In the previous post I did a show and tell on our Loire home from which it was time a couple of years ago to move on and exchange the Loire valley for the Dordogne valley.

All those who have done some restoration on a house will know the toll it can take on mind and body. Repainting a wall is easy, restoring a whole house by lifting beams, removing floors, adding windows and doors…not easy. But the satisfaction on completing a difficult task  is enoug inspiration to continue. In the meantime, while knackering away at the restoration of the old stone farmhouse, we needed to sleep, eat and bathe, probably in that order. We are lucky in that we have several barns on the farm and so one of them became our home for the next 7 years. At first it was only during summer holidays and 2years later it became permanent home.

Living in the barn 2016-024

In between working on the house, we equipped the barn for easier living. A stove, a kitchen sink, cooking tools,  table…we are a family who love our food.. what is a space without some bling? A chandelier or two were hung from the make-do insulated “ceiling”. A wood burning stove provided heat in winters. We had an elegant shower made from an old tin tub we found in the barn and we used an old wagon wheel rim for the shower curtain. From an old wooden ladder we constructed a frame for a bathroom sink , also found in the old house.And yes, running hot water! We even had a bit of privacy by constructing a screen from two wooden doors from the old house., hiding a little dressing room behind it. Madame Pompadour in stylish attire,  kept guard by the bathroom/shower/dressing room.

Living in the barn 2016

Below is a view on the dressing room behind the two doors, forming the screen for privacy..Living in the barn 2016-004

Unfortunately  la toilette stayed outside, a good 200 meters away, which is fine on good days, but got a little complicated on cold and wet wintry days. Today, 7 years later, we can recall some funny stories around our outside toilette which by the way, was brought up to modern standards without the wasps and stacks of newspaper.

Our very first night in the barn in 2008…just a sweep with a broom, a bed for us and our girls and a dinner by candlelight.

However many little luxuries we had in the barn, life was  basic and challenging and we lived with the minimum to which we adapted fairly easily. Today I am convinced more than ever that the human race is spoiled and we live in luxury far beyond necessity. I can honestly say we didn’t miss television for those first years, we ate great food on only a wood burning stove/coal stove. We bought fresh produce every day in small quantities for years until we got a fridge a few years later. We washed dishes by hand in a tin bowl for many of those 7 years.  I soaked our washing every night, rinsed the next day and hung out on the clothes line…I honestly admit though; that was a backbreaking task and far from  adventurous! .

The first few years were bare and adventurous. The barn with its high roof was open and windy with the normal inhabitants you find in old stone walls and we shared the barn with an owl family, who lived there long before us and they weren’t eager to give up their loft for a few humans.

Our barn home in its early years: Drapes of old linens found at brocantes to hide the back part of the barn. A couch or two, cooking corner and always wild flowers. I loved those first years!

The beginning of barn life.. view on the shower corner-20

Of course, at some point,true to human nature, we, or shall I admit…I  longed for more comfort.. So the barn started filling up up with cabinets and armoires and commodes and all my art stuff, brought over from the Loire home. I got tired of living out of a suitcase so the dressing room was invented. We started inviting some friends over, so we needed more than 4 cups and plates.

Living in the barn 2016-017

My art corner took up almost half of the barn, which I and sleeping and working all in one spot. This concept is carried over into our house we are restoring.


Windows and doors got dressed up a little…our souls do need to see some beauty around us..?

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Living in the barn 2016-013

Living in the barn 2016-010

These 7 years  we had a barn for a home is one of the most precious periods of my life and an experience that I will never forget. It is a book full of stories, one that I might write someday, even if only for my family who can relate and will remember all these tales.Living in the barn 2016-007Living in the barn 2016-005

To be continued….

Until next time


14 thoughts on “Life in a barn

  1. I love this post, have been following since your barn move, so nice to see the progression all at once. I would definitely read your book, hopefully you will share it with more than your family. Can’t wait to see the house!
    And yes, we really do need some beauty in our lives, thanks for sharing yours!


  2. So hard to believe it’s been 7 years!!!! This post is a story to treasure … for you and your family, obviously, but for your readers, too! What a brave odyssey, so beautifully told and illustrated. I’m going to save it for frequent rereading. And I can’t wait for the next installment! Someone recently told me, “You know you have a book in you, don’t you ?” I will say the same thing to you. Well done on every front, dear Ronelle!


  3. Oh Ronelle I know only too well what renovating takes. Although our make do living wasn’t for 7 yrs. When I first found your blog and I saw your atelier, I always envied you having such a big area for all your equipment & painting, little did I know how you where actually living. You are so imaginative in the way you adapted your bathroom/ dressing room , adorned the make do ceiling with glitzy chandeliers and had candles to light up certain areas. I’d love to see a book. You must do a book. Also you should apply to the English TV programme called ‘ Great Designs’
    I can’t wait to see inside the house. Congratulations to you and your family.


  4. My mother used to say, “Where ever you live, there is something to love and something to hate. You choose what to focus on.” What a marvelous and creative adventure you chose!


  5. What a lovely home you have created in your barn. I am anxious to hear more about it. I love your blog and look forward to more or your interesting endeavors. Thanks for your inspiration Ronelle.


  6. I’m so glad you blogged again today. I was looking every day for months and sigh, today you had an inspiring one. Please don’t leave so much time in between………………….some of us just need that bit of inspiration more frequently. All the best to you and yours. Lucy


  7. Wow, Ronelle! I love your barn home and I would live in it happily for 7 years, also. We live in a rather tiny log house that needed lots of remodeling when we bought it. We are not “done” after 15 years but still enjoy every minute. We feel fortunate to have it. Thanks for all the great photos of you barn!


  8. Ah, I can almost taste all the things you’ve cooked there and hear the laughter and smell the simmering broths and the big bouquets of wildflowers. I’ve loved this journey with you. Such an amazing woman you are.


  9. I can’t believe it’s been 7 years in the barn… you made it into such a beautiful, original and inspiring space that I longed to visit. I can only imagine the stories (some you’ve told in your blogs..?) please write the book! So long Madame Pompadour, the owls and the outside toilet – and hello to new adventures, very best wishes for your new more comfortable home Ronelle!

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  10. Wonderful, wonderful post! So often I’ve tried to imagine how you managed it all…now I know! I love it all, Ronelle, this…your art…your eloquent words…a gift to all of us! Looking forward to more!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You have quite a gift. The barn looks magnificent. I cannot wait to see your new home.
    Where in Dordogne are you? We are in Journiac, outside Le Bugue.


  12. Thank you for showing us your beautiful world and home. Cannot wait for the book…you fill my days with dreams looking at all your pictures!


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