A Little Renovation in the Guest House


Do you ever start things and then wonder why you started? One job leads to another and so on and so forth and before you know it, you’re up against the wall, with a timeframe that seems almost impossible and you really wish there were at least 48 hours in every days and that’s just the daylight hours!

Over the winter we started slowly doing the regular redecorating jobs in the gîte. Although we have guests staying on and off all winter, it is not as busy as the summer and in between visitors when the cottage is empty we get on with all the jobs that need doing. Normally straight forward things like repainting, always a necessary job.



This year I decided we really had to tackle those tiles in the kitchen. You may remember I posted about them before. I asked everyone’s opinion because the red were fine but just not my personal taste. We ummed and erred and we read all of your comments, and then we took the plunge. The red tiles were to be no more.


Everything has to be considered carefully because we want to keep the original features. We love the ancient marble we found in the barn when we moved here and have used as a counter top. But such things have to work with modern necessities, there has to be a complete juxtaposition between old and new.


But like most things, the work didn’t end there. I then decided that a total repaint of the kitchen cabinets was necessary. A slightly lighter feel. I want the gîte to always feel serene and calm when people walk in. I want everyone to immediately relax and above all it is vital to us that anyone who stays has a wonderful time.

So with lots of colour charts to hand, (again I posted about this), we decided on a Farrow and Ball eggshell paint called Cromarty.

Then I thought it would be rather nice to add wooden panelling along the wall under the window. It is so incredibly helpful to have a very handy, talented husband.


So all was well you may think. Well yes and no. The kitchen went according to plan, and we love it.


But then there was the very, apparently, straight forward job of replacing the bathroom sink taps for new ones. I found a new pair with a vintage look online, ordered them and they were here within a couple of days. Because trust me nowhere around here sells taps that look like this anymore! Roddy estimated it would be a quick hour long job. What ensued was a three day battle with pipes, many many trips back and forth to the local plumbers merchant and a lot of skin lost from the top of Roddy’s head as he struggled away under the sink with ancient pipework that had absolutely no wish to be upgraded. We should have known, it was rather like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Nothing, bar nothing, is ever simple when working with old houses!


At the same time I had this brilliant but utterly mad idea that I would reupholster a vintage chair and the phone table/seat. I purchased a perfect linen fabric and set to work. But everything took a great deal longer than I imagined, doesn’t it always! I worked through dinner, night after night, listening to some fascinating talks on the radio that I have to admit had me intrigued and amused at the same time and made for great company.


I also tackled the mirror over the fireplace in the sitting room. You see I really do listen to you. The gold was a little too bling for a rustic cottage. Chalk paint? Great idea but impossible to buy locally! However, there was nothing to stop me from making my own. I think the end result is far more fitting. There was plenty of help from small hands with the masking tape, the finishing wax and the cleaning. This is a family gîte that we all love and I am so proud that our children all mix in to help.


There were a whole host of other jobs but they seemed small by comparison. When I get a moment I shall take a lot more photos of everywhere else, but time was running out, our guests were due and photographing was not my prime concern!




64 thoughts on “A Little Renovation in the Guest House

  1. Susan – You have taken a beautiful little guest house and made it just “magical”. Any time you need help, let me know and I promise not to forget about the coffee pot. 😉 hugs to all.

  2. It looks wonderful, up dated, but not changed too radically. Hopefully next year we will drop by for a visit and viewing. Sadly this year we are not going to venture that far north. That’s according to our plan, of no plans….
    You and Roddy work so well together.
    Ali xx

  3. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You….. The bathroom taps were nearly impossible to turn off completely, the eggshell blue is divine and so is the white mirror surrounding…. NOW it fits perfectly the rustic heart and soul of the room. Had you asked about the taps, I could have told you that for our house from 1920 I had a bathroom set of tap-cum-shower stuff and our kitchen mixer both were ordered from England…. UK was the only place to offer that epoque equipment to fit our home. The drawback was that the measurements were different, diameters (already metric and imperial measures), a nightmare! Our ‚job-after-the-daytime-job‘ plumber nearly got crazy, so did I 😉 But honestly, one thing I simply will NEVER understand is how on earth anybody would want to install TWO taps when you only have two hands and need WARM water and neither boiling hot or freezing cold…. Why not install a mixer? And I‘m deeply thankful for Roddy, who so reminds me of my father, who could do ‚anything‘…. really! Except maybe for the one thing: He never mixed with fire ants 🙂 🙂 😉

    1. Good question re the mixer, we wanted another one, but we also wanted to keep a vintage feel. Any form of vintage mixer did not fit the hole spaces in the sink, these are not standard, most likely they were in the 1930’s but not now! So we went with two taps and a plug. Actually everyone seems to be more than happy with the new look, but I do agree a mixer is more practical xx

      1. I know; we had our ‘set’ coming from England to France and it was a MAJOR nightmare to change all the fittings to those unusual measures. But we did it! And OF COURSE, everybody should be happy with your transformations, they are heavenly 🙂

  4. I also love that you always plant your flowers for the window sills in ‚random‘ planters. Looks so much more authentic and ‚right‘…. And as that telephone bench looks SO delicat we would never ever attempt to sit on it; and I therefore couldn‘t even tell what wasn‘t good with the ‚old‘ one. 😉 But honestly, those egg-blue cabinets and woodwork look the part. So very lovely – and the red tiles, now so simply white go beautifully with the ‚new blue‘… Just make sure you give your guests a blue egg from time to time. Doesn‘t taste better than the brown ones but looks SO sophisticated 🙂 You are one famille of marvels, all of you. Love to kids and ‚grands‘ – and a big hug too

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  6. I want to come and stay in your this pretty guest house. Love the sweet kitchen an the all the changes. I bet your guests do not want to leave when they visit. Happy New Week.

  7. Oh! It’s wonderful!!
    I would love to stay…someday…
    We were going to book a river cruise this week for Sept…but now I have torn a ligament in my knee and have much recuperating to do….so someday, maybe we will visit France without the cruise and guided by all the lovely bloggers I read!

  8. Absolutely delightful in the end even tho’ both skin and occasionally temper may have been affected in the ‘doing’ process 🙂 ! Love both mirror and chair. With everyone reading this dreaming and planning to ‘drop in’ methinks very early bookings may soon be necessary. Actually I also have thought in terms of a river cruise near you and then a totally relaxing ‘French’ rest to remember . . . 🙂 !

  9. Oh Susan, I love it. We can’t wait until May when we can enjoy it w/our own eyes! It will be a delight to meet you & your DH & pups! I am doing lots of chalk painting myself so will appreciate your work. I have bought all I need to mix my own paints but have not done that yet. We just finished remodeling our MB & our BR floor & I chalk painted our end tables & bed frame. We are pleased w/the results!
    If you need anything from the US (it must be on the smaller side to fit our luggage) just let me know ASAP & I will be happy to look here & bring it w/us. Best regards!

  10. Dear Susan,
    What a wonderful welcoming gorgeous gite … how lucky your guests are to be here and to be spoilt by you too!
    Fingers crossed I will pop over next year to enjoy your love and pampering!!!
    Bisous xox😘💐🍷

  11. Dear Susan
    What an absolutely delightful gite you have created and how very lucky are your guests to live in such a beautiful place and be spoilt by you too!!
    Hopefully next year I will pop over and enjoy your gorgeous little house and your legendary pampering!!!
    Susie 😘💐🍷

  12. Improving one thing does often release a cascade of the need for additional improvements, Susan — but just look at the beautiful result! I am endlessly impressed both by your industriousness and your impeccable taste. BRAVA!

  13. It’s beautiful, simple, sweet and charming! My dream is to be able to stay there one day!
    Your family projects are wonderful- well done!



    Wonder what OUR PRESIDENT WILL HAVE TO SAY!!!!!!!!!

    YOU MUST BE GLUED TO THE TELEVISION……..I cannot bear to turn it ON!!!

    SO SAD……….12Century too!


  15. Looks really lovely. I’m putting my old house on the market and have realised just how many ‘little’ jobs need to be done. Like you I found that new into old just doesn’t compute!

  16. Paris will be joining you in a little renovation. The Wall Street Journal had a wonderful article about the fire fighter’s response to saving what they could – Paris must be so proud of them.

  17. Well done. It is lovely and worth the time, effort and skin! A charming cottage for friend and stranger.

  18. Well done. It is lovely and worth the time, effort and skin! A charming cottage for friend and stranger.

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