Just Merveilleux?

Life at № 42

The Works. August in Mazamet

The bathroom in the master bedroom is finally nearing completion! I wasn’t sure about a new bathroom in a century old house, but I’ve been converted. Everything Mike chose is so close to the original, the room doesn’t stand out at all. The floors look particularly good.

The green salon with the Zuber wallpaper has been a struggle. The colours are incredibly difficult to work with. The background is a very light green, the peonies are vermilion, the tulips are navy blue and the lilies are aubergine. Colours I wouldn’t normally have chosen myself or put together, but it’ss handmade paper and it would be criminal to just get rid of it. I did finally manage to find a linen that matches the mustardish narrow band in the border, and the curtains are made from that. I’ve hung one set and will do the other window in the next few days. The chandelier is unusually large, just under a metre. It’s early 20th century Italian, giltwood and tole.

I got a pair of late 19th century Chinese portraits for the green salon (going on each side of the east window) that still need to be framed. Here’s one of them:

chineseportrait

I’ve also begun restoring the wallpaper. The first step is the cleaning (removing the varnish). It’s very tedious. It involves a cotton swab and white spirits, the same process as in cleaning a painting. Goodness knows how long it’ll take me to finish, probably over a year, it does make a difference, though. The cleaned section is the bottom to middle right:

cleaningwallpaper

 

Most of the day the weather was beautiful. The sky was incredibly blue.

 

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30 comments on “The Works. August in Mazamet

  1. clubschadenfreude
    August 16, 2015

    I don’t envy your wallpaper restoration but it does look like it makes quite a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • docatheist
      August 16, 2015

      Yes, it’s impressive, considering how much moreso it must show in person. I have a couple painting to clean, one of these days. Any advise/details on what to use, how to do it, and what I might practice on, to get started?

      Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        August 16, 2015

        It’s very tricky. If you really want to attempt it yourself the thing is to go very slowly, use a light hand and be patient. Over-cleaning can mean erasing parts of the original painting. Always check the cotton swab to make sure there’s no colour on it other than the yellow/brown of the varnish. I’d practise on a cheap flea-market/ebay painting. If it’s valuable, however, I’d hand it to a professional.
        The only reason I’m doing the wallpaper myself is because a proper restorer would cost a fortune for a whole room.

        Liked by 2 people

      • docatheist
        August 16, 2015

        My best friend, in college, spontaneously decided to try her hand at art, 30 years ago, and I have two of her three paintings. One is of me. I hope to clean, restore, and then properly frame and protect them, one of these days. I’d have done it much sooner, had life gone fairly, but it has had to wait.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      August 16, 2015

      It’s self-inflicted torture. I could have left it alone, but no…

      Like

      • clubschadenfreude
        August 17, 2015

        heh 🙂 I found myself in the same position when I decided to start stripping the dozen or so layers of paint off the chestnut trim in my dining room.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hariod Brawn
    August 16, 2015

    Yeah, ‘wallpaper restoration’ – who’d a thunk it?

    Like

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      August 16, 2015

      Have you seen the blocks they used to make this sort of wallpaper? They’re amazing. Colours were applied to blocks by hand and then the wallpaper was ‘stamped’ with the block. Extraordinary work. I feel morally obliged to restore it!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hariod Brawn
        August 16, 2015

        Amazing artisanship, and good for you for preserving the work. I once very nearly bought William Morris’ house and there was still some of his original wallpaper in the larder and in a cupboard off the hallway. The place was in need of a lot of repair, and not one for the faint-hearted. I pulled out of the deal.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. docatheist
    August 16, 2015

    I love the Chinese portrait in the picture. Do you apply any special glass or plastic over the front of them to protect them from the sun coming through salon windows? I’ve some old prints that sun faded, teaching me a lesson.

    Like

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      August 16, 2015

      The east wall is reasonably safe as it gets no direct sun 🙂 But in general yes, one can get uv filter glass and it’s not too expensive.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. epic
    August 16, 2015

    Holy cow this is gorgeous! Do you restore old homes and sell them?

    Like

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      August 16, 2015

      Thanks! We kind of work with real-estate but in a small and personal way. Mike got into it when he decided he didn’t want to act anymore and I joined him once we were together. You can see our last house here: http://sotogrande.us/villa_lafricaine_sotogrande/fran%C3%A7ais
      But this house now is the ‘last’ one. We’re having the renovations done for ourselves- and I’m NEVER moving again!

      Like

      • epic
        August 16, 2015

        Absolutely fabulous, you guys are amazing!

        Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        August 16, 2015

        Thanks! Mike takes care of the design on the structural/architectural side. I do the interiors. This current house is the most interesting we’ve ever done because the aim isn’t re-sale 🙂 NOTHING has to be neutral!

        Like

      • epic
        August 17, 2015

        So are you an interior designer by degree? I LOVE old homes but am not the least bit artistic or handy and neither is my husband so we live in a dreadful, boring 1987 split level. Are you going to restore it to look like it did originally? I absolutely love the decor!!

        Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        August 17, 2015

        My profession is art history. I’m mostly a dealer, but yes, when I moved to Spain I also took a design course.
        I do hope to get the house back at least to the spirit of what it was originally- with some adaptations for modern convenience. We did, for example, install a modern kitchen.

        Like

  5. acflory
    August 16, 2015

    Oh that bathroom is so elegant. It looks fantastic considering it’s a ‘functional’ part of the house. I don’t envy you the job of restoring the wallpaper though. But I suppose you could pretend it’s a hobby. -ducks and runs-

    Like

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      August 16, 2015

      I do. My trick so far is to not take it too seriously. I do 30 minutes here, thirty minutes there. No pressure, no rush. One day it’ll be finished 🙂

      Like

      • acflory
        August 17, 2015

        That sounds like me with my ditches. Very sensible. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Helen Devries
    August 17, 2015

    I do like the bathroom….perhaps because we installed a black and white bathroom on the top floor of the last house in France, taking down the ceiling to show the beams of the tower above. The blind vandals who now have the house have removed it all…’Black and white? Looks like a public lavatory.’
    Replaced with something in magnolia no doubt.

    No beautiful wallpaper…but when we took down the dry lining which had been installed on the ground floor we found 19th century frescoes showing rustic Italian scenes in one room and dramatic scenes of coastal shipwreck in another. Not in a very good state, but the DRAC sent an expert down to restore and preserve them.
    Needless to say the vandals have – reinstalled dry lining….

    And you are certainly morally obliged to restore the wallpaper!
    In your own time, of course…

    What did you decide about the terrace furniture?

    Like

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      August 17, 2015

      I blame the design shows on television. Everyone wants homes that look like American hotels. A disaster for period properties!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mazamet Info
    August 17, 2015

    Waow !
    Nice restoration ! Well done. 🙂

    Like

  8. roughseasinthemed
    August 17, 2015

    I’ll repeat Helen. I like the bathroom because it looks exactly like the one I put in our last UK house (30s).

    The one we replaced was some vile 70s (?) or maybe 80s, can’t remember in burgundy. You won’t remember the trend for the Most Horrible Coloured Bathrooms Ever, but this was a strong contender.

    I was very pleased with mine in the end, black tiles around the bottom, and black trim at the top, probably about the height of your first black pencil thin tiles as our room was lower. Chrome Lefroy Brooks taps. Hated leaving them behind. My nicest bathroom ever. Not sure I’d have changed your original one though.

    Co.ours are difficult to match. I think the worst think is the obvious match, so grey or green/grey curtains would have been dire. Total overkill.

    I’m curious about the wallpaper restoration. Is the varnish to protect the paper? What sort of varnish is it? White spirit doesn’t usually remove oil-based varnish, does it? You’ve probably said, but how long (roughly) has the paper been up? I do like the paper btw.

    My parents had some lovely gold print paper but the damp in the room cause it to go green, no way of repairing that. Even worse, later they painted over the gold leaf on the cornice and the freehold gold painting on the door (they obviously didn’t go green). I may have said this before!

    Like

    • karenjane369
      August 17, 2015

      Your Burgundy 1970/1980’s bathroom was as ghastly as our Primrose Yellow (first house, 1979) followed by even more hideous Avocado Green in our next house (1984), the latter had tiles of a similar hue.

      Liked by 1 person

      • roughseasinthemed
        August 17, 2015

        Lol! I remember the avocado green phase. My parents chucked out a perfectly serviceable original 1930s bathroom to replace it with a lower ceiling, (ok it was warmer), and sun king suite, which meant deep sort of gold, plus gold plated taps. I’ve hated coloured bathrooms ever since.

        And! They got rid of the little window that I could jump not the balcony on. How annoying was that? But they changed my bedroom window too so I couldn’t jump onto the roof below. The things parents do 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        August 17, 2015

        Oh please… you two are just complainers. When I was little we had brown and the walls were a brown, orange and tan geometric wallpaper. Brown porcelain has one advantage which is one never knows if it’s dirty. The lights were three chrome balls, each one slightly higher than the other…

        Like

  9. karenjane369
    August 17, 2015

    I also love your new bathroom…..it’s simple & elegant & very functional. Far too many bathrooms are prettified, full of ‘stuff’ & very impractical for their proper purpose.

    I wish I lived near you – cleaning wallpaper is something which appeals to my tidy mind 🙂

    Like

  10. theoccasionalman
    August 22, 2015

    I love that color of sky.

    Like

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This entry was posted on August 16, 2015 by in Mazamet, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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