I’ve been back from Japan for about 3 weeks now. However, I haven’t exactly been able to settle back into a routine. My house - the one we bought last year , but have been unable to work on until recently for various reasons until now - is in the throes of a major renovation, and is uninhabitable. So, we’ve been living in a small one-bedroom apartment in Aix-en-Provence. A beautiful town, but still it’s not home.
Our house has been basically gutted on the ground floor - we are leaving work on the upper floor for another round (or until we have more funds). Along the way, the maçon (the builder), the plombier (plumber) and electricien have found plenty of unwelcome surprises. Now, this is definitely not another one of those rants that you see so often by expats in France (popularized by that book by some Brit about a year in Provence) complaining about French construction workers. Our builder and his assistant have been working their behinds off for us; the electrician has dealt patiently with our changing requests for outlets here and there; and the plumber has been plumbing away despite suffering a major cut on his hand (not at our house, but on another job). The builder is even going to work tomorrow, July 14th, even though it’s a national holiday (Bastille Day), so that we can move in as early as possible. Now that’s dedication. (He’s doing it also because he wants to get as much work done before he goes on vacance. But still! Would an American builder work on July 4th?)
The shell of the house, built in the mid-19th century, is rock solid - in some ways literally so, since the foundations are rock. The basement is basically a cafe built into the rock. However, the work done fairly recently, by the former owner (who was himself a maçon, but apparently not that good) was pretty sloppy. So there was time wasted fixing those things. But the end is near….and we hope to move in soon.
This is the very first house that I have been involved in from the start. Previously, I’ve either lived in rented places, or in places that have been around and finished before I moved in, like our previous place in Switzerland. I liked that house well enough…but it wasn’t mine, if you know what I mean. This house is going to be Me as much as I can help it. Especially the kitchen.
This is the current state of the kitchen. It’s a shell! But it’s getting there, slowly.
I originally wanted to knock through one wall to connect a tiny room that was used as a bedroom to the main living space, to make one big kitchen area. But the wall turned out to be a load-bearing one, and when you’re talking about an almost 200 year old stone built former warehouse, that’s a lot of load. So the wall had to stay. That back room (with a new doorway) is now my pantry. It’s an odd shaped room with a diagonal wall - another loadbearing one but it will do.
This is the view from the opposite side, into the dining room area. We’re going to open up a big hole in that wall in the back to install a triple-pane porte de fenetre - after all, a French house deserves to have a French window, doesn’t it? It will eventually lead out into a terrace area. Right now the terrace area is a rubble pit. (The new wooden door leaning on the wall is fitted into the laundry room.)
I’m thinking about the whole house too, of course, but the kitchen is taking up most of my brain. What countertop material? How to arrange the cabinets? What kind of storage, and how much of it, do I need? Besides, I’ve been without a real kitchen of my own for more than 2 years now. 2 years of dealing with tiny, underpowered cookers in holiday rental homes and makeshift tabletop cookers! (And my mother’s kitchen in Japan…but it’s my mom’s kitchen, not mine.) I’m kitchen deprived.
I still have loads of Japan posts to write, but right now I am obsessed with the kitchen. I keep on thinking about it night and day. If you cook, maybe you share my passion for creating the Right Kitchen for you? If so, I hope you’ll indulge me as I write about my obsession on occasion here and our kitchen slowly progresses! ^_^;