Monday, September 13, 2010

Not done with the Loire Valley yet!

Let's go back to France! When last we left off, we were looking at the hunting dogs at Cheverny. Now we head to...

Or the shortened version, as we barbarians from America call it, Azay-Le-Rideau.

It's a modest little place.

Here's a view from the chateau, looking toward the front gate.

Notice the gate house? They do love their wisteria! Here's a better view...

And what's a chateau without a moat?

Amazing how nice the moat looks after the trees have had a few years (okay, about 500 years) to grow!

Azay-Le-Rideau didn't have a lot of furnishings inside (some chateaus do, some don't), but what it did have made up a few interesting rooms. Here's a bed...

I have a few more from Azay-Le-Rideau, but I think we should stop there for now. Lots more France photos to come! (Think I can milk this so long we'll be ready for our next trip when I'm done here?) :)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A small improvement on the way

As longtime readers will recall, we did major renovations to this house (pretty well gutted most of it, in fact) before we moved in. One thing we didn't do was replace most of the windows. We put in a few new ones that fit with changes we were making--including a kitchen window, an upstairs bathroom window and a bunch of windows in our newly upgraded sunroom--but most of the house's windows were left untouched. We installed plantation shutters over them, but the windows themselves remained.

In recent years, we've talked about the age of those windows (guesstimating 30 years) and how much heat/air conditioning they leak. So we've been window shopping. No, not window shopping; window shopping! It's a lot more difficult than it might seem.

We finally settled on a window company a couple of towns over from us that has good reviews (on Angie's List, among other places) and had someone come and scope out the project. He has now been back to write up the details and formalize the agreement. We got a good price, and we'll also get a tax credit (we just had to get windows that were sufficiently energy efficient--but it's an investment that will keep paying us dividends, so it's a win-win).

Added to the insulation value of the new windows, they also should make the house even quieter. Not that it was particularly noisy to start with, but the less noise that gets in, the better.

In discussing our options, after the guy's first visit, Marc and I decided to take things even further for part of the project. Among the windows we're replacing are all of the ones in the upstairs bedrooms. To make sure we get the best possible insulation and to make things as quiet as possible, we're going to replace those with triple-pane windows (as opposed to the usual double-pane windows). The three panes of glass, put together with energy-efficient coatings on the glass and inert gases between the panes, are supposed to provide top-notch energy insulation and really should do a great job blocking sound.

Yes, folks, this is exciting news in the life of a homeowner! And for those of you who've visited the cheapest bed & breakfast in town, this is good news for you, too... your stay is getting even comfier and quieter! So be sure to book your room soon! ;)