In both French and English, touching wood is seen as an insurance policy against bad luck. In America the superstition is taken one step further and concept is rendered a great deal noisier (knocking rather than touching), and given a disco soundtrack. Here at the Granny Flat we’ve been stockpiling luck insurance like it’s going out of fashion, not just touching, but rescuing, cleaning, measuring, sawing, nailing, screwing and reinventing wood, meaning that bad luck has not a slither of hope against us. The DIY bug has well and truly hit.
I promised you a while ago that I’d keep you updated with how Granny Flat’s facelift is progressing, and with frosty January supplying perfect toolbelt-toting-handywoman conditions, many a wooden project has been completed. And I’m not just puffing out my chest to show off my DIY skills here (ok, maybe just a little), all of this carpentry business has been underpinned by the Paris Small Capital ethos, meaning that I’ve been delighting in the chance to go back to basics and use my hands to create my own furniture, spending hardly a euro in the process.
Old Dame Paris has had a hand in the creative process too, kindly gifting me with all of the materials I need, invoking the magical spirit of waste-not-want-not. Since moving to the 18th, I’ve noticed that my fellow inhabitants are fond of abandoning unwanted furniture on the pavements, meaning that it’s not unusual to compete for space whilst walking home with wardrobes, sofa beds, offcuts and toilet bowls (not to mention crispy old Christmas trees). Head out of the luxury-gilded tourist areas, and you’ll see this is par for the course in the residential bits where us authentic Paris residents lay our heads. Don’t buy into that Amelie romance rubbish; if the film was true to life she’d be living in a tiny box room with a single mattress and just enough room to swing a starving sewer rat.
Honestly, I could have furnished my apartment ten times over with the spoils I’ve walked past languishing on the street. Sure, most folk make a beeline to Ikea, but Granny Flat is extremely picky in her sizing, so trying to find the right piece for the right hole is like to trying to find a Frenchie who doesn’t like wine. So imagination and an eye for design have taken over, and an abandoned oak unit has been rejigged into a smaller kitchen unit and a few sturdy shelves.
Building confidence with every screw screwed and every stroke of my borrowed saw, I decided that after hanging my shelves all by myself (I think I may have even punched the air when I filled them up and they didn’t fall down), the next logical step was, of course, to upgrade the poof I’d found and re-covered, into a curl-up-with-a-book comfy armchair. Enter stage left my Mum’s old blue curtains, an old duvet and some mongrel off cuts, and you can see for yourself what I managed to rustle up. With this and all my handywork though, it’s better not too look to closely or start brandishing about anything too heavy.
But I’m pretty chuffed with the results, and for a total cost of less than 15 euros for the lot (DIY megastores Castorama and Leroy Merlin supplied much needed screws and the like), I feel hugely virtuous financially, and importantly environmentally. Louis XVI furniture it ain’t, and you probably wouldn’t want to wobble any of it too hard if you’re keen to stay in my good books. But Paris isn’t all parquet floors and chandeliers you know. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Though after all that I wouldn’t say no to a bit of hand cream).