Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Kalba and the Furniture Factory

You'll no doubt have noticed that I've been rather more absent than not from this blog of late. Although I'm sorry about that, I make no apologies (if that's not too much of a contradiction in terms), having been up to the top of my head in the - almost - final stages of putting our guest accommodation together. Days are long, with practical work filling the daylight hours, and everything else being relegated to the post-prandial slot, not to mention the website redesign-rewrite which currently can only find a place in the wee small hours .....

Things have moved on a bit from the hod-carrying days of two years ago: pickaxes and plastering floats have been replaced by mounds of tools and materials for wood working and finishing as I've turned myself into a one-woman furniture restoration factory. Although I do actually know people who've taken a van to IKEA a couple of days before their first guests arrive and bought absolutely everything in one fell swoop (yes, honestly: it's seriously scary to see how many recently opened chambres d'hôtes and gîtes look like IKEA showrooms), and although I'm the first to admit that IKEA's stuff does have its place - yes, even at Grillou - I could never be one of them. I need a bit of age and character and idiosyncrasy alongside my squashy Ektorp sofas. So over the last year or so I've spent weeks sourcing various bits of 'pre-loved' (read: unloved) furniture from antique dealers, brocantes, depôts vente, Emmaus and private sellers all over Ariège and Haute-Garonne.

It's all a bit déja vu; this time 14 years ago I was manically restoring 28 Thonet bentwood chairs ready for our restaurant opening that autumn. I still remember my panic one August day when the heavens suddenly opened, I was on my own, and I had a courtyard full of chairs in bits and wet with walnut-husk stain. Sadly we sold those chairs on (for a healthy profit!), along with lots of other English 'country' furniture, before we left the country, though I've managed to pick up one or two here including a very rare Thonet Number 4 dating back to the 1880s.

Although there's a huge amount of old and antique furniture to be had here it's not been entirely straightforward choosing the right pieces for Grillou. Much of it is huge and grand, designed for maisons du maître or petits châteaux (although many a French person will happily use it to furnish their tiny modern pavillons and villas :-O); Grillou, although large and rambling, is a bit of an oddity in that it's actually a collection of smaller, once separate buildings - if France had such things you'd almost call it a cottage - and was rustique rather than wealthy (um - it still is ...) so immaculate, beautifully polished antiques would just look plain daft.

Anyway, here's a bit of a look at some of the products of Kalba's Furniture Factory as it approaches closure. All of the pieces here were in an execrable state when I found them; stupidly I didn't take 'before' pictures so you'll just have to use your imagination. Oh, and you get a bit of a sneak preview of some of our rooms too .....




















































































2 comments:

Bloggerboy said...

Wow! That looks very inviting.

Kalba Meadows said...

Thank you BB! It's been a long slog, but worth it. What's interesting about taking photos is that it makes you stand outside yourself and see the subject as someone else would see it for the first time, and I'm more than pleasantly surprised at how the space is shaping up myself!