Thursday, 19 April 2012


They are not necessarily the most glamorous things, but with a bit of digging it is possible to find some very beautiful and interesting stove design.
The typical modern European stove is either a tower with a big window and a nasty stone finish, or something akin to a squashed TV. Either way they are often too big for the spaces available, dominating the spaces both with their physical presence as well as their huge heat output.  Three houses ago we had a burner that sucked all the oxygen out of the room, and baked us dry if it was operating at all efficiently.
At the previous house we had this lovely model, however.  That's the fire, not the lady.

It refers to the original simple firebox-style stoves of the past, but has a funky dimpled surface, legs like some kind of animal, a small window giving a glimpse of what is going on inside, and a hotplate for keeping the stew/tea/mulled wine hot.  Best of all, it's a decorous size - it doesn't dominate, just sits quietly in the corner like a well-behaved pet.  Normally supplied fitted for use with gas, it can be bought in a log-burning version.
I think it will sit really well on the ground floor of the house - with an open spiral staircase running the height of the house it will also be perfect for heating the rest of the building during the winter.
The stove is by Austroflamm, model G1: see it here.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Bare Bones

Well, the stripping out is as complete as it can be while allowing you to walk to every floor of the house.  The new oak beams are due to go in in the next week or so, and first-fix electrics on the top two floors.  We stayed over Easter at the wonderful B&B La Maison Pavie in Dinan - a great find, and of real interest as it has period panelling which can act as a reference for the panelling we are intending to create on the second storey of the house.  Jerome and Camille are terrific hosts and have created something exceptional in their lovely place to stay.

La Maison Pavie

As for the Petit Manoir - I think it suffices to let the images of the inside speak for themselves...

The ground and first floor - awaiting new beams

Everything on props...

The rubbish heap now at head height

The best thing about this visit was to see the outside of the building being transformed by the repointing.  On the easily-accessed terrace and courtyard elevations this has entailed chopping out the cement mortar and replacing with lime mortar.  The side elevations will be much quicker to repoint, as they have never had cement pointing.  The difference between the cement and lime finishes is astonishing, and a powerful illustration of the need to use traditional methods and materials in such settings.


We have found a supplier of French limestone flooring, who has this lovely brushed stone in sawn slabs for a clean look.  As it is good for exterior use as well as indoors we intend to use it on the ground floor of the house as well as the terrace.  The colour picks up the warmth of the existing stone and will go well with the painted render of the walls inside, as well as the rendered garden walls outside.
Julian at Urrutia Stone has a great selection - stone flooring for every setting, and exports to the UK...