From time to time you see renovations of older houses, barns or even chateaux where the original aspect of the building has been preserved on the outside, but the interior is completely gutted and then remade into an ultra modern interior. This can be done with taste. Too often though, the new interior is jazzed up with some trendy color scheme or filled with hard edged furniture that is uncomfortable even to look at. In those instances, the dissonance is overwhelming.
The same thing happens when a designer (or perhaps a budget conscious owner) fits out an open kitchen in high-gloss green or red lacquer in a classic Parisian apartment. "Okay," I want to say to them, "I understand that you don't want to live in a museum, or with your grandmother's decor, but honestly, bright green?"
So I guess my philosophy of renovation is that while improvements must be made in the name of comfort and the health of the building, any original features with character should certainly be respected and retained - and they should not be painted in a color that would only be found in science fiction.
Of necessity, our builders have had to gut most of the Lonlay l'Abbaye house. We are hoping to rebuild it with hardwood floors and sympathetic fixtures that won't seem too modern, even if we do bring in a few pieces of Ikea furniture. We are trying hard to keep the character pieces that conjure up for us the kind of village house this is. The narrow winding stairs that lead up from the kitchen are not very practical. You can't get a big piece of furniture, or even a large painting, up those stairs. But the staircase is charming, and if it can be saved, it deserves to stay. We will make accommodations around it.
Likewise, the cupboard pictured above. It must be made out of some sort of wonderful hardwood like mahogany, because it seems impervious to the all of the wood munching beetles that so damaged the old wood floors. It has a regal aspect, as if it knows it was a point of pride for past owners, who carefully placed their ironed linens on its shelves. Maybe there was room for a few toys near the bottom.
We have not decided yet what to do about the second built-in cupboard. That one is downstairs in the living room. Its door may once have been the same magnificent dark wood color, but it has been painted white. And the inside - you guessed it - is a bright yellow green!