3 December 2014



When we arrived back in France on 18th November the weather was still fine and mild.  We spent a lot of time in the garden, taking the opportunity to get on with some winter clearing and tidying up - “putting the garden to bed” as a friend of mine calls it.  There’s a lot to do to get it back into good shape.

It was so mild and sunny that we just had to have the last BBQ of the year, eating lunch outdoors in the covered picnic area which was built for exactly that purpose.


We all enjoyed being outdoors in lovely warm sunshine at the end of November, knowing quite well that it couldn’t possibly last much longer.


It actually lasted for nearly another week and then, suddenly, as if someone had flipped a switch, on 30th November winter arrived.

weather4 weather5

On Sunday we went to an antiques fair at Azay-le-Rideau.  It was barely a few degrees above freezing we were definitely feeling the cold. 


There were plenty of antiques on offer but the prices were high.  No bargains were to be had and although plenty of visitors were looking, nobody much seemed to be buying.


It was cold enough to make these fur coats tempting, but not at the prices offered.


Even Daisy showed less inclination to go out hunting, preferring the comfort of her warm and cosy bed to the excitement of chasing mice in the draughty old barn.  We found ourselves spending more time in the kitchen and we quickly arrived at a big decision…….

kitchen 2

When we bought the house we felt it was very much a “move straight in” situation.  In many ways that it still true – we haven’t got to renovate the property as such but as we settle in we realise that there are things that we would like to change. 

The kitchen looks lovely but some of the cabinets are a bit past it.  The dishwasher didn’t work properly and we have already replaced it (along with the washing machine and the tumble drier) and we no longer use the oven since the door dramatically fell off.  We are not overly fond of the dark granite worktops either.

Above all, some of the floor tiles are in a poor condition, getting rapidly worse so a new floor of some kind is a priority.

kitchen 3

The metal spiral staircase looks trendy but we find it awkward so have plans to change that too.

None of these things come as a great surprise.  We felt we would change things bit by bit but last weekend we decided to bite the bullet and have a new kitchen, sooner rather than later.  The thing that tipped the balance was the floor.  We need to have a new floor before fitting a new staircase and it makes no sense at all to fit new floor tiles around old kitchen units and appliances that are past their best.  So we decided to go the whole hog.

We have been measured up for a new oak staircase.  The first job will be to remove the existing kitchen and put down a new floor.  Once the floor is down the staircase can be fitted and the new kitchen will follow. 

kitchen 1

So we are juggling ideas for a new kitchen layout.  The new cooker (or hob) will go on the back wall where we can have an extraction hood on the outside wall.  We like having a table in the kitchen where we can sit and eat or relax and luckily there is plenty of space for it, but other than that we are flummoxed.

A new kitchen is an exciting prospect and we need to get it right!


  1. Oh boy! A kitchen remodel to follow! I really enjoyed doing mine, and am always happy to cook in it, because it's just the way I want it. Congrats on making this big decision :)

  2. p.s. Are you saying that your stove vent hood does not connect to any outside vent? You probably already know this, but some of these (like mine) are "ventless", and simply re-circulate and clean the air they pull in, instead of pushing the air out a vent to the outside. Is it possible that this one is "ventless"?

    1. Judith, the cooker hood is indeed on an internal wall but unfortunately it's not the recirculating type

  3. We had the same sudden switch to winter temps here in Aveyron, even with a few dustings of snow. But I say it was about time! That warmth in late November was a little unsettling. It is about time for Christmas, so I say bring on some winter!

  4. A new kitchen. I'm very envious. Now is the right time to do it so that you can enjoy the outcome, rather than feeling dissatisfaction but putting up with it. Look forward to seeing the changes.

    1. Gaynor, we could have put up with the cabinets and the worktops if we had been happy with the cooker, but a new cooker was definitely on the cards. It was the need for a new floor that clinched it.
      We think we will get it done after the new fosse arrives - I'm not sure I can cope with more than one project going on at a time!
      We still have no idea when that will be but the inspection is on the 15th so we're slowly moving forwards!

  5. As you are going the full pig as t'were...
    have you considered putting in an island...
    deeper, but shorter than, the units that contain the sink...
    so that you can get to the utility without the ten-mile trek...
    additionally, it would give Daisy something to hurtle round and round.

    Also, units on legs are good...
    that we have discovered...
    you can mop under very easily...
    and, of course, they rest on the tiles...
    so if you want to make a change.......................................

  6. When we did our kitchen we downloaded some software from the Lapeyre web site. You start with the basic dimensions of the space, add permanent things like doors and windows, then start plugging in the units, appliances etc. You could probably use it for any supplier because the dimensions tend to be much the same. You can keep as many versions as you like..You can rotate your model to see it from all directions. What I liked most was putting in a window and a black-and-white cat was visible through it. Pauline

  7. We used the IKEA software for planning the kitchen. The one drawback is that it only copes with right angles, nothing wider or narrower. We also went for IKEA for the cabinets. We couldn't figure out what the specialist kitchen suppliers were offering that was worth 4 times what IKEA charged. IKEA hinges etc are top quality so it's not a case of 'you get what you pay for'. We commissioned the granite worktops from a wholesaler who deals directly with the quarry. We got a superb custom made sink for free because the granite cutter made a mistake with the dimensions (the fitters were brilliant, and sorted this with no bother at all). Our cooker we got at less than cost price due to a mistake on the part of the vendor. Simon sourced a display model range hood at a substantial discount. Our floor tiles came from the factory in the Brenne. Dishwasher and fridge bought online.

    You may find that no French artisan will install your hood exhaust up the chimney. Ours is positioned under an old chimney, but no one will touch it, so it is just on recycle. French artisans will tell you it is illegal to put the exhaust up a chimney, which it is if the chimney is in use as a chimney as well. It is not illegal if the chimney is not used, but you won't convince the artisans. You may also have to put a booster pump up the exhaust flue if you are going any height.

  8. Looking forward to seeing the results. Our extractor fans (bathroom and kitchen) when put in, were just put up into the open roof area! The roofing guy, when he came to sort out the roof for us after the massive hail storm in 2009, fixed it all up. He replaced a tile for each with one, with a tile that had little hat thingy on and he connected the pipe up to that. Good luck Diane

  9. Now I remember that one of the things that you wanted in a new house was a turret. Hang the expense and build a staircase (Moyen age) with a turret. OK, silly idea. Back to a new kitchen.

    1. Leon, funny you should mention the turret.....if we have one it will need a spiral staircase.......it's still in my overall plan but may have to wait a while.

  10. You just can't stop yourself can you? :-) Good luck with it all, I look forward to seeing pictures as the new kitchen reveals itself!

  11. You give a good argument and I'm certain you won't regret it.

  12. Jean, lucky you! I love our kitchen and we spent a long time planning it–mostly because it was a weekend house for years and a better kitchen was not our top priority.

    I don't know how big your space is, so anything I say here is just general advice.

    I second whoever suggested a work island. Even a cart on wheels comes in handy.

    If you have pretty things, open shelves are nice. The only closed storage I have is for the cake/pie/bread/cupcake pans. Everything else is visible.

    Using planning software from IKEA or whoever is a good idea. A lot of the information we had to learn ourselves is now available from IKEA.

    We did our kitchen back before there was such a thing as planning software and just tried different locations for an island (a library desk stood in for the eventual larger island). I kept in mind the principle of the work triangle: refrigerator-counter-sink-counter-stove.

    If you go the custom route, they can set the counter height to suit your height.

    You need enough space for two people to work side by side. You need enough space for the cook to stand in front of the oven door when it’s fully open.

    While you’re in the planning stage, work out your lighting along with your layout so you can get your lights and many outlets positioned where they will be the most use.

    We had fun, made mistakes, fixed some of them, but it’s a great room with the working area, big windows, a dining area, and two couches for reading and napping.

    My final word of advice is not to rush the process. The more you learn, the more satisfied you’ll be with the end results. Stoves, sinks, and fridges are not easy to move once they are hooked up.

  13. Gosh, you are fast movers! At the speed you are going your kitchen will have had its refurb by the time we even manage to get the Rayburn fitted in ours, let alone getting the kitchen finished!

  14. Don't forget LED under-cabinet lights! I LOVE LOVE LOVE that we opted for them in our kitchen design. I never had under-cabinet lights before. What a difference it makes.

    Also, I LOVE having my island. It's actually, technically, a cart, because it has wheels, but I never move it. It's really heavy.

  15. Lots of good advice there, Jean. I loved planning the new kitchen we put in the old house about 5 years ago and my main regret in moving was leaving it behind. I too like open shelves but would never put them in a kitchen heated by a woodburner because of the inevitable dust. Just a thought...