Farewell to grossly dirty terracotta tilesOne of the things I immediately loved about Maison Leela is that she had been very sympathetically restored some 20 or so years ago by the last-but-one owner, using natural materials like lime and hair render, lots of wood, exposed stone walls in places, and real terracotta tiles. Sadly though her immediately previous owners, who live a thousand kilometres away, had clearly fallen out of love with her - or at least with looking after her - some time ago, so we've also inherited years of ground-in grub and grime (and scarily, she was let as a holiday rental in that state until last year). Terracotta tiles are beautiful ... but they do need regular attention, and when the seal becomes worn they can pick up dirt very quickly.
When that happens, the only thing to do is to strip off all the old polish, deep clean, reseal and polish the whole floor. It's not a quick fix: each individual 15 centimetre square tile took 20 minutes to clean, after which there were two coats of sealer and three of polish to apply ... on hands and knees, of course, as we don't have any of the pro equipment. We've not tackled downstairs yet but the first floor, where the main living area is, is done, and looks quite different:
Farewell to orange pineFortunately not too much of this around, as it's one of my pet hates, but what there was had to go (along with the - erm - knick knacks!):
And so it's gone.
Farewell to 1990s colours
As you can see, we inherited lots of the kind of brightly painted woodwork that was so popular in the late 80s and early 90s: Provençal blue, sunflower yellow, brick red and olive green, all set against brilliant white walls. Not quite ma tasse de thé these days (though I admit to using those very same colours myself in that era). Leela's a small cottage, and she needs a restful, unified colour scheme throughout: we've settled on various shades of natural sienna, using paint we colour (and in some cases, make) ourselves using earth pigments from Ocres de France. Using earth pigments gives much more depth of colour and a finish that looks, and feels, so much more 'alive' than the synthetic colours used in ready-mixed paint, though you do have to remember to note down every gram of powdered pigment you add otherwise matching colours between batches becomes a little tricky, to say the least!
Has become this:
In case you were wondering, yes, that is a dog in the cupboard :).
And the brilliant white walls have now been treated to a home-made wash, home-made from a base of a lime-based enduit mixed with raw sienna pigment and some white VOC-free ecological paint:
Next session: tackling the remains of the blue and yellow paint in the kitchen!