04 October 2008

Small DIY victories

Damn! Look at this radiator. Have you ever seen such an admirable appliance? It embodies grace and charm in cast iron...

Damn! A small victory for Do-It-Yourself.

...and white paint, of course. Hamerite paint. Paint directly over old paint, bare metal, or even rust. And it works. Of course it still needs some touch-ups. You can't see the défauts in my pictures, but if you get your eyes close to the thing you sure can. Walt will be doing the touch-up work this morning.

Keep your eye on this one...

Of course, how often do you get your eyes close to a radiator? Or even notice one? Les radiateurs font vraiment partie des meubles. CHM will tell us whether that expression can apply in this case.

To paint it, we had put the radiator on an old sheet that we use as a drop cloth. But paint dripped off the radiator, soaked through the sheet, and ended up in big splotches that were drying on the floor. Thank goodness the floor is ceramic tile. We were able to clean it with what they call White Spirit in France — it's a solvent and paint thinner, maybe turpentine — with the help of a scraper and scouring pad.

Then I had to wash the floor with a cleaning product, rinse it with hot water and vinegar to deodorize it, and dry it with a towel. It didn't take too long, and I think it was worth it.

We have been working on our kitchen for more than a year now. In May '07, we had a new window and shutter put in. We had electrical work done (new outlets and a vent fan over the stove) later that summer. In May 2008 we painted the walls and ceiling, bought a toaster oven, and then got a new gas stove to replace the old electric one. And then, finally, we painted the radiator. All the while, we tried to keep cooking.

This is what you do when you have a lot of spare time but not a lot of spare cash. At least you feel a little more worthy when you complete the job. C'est enfin fini.


  1. And dang, that thing was heavy.

  2. Do you find yourselves going back and just gazing at it, or is it on to the next job?

  3. Technically, it is and it is not. A collection of "meubles" is "mobilier"; a house, or a chateau for that matter, is "immobilier". For instance, you can talk of "valeur mobilière" i.e. stock [not the one used in cooking] that can be moved from one place to the other and "valeur immobilière" i.e. your home, sweet home, that cannot be moved, except in the US.
    Consequently, I'd say a radiator is a "meuble" since it can be unhooked and placed on a terrace to be painted, and is 'Immobilier", since it's part of the house and not easily transported.
    Does this "normande" answer satisfy you? Hi Marie!

  4. CHM, peut-êt' ben que oui, peut-êt' ben que non, n'est-ce pas ?

    Usually, you say a person "fait partie des meubles" and not an object, I think.

    In the U.S., when you sell a house, anything that is attached in considered to be part of the sale, including light fixtures and water faucets and radiators. But in France, people are famous for taking their light fixtures with them, and maybe even the doorknobs. So why not the radiators.

    Autolycus, it is straight on to the next project. There are logs to be sawed and hedges to be trimmed. Plants to be brought in. Whew, I think I'll take the rest of the day and all day tomorrow off.

    Yes, and that radiator seemed to get heavier and heavier each time we had to move it. I guess all those coats of paint weighed about a ton.

  5. Well done, en fin!!! All's well that ends well and all that good stuff. I'm glad you are able to have heat now that cold air has arrived.

    Your kitchen is lovely and I bet you are glad that you tackled the radiator. I bet you'll not need to paint it ever again.

    Does a normande see both sides of an issue or question? If so, I must be part normande like Marie;-) This ability can be a curse.

  6. It looks like a million bucks! Good work.

    We Americans (at least the non-bankers) will now be identifying more and more with someone who doesn't have a lot of spare cash...

  7. Looks great - white on yellow.
    One tip so that the paint does not get to the floor surface while you are painting an object. I put plastic sheet underneath the sheet of cloth ( usually an old bed sheet).

    Next time you travel, get one of those airline plastic bags that they provide passengers for check-in luggage ( assuming they still give them out)- I used to get the bicycle one from Air Canada but the ones that Delta or Air-France gives at their check-in counters are good also. I just cut it on one side and at the seam and I have a nice large plastic sheet for my DIY paint jobs.

  8. Evelyn, Walt ended up repainting the whole radiator again this morning, after we had put it back up on its brackets. It does look better. This afternoon we turned on the boiler, bled all the radiators, and got some heat going in the house for about an hour. We needed it -- the inside temp. was down to 15C and outside it was even colder. Now it's about 18C.

    Chris, yes, cash is hard to come by these days. I hope my collard patch has a chance to produce some greenery for our cold gray winter days.

    TB, Good idea about the plastic layer under the drop cloth to stop the paint from seeping through. Wish we had thought of that a few days ago! But as Evelyn said, tout est bien qui finit bien, et là ça a bien fini et c'est bien fini pour l'heure. C'est propre au moins.

  9. "Objets inanimés, avez-vous donc une âme, qui s'attache à notre âme et la force d'aimer."

    De Lamartine...je crois.

  10. Well done, I love your kitchen. I remember your post about painting your kitchen..it all looks great.

  11. And, of course, perhaps the most famous "meuble" in poetry, Rimbaud's buffet:

    C'est un large buffet sculpté ; le chêne sombre,
    Très vieux, a pris cet air si bon des vieilles gens;
    Le buffet est ouvert, et
    verse dans son ombre
    Comme un flot de vin vieux, des parfums engageants;

    Tout plein, c'est un fouillis de vieilles vieilleries,
    De linges odorants et jaunes, de chiffons
    De femmes ou d'enfants, de dentelles flétries,
    De fichus de grand'mère où sont peints des griffons ;

    - C'est là qu'on trouverait les médaillons, les mèches
    De cheveux blancs ou blonds, les portraits, les fleurs sèches
    Dont le parfum se mêle à des parfums de fruits.

    - Ô buffet du vieux temps, tu sais bien des histoires,
    Et tu voudrais conter tes contes, et tu bruis
    Quand s'ouvrent lentement tes grandes portes noires.

    I envy you the time to work on these home projects. What with the weak dollar, I imagine the savings from doing it yourself come in handy.

    Then again, the dollar isn't worth much these days in the States either.

  12. Thanks for the buffet poem, Bob!

    I'm glad the touch up painting is done and you guys are warmer. Our nights are getting chilly here so we put an extra cover on. We are in the good days which require no air conditioning or heat. We are enjoying them and football is quite good so far also. Vandy and 'Bama are undefeated.

  13. Whoa! Had to put my sunglasses on to look at the radiator. It's surely a thing of beauty!


  14. You've really done a fantastic job with that kitchen. To think that a radiator has elicited poetry! ;)
    You can be proud of yourself! ;)


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