In France you can’t make home renovations the equivalent of a fashion faux pas


Underneath the photo there was speculation that it was for sale, that it required a huge amount of work. One woman said, “I hope the buyers don’t slaughter it! And above all we will not add those terrible roller shutters which are so ugly on old houses. Someone else was pissed off at the possibility of having air conditioning units on the facade.

The concern did not subside with our arrival. During our first week, my husband was working in the garden when an old Englishwoman introduced herself to him: “I want to come and take a tour of your house before you ruin it. There is also a certain type of English resident, who has come this way before you, who is eager to tell you what you can do wrong, like the concept of ‘home‘ is a whole new thing that you can’t. haven’t heard of it before. The French don’t, perhaps because many seem to prefer beautiful, modern villas in a desirable neighborhood on the outskirts of town, with central heating, swimming pools, garages, and lagoon views.

Anyway, just in case I was going to make a terrible mistake in judgment and cover the place with a stone covering, a la Vera Duckworth of Coronation Street, I acquired the 64-page document from the town hall on the appropriate decoration of houses. It opens with a powerful quote from Victor Hugo: “The facade of a building also belongs to the viewer. There are maps, diagrams, color charts, and plenty of door and door knocker illustrations to note. There are not only suitable color pages and pages but also suitable color combinations for walls, doors, balconies and windows (nothing too dark, nothing too light). There are serious warnings against “trivialization”, ironing out period details with unsuitable paint, PVC windows, large DIY chain doors, modern metalwork and too much cement.

And, most exciting or perhaps terrifying of all, it is illustrated with actual village houses. It reminds me of those dos and don’ts that were once a popular column in women’s magazines – photographs of ordinary people going about their business, their faces blurry, praised for casually tying a scarf, or sentenced for leggings. inappropriate.

In my detailed reading of this document, I note that our house appears on page 27 (example of entrance gates) and on page 36 (example of a suitable shade of green for ironwork). No criticism detected. Again. Imagine the disgrace of being convicted of trivializing so soon after unpacking your pots and pans? Once again to the paintings, dear friends, once again.

Is it surprising that I am plunged into paroxysms of doubt? It’s even worse than when I had plaques painted in 20 different shades of cream along the hallway of our house in London. (My husband: “For God’s sake, choose one! Stop talking about the light, I beg of you.”)


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