Manny's Blog

Sharing our French adventure as we live and work and renovate our forever home in the Haute Loire.
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So a few weeks ago, after making sure we had varnished, oiled and treated every bit of the beautiful wood Joe has used to build our beautiful kitchen… we moved on up and started using it !

Words cannot begin to describe how momentous this has been – after years of temporary kitchens, albeit fully functional and roomy … but temporary nonetheless, we are truly living the dream. Every single millimetre of it thrills me ! I cannot praise Joe highly enough – he has conceived and built every cabinet; every drawer; every shelf and every surface. I have worked my butt off too ! Painting, sanding, jointing the stone walls and the brick walls (Joe laid the bricks).

We are a great team and really compliment each other’s skill-sets – (we compliment each other quite regularly on the work we’ve done too 🙂 )

Enough words – here are the pics: Finished kitchen from all angles !

While we were so deeply ensconced in building-site living, we also did a number of other long-standing finishing jobs like re-painting the dining room wall, (we were never happy with the result of the dark green we chose very early on – it is now a softer much more harmonious green) and putting skirting board in place. Joe has re-hung the dining room lights, boxing in the wiring. We’ve finally put up a few pictures !!

I have finished painting the mezzanine walls and all of the ceiling bays !

We’ve spent the last few weeks living, cooking, eating, entertaining, and generally enjoying the fruits of our labour. It has been absolutely dreamy. I feel unbelievably lucky to live in this amazing house in this beautiful part of France – we’ve had a long and sunny Autumn, we’ve only just started putting the heating on – which has massive financial implications for us. 

New staircase

Whilst we’ve been enjoying the new living space, Joe has been busy in the workshop building the last part of this phase of the project… our main staircase from the porte d’entrée up to the living room. This is huge for me as the treads have been designed to be a comfortable height for my arthritic knees (the off the shelf staircase we put in when we first moved in had very steep narrow steps). 

As is so often the case with the knock-on effects of everything we do in the house, we realised that this will be the last chance to get the big dividing wall painted – with the old staircase out (Luke and Arty and Oscar came and helped take it out), we were able to put the tower back in and paint the wall – and what a difference it makes!

Joe then assembled the new stairs – no mean feat on the uneven concrete floor of the porte d’entrée and with MASSIVE pieces of wood to heave into place. 

Next we moved the tower up a level and I finished the top of the wall and the remaining 8 bays of the ceiling, and Joe attached the black trim to the frames on the 4 high windows in the big dividing wall.

Back up in the rafters!

The longer I take to get this blog up the more things I want to add to it !

So I’ve decided to put this one up and follow swiftly on with the finished staircase and a retro blog about the glorious family summer we had here in Solignac this year – the main highlight being the birth of our beautiful second grandson Noah in August !

Thanks for reading, and I promise the sequel is coming hot on the tail of this ‘Kitchen Special’!

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  1. Sasha says:


  2. Tara says:

    Incredible achievement! It is beautiful.

    Tara x

  3. Jacqui Ibbotson says:

    Congratulations Manny and Joe! It looks incredible and I love the blog too. I have been listening to Building Soul on Radio 4/BBC Sounds and your kitchen has all the elements of great design – Beauty, Functionality and Homeliness. Lots of love, Jacqui & Piers x

    1. Manny says:

      How lovely to hear from you Jacqui – I must listen to Building Soul ! Love to you and Piers xxx

  4. Janet Atkins says:

    Well, what an achievement!!
    Congratulations – I hope you enjoy using it., I’m sure you will.
    Dave would have thought it excellent.
    I hope I see it in reality one day.
    Always much love, Mom, Jan. xxx xxx xxx

    1. Manny says:

      Thank you Jan ! Lots of love to you xxx

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