Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
No news yet on Villa Ermo near the Villa de Mazamet, and my hopes that someone would take it on are beginning to fade. To be honest, I’m not surprised. We were interested in it in early 2013 but we found the price the owners wanted didn’t take into account the state of the place. Good bones just are not enough to justify the price.
Already in 2013 the interiors needed a complete do over. The near decade that has passed has not helped. Imagine that we’ve only been at Number 42 since 2015 and floors have had to have old oxidised wax removed and new wax applied. Rooms have had to be repainted, light fixtures changed or repaired. None of that has been happening at Villa Ermo for a very long time. When one walks in, one feels it. There’s the distinct musty air of Grey Gardens.
But even before one goes in, alarm bells start ringing because the garden looks abandoned. The driveway is hidden under moss and weeds and there are serious cracks around the building. Then before one enters the main doors one is greeted by terrazzo floors so deformed they’re going to have to be broken into with a jackhammer. Then entirely redone.
Once inside one is immediately confronted by a stairlift which makes the stairs seem terribly cramped. Digging that out of the walls will be no easy feat. The paint on the Tudor style panelling in the hall is more than tired, it’s exhausted. Sanding in those crevices will not be fun. Trust the voice of experience! Been there, done that.
The grand living room has beautiful proportions but that’s badly hindered by the broken shutters over the fireplace, chandeliers that are too small and furniture that doesn’t fit the room. Things don’t get better in the dining room. Seventies faux silk textured wallpaper with marks of where paintings once hung, a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. Textured velvet curtains that would — well, that wouldn’t and shouldn’t. The feeling of a room that hasn’t seen laughter in quite a while. What comes next is what I think is the end of the visit for most, the scullery/wc/kitchen were not created for use by the owners of the house. The kitchen is in an extension far, far away, at the end of a corridor. From the times when we really didn’t care how hard staff had to work. It’s big and cold and north-facing. And that’s just the ground floor.
The bedrooms equally need all sorts of refurbishment, ditto the bathroom(s). For anyone to take the place on, they’ll have to fall madly in love with it and have a lot of time on their hands and money in their pockets. I can easily see the costs of the reforms going into the many hundreds of thousands of euros. Perhaps even more than the price of the house. Fitting a kitchen of that size alone could set you back over sixty thousand euros. And when all the major works are done you have to consider the interiors. Wallpaper, curtains — 12/15 metres of fabric per bedroom. Chandeliers. And the garden, well, I’ve completely lost count of the small fortune we’ve spent on plants.
Anyway, I hope the right people do come along, though I imagine it won’t be easy. I think it’s been on the market since Blair and Chirac were in power.