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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Flophouse Project: The Buanderie and the Salle de Bain

My spouse was officially on vacation as of Friday night and ever since we've been thinking about how to spend the next few weeks.  Getting out of town is not a good idea given my condition but staying home and watching bad American action movies with French subtitles isn't very appealing either.  I, of course, have my books but that's a solitary activity. What, we asked ourselves, could we do together that would amuse both of us?

Answer:  DIY Home Improvement Project

We've lived in this Versailles apartment for about 5 years now.  The wallpaper and the paint weren't very nice to begin with, but in two rooms they have deteriorated to the point of being downright unbearable:  the laundry room and the bathroom.  Here is the "état des lieux."

Laundry Room (la buanderie):

For the record, this is the very first time I have ever had a laundry room.  In all of the other apartments we've rented in France the washing machine was located in the kitchen and we hung the clothes to dry in the bathroom.  What a luxury to have a space to put the machine, the soap, miscellaneous tools and the laundry (dirty and clean).  Last year a pipe broke upstairs and dirty smelly water came cascading down the walls before they were able to shut it off.  I mopped it up (and took a very hot shower after) but it stained and it looks terrible. On top of that there is dust and dirt and God knows what else on the walls.  This morning we removed everything but the washing machine and started washing it down with water and "javel" (bleach).  Here's the progress we made:

As I write this my spouse is busy upstairs spackling the cracks in the walls with plaster.  We'll let it dry tonight so we can start painting tomorrow morning.  (And for my mother who is probably reading this and having a heart attack - Mom, I am downstairs curled up on the couch reading and recuperating while your son-in-law works on the first floor.)

Bathroom (la salle de bain):

A bathroom in France is just that, the room with a sink, shower/bathtub and a "bidet."  The toilet is located in an adjacent room.  The paint wasn't too bad when we moved in but this is a room with no fan and no window so the paint is now peeling off the walls - loads of fun when you're taking a bath.  We also have a little mold problem which I have been trying to keep under control with straight bleach but I'm losing and it's winning.  Now, I know that I'm not the world's greatest housekeeper but even I draw the line at having things growing on the walls.  this room will be more work since we must wash the walls (yet again) and start scraping and sanding.  Here's what it looks like now:

I'd say we have 3-4 days worth of work ahead of us. We'll be taking it slow.  Not in a huge hurry here since the mold is still in the early stages of its Evil Plan for World Domination.

And at the end of the day when we're tired (but filled with a sense of accomplishment) we might just curl up on the sofa together to eat some well-deserved pizza in front of one of those really awful (but strangely satisfying) American action movies.  Vive Van Damme!


Jayne said...

My experience os that mold will return unless you find a way of increasing ventilation in the room (there seems to be a ventilation opening but maybe no fan sucking air out). Have you spoken about problem of mold with the owner or at "co-loc" meeting?

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi Jayne, You're right. For the moment we are using slapping on a coat of some anti-mildew primer that is supposed to help but that won't stop it forever. And we should talk to the landlord about it. Ideally we would like to have a solution to propose to him with a devis beforehand.

One of our friends also noticed the ventilation shafts (they are everywhere: kitchen, bath, toilet) and said we should look into a small wall-mounted fan. I think that sounds like a good plan. Only issue is that there's no electrical outlet anywhere near it and the walls are plaster so we would need an electrician to dig into the wall. What do you think?