Painting and Decorating Made Easier!

An inn or bed and breakfast (chambre d’ hôte) occupies every building on the row of this Haute Alpes village, in southeast France. Each property’s owners live in a third or fourth story attic, or a small apartment behind the kitchens. Originally, each property was what we might call a “row house.”

 

Jean-Paul, my mother’s cousin, e-mailed about the property owners’ problems. “All of the buildings are in disrepair. Business is très mal (very bad). Soon, travelers will stay in other villages, or in the city.”

 

He e-mailed a detailed description of “les maisons pour les touriste stays” (houses for tourist stays). He drew a mental picture of the condition of the seven, tightly sandwiched structures. Cell phone photos followed. Red roofs canopied the five towers.

 

“What can we do?” he asked. “I’ve staged original productions in small theatres, including here. These touriste stays must not crumble to ruin. Tourism is the village’s main source of revenue.”

 

At first, I had no clue how to answer Jean-Paul’s question. How could we help? That French village was located over 4,480 miles away.

 

Then, an image appeared of the Seralago, a historic hotel in Kissimmee, Florida. Scaled down and reconfigured, it could have been the buildings on Rue de lès Fleurs. Their red-painted tower roofs announcing their formidable presence in the community.

 

The Seralago became the inspiration for an idea that sparkled with possibilities.

 

In June, I brainstormed with two painters at different Marriott-managed hotels. I mentioned the idea to my mother. (Caution!) And, she and Jean-Paul took it from there.

 

OVERALL PLAN – A Capsule Version

 

1. Designate two project leaders. One, for the exteriors of the buildings; the other for the interiors. Each will work with the owner(s) of each row house, to oversee and help with every phase of the exterior, or interior, part of the project.
2. Arrange for photos to be taken – before, during, after each phase of the project. And, with every row house.
3. Hold a “Rue de les Fleurs” la fête (party) to launch the restoration project. Publicize the event, and the project. Contact the media.

 

SELECTING EXTERIOR PAINT CREWS – A Capsule Version

 

1. Find a very skilled and agile commercial painter in the area.

A. Engage him to give the tower roofs a fresh coat of red paint. Urge him to donate his services.

B. Try to get his employer – l’contracteur – to donate the paint.

C. Let the media know about their generosities.

2. Line up the work crews – all local villagers:

A. Paint crew. Persons skilled at using a paint brush, and at least two able to use a roller.

— Find one or two skilled in using a spray system. Five able to work on ladders, and scaffolding.

B. Repair and prep crew. Fit persons: out-of-work, retired or unoccupied. Men and women.

— Include a few that are able to work on extension ladders.

C. Ground crew. Teenagers and adults, willing to help with work on the street level.

 

NEW LIFE FOR EXTERIORS OF BUILDINGS

 

1. WALLS. Clean. Scrape off old paint and loose masonry. Patch and/or fill all areas that need it. Lightly sand surfaces when dried.
2. FRONT DOORS. Clean, and scrape off old paint. Sand, patch, and paint all. Paint each door a distinctive and complementary color. TIP: Alternate deep bright blue, extra white, and crimson red (or, colors close to those of the nation’s flag).
3. HARDWARE-FRONT DOORS. Clean and polish each door’s hinges, knocker, and handle. (In the photos, they look like brass.)
4. WINDOW FRAMES, INSETS, and CORNICES. Clean, scrape, patch, sand, and reseal frames and insets of all windows. Also, window cornices and ledges. Paint to match the respective doors on street level.
5. WINDOW SHUTTERS. Remove from the buildings. Be sure to mark each shutter for building, window, and side of window. Clean, patch, fill, and sand. Paint the shutters to match the respective doors on the first story. TIP: Spraying shutters produces a much better finish, and longer-lasting coatings.
6. FLOWER BOXES. Put a few retired carpenters to work building a flower box for every window, including on each end of the row. Paint to match the respective front door on street level.
7. SEATING. Find a park bench for each front entry. Used ones are fine. Repair each, as necessary. Scrape off loose, old paint or finish. Sand till smooth. Paint all with gloss black. Or, paint each in the color that matches the respective door.

 

NOTE: Area steps 3 through 7 have entailed more than what’s outlined here.

 

PROGRESS ON THE RUE DE LES FLEURS.

 

Work on the row of inns progresses. Jean-Paul says the spirit of villagers grows. “Like the crops on surrounding farms… The townspeople prepare for a busy touriste stay season. And, the little theatre will be ready to reopen on October 16. Très bonne.”

 

PLEASE READ: Painting Them: Inns and Bed and Breakfasts on Rue de les Fleurs. Part 2: Interiors.

 

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“Buildings, like persons, deserve special care – outside, and inside.” Jean-Paul.

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.” Copyright 2015. Robert Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

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