Sunday, 31 August 2008

Our quiet courtyard

So the other day I was at the apartment at 8 bloomin' a.m. waiting for the phone company to come and install the line so I can get the ADSL up and running. It was raining and with only had the IKEA catalogue for company, I decided to go a quick film to give you an idea of the calm that you'll be experiencing at our place!

Technical note: the film has a break in the middle because my camera isn't really made for films and doesn't compensate for light as it moves. Duh!

Tile conundrum

We always reckoned that getting into the fine details would be the toughest part of getting the apartment ready. Tiling corners must be a real pain (thank God I'm not doing it myself) but the edges have to look good (as opposed to ragged).
I'm not convinced that the builder's solution above is acceptable, and I'm going to be pressing for a better finish. The problem is it means smashing a part of what's been done and starting over. But hey, I did warn them (I even sent them photos like this one to show what I meant...)
Might have a battle on my hands...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Great architecture in the area

The rue Saint Martin is a very long street that runs right up from the Seine, past the edge of our road and up to the Grands Boulevards where it then becomes rue du Faubourg Saint Martin and continues for ages right up past the Gare de l'Est to the Bassin de la Villette. Together the two streets measure about 3.5km, and walking all the way takes you through some great areas. But I digress.
On the rue Saint Martin, two seconds from the apartment, is a lovely school that looks like it was built in the thirties. With lots of brick and angular stained glass windows, this art deco almost symmetrical building may no longer be a municipal library (as some of the windows say) but it's a pleasure to pass by it. Check it out if your going northwards!

The rue Saint Martin & Faubourg Saint Martin

Monday, 11 August 2008

Double glazing

Our new windows have arrived and been fitted. Yes!

The old windows were only single-glazed, and although noise isn't a problem in the courtyard, I think we should gain a few degrees in winter and have even more tranquil calm than before!

They make an instant difference to the look of the place too...
Two little problems though;

1. They forgot the polished glass for the bathroom, so that's going to be changed asap. Exhibitionists can always open the window if they still want the neighbours to see ;-)
2. Now that we've raised the floor, the barrier outside (called a "garde-fou", or literally "something to stop mad people falling out") is a bit too low. As we're in a conservation areas, I'm not sure we're allowed to raise it. Note to self: must check that out with the building administrators...

Progress! Yay! Long way to go. Boo.

So, we were away on holiday for three weeks, during which work was supposed to stop (because we're such control freaks we need to be there every day, just in case). In reality, this did not happen.

Work has been taking a little longer than expected, and the guys wanted to catch up, so we decided to leave them to it, despite feeling a little dodgy about it. When we got back at 10pm one night after seven hours of travelling, the first thing we did was to get on our bikes and go down to the apartment to make sure no disaster had happened. And we were reassured.

The bathroom has come on leaps and bounds. The tiles are on the walls, the toilet's in, the hot water boiler is neatly boxed away. Very satisfactory.
Of course that lino isn't staying. Remember that we designed our own Spanish cement floor tiles? Well they arrived, have been laid and now just need a protective coat of varnish (or something). We rather like them...
The parquet in the front room has been sanded, and slats that are going to be under cupboards have been used to replace broken, wonky, rubbish slats in various parts of the room. That floor is definitely not flat, but I really wanted to keep the original features if possible, and I think it'll look great once waxed.
We've had to get a bit of new parquet laid near the wall, and although I think it could have looked nicer, it isn't a disaster and most of it won't be visible once the sofa's in...And the main room is starting to look like a proper living space now that construction of the cupboards has started. Looking at them, I think we should have enough space to tidy everything out of the way so people have the maximum amount of room possible. I felt this was important in such a small space. Once they are painted they should be less conspicuous...
Work should start again at the end of August. Hopefully the bathroom sink will have arrived by then, the wallpaper has to go up, the curtains will be made... I still have to get a lot of other stuff worked out, but there's definitely a feeling that we're past the main bit and can see the end...