchase some baby hedge plants to plant in whilst we are over there. We didn't want big fences to divide the two properties - although privacy is paramount, it is important that it is not harsh and looks natural. We have decided on a nice soft border to officially separate the house from the barn and make them their two separate entities. Going to be hard work and will look extremely measly at first, but they will soon grow and look beautiful, making all that hard work well worth it!

If you are reading this, have lusted after the French adventure for what seems like a lifetime and are contemplating finally taking the plunge - it could all be closer to your fingertips than you imagined! As mentioned above, our beautiful cottage, 'Dame Blanche' is currently for sale - maybe she is just what you are looking for? For further information and a live tour, please click on the following link and please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions:

http://www.frenchestateagents.com/french-property-for-sale/view/83816

Until next time lovely people!

If you don't want to miss out on future blog posts, please don't forget to give my FB page a like and visit! I keep the page updated with useful French info when I can too!

Enjoy your evenings!

Thank you!

Nicolax


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