Living in a restoration home has its drawbacks, but also some surprising bonuses. Its definitely a world of pluses and minuses, with only a supposed end in sight. But then life is like that anyway, so maybe deadlines although helpful ought not to be the ultimate goal.
The home we have bought here in France is old, but we are not certain how old. The house purchase information says late 1800s. The beams in the attic say much earlier. One of these days, like in those restoration programmes I avidly watch, I would like to get the beams dated. But it is not yet top of the priority list.
Our restoration home is essentially sound, with good walls, windows and roof. We have electricity and hot and cold running water. The basics. When we were purchasing, we knew we would have to live in it whilst doing it up, so buying a complete ruin or dilapidated barn were out of the question. (Though we were lucky enough to have our place come with a dilapidated barn ripe for future renovation. But first, the house.)
What our property doesn’t really have is heat. It does have a heating system; oil tank, boiler, radiators. And in typical 1970s French rebuild fashion the boiler and very large plastic oil tank have been situated in a downstairs room. Yup. A room. Not the basement or outside, but what was a room that once held a fireplace whose flue is now used for the boiler. It was a very 70s thing to do here.
Because of its location it was one of those first things earmarked to change. Well, after insulating the attic. And tearing out some walls. And putting in a kitchen… Okay there’s rather a long list before changing the heating system.
So last November we fired up the system for the first time. And discovered, it sort of worked. But not really. It soon became apparent that whoever had put in the system had not done a good job. Though okay, the pipes wrapped with duct tape snaking around the walls might have also been a clue.
The radiators in the rooms above the boiler worked well enough. Those are the ones in the bedroom and lounge. But those towards the front of the house, nada, rien, nothing. They warmed up for a moment and then decided they had managed their quota of heat for the year. They would heat no more.
The thing about living in a restoration home is that you have to put up with, make due and definitely compromise. And be willing to give up on some plans and make new ones. The boiler system was so expensive and inefficient, that this year we decided not to run it. We have gone with simplicity instead. A portable electric heater.
The previous year I had used the heater in my office as it sits in the front of the house, where the radiators don’t work. Since it worked well, did not cost a lot to run, we have decided to keep it as our heating source for this winter. And I mentioned portable right? So it moves where we move. Like I said, make due. And luckily our winters here are short and not too too terribly cold.
And the bonus, as there is always a bonus in life (glass half full and all that), with having only one heater? It has brought our little family closer together. Nights are now spent curled up on the sofa. Me with with my kindle. (I may be rather old fashioned, but with touches of modern eccentricity.) And a couple lap blankets over my legs to add warmth.
I am surrounded by love. My cocooning lap blankets were made by my Mum and a friend, and as they warm me they also remind me of the effort they went to, which is in itself a warm feeling. Chewie is curled at my feet on the sofa, partly under the blankets. Lapsong has taken the dog’s bed by the heater. Gigi lies on my lap. Noisette is curled up beside her. At any other time of the year Gigi does not get along with the other cats, but add in some cold and we all come together. This singularly warm room is one big hug.
For more Restoration Home (and Garden)…
We upload pictures (when we can) to Flickr of our restoration home and garden works, if you would like to *see* more.
And our animals general show off their antics, and help with the restoration on Instagram.