We had always wanted to change the front of the house. The render badly needed redoing and there was an arrangement of windows and a door encased in concrete which clearly didn’t belong. Jools wanted French doors opening out onto the garden from the dining room so Rog came up with a design which would retain the old proportions and transform the facade. Our neighbour was able to recommend a local mason, and as we had seen some of his work, we were happy to employ him. It took 2 years and three months before he arrived but it was worth the wait…
Here is a pic to remind us what it was like before.
The weather was perfect for most of the week, slightly damp and mild. Unfortunately, it absolutely poured with rain one day but typical of French artisans, they carried on regardless without a break (apart from lunch – of course!)
The end of the house was completed first and it enabled us to see what the rest of the house would look like. The render is a lime mortar which is a traditional material. The colour of the render was really important to us as we wanted a real southern feel. In this case, the colour was achieved by adding a dark sand.
And so to the front. They stripped off the old render, then made the opening for the French doors. All the cut stone required for the new openings was recuperated from our ruin. Some of it had been frost-damaged so they had to dismantle and sort quite a lot of stone to find the right pieces.
It was quite tempting to leave the facade as bare stone… but we knew it was never meant to be like that.
The stone is first coated with a grey cement to seal it and give a smooth base. Then the render is applied, smoothed with a hand trowel then finished with a spiked trowel and a wire brush which gives it a nice textured surface.