Cassis was under a wild wonderful wicked storm, all day long.
Waking to waves crashing, thunderous, my dream said, "Westport!" though the reality laughed, "Cassis! This loud?" Opening the shutters this is what I saw: Northern California! Oh la la, but it felt like it, as memory happiness swam right up to the window and splashed me.
Cassis in the winter, is my childhood summer, Oh! Laying on the beach in sweatshirts with my cousins Bernie, Alma, Bev. and my brothers under the fog, camping every summer.
The first time I heard about Cassis: 30 years ago, I was in Paris having dinner with Yann's friends when one of them said, "Oh if you move to Marseille, you must go to Cassis, the locals St. Tropez."
The locals, and history said, "Never was there a day like today."
Waves whipping as they do up north, with the boom that makes one know who is in charge: Nature.
And the mist sprayed against my face, glorious baptism, licking my salty lips, smile down to my toes.
The waves stayed rough throughout the day, spectacular, impressive, grand, dramatic, familiar of a distance home.
Cassis rainbow of color.
The ever changing constant. The deep diving dreams, surfacing such things as sand, pearls, seaweeds and once Chelsea found a message in a bottle in Mendocino.
Mesmerizing, mysterious pull, oh siren how do you do that? I could not turn away. How fortunate seagulls are to dance above the waves.
God, I could live in this house.
How many times have I said that?
Does that count as prayer?
This evening you were still going strong.
A Cassis sign on the Route de Crete.
The Mistral, bringing chill to a blue sky day.
The view from the cliff or the Cap.
Do you see our place?
Pastel colored facades at nightfall.
Plane trees waiting for Spring's crown.
-Le Grand Bleu
-La Vieille Auberge
-La Villa Madie
-Chez Moi xx
The sound of the sea and a place,
to watch a little girl play with her dog.
and then cast our goodbyes into the blue.
On my birthday Chelsea and Sacha made this 16 second video of us dancing in Cassis.
Make sure you have your volume on.
Music by Ed Sheeran - Shape of You
The stairs had to be taken out, the beams above were rotten.
The room in the back is now a living space/second bedroom.
We also lowered the floor in the back by taken out the second step to one step. Underneath we found an eighteen century oar.
Finding doors to divide the room.
Turning the French doors into sliding doors.
Remember the light I found broken and tangled at a second hand shop? It
was the beginning of when my thoughts started to think mid century, something why out of my comfort zone, modern.
I am so pleased. I keep tearing up. I cannot believe this is happening. A dream came true.
Thank you Rene, if I say it a million times it won't be enough.
We started moving furniture into the Cassis apartment yesterday.
Since the apartment is on the port we needed to start early as no cars are allowed on the port after 10:30am. Rene, Fabien and French Husband are superheros.
Out of all the pieces we carried up, the mattress proved the most complicated. Yeah yeah yeah why did I buy a queen size mattress? Because I thought it would fit. And with great effort it did.
Thank you for your letting me know which banner you liked best. Now, I have to find the high density photo on my hard drive, given I have 30000000000000000000 or more photos unmarked, nor filed in any reasonable order that could prove daunting. Fingers crossed.
The bedroom is upstairs, three flights to be exact.
We keep pinching ourselves.
Not everything is here but nearly.
I still have to buy a few more pieces.
Such as dining room chairs, and end tables...
But it is so lovely to see it unfold.
To see the furniture, the paintings, and the place, as people who helped us one way or another to get here. Rene is at the top of the list.
We had dinner and slept here last night,
but the best was to wake up this morning to this dream.
When we renovated in Paris I was there every single day, most the time inside the apartment watching the hunks do their thing. But this renovation it was not possible to stay inside as the work was far more intense, the spaces were smaller (though the same size as Paris) though Cassis in on three floors, and the stairs connecting the three floors no longer exist because we torn them out for the remodel, we eventually we reconstructed a stairwell.
But the main reason I was not in the apartment everyday... INCREDIBLE DUST!
This is a fuller view, walking around was not easy, and debris and supplies were constantly being moved as the work area is small, plus everything needs to be done inside.
The apartment is on three floors, here you can see the bedroom floor up above.
We took down the walls to make the bedroom into an open loft and to have the light from the skylight extend downstairs. Also we removed the fake ceiling to expose the roof line. There was a ladder accessing the bedroom, which we did not want and had stairs made to connect it to the second floor and bedroom loft.
Question: Can we make the skylight larger? No. There are strict historical monument codes in Cassis. Nothing on the outside of the building can be changed. This code came into practice no so long ago...
A hole was cut out to access the bottom floor. Back in March 2016 on Facebook I added a video, showing the floor being cut out.
The renovation team carried out seventeen tons of debris. They had to carry the debris out in buckets as the stairwell access the building were too steep and narrow to do otherwise.
To complicate matters, Cassis only allows delivery to and from the port before 10:30 am. After that no vehicles are allowed on the port. So we had to do any delivery or removal before 10:30 am.
Seventeen tons before 10:30 am, and much more delivered before 10:30 am, massive organization which Rene, our contractor was brilliant at doing.
This is the top floor, the loft bedroom. The wall in front was removed and the roof line exposed for more light and to have a open feel. The guard rail was were the ladder came up, that will be removed as well. The stairs come up on the other side.
The stairs use to come up under the toilet. There was a tiny entrance where the rubble is piled to access the apartment. A tiny entrance equals a truck load of rubble. How many buckets did it take to unload it downstairs?
When we bought the apartment, the first thing we knew we had to do, was figure out the stairs. We had a suspicion that when we removed the old unusable stairs that we would find a problem, and we did. The two main beams in the apartment, one of them under the stairs, had been cut and did not reach the supporting wall. YIKES! Also the other beam was cut in half so the toilet could fit underneath the stairs. YIKES again. When renovating century old buildings/apartments/houses such interesting discoveries are made. Some beautiful, others shocking and some just curious.
Needless to say two old oak beams were purchased and hauled upstairs... a feat for Hercules.
The other question many of you asked was can we make the windows larger? No we cannot as the outside cannot be changed.
If you have any questions or want to see a detail of whatever, let me know in the comment section and I will try my best to answer you.
The movers delivered the sofa to Cassis, though they could not take it up to the apartment as the exterior stairs' angle was too short and the sofa could not get through the front door.
If you following me on Facebook (or want to follow me click here) you can watch a video of Rene and Yann climbing a ladder with the sofa in their hands, then going on to Chez Gilbert's Restaurant's awning and then passing the sofa through the second floor window. I was filming down below praying and swearing, swearing and praying non-stop. Mostly swearing.
The apartment is painted. A few more details and touch ups to tend to. Tomorrow the floors and stairs will have a seal put on them, so we won't be able to "move in" until around the 12th.
The very beginning of the final stage.
Much more furnishings to come, so it feels like home.
The fun part starts now!
At last Cassis is in the final stages of completion. It is being painted as I type and then the light fixtures and plugs will go in. We had the entire kitchen painted in Stone White, the same color we used in Paris. The grey hints soften the coldness of the glaring white. I prefer it. We also had painted the bathroom wall and the second bedroom's French doors a blue black too, I love it!
When a project kicks off it seems to happen quickly, when walls or rooms are being demolitioned is easy to see progress: Once a room now rubble. But as the project goes on and aims for the finish line it is harder to see the progress as the work is in the smaller details. The house in Cassis is shaping up beautifully, and I will feel bored without it! How I enjoyed the process. Rene is a genius craftsman. HE conquered every idea I put before him.
As soon as it is completed the furniture will go it.
I can hardly stand it, I want to get to it as my home in St Zac. feels like a warehouse and the creative force of collecting all that stuff is aching to get out.
There is a glass console for the bedroom upstairs, two nightstands, a closet, some paintings, a table and a chunky fold-out canape (sofa in French) for downstairs.
Rene's wife, Laiticia restored the antique chandelier.
The last details await my return.
Here are two photos that Rene sent me of the kitchen.
The first thing I have to do when I return to France, besides kissing up French Husband, is pick out paint colors... Yann and I have different ideas when it comes to painting. So as I was leaving and we still hadn't made up our minds, or should I say we were still disagreeing, paint decisions were put on hold.
The second thing is to pick a kitchen faucet,
Here is an example of the two I like, which one do you prefer?
Something like this
What is your opinion?
After the French Muse the list of things to do before leaving for Willows (this coming Monday) was daunting. I had to remind myself one thing at a time. The very first thing was checking in with Rene regarding Cassis, the floor is nearly in place and tomorrow the kitchen will start to take shape! The grand scheme for the apartment is in place. When I return the decor details will be on the agenda. It is bittersweet to be leaving before it is completed, but we are on the same page as what is in store and what needs to be done. I trust Rene, and the plan we have for Cassis.
Our friends Arnelle and Roger came to spend the day with us. We were in Cassis and it felt like summer even though I had a sweater and tights on.
My friend Mo from Reves made the garlic out of black clay pottery and white glaze. Isn't it darling.
The House Next Door has seen three friends and a fourth one to come. Everyone seems to fall in love with it! The House Next Door has a calming effect, it is like a cocoon. If you are coming to Provence and need a place to stay think about coming to stay with us.
I call the photo I took above: Wall Flowers, as they were against the wall in a vase.
Those of you who know me, know I do not create art. But the other day I took a torn, tattered piece of 1700s altar silk, and carefully glued it to a board then framed it.
What are you up too? What projects are you working on?
Remember how I wanted to change the window in Cassis, and I was quoted 1500 Euros. Well I went hunting around salvage yards, and found one!!!! (Yes that many exclamation marks!) As the window in the fisherman's house is not a standard size I didn't expect to be lucky, but I was. An 1800s wooden window, rounded top, interior shutters and original hardware for 60 Euros.
Well, the old new window is in place. Rene sent me the photos with a note:
Progress in Cassis
Photos via Rene on the site.
If you want to know more I will fill in the details this evening.
Cassis is back on track, during the last two weeks Rene and his brother in law Fabien, have been working their magic and muscle turning Cassis into a home. Everyday the progress is evident, the fisherman's house is being transformed before our eyes.
Rene cut through the stone wall so we could have an entrance. But before doing so he saw that within the wall there was a long iron railroad track running parallel (such as an i-beam) to support the wall. Seriously, if this fisherman's house could talk the stories it would tell, like how and why did they carry a massive iron railroad track to insert in the stone wall? Four discs later Rene had cut through it.
Isn't the stairwell so cool! Since the stairs could not go straight up as the large wooden beams would have been in the way of one's head, we had to put a curve in a iron slab to be able to walk up without ducking. Not a simple calculation.
Walls are being plastered on the first floor where the kitchen will be plus there will be a den.
The window faces the port, the entrance is to the left, the kitchen will run along the right side and the den is opposite of the window.
Waterproof plaster boards are going up for the kitchen back splash.
Filling- Insulation/sound proofing.
Rene had to level the floor in doing so he added a filler in between the old floor and the new floor. The next step will be adding the wooden floor boards.
Plastering the walls.
To be continued....
Some photos are Rene's, you can follow him on Facebook for more information.
Ask him to accept you as his friend:
A longtime blog reader, and "feel like I know you friend" Peggy came to our part of the world for a month long visit with her husband Bob. They settled into our town on the boarder of two great regions, and dove deep into the slow lifestyle travel. Everyday they went to an off the beaten trail to a local market, where English was not heard and because of that the reality that this is France, and not catering to the tourist but to the locals who live here. They gathered their daily meal, plus baguette and wine from the local vendors, then had lunch in the walled garden where they were staying. Each afternoon they would head out on one of the many local trails into the Saint Baume forest. We live at the base of Saint Baume where tourist barely thread:
met boar hunters,
where they walked miles in the forest that Napoleon came to claim for his war machine and ended up declaring it holy and left it intact.
This summer we have at least fifty or so guests, some have stayed with us, some have stayed in the tiny house and recently in the house next door. Each guest/friend has left our little non touristic town declaring it holy and leaving it as it is...
far off the beaten trail.
With pleasure I would like to share Peggy's blog post about our town:
"The British author, Peter Mayle describes me best; I am not a scholar. Rather, a dreamer, one who crowds a collage of perfectionistic photos and places them (complete with fragrance and aroma) percolating and illustrated 'on location' in my fixated fantasy land; recently, Provence.
MP and I dove into the deep end; during September we settled in a small out-of-the-way village, Saint-Zacharie, nestled in the hills of Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur at the foot of Saint Baume Massif.
Rooted in remote mind-boggling history, the sweet hamlet is located on the edge of the Huveaune River, flowing with life-giving water and mythical fairy lore. (Although, the river was dry this year for the first time in twelve).
Off the beaten track, without a monument, museum, or lavish fête in sight, its proximity to the sea, countryside, and terraced medieval towns makes a seamless dot from which to ‘slow travel’.
Facebook video here:
Without an agenda, we settled into a ‘guardian house’ attached to a massive 300-year-old home situated in a walled garden where notable trees, trailing vines, and hiding bushes--according to Arnaud who spent boyhood holidays in the garden-- speak to each other and applaud the towering Au Grand Cedre, who claps his hands and in a deep voice dominates over them all, I imagine.
We slept well and took time to listen to cooing doves, French schoolchildren on the boulevard below, and the bells of St. Zac chiming on the hour ( if you forget to count, a re-chime occurs a moment later); a pure melodic heartbeat signaling a call to set aside unspoiled mealtime, worship, celebrate and to mourn.
A zillion trails in fragrant forests, some steep strewn with rocks and steps, others with wide open red soil, earth and sheer cliffs leading us to Calanques de Cassis, carried us over 90 miles in 25 days.
Slow days, simple pleasures of the daily baguette and a bright, juicy melon, fresh green markets, touring bigger cities, cathedrals, synagogues, rows of Brocante wonders, even an endless cheese trolley, allowed us to be present in the moment.
Our senses were seduced, our bellies indulged, and we were cared for with only a few words of French in our quiver. Unassuming ambassadors, guests of another culture to respect, we knew if we were polite, kind, unhurried, able to laugh at ourselves, puff appropriately, shrug and hold an open palm of coins when the math eluded us, spontaneous bouts of infectious laughter ensued--buying mosquito repellant in the pharmacy comes to mind.
Doors widened; new friendships tendered vulnerable conversations, and old-fashioned genteel correspondences came about.
Therefore, short of a novel, I posted an abridged summation of our treks, food foibles and triumphs on Facebook during #septinfrance with photos and comments. Many of you tagged along which presented a super highway moving picture postcard of inspiration.
When we left St. Zac for Paris (another thunderous bolt for the oozing senses) at the end of the trip, I wrote this of our 20 days,
Our last day in St. Zac meant pack... we lingered a little longer when our neighbors invited us to share a lunch of purplish green artichokes (with the biggest hearts), sliced beets, cheeses, and sourdough baguette below the grand cedar in the garden. Being o'so polite, I took a few pictures of our new friends. I dragged my bag, feet, and heart to the gate, looked up to lime green pomegranates and yet to flower wisteria vines; equally green. A source close to the garden said, "Stay until we bloom."
More reflections may indeed come forward!
Photo source: Yann Rolland-Benis
Thank you, Corey and Yann for your generous spirits' and mischevious gifts-- ♥
If you have found my blog because you too know Corey Amaro and hers, Tongue in Cheek, message me for the details to glean what I learned to make your dream happen too!"
We carried a portable picnic table, where four places to sit pop out, upstairs to our apartment in Cassis. With it we brought wine, glasses, a tablecloth, yet forgot the corkscrew. Luckily the apartment is above Chez Gilbert (a restaurant) they lent us one. Since there was five of us French Husband sat on the paint bucket.
Amongst the supplies, and renovation we celebrated for no reason.
Our friends Anne and Kirk and my Belle Mere joined us.
Kirk, who loves brocanting, brought us this book about Cassis that he found at Emmaus which is like a Salvation Army in France.
The book is full of old photos and postcards. Such thoughtfulness Kirk!
Taking a drink of that view.
Kirk and Anne took these photos of us standing upstairs looking out.
It feels like a dream.
Joel, the third generation blacksmith is a master at his art, known for his speciality in making stairs.
Yann and I sought out several staircase makers and their sources, we weren't impressed for one reason or another. We were introduced to Joel through Francois, Rene's father. Joel and Francois have known each other since childhood. Good friends, same work ethics and ultra talented.
Joel came to Cassis, saw the situation firsthand: Small space, beams that make a long staircase impossible, a spiral staircase that would take up to much room, basically a puzzle to he was gamed to solve.
Measurements, calculations, drawings... and sorting through ideas. We agreed we wanted it as transparent as possible, yet comfortable to go up and down.
Today we drove to his workshop to see the plan, talk when and how much.
All is good.
Joel is in high demand, so it pays to know his best friend. The soonest he can begin is at the end of July.
In the meantime, Rene will start on another project we have.
Talk about many irons in the fire; that is how it rolls here.
Joel's workshop is like a gallery/museum/cool place.
The equipment, the heavy leather aprons, the fireplace, the sound of hammering, the muscles...
Yeah I was drooling.
Art is art no matter the form, or the material. Watching someone create is such a pleasure, such a gift.
Nothing industrial, prefabricated, or one size fits all.
Artisans create: That which is meant to last, that which made by hand with passion, precision, their knowledgable imagination it is a labor of love and love is not cheap, nor meant to be thrown away.
Joel showing us a step that will be similar to ours.
The pattern is drawn with chalk on the iron slabs.
Is this a cool?
I wanted the anvil, the arbor press, the blacksmith striker (yes the young guy why not?), the finery forge, the hammers, the leather apron...
The seven elemental metals -- gold, copper, silver, lead, tin, iron, and mercury, the metals of antiquity.
A guard rail Joel made.
I would rather have that chimney hood than a Chanel bag.
The stairs from the middle room to the bedroom will look like this.
The stairs from the kitchen to the middle room will turn near the top.
If you would like to see videos you can do so by following me on Facebook, and or
Thank you Rene. Thank you for your amazing generous talent. Thank you for your incredible energy, spirit and that constant smile.
I know the project is not over, but I cannot wait until the end to tell you thank you, so I am going to say it now, Thank you!
The first coat of paint.
Somewhere along the line I am going to have to pick a color...
and a direction of interior design.
But for now, it is such a pleasure to just see it as it is:
A miracle in the making.
The amount of work that has been done is such a pleasure to watch unfold. To see the skill Rene has. I am utterly impressed.
To imagine something and have someone be able to take it to reality and beyond, is impressive.
The stairs will go here.
What a difference a day makes.
By the end of next week the bathroom should be completed. Whew. The bedroom upstairs and the middle floor are nearly complete. Due to the stairs, which hopefully will start at the end of May, being created/made inside the apartment we cannot paint, nor put the wooden floor, nor set up the kitchen. There simply isn't room for the workmen to build the stairs if the kitchen is in place.
Above you see a photo of the bathroom sink, which use to be the kitchen sink that the previous owner's great grandfather made.
In this photo on the far left will be the shower, then the sink and next to it the washer and dryer. The door that I had cut and made into a window is along the wall where the washer and dryer will be. None of the walls are straight, due to the age of the building and more so because it was made that way, and because I did not want to lose an inch of space by using sheet rock so had the walls plastered the traditional way. The uneven walls makes for extra calculations. Rene is a genius.
The opposite wall from the shower and sink, is the toilet on the far right in front of the shower, and the next space will house the water heater combo linen closet, after that there is an opening for the entrance. I am not going to put up any doors. Sacha and Chelsea think I am crazy. But when you see it you might agree with me, or not.
The entrance to the bathroom is by the window and in front of the washer and dryer.
The shower is called an Italian Shower because it is ground level without a step in, a glass wall will run alongside the sink.
Massive tiles will go up along three walls and on the floor, to see them you can look here:
Action Tiles http://www.equinoxceramictile.com/action/
This is the view looking out the bathroom window, to the port.
The view from the bathroom door into the main room.
In the living space, the port is behind me, the bathroom in front of me. Above the bathroom is the bedroom, and under the bathroom is another bedroom and underneath where I am standing is the entrance and kitchen area.
The stairs will be on the right hand side. The bedroom is lower where Rene is standing, but the ceiling goes up dramatically as you walk back.
The French doors in the back are sliders, behind them there will be a bedroom. The stairs to the upper floor will run along the right side, opposite the stairs the kitchen will be, behind me the dining space and entrance.
This will be the future dining area looking out to the port.
Half way there, 17 tons of debris taken out so far.
This is the Fisherman's house in Cassis that we found in late August, and finialized the purchase in March. We started the work on the same day. The Fisherman's house is 700 square feet on three floors. We are in the process of a massive renovation. As what needed to be done, it would be easier to say what did not need to be done. Simply put: Everything needed to be done.
The photo above shows the third floor which is the bedroom. We knocked the wall out that faced the port and took off the entire fake ceiling to bring in more light to the bedroom, also we wanted to reveal the beams. There was a ladder that accessed this bedroom, we covered that ladder entrance by rebuilding the floor, the stairs will come up on the left hand side of this photo, where there is a wooden barrier to remind us that there is a hole three floors down.
The bedroom was wallpapered with pink roses, and there wasn't any electrical plugs. Renee and his father are stripping the pink rose wallpaper and are adding electrical outlets.
The pink rose wallpaper is behind and to the sides of this photo. There is a small skylight that we cannot enlarge. The beams are exposed, some of them will be roughen up so they "match" the older ones, then a white wash will be added to them since every beam in the Fisherman's House is different.
The grand opening that you see is where we took out the wall, will have two fine round iron bars running lengthwise as a guard rail.
The stairs will come up here, on the left hand side.
Before there was a wall here.
Now from the bedroom you can see the port, and from the bathroom which is under the bedroom you can see the port too.
The ceiling is very high which surprisingly allows the light of this one window to bounce around lighting the entire room. I purposely focused on the boat outside with my cell phone so you could see the boat and how close the port is.
Here you can see how light it is.
Yes that is one tiny cozy sitting room.
As we had to re-build the floor that had an opening for the ladder, then open a part of the floor on the opposite side for the stairwell, we had to reinforce the part we opened, since we cut through two main support beams. Renee bolted an iron rod from the floor to the ceiling and then covered the iron rod with this old beam I bought. He cut the beam lengthwise, then carved an opening, then encased the iron rod. Pretty cool no?
Renee's father stripping the wallpaper and re plastering the wall.
Pink rose wallpaper... And now what?
Looking down from the ledge.
I will feel safer once the stairs are in place.
The floor below we have to raise as it slants. We will be replacing the tiles with wood.
In this photo I am looking down from the bedroom, pass the middle room, into the kitchen. If you look closely you can see the bathroom window underneath.
Yes ladders up and down, Renee and his Father are in such amazing shape, they never complain as they go up and down countless times in a day.
This is the air vent for the dryer, and for the bathroom. We had wanted to add an air conditioner but we are not allow to add anything on the facade or roof. This evacuation outlet is going through the chimney that was once present but had been removed long before we bought it.
If you have any questions I will try to answer them.
Remember how I wanted to change the window in Cassis, and I was quoted 1500 Euros. Well I went a hunting around salvage yards, and found one!!!! (Yes that many exclamation marks!) As the window in the fisherman's house is not a standard size I didn't expect to be lucky, but I was. An 1800s wooden window, rounded top, interior shutters and original hardware for 60 Euros! It feels like winning the lottery.
Happy beyond measure.
Maybe I should play the lottery, maybe I am on a lucky roll?
When you walk up the narrow stairwell you enter the kitchen. Opposite this view there is a window that looks to the port and onward to the sea. The kitchen will be an alley style along the left side, at the far end there will be a sitting room/bedroom (behind the French doors).
Last week I found a set of four French doors that I bought at the salvage yard (cost 130 Euros), they will be transformed into sliding doors for the purpose of saving space, doors take space to open. The oar, that Renee found renovating the house, was under the floor in this sitting room.
Renee's father, Francois is also an artisan, his trade is plastering the traditional way and creating crown moulding. The entire fisherman's house will be plastered the traditional way. As the walls are stone they are by nature not straight nor even. If we had used sheet rock we would have had perfectly straight walls at the price of losing valuable footage.
Two of the French doors are in place, they will be "fixed" and other two (in the middle) will slide. As you can see we raised the back floor, partly to give it a separate room feel, and because it was like that before except two steps higher instead on one. But mainly we raised the floor because the building as a whole has leaned towards the sea (no it is not unsafe, or falling, or sinking...) but has "set" in over the years. The floor slated towards the sea from back wall to window about 15 cm.
The stairs to the second floor, or middle floor as we call it, are on the outside of the sitting room, next to the kitchen (which will be on the left hand side of this photo), the stairs will be in metal on the right hand side.
I am unsure about the ceiling in the sitting room: Hopefully it can be stripped and look good, or it can be left as is, or painted.
In this photo the entrance is on the right hand, I took the photo standing in front of the window.
We opted for metal stairs as the metal thickness will be thinner than wooden stairs. The sense of volume will have a lighter impact.
The stairs will take several weeks to make by Joel a friend of Francois.
I will include links to the artisans we are working with. If you are planning to build, renovating or restore and need a brilliant dependable team these are the guys to call.
Yann finally "sees" what I have been talking about and is pleased.
I had wanted copper faucets and hardware for the bathroom, but the only thing I found was more than I wanted to pay (4,800 Euros for a shower head and faucets) and Yann "couldn't" see how copper would look good. Though the other day he said, "Oh now I see what you mean! Copper would have been really good. Why didn't you convince me for it?"
Because I have to convince him on 99 percent of everything.
The kitchen will be where the tubes, cords and wires are.
Small space, big dreams, incredible team!
The stairs will go where the ladder is, though the opposite direction.
Ever time I go up, or down which is worse, I freak out. The memory of the ladder breaking (three years ago while I was wallpapering) and me falling on a concrete floor, shattering my wrist are relived. I cannot wait for the stairs to be in place.
I also look forward of walking out of the apartment not covered in dust.
This is inside the bathroom. On the right is the kitchen door transformed into a window, it looks out over the stairwell and into the second sitting room.
At the opposite end there will be a washer and dryer. I did not want them here, but that is one decision Yann won. I can live with it... I think.
On the right will be the washer and dryer, Yann is standing in front of the sink and on the left will be a shower. The shower wall will be in glass. It is a tight fit, that is why I did not want the washer and dryer in here. Practical Yann won. Space hog Corey lost.
Renee showing Yann how the doors will work.
It is starting to shape up and I can feel summer around the corner.
The apartment in Cassis, or the Fisherman's House as it known in Cassis, had nothing in it to be salvaged. The plumbing, electricity, two support beams, sagging floors... had to be restored. Basically, the entire place had to be gutted. Fifteen tons of debris were carried out by hand in buckets since the stairwell was too small to maneuver anything wider than fifty five centimeters, or basically the size of my hips. Adding to the fun the Port of Cassis doesn't not allow any cars, let alone trucks on the port after eleven in the morning.
We salvaged two things:
The stone kitchen sink and the kitchen door.
The top part of the kitchen door was a window so we used the kitchen door window in the bathroom to add some light. The kitchen sink we are using as a bathroom sink (Talk about repurposing!).
Renee, the young amazingly talented artisan is also a stone cutter. He hauled up two incredible pieces of stone that he carved to use to hold up the sink. The above photo shows them in place. The stone hasn't been clean and the floor has yet to be tiled but I wanted to show you a photo before the work begins.
...to be continued.
Oh the apartment in Cassis. After six weeks of wondering if we were going to have to use ladders to access the upstairs, we finally found an artisan who can build them for us. Hopefully in June he will start. Since the apartment is difficult to access because it is on the port with massive restrictions as to when and for how long we can park a truck, the work will continue to be done inside. The iron pieces will be carried up stairs (already that is a major feat) then welded piece by piece inside the apartment. That means the floor boards and painting will be completed after the stairs are in place.
photo: Standing in the kitchen looking up the ladder that one day will be stairs to the middle floor.
The iron stairs will come up from the entrance/kitchen downstairs (the hole on the right side of the photo above) then turn to the left where Yann is looking down. The will be 80cm wide. Then they will restart from the top of that hole and go up to the bedroom behind the blue plastic.
The window is staying it looks into the bathroom.
The guys are calculating stairs and i-beams to add to the ceiling to support the weight.
A massive project in a small space.
The upstairs beam will be cut, and then a support will be added as the stairs will run along the right side.
It is a puzzle but one I can visual and find interesting. So much to think about, calculate... we are fortunate to have an incredible team of artisans working on it. They make every horror story about construction sound impossible because they are smart, steady, strong, perfectionist and honest masters at their work. Nothing is daunting to them.
Renee also carved to stones to use as a base for the sink.
Amazing he is.
That is the hole for the stairwell, looking down into the kitchen.
When I am at the apartment, I spend half of my time freaking out that someone is going to fall through that hole, and the other half of my time freaking out about climbing the ladders to and from each of the floors.
Talking stairs: Welding iron, weight, support beams, hauling such pieces through the window, and measuring uneven walls and calculating everything three times.
Today was a great day, a sigh of relief day.
Stairs have my respect.
Cassis is shaping up. In the photo above, the blue covered area will be a loft bedroom, the room below it is the bathroom. The windows look into the bathroom, and the stairs will come be on the right hand side.
The plastered walls on the middle floor are drying.
Yes I took the door and made it into a window. The far right will be covered.
I am not sure if I like it... A window of some sort, but maybe not this.
The ceiling is insulated and plastered, the beams have yet to be cleaned.
Looking from the bathroom towards the front, seaside.
I wanted a window (like the original one above) made for the downstairs since it had been replaced by a PVC ugly one years ago. But the quotes I have are 1500 Euros or more... so I am thinking ugly isn't that bad. Gulp.
Admiration for the Renee and his dad for this beautiful job! I can hardly believe it is the same room!
Non colors are what Yann calls these.
What ideas have you?
So many decisions I love it!
The bathroom is in the works.
Renovating implies constant decisions.
Every detail is a wonder world.
You name the place I have been there, junkyards all the way up. Yesterday after visiting Cassis to define where to put the light switches, led lights and sconces I went to a tile shop not noticing until the saleslady gave me the once over that I was covered in dust.
Oh well dust is my new perfume.
This is the place that years ago I bought the stones to build our fountain. Of course I wasn't looking for stones this time. How did we ever carry those puppies!
Saw this stone sink, fell in love with it. But unfortunately, I do not think it is going to work:
MCM doesn't say stone sink... and more so Yann says one crazy sink (aka: The baptismal fountain sink we already have) is enough.
I have to pick my wishes/battles.
Decision making mode.
The miracle workers: Took down the two beams that were badly cut from the apartment. They were able to buy two new old ones, load them with a crane on to the truck, then unload them and heave them (unbelievable) upstairs and place them in the ceiling, within an afternoon!
These two new old beams will be left as is, the walls will be scrapped back and re-plastered.
If money weren't an option, I would have all the beams replaced as the new old ones are beautiful in color and texture.
Monday the electrical lines, and plug placement needs to be decided. I will mark the spots, that is how I roll... visually. Thankfully, only the downstairs needs to be marked.
The view is worth the dust, debris and deconstruction.
The wooden slates in the background will become part of the new ceiling.
This is a fuller view, walking around is not easy, and things are constantly being moved as the work area is small. plus everything needs to be done inside.
Re-plastering and the cement will also be made inside.
The debris is carried out in those small black buckets.
In this photo I am standing downstairs looking up towards the two top floors.
A diamond in the rough, hopefully!
When we renovated in Paris I was there every single day, most the time inside the apartment watching the hunks do their thing. But this renovation it is not possible to stay inside as the work is more intense, the space is smaller (though the same size as Paris) because it is on three floors, and the stairs no longer exist because they were torn out so we could access the each floor with one singular stair case.
But the main reason I am not in the apartment ... INCREDIBLE DUST!
The apartment is on three floors, here you can see two of the floors.
They ripped out the walls, for the stairs, and also because I thought it would be better to see the roof line, and have the loft open verses closed in by a wall. The top floor we will extend so the room will be larger too.
Question: Can we make the skylight larger? No. There are strict historical monument codes in Cassis. Nothing on the outside of the building can be changed. This code came into practice no so long ago...
A hole was cut out to access the bottom floor. On Facebook I added a video, showing the floor being cut out.
So far the renovation team has carried out seven tons of debris. They had to carry the debris in buckets as the stairs access the building are too steep and narrow to do otherwise.
This is the top floor, or as I call it the bedroom. The wall in front was removed and the roof line exposed for more light and to have a open feel. The guard rail was were the ladder came up, that will be removed as well. The stairs will come up on the other side.
The stairs use to come up under the toilet. There was a tiny entrance where the rubble is piled. A tiny entrance equals a truck load of rubble. How many buckets did it take to unload it downstairs?
Oh please name this photo!
When we bought this apartment, the first thing we knew we had to do, was figure out the stairs. We had a suspicion that when we removed the old unusable stairs that we would find a problem, and we did. The two main beams in the apartment, one of them under the stairs, had been cut and did not reach the wall! YIKES! Also the other beam was cut in half so the toilet could fit underneath the stairs. YIKES Again!
Needless two old oak beams were purchased and hauled upstairs... a feat for Hercules!!
Photos of that tomorrow.
We are off to a good start.
The other question many of you have asked is can we make the windows larger? No we cannot as the outside cannot be changed.
If you have any questions or want to see a detail of whatever, let me know in the comment section and I will try my best to answer you.