Must any meeting with a tradesperson involve air being sucked through teeth? After an 800km drive to meet an architect this week, it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
I drove ten hours from Lille to south-west France on Monday, met the architect there on Tuesday morning and then drove ten hours back home again. It was exhausting.
As regular readers will know, we have found a property we want to buy and turn into a cheese-and-wine business.
I don’t want to be all mysterious about it, but we haven’t signed the compromis de vente yet. So, forgive me, but I’d rather not say just yet exactly where it is.
There are some clauses we have had built into the draft compromis that will allow us to walk away from the deal if they don’t work out. One of them is the front of the building.
At the moment, the shop front has an arched window above a stone base.
I explained to the architect that we want to take out that base and fit folding doors. We figure that during the summer, people can then sit in the doorway and feel that they are outside but be in the cool of the building.
There will be chairs and tables in the street too, of course.
However, the architect saw things differently – cue the air-sucking. His primary role is to make sure that the beauty of the village is maintained.
“You’ll need to keep the arch,” he said after a long pause.
But folding doors with individual panels of different heights simply won’t work. So I suggested inserting a plinth horizontally beneath the arch of the window instead, which would allow folding doors beneath.
He didn’t like the sound of that. We talked through some other options, including a complicated one that involved taking out the arch to create a square space.
He realised that we were running out of possibilities and I could see he wanted to help. In the end – and much to my relief – he smiled and agreed to the plinth idea, with folding doors beneath.
“What colour will the door frames and plinth be?” he asked.
That’s something we hadn’t given any thought to. We haven’t even got a name for the business yet, so we certainly haven’t started contemplating colours.
But the mairie promptly sent me the official town colour palette. This shade or that shade is a rather nice problem to have… and one that helped me sleep very soundly when I got home on Tuesday.