Monday, April 8, 2013

Montegut gets a face-lift!

The most recent bit of sprucing up came along in the mid 1960's.  The story is told that one year there came storm after storm, causing massive flooding and damage to Montegut as well as many farm houses in the area. Flood waters nearly reached the window sills at the front of the house, the walls held tight, absorbing the water and barely resisting collapse. Even the front door fought against the sheer volume of the crushing weight of the water.

Major repair was necessary and the work was done by family members and local tradesmen. The exterior was plastered using cement as was the "new" trend. The cement was trawled by hand, smoothed and marked to look like concrete blocks. In fact at first glance it still looks exactly like concrete blocks.

Unknown at the time was the cement would seal the walls so well that moisture had no way to escape and would migrate inward. Now we know that cement was not the best solution, at the time it seemed like a good idea. Lesson learned. The building materials used in these old farmhouses were simple and accessible. The building methods used have proven to be sturdy and reliable. It would be easy to Americanize the house and buildings, using techniques currently used in the US. We are proceeding slowly and being mindful about the technique and materials. Respecting and honoring the hard work of our ancestors is our mantra.

Most of the work on our list has focused on the interior and we thought it time to polish up the exterior a bit too!

Down came the shutters.

In the south west homes traditionally reflect the color of the soil and the shutters the sky. I collected a few color samples and asked family members to place a check or X on the paint sample they thought was closest to the original color. No one can remember when the last time they were painted, but EVERYONE had an opinion as to what was the original color!

In the lower right corner you can see the winner! I started with the cement planters at the entry, everyone agreed it was the perfect hue.

Shutters were removed, lined up against the garage wall, washed and left in the sun to dry. A quick sanding was all they needed before heading to the "paint station".

Painting outdoors in August is tricky, the heat dries the paint quickly... almost too quickly.  Paint drips would run down and across the back of the louvers before I could turn the shutters around. A solution was found  by the second set of shutters and things progressed smoothly.

I painted the shutters, Barry was up and down the ladder repairing and painting the plaster trim around each of the windows and the door. Joseph would frequently check on our progress, we referred to him as Chief Inspector for Quality Control. Joseph was the "Institutional Memory" of the family, he could recite dates of every major event, or project as it related to Montegut and the farm.

We were determined to have the front of Montegut polished for the family reunion the middle of August. Family from all over France come to Montegut each year around 15 August for the Annual Fete. Many would see Montegut for the first time since our purchase.

The shutters are back in place and it is nearly complete. Planting flowers for the window boxes would be the last and final touch before the family began to arrive.

And the early arrivals approve!

.... and if you have, thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. How interesting to learn about the colours for homes and shutters .... I love the shade of blue you have chosen ... it blends perfectly with the walls. I spent a few weeks in Provence recently and found shutter colours were mainly blue to blue/green plus others being a deep buttery yellow. I'm sure you enjoyed a wonderful re-union with Family.