One of the unusual things about this house that we've been living in for nearly 17 years now is that all the rooms on its main level, with the exception of the living/dining room and the "throne room" (the WC), are about the same size. They include the kitchen, the bathroom, a bedroom, and a kind of den or study. All these four rooms measure approximately 3.4 x 3.2 meters, which is about 11 x 11 feet, or 120 ft² — that's pretty small, at least by U.S. standards. It's the equivalent of a 10 x 12 ft. room, I guess.
This place in Saint-Aignan is basically a one-bedroom house, unless you use the den, with its door that opens into the living room, as a second bedroom. Actually, we used it as a guest bedroom from 2003 until 2010, when we had the attic converted into living space. The actual bedroom has a door that opens onto the main stair landing and into a short hallway that leads to the WC and the bathroom. Strangely, the bedroom had a vinyl tile floor instead of ceramic tile floors like the other rooms.
One of the first things we did was have the bedroom carpeted. First, however, we had to take down the awful, ugly wallpaper in there, repair cracks in the plaster, and paint the walls and ceiling. Before we did all that work, and before our furniture and other belongings arrived from the U.S. — about five weeks after we arrived — we slept on the bedroom floor on air mattresses that we bought here in Saint-Aignan. In a way, we were camping — we had enjoyed many camping trips in California over the years.
While the bedroom and den are small, the bathroom, which is about the same size, is relatively big. Most bathrooms in French houses are small, but not this one. I wonder why the people who had the house built decided to put in such a large bathroom, but no shower stall. More about that to come. For today, I've prepared a short slideshow showing what the house's one bedroom looked like. It had a built-in closet, which is the only American-style closet in the house. Americans might be surprised to find out that French houses don't usually have closets the way ours do. People have large pieces of furniture called armoires ("wardrobes") instead, and those take up a lot of space in what are already small bedrooms.
As for the bedroom in this house, it was so small that we weren't sure that if would accommodate our U.S. king-size bed, which measures nearly 2 x 2 meters. Once we decided to sell our house in San Francisco, which had one large bedroom and two smaller ones, we had to decide what furniture we would ship to France and what furniture we would leave behind. We wanted to keep the bed, which is of modular construction and would be easy to disassemble and ship. We've had it since 1983. Buying a new mattress for it in Europe is a problem, because such big beds are not common here.
The bedroom and den both have very big windows. The woman we bought the house from once said to me that the windows in this house were trop grandes pour les pièces ("too big for the rooms"). I was at first mystified by that statement, because for us one of the most attractive features of the house was its big windows, which let in so much light. Then I came to understand it. Because French windows open into the room, the wide glass window panels swept across nearly the whole room when you opened them, given that a room that's as small as ours are. The window panels were almost dangerous. We ended up having them replaced with sliding glass windows, which are common in the U.S. but not at all common in France. The man who installed them later told us he was convinced we wouldn't like sliding windows because people here are not used to them. He was surprised to learn that we love them.