The end of July was our third year anniversary, we commemorate three years of ‘us’ taking on this humongous project as a family – but, this enchanting old lady, with many years of minimal structural upkeep, has brought on some untold strain, also some marvellous memories, and some very funny stories to share – she has defiantly given us a challenge thus far!
The ‘First Year‘ at Château Le Mung was hard, we aren’t going to say it was easy, we threw ourselves in to a new culture, in a small village, with a language barrier, and we will admit, in the first year – we might have completely underestimated the amount of landscaping that was required here, in order to create a beautiful outdoor picturesque and serene setting.
A tremendous task that we accomplished at the end of 2016 – but well worth it, as it is most noticeable everywhere you look. We do feel we’ve achieved a sensational view, where you can sit and watch the world go by, all throughout the year.
We never expected the deterioration of the outbuildings, including the barns to have such structural dangerous, the roof timbers where rotten to the core and there was collapsing walls. So, our first winter here in France, had us replacing some of the roofs, we also had to completely dismantle two cottages and the barns, inside and out, down to their stone wall shells, which as you can imagine took a lot of time and hard work, we started hand chipped all the old internal and external plaster covering the stones, we never imagined chipping plaster off would be so exhausting especially – during the frosty weather, it was hard going and it was freezing, but, it had to be done.
Another tale of an unforeseen challenge, was in one of the room on the third level of the highest tower of the Château – we had a huge inhabitance of ‘buzzing‘ flies, which we had to break the cycle of, it was to an extent, that it looked like the wall was moving – wasn’t one of the pleasantest job and definitely not for the faint hearted.
We also removed the old 20th Century Lift, this lift was almost 100 years old, it has been stuck in-between the second and third floor, for quite some time! While we were removing it, we had a “Spooky” moment here at the château – but with her age it’s expected. The boys had to bring it down to the ground floor, when it finally made it down, with no electricity, the door opened and the lift let out a big “Bing” noise, just like an old lift would do – after the boys having mild heart attack, and jumping out of their skin, all you could hear throughout the Château was hysterical laughter, which as you know is very contagious!
Our “Second Year” was on the stressful side – we realised that we’d be working a longer than ever anticipated time frame, our goal time we had set ourselves, had been and past us, with a blink of an eye.
We had a wonderful surprise of a family wedding, that we needed to organise, adding another big project to the top of our to-do list, the wedding and events room in an old wood barn, to be completed in time for a January winter wedding – who says? you can’t be thrown a little more of a challenge into this hectic transformation.
But, with pride, we did accomplishes the unexpected in the wedding and events room, in 2017, we turned an old rundown barn and gave it a truly romantic purposes, now it’s a beautiful addiction to the Château.
During our Second year we seeded all of the area around the driveway, teardrop and parkland, that was an incredible and satisfying job, especially because off the hard back-braking work we did the year before. We also straighten, widened, reshaped and hardened to make the teardrop and driveway, putting in a 10 mm steel border to separate the grass and the chippings. – Giving it all its outstanding shape.
During this year, we definitely would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t say, that at some point or another it had been overwhelming and even a little hard to keep going. The business side has thrown a spanner or two into the mix, with a lot of meeting, inspections and licences that we have needed to get organised, and approved – As some may know, everything happens slowly in France, so we where stopping and starting a lot, with all of it needing to happen before the next steps can even start. But, if we’ve learned anything, over them two years, we rather it take as long as necessary, knowing it’s done right.
We also worked alongside electricians, helping them run over 21km of cable, throughout three levels, all throughout the bedrooms/bathrooms of the Château. This was a task! Because the wiring that was already in the Château was dangerous and outdated, again we only noticed how bad, when we started pulling down the walls, peeling back all the water damaged plasterboard- she has been full of surprises.
Towards the end of the year we spent a great deal repointing some of the outer buildings. These stone walls were re-pointed with a lime mortar, an experience like no other, that took a lot of hand, patience and energy. Bringing it back to the feel of its past and brightening up the Château.
Before heading into our second year anniversary, we also insulated and framed and double plasterboarded with all fire rating elements, throughout the hallway and entrance, so we could start our third year into the project with the beautiful plaster centrepiece up above the entrance way – ready to hang a Chandelier off in the near future.
When the “Third Year” came around, we got stuck into the interior of the Château, we had already cement render the year before, and now were working on applied the “One coat” plaster to the walls, a finished product, before we undercoating and painting these areas.
We where working hard on the first four bathrooms and bedrooms, we sealed up, after we run the electric wires, all the fire alarm wires, all the lighting, all the hot and cold pipes, all the plumbing for toilets and heating, we sprayed it all with vermiculite to seal up all the gaps, then insulated, framed, and double plasterboared.
After a two-year wait, we finally where able to add all ‘Architraves/Mouldings’ down the hallway, this was one of the most beautiful touches we’ve done to this point, that the Château truly deserved – this was such a fun, happy and a little emotional, detailed job to-do.
During this third year, we decided a normal reception desk wouldn’t fit the style of the Château, so we made one from scratch, plastering it and adding the decorative panels to compliment the style of the entrance, to this day, we’re still tossing around ideas for the counter top, we’re after a perfect fit. – We even started making our very own unique plaster architrave for the Château, something unique with a personal touch from us all. On the outside of the Château, we started making steps for a bar, that we’ve started building from an old Laundry area – During theses three years of the project we’ve accumulated various amounts of old stone in an area that we like to call the ‘stone valley’ so we’ve been reusing them, in a lot of side projects, well tops, paths, and new walls.
We finally picked the coloured fabric for the windows in the bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways and breakfast room, we selected an elegant red velvet and white chiffon, and for the meeting room and cognac room we will be using a stunning blue velvet.
We have also picked the finishing piece for the bedrooms, a timeless wallpaper that will work perfectly as a feature wall behind the bed, with a majestic feel, working in flawlessly with the red velvet fabric.
We’ve endlessly been working on painting from the wedding and event room, to the hallways, ceilings, bedrooms, bathrooms and entrance way. – But, our most recent achievement has been the Entrance of the Château, pass our green door is a stunning turn back the time ‘vision’ we’ve only seen in our heads, is now ready for everyone to see as well, newly painted powder blue walls, with the ‘Crème de la crème’ white frosting cornice, skirting and ornamental plasterwork, keeping it to her authentic look.
We thought we’d finish this updated with, over the last three years we’ve come face to face with a Sow (female Boar) and her six piglet’s – we scared ourself so much that we run hastily from a loud animal noise in the high grass, that ended up with us falling flat on our face, from a poor deer running from us – we’ve watched three generations of doe’s having their young fawns, we’ve been kept awake by ‘hooting’ owls, woken up by beautiful singing birds, watched some funny playful squirrels, and realised pheasant are quite entertaining.
But.. looking back on the work we’ve done, it is very satisfied to see everything we’ve accomplished – we are excited to be opening our doors soon, and expect our very first staying guests, who we hope – fall as madly in love with this romantic old lady, as much, as we have.
Keep posted, we will be back for another Château Le Mung project update soon!